Jul 212017

Along Interstate 94 West
Between the Southfield Freeway interchange and Outer Drive overpass
Allen Park, Michigan

Giant Uniroyal TireThis giant Uniroyal Giant Tire was originally created by the Uniroyal Tire Company for the 1964 New York World’s Fair, as a Ferris wheel.

The wheel was designed by Shreve, Lamb & Harmon, the architectural firm that designed the Empire State Building. Over 2 million people, including  Jacqueline Kennedy, Telly Savalas, and the Shah of Iran took a spin in one of its 24  four-passenger gondolas.

Giant Uniroyal TireIn 1965, after the fair, the tire was disassembled and put back together minus the gondolas. It originally stood outside of a Uniroyal sales office, the office moved, the tire did not.

Giant Uniroyal Tire as a Ferris WheelA nail was placed in the tire in 1998 to advertise Uniroyal’s NailGard tires, the nail was removed in 2003. At that time the tire was renovated at a cost of $1,000,000.

Giant Uniroyal Tire with Nail

Mar 272017

1500 East Main Street
Richmond, VA
March 2017

Richmond VA Main Street Railroad Station

This glorious building was not included in the VSA Spring study tour, but you could not help walk past it if you explore Richmond at all, and especially if you walk from downtown Richmond to the Shockoe District.

The Main Street Station was built in 1901 by the Seaboard Air Line Railroad (SAL) and the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway (C&O). Seaboard had newly introduced service to Richmond, and C&O had consolidated the former Virginia Central Railroad and the Richmond and Allegheny Railroad, which had previously maintained separate stations.

Richmond VA Main street train stationIn the 1950s, Seaboard shifted its Richmond passenger service to Union Station of Richmond on Broad Street (now the Science Museum of Virginia), but C&O continued at Main Street Station until Amtrak took over in 1971. In 1970, Main Street Station and its train shed, one of the last surviving train sheds of its type in the nation, were added to the National Register of Historic Places. In 1976 it was designated a National Historic Landmark.

Richmond, VA Main Street Railroad Station Clock TowerIn 1972, Hurricane Agnes caused the James River to flood the station. The damage was so severe that Amtrak moved its Richmond stops to a different station in 1975. To make matters worse, the station was damaged by fires in 1976 and 1983. Rail service did not return to Main Street Station until 2003, when it was renovated and returned to service on December 18th of that year.

Some of the massive stones used in the construction of the train station

Some of the massive stones used in the construction of the train station

Constructed over a two-year period spanning the turn of the 20th century and designed in an eclectic variation on the ornate French Renaissance style.

Wilson, Harris, and Richards of Philadelphia, a firm that specialized in railroad architecture, designed both the monumental depot building and the attached 400’ long industrial train shed.


The area around the train station is worth exploration as well, there are many old bars and restaurants housed in fun buildings and a locals farmers market.

The site of the 17th Street Farmers’ Market has been a public gathering place since 1737, and is one of America’s oldest public markets.

Richmond VA Shockoe Bottom Farmers MarketBy 1854, The Farmers’ Market had expanded and a large market building was built on the corner of Main and 17th Streets. During the Civil War, the First Market House, as it was originally called, served as a gathering place for Confederate soldiers and later as a barracks for Union Troops. In later decades, shoppers listened to political speeches, visited the police station on the second floor, and raised their own voices at religious revival meetings.

A history marker paying tribute to the one day flourishing Farmer's Market

A history marker paying tribute to the one day flourishing Farmer’s Market

The First Market House was razed in 1961 and the Farmers’ Market was reduced to scattered vendor stalls, but the predicted total demise never happened as a small market still exists on the spot.

The Union Station of Richmond, now the Virginia Museum of Science

The Union Station of Richmond, now the Virginia Museum of Science

Mar 272017

2111 Franklin Street
Richmond, VA
March 2017

Woman's Club Richmond VAThe Woman’s Club, that is housed in Bolling Haxall House, was founded in 1894 with the mission to advance education.  The house is one of the few private clubs, cum museum, in the US that is open to anyone that comes and knocks on its door.  The Woman’s Club, while charging for events in its lovely facility, also graciously donates space to educational facilities that are in need.  This is a very dynamic and wonderful group of Women.

Woman's Club Richmond VA

The iron-work fence is believed to have been cast by George Lownes, who did a similar, signed fence, in Hollywood Cemetery.

The Bolling Haxall House is an 1858 Italianate Mansion replicated for Bolling Walker Haxall from a house he admired in Brooklyn Heights, New York. Mr. Haxall, one of Richmond’s wealthiest citizens, was a partner in Haxall Mills, which were among the world’s largest flour mills. The architect is unknown. However, records show that the contractors were John and George Gibson.

Bolling Haxall House Richmond VA

In front of the house are two cast-iron horse-head hitching posts. These once stood on Capitol Street and were used for the horses of the state legislators.

Bolling Walker Haxall was also president of Old Dominion Iron and Nail Works and part owner of Richmond and Petersburg Railroad Company. He and his family lived in the well-appointed house until the Civil War burning of Richmond.

The entry hall ceiling of painted designs and ornamental plaster

The entry hall ceiling of painted designs and ornamental plaster

Because he feared for his family’s safety, he moved them to his home in Orange County, Virginia. After the war, he returned to the house, which had not been harmed in any way, only to find he could not afford to support it as he had lost several of his businesses to the fire. In 1869, Mr. Haxall sold The Bolling Haxall House to Dr. Francis T. Willis, a prominent physician, for $28,000.00.

There are many stunning marble fireplaces in the home, not all original to the home, but period pieces none-the-less

There are many stunning marble fireplaces in the home, not all original to the home, but period pieces none-the-less

The Woman’s Club purchased the home from Dr. Willis’ grandson in 1900 for the sum of $20,000.00. The House has served as the permanent home of The Woman’s Club ever since.
Woman's Club Richmond VA *Woman's Club Richmond VAThe Bolling Haxall House Foundation, an IRS 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, was organized in 1990 as a preservation foundation which owns the historic property and raises funds to maintain it.

The piano and accompanying chair are said to be original to the second owner. It is still played by those brave enough to sit and play such an historic instrument.

The piano and accompanying chair are said to be original to the second owner. It is still played by those brave enough to sit and play such an historic instrument.

This stunning historic structure is on the National Register of Historic Places and is also a Virginia Historic Landmark.

The spiral staircase is topped with a stunning colored glass window.

The spiral staircase, added during Dr. Willis’s ownership, is topped with a stunning stained glass window.

Woman's Club of Richmond VA

The ballroom was added in 1916

The auditorium was added in 1916

Many of the new appointments include lovely paintings on the blinds and Bradbury and Bradbury wallpaper.

Many of the new appointments include lovely paintings on the blinds and Bradbury and Bradbury wallpaper.

This whimsical lamp was added in a recent renovation

This whimsical lamp was added in a recent renovation.

Woman's Club Richmond VA

The back of the house originally had a columned porch. The back of the house commanded a wonderful view of the James River and the mills along its banks.  When the auditorium was added the porch was eliminated on all levels except the second floor.  When a building was expanded next door, even that view was lost.  For this reason there is now a lovely mural along the wall to be viewed as you step out on the balcony. The mural represents what the view would have been in 1860. Of the 27 edifices depicted in the mural only seven remain. The mural was painted by Luther Coleman Wells.


Mar 272017

There are always weird and wonderful things that one finds when traveling, and here are three that I found in Richmond.

Marley Building Richmond VA

The Markel Building
5310 Markel Road

This 1962 building by Haig Jamgochian, was inspired by a foil wrapped potato.  Don’t believe me? Check out the historic marker sign next to the building.

The Markel Building

As the sign says, each floor is one single piece of aluminum.  Sadly this aluminum siding material is not holding up too well. Much of the texture was derived by Jamgochian using a sledgehammer to the aluminum, and much of that has been repaired in various ridiculous ways.

The Markel Building

Haigh Jamgochian (1925- ) known as Jam to his friends, was born in Richmond, VA to Armenian immigrants fleeing to America to escape genocide in their country. He studied at Dartmouth, Virginia Tech and Princeton, and trained for a short time with Frank Lloyd Wright. He writes of the building: “They wanted it to be built a certain way but had a limited budget, so we took the weight out of the building to lower the cost.  The idea to wrap a building in aluminum came to me over dinner one evening…”

The building is supported by some very unusual looking columns.

The building support columns are surrounded by some very unusual looking concrete castings.

The second unusual site is the Grand Kugel in front of the Union Station of Richmond which is now the Virginia Museum of Science at 2400 West Broad Street.

A kugel ball is a perfectly spherical stone ball that is set into a matching, perfectly concave cup. Water is then forced in from the bottom of the cup creating an evenly distributed, incredibly thin layer of water. The ball, almost no matter how heavy can then be moved on the liquid surface as though it weighed nothing at all.

A number of these floating stone spheres can be found around the globe, however, the Grand Kugel, installed in 2003, is the largest of these sculptural science experiments in the world. It is actually known as the Mary Morton Parsons Earth-Moon Sculpture, after its benefactor.

The third crazy stop is Connecticut The Indian at 2700 East Carey Street.

Connecticut Indian

The sculpture is the work of Richmond artist Paul DiPasquale, who created the statue as a tribute to the area’s natives in 1983 with the intention of having it installed in Washington D.C.  DiPasquale is also the sculptor of the Arthur Ashe sculpture on Monument Avenue.

“Connecticut” comes from the Eastern Algonquin Indian word, Quinnehtukgut which means beside the long tidal river.

The rooftop in the Shockoe Bottom neighborhood is the statue’s third home. Fabricated for the roof of a liquor store at 2600 Connecticut Avenue in Washington, D.C., a family dispute blocked the installation. Di Pasquale sought a new home and Frances and Sydney Lewis became interested who founded Best Products Company in Richmond in 1957, collectors of contemporary art.

Di Pasquale sought a new home and Frances and Sydney Lewis, collectors of contemporary art who founded Best Products Company in Richmond in 1957, became interested. However, local officials ruled that the statue was a sign and in violation of rooftop signage codes.

Bought back by the artist DiPasquale donated it to the Richmond Braves who placed it on top of a concession stand at “The Diamond”, the Triple-A baseball team’s new stadium, built in 1985. There he sat for nearly 25 years, as the mascot of the Braves. But in 2010, the Braves moved out of Richmond. Hopefully, as its final resting place, the sculpture was purchased by ODELL Architects and moved to the Lucky Strike power plant, an old tobacco factory complex that was being converted into loft apartments and offices. The easiest way to view Connecticut The Indian is down by the railroad tracks between Carey Street and the Canal.

Always remember to enjoy the sublime AND the ridiculous on your journey.

Mar 272017

Saint Paul’s Episcopal Church
815 E. Grace Street
Confederate Memorial Chapel
2900 Grove Avenue

St Pauls Episcopal Church Richmond VA

Saint Paul’s is located directly across the street from the Virginia State Capitol, and has long been a popular house of worship for political figures, including General Robert E. Lee and Confederate President Jefferson Davis.

The first Episcopal church in Richmond was Monumental Church. However, Monumental’s congregation had begun to outgrow its building so its assistant rector, Reverand William Norwood, led an effort to found a new Episcopal church to accommodate the expanding membership. They had grand plans for this new venture and no church as large as the one planned (seating for 800 people) had ever been built in Virginia. A committee was formed to visit northern cities and view recently constructed large urban churches. While touring Philadelphia, the committee became enamored by the spacious St. Luke’s Church (now The Church of St. Luke and the Epiphany) and determined it should be the model for what would become St. Paul’s. The committee commissioned the architect of St. Luke’s, Thomas S. Stewart, to design a near replica for Richmond.  Steward had also designed the Egyptian Building nearby for the University School of Medicine. The resulting building by Stewart was consecrated in 1845. It is of Greek Revival style, and a complement to Jefferson’s temple-form capitol across the street.

St Pauls Episcopal church richmond va

There is an amazing amount of history within this church, including the over 20 stained glass windows, some of which are by Tiffany Studios.Tiffany window in St Pauls of Richmond VA

This is The Annunciation, installed in 1901 and by Tiffany.

Tiffany Altarpiece in St. Pauls Richmond VA

The Last Supper, also by Tiffany Studios was installed in 1896. This stained glass mosaic is without a doubt, the foremost work of art in St. Paul’s.

st pauls richmond va

The ceiling incorporates a variety of Greek-style motifs that surround a gold medallion with rays terminating in a Tetragrammaton, a triangular symbol of the Trinity with the four Hebrew letters for Yahweh (God).

Pew 111 Is where General Robert E. Lee’s family sat and pew 63 is where Confederate President Jefferson Davis worshiped from 1861 to 1865. It was during a church service that Davis received news that Lee could no longer defend Richmond, leading to the evacuation of the city and the subsequent fire which destroyed much of downtown, but not Saint Pauls.

The stunning Wrought Iron Fence that surrounds St Paul's

The stunning wrought iron fence that surrounds St Paul’s

On the grounds of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts stand the Confederate Memorial Church.

Confederate Memorial Chapel Richmond VA

The Confederate Memorial Chapel served as a nondenominational house of worship for the Robert E. Lee Camp Confederate Soldier’s Home.  The Home was the first successful and longest operating residential complex for poor and infirmed southern veterans of the Civil War.

The chapel cost $4000 and was built with proceeds from benefit auctions of tobacco. The chapel was designed by architect Marion J. Dimmock, in the Carpenter Gothic style.  Carpenter Gothic, also called Rural Gothic is a North American architectural style-designation for an application of Gothic Revival architectural detailing and massing applied to wooden structures built by house-carpenters.

Confederate Memorial Chapel, Richmond VAThe interior has pine floors and a vaulted ceiling with rows of hand-hewn pews. The various Belcher Studio stained glass windows are of interest in their unique style.

Belcher Stained Glass*Belcher GlassHenry Belcher applied for four patents for his mosaic process between 1884 and 1889. To make its windows, the New York company assembled small pieces of glass—”not larger than one half-inch across”—into the desired pattern, arranging them around larger pieces of glass used for some of the elements of the designs. The whole mosaic was then sandwiched between two larger sheets of asbestos. The artisan poured in a liquid metal alloy, which would snake its way between the pieces and bind them together.

The chapel is open every day from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm

Mar 272017

Virginia State Capitol
Richmond, VA
March 2017

Virginia State Capitol

Virginia’s State Capitol, located in Richmond, is the third capital city of the U.S. state of Virginia and houses the oldest legislative body in the Western Hemisphere.

Thomas Jefferson is credited with the overall design of the new Capitol, together with French architect Charles-Louis Clérisseau. The design was modeled after the Maison Carrée at Nîmes in southern France, an ancient Roman temple.

This is all I will say about the building as it has been written about over the course of hundreds of years by far greater scholars than I, including our esteemed leader and educator Richard Guy Wilson of UVA.

The back side of the capitol showing the buildings that originally contained the two houses of the legislature.

The back side of the capitol. The smaller building on the left is the Senate Chamber and the smaller building on the right is the House of Delegates Chamber, both added in 1906.

Virginia State Capitol

The center of the Capitol is the Rotunda.  A 30-foot diameter dome caps the Rotunda, added in 1794. There is no mention of the dome in Jefferson’s plans and it is not known if it was a later idea of Jefferson’s or a modification made by the builder. Constructed beneath the pitch of a gable roof, this skylight illuminated dome is invisible from the exterior of the building.

George Washington in the Virginia State Capitol

George Washington by Jean-Antoine Houdon

In the center of the Rotunda, commissioned by the Virginia General Assembly in 1784 as a tribute to Virginia’s most respected citizen-soldier, stands this stunning sculpture of George Washington.  They wrote to Thomas Jefferson, who was on a diplomatic mission to Paris at the time, asking him to commission Jean-Antoine Houdon for the job.  Houdon traveled to Mount Vernon to study Washington, making a plaster mask of his face and taking detailed measurements of his body.   He returned to France and carved the sculpture from Carrera marble.  It was placed in the Rotunda on May 14th, 1796.  There are many illusions to the Roman empire in the work.  Washingtons sword is on his side while his left-hand rests on a bundle of rods, called fasces, a Roman symbol of power.  He also carries his walking stick and as a possible reference to Roman statesman Lucius Quinctius Cincinnatus, he is placed standing in front of a plow.

George Washington Virginia State Capitol Building

LA Fayette VA state capitol

Another sculpture by Houdon can be found in a niche surrounding the Rotunda.  This is of Marquis de Lafayette, a Frenchman who fought for America during the Revolution.  Lafayette was voted a citizen of Virginia by an “act of assembly” in 1785 for his services.

VA State Capitol

One of the most important paintings in the Capitol can be found in the Old Senate Chamber. The painting is the Storming of a British Redoubt by American Troops at Yorktown.  Painted by French artist Eugène-Louis Lami in 1840 it shows exactly what its name implies.  The battle took place in October 1781, the same month that Cornwallis surrendered to Washington, and America won its national independence.  The painting was a gift to Virginia in 1878 from philanthropist William Corcoran.

Plaster model

Jefferson commissioned Jean-Pierre Fouquet to make a plaster model of the Capitol prior to its restoration. Jefferson described Fouquet as “an artist who had been employed by the ambassador of France to Constantinople, in make models of the most celebrated remains of ancient architecture in the country.”

The model is at a scale of 1:60 and is reinforced with internal iron rods. The plaster model was not originally white.  An architectural archeological study of the model was done to determine the original colors, and the various colors found are shown on the back of the model.  It is thought it may have been possible that the original capitol was painted to represent masonry.

Virginia State Capitol

George Washington outside Virginia State Capitol

There is much fine artwork inside and out of the capitol, but the statue of a horse mounted Washington is the last I will discuss in this post.

The Washington Monument which stands prominently outside the capitol was sculpted by Thomas Crawford. Crawford was born in New York City and studied drawing and wood carving before joining a stonecutting studio in New York.  He traveled to Rome in 1835 to study with neoclassical sculptor Bertel Thorwaldsen and established a studio there. Crawford is responsible for a good many pieces of sculpture throughout the Virginia State Capitol. However, he is best known for the Statue of Freedom that tops the US Capitol Dome.

The National Park Service states: “Crawford designed three tiers of pedestals with George Washington on top, Virginia patriots in the middle, and a series of allegorical female figures and shields with inscriptions in memory of Revolutionary war principles or events on the bottom. The trophy figures represent the virtues of the revolutionary era and battles and places representing those virtues. The second tier consists of standing figures of Virginia’s leaders during the Revolution: Thomas Jefferson, George Mason, John Marshall, Andrew Lewis, Thomas Nelson, and Patrick Henry. Atop the pedestal is the equestrian statue of Washington. Crawford only finished the sculptures of Washington, Jefferson, and Henry before his death. Crawford’s protégé, another important sculptor Randolph Rogers, completed the remaining pedestal sculptures after the Civil War. ”

The Capitol building is open for Guided Tours 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Monday through Saturday, with the last tour commencing at 4:00 p.m. On Sunday, guided tours are available from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m., with the last tour commencing at 4:00 p.m. Tours last approximately one hour and are free.

Mar 262017

Monument Avenue
Richmond Virginia
March 2017

Monument Avenue Richmond VA

Monument Avenue is either a bone of contention or an art gallery, and stirs emotions in all. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1970 and a National Historic Landmark in 1997, making it, more than likely, an unchangeable force, as the NHL listing is the highest national designation a landmark can receive. It is also the only residential boulevard with monuments of this scale to survive almost unaltered to the present day.

As our guide, Richard Guy Wilson stated:  “it may be a place of residences and churches, a street of movement and communication, but ultimately Monument Avenue is the site of memorials to the Confederacy.”

This tree-lined, grassy mall, divides the east- and westbound traffic and is punctuated by statues memorializing Virginian Confederate participants of the Civil War, Robert E. Lee, J.E.B. Stuart, Jefferson Davis, Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson, and Matthew Fontaine Maury, as well as Arthur Ashe, a Richmond native and international tennis star.

Robert E Lee Monument Avenue

The first monument, a statue of Robert E. Lee, was erected in 1890.

The Robert E. Lee statue was created by Anton Mercié with the pedestal by architect, Paul Pujol. It stands 21 feet tall and weight around 12 tons.  It sits upon a forty foot high granite pedestal.

Mercié entered the École des Beaux-Arts, Paris, and studied under Alexandre Falguière and François Jouffroy, and in 1868 gained the Grand Prix de Rome at the age of 23. His first great popular successes were the David and Gloria Victis, which was shown and received the Medal of Honour of the Paris Salon.

Photo from WikiCommons

Photo from WikiCommons

J.E. B. Stuart was created by Frederick Moynihan. The sculptor was inspired by a sculpture of the British General Outram done by John Foley for Calcutta, India.  The sculpture was unveiled in 1907at the largest Confederate reunion ever held.

Frederick Moynihan was an American sculptor, born on the Isle of Guernsey in 1843. He died at his New York City studio on January 9, 1910. Moynihan studied at the Royal Academy in London before immigrating to the United States. He is best remembered for creating monuments commemorating the American Civil War.

Monument Avenue

The Jefferson Davis sculpture by Edward Valentine is the most controversial of all the sculptures on Monument Avenue.  Unveiled in 1907 it sits in front of an exedra by architect William Noland.  There is a 65-foot tall doric column topped with a bronze allegorical figure named Vindicatrix.

According to James Ira Deese Miller author of A Guide to the South, “the monument typifies the vindication of Mr. Davis and the cause of the Confederacy for which he stood before the world, the leading inscripton being “Deo Vince” (God will vindicate)…Vindicatrix represents the whole spirit of the movement.”

Monument Avenue, Richmond, VAIn the statue, Davis is represented as an orator.  The two end piers are topped with a bronze group of war trophies, consisting of Confederate shields and flags, together with other emblems of land and naval warfare.

Monument Avenue Richmond, VA

Edward Valentine was born on November 12, 1838 in Richmond, Virginia. He studied in Europe: in Paris with Couture and Jouffroy, in Italy under Bonanti, and with August Kiss in Berlin. He died on October 19, 1930 in Richmond, Virginia.

William Churchill Noland (1865-1951) was a partner of Baskervill and Son, a firm that has maintained a consistent history as one of the most successful Richmond, VA, architectural firms since its establishment in 1897. The firm, originally called Noland and Baskervill, was the partnership of architect Noland and electrical engineer Henry Baskervill (1867-1930).

Monument Avenue Richmond VA

Stonewall Jackson, unveiled in 1919 was sculpted by Frederick William Sievers. Frederick William Sievers (1872–1966) was an American sculptor, born in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Sievers moved to Richmond, Virginia, as a young man, furthering his art studies by attending the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Rome and the Académie Julian in Paris.

Monument Avenue Richmond VA

The statue of Matthew Fontaine Maury was also sculpted by Frederick William Sievers and was unveiled in 1929.  Sievers composed the statue with images of water, land, and sky, which relate to Maury’s achievements in oceanography, navigation, and meteorology. Jellyfish are sculpted in the arms of Maury’s chair, and bats, swallows, and fish encircle the base supporting the globe. Stylistically, the statue (which faces eastward toward the Atlantic Ocean) is perhaps the most complex of all the monuments on Monument Avenue.

Monument Avenue Richmond VA

The most recent statue to be erected on Monument Avenue is of local tennis great, Arthur Ashe.  This sculpture is by Paul DiPasquale and was unveiled in 1966.

The bronze statue of Arthur Ashe faces west with four children facing east. The statue shows him holding books in his left hand and a tennis racket in his right hand to illustrate how he encouraged the importance of sports and education. The 12-foot bronze statue stands on a 87,000-pound granite block quarried in Georgia.

Paul DiPasquale is an American artist. He graduated from the University of Virginia, and trained at the Boston Architectural Center, he received his Masters degree in Sculpture from Virginia Commonwealth University in 1977.

I apologize for the quality of the photos, they were taken through the window of a moving bus.

Mar 252017

1000 E Broad Street
Richmond Virginia
March 2017

This High Victorian Gothic structure was designed by Detroit architect Elijah E. Meyers and was completed in 1894.

Richmond VA Old City Hall

Old City Hall served as Richmond’s city hall until the 1970s. This is the third Richmond municipal building on this site, and occupies an entire city block. The original City Hall and Courthouse stood on this site from 1816 to 1875.

City Engineer Wilfred Cutshaw led the efforts to build a replacement for the 1816 building. A national competition was held and resulted in the selection of Elijah Myers who had been the designer of the State capitols of Michigan, Colorado, Texas, and Idaho and winner of the international competition for the Parliament Buildings in Rio de Janeiro.

Richmond, VA Old City HallThe bids were considerably higher than expected due to the choice of materials, and the large amount of ornamentation. City Engineer Wilfred Cutshaw attempted to manage the cost of the project by serving as the project contractor and hiring day laborers. In the end, the project cost  $1.3 million dollars, a ridiculous cost over run from its original $300,000 budget.

The interior of the building is a site to behold

The interior of the building is a sight to behold

James Netherwood was the subcontractor for the stone portion of Old City Hall’s construction. Netherwood was an English immigrant.  He chose “Petersburg” granite quarried locally along the James River. Netherwood’s workers relied on steam-driven saws and polishing tools developed in Britain in the 19th century to carve the stone.  Old City Hall is the largest granite building in Richmond.

Richmond VA Old City HallRichmond iron founder, Asa Snyder, cast the grills and fencing along with the cast iron columns in the atrium.

Restored to its original color scheme, the atrium is an amazing example of cast iron architecture in Richmond.

Old City Hall was almost torn down two times, once in 1915 and again in 1971. Saving the building was a huge preservation victory.

The building was rehabbed in the early 1980s as offices.

Richmond, VA Old City Hall

Mar 242017

Monument Church 1224 East Broad Street
The Egyptian Building 1223 East Marshall Street
March 2017

Egyptian revival is an architectural style that uses the motifs and imagery of ancient Egypt. It is attributed generally to the public awareness of ancient Egyptian monuments generated by Napoleon’s conquest of Egypt and Admiral Nelson’s defeat of Napoleon at the Battle of the Nile in 1798.

Monumental Church Richmond VAThis revival began in the first building of today’s VSA tour the Monumental Church.

Tragedy at a phenomenal scale built this church and it is preserved and restored thankfully by Historic Richmond.

On December 26, 1811 a chandelier collided with the scenery of the theater that stood on this site.  The result was the death of 72 men, women and children, both white and black. This was one of the worst urban disasters that had hit the new America. Of the 72 who died in the fire 54 were women and 18 were men. Among the notable victims were Virginia’s sitting governor, George William Smith, and former senator Abraham B. Venable. Also killed were Benjamin Botts, of Dumfries, and his wife; Botts had made a name for himself as a member of the defense in Aaron Burr’s 1807 trial for treason.

Monumental Church

On the top of the memorial pedestal there is a winged disk which represents the Egyptian diety Horus.

Due to the fire, the city came together to build a memorial befitting the tragedy.  The result was Monumental Church.  Robert Mills was awarded the contract of designing the building, after beating his teacher Benjamin Henry Latrobe out of the award.

Monumental Church Richmond VA

The marble urn is adorned with funerary symbols including drapery, stars and a wreath with flying ribbons. The faces of shrouded women also appear, which can be traced back to a 1728 book of architecture that Mills likely consulted.

Mills used this opportunity to practice his classical design elements, which can be found throughout the interior of the church.  Along with his classical elements he also used a handful of Egyptian motifs.

The victims of the fire were entombed in the ground and the building was built around them. You will find the names of all the dead in the memorial in the portico of the building.

Monumental Church Richmond VA

A considerable amount of architectural archeology was done to determine that the columns were in fact, this blue, and faux painted to resemble marble.

Monumental Church Richmond VA

The capitals in the church contain more symbols of mourning. There are upside-down torches symbolizing life snuffed out,  and stars representing heaven also drapery referencing a burial shroud.

Found, under the stairs, in the most recent renovation were notes with measurements and a notation to the architect "Mr Mills".

Found, under the stairs, in the most recent renovation were notes with measurements and a notation to the architect “Mr Mills”.

The church has gone through many iterations, including being turned into a Victorian Era church.  Today it has been brought back to its original state, thanks to Historic Richmond, although it still has a ways to go.  It is not ready for adaptive re-use since the pews are original and should be preserved, making it difficult to find a proper venue, although they are still open to ideas.

The original pews would have been approximatelu 18" higher allowing privacy, they were cut down in the Victorian age, however, so may famous people have sat in the, including Edgar Allen Poe, Lafayette and others, they are of historical importance and must remain as part of the structure.

The original pews would have been approximately 18″ higher allowing privacy, they were cut down in the Victorian age. So many famous people have sat in them, including Edgar Allen Poe, Lafayette, and others, making them of historical importance and must remain as part of the structure.

Just around the corner is the “Egyptian Building”.

Egyptian Building Richmond VA

The Egyptian Building is considered by architectural scholars to be one of the finest surviving Egyptian Revival-style buildings in the nation.

Designed by The Egyptian Building was originally called College Building, and later the Old College Building.

Designed by noted Greek Revival architect Thomas S. Stewart of Philadelphia, the Egyptian Building is one of the finest examples of the rare “Egyptian Revival” style. The building was the first permanent home of the Medical Department of Hampden-Sydney College, which later became the Medical College of Virginia. The Egyptian Building has been in continuous use since its construction in 1845 and remains the oldest medical college building in the South.

The Egyptian Building Richmond VA

The building is constructed from brick, stucco and cast iron.

The interior of the building in 2017

The interior of the building in 2017

The Egyptian Building Richmond VA

Throughout the building you will find the winged disk which represents Horus. This symbol is also found in the Monumental Church.

The cast iron capitals, topping cast stone columns and cast iron bases.

The cast iron capitals, top cast stone columns and cast iron bases.

The Egyptian Building  was designated a National Historic Landmark on November 11, 1971.

Mar 232017

2201 Shield Lakes Drive
Richmond, Virginia
March 2017

In 1893, Major James H. Dooley, a wealthy Richmond lawyer and philanthropist, along with his wife, Sallie, completed this elaborate estate in Richmond, Virginia on a 100-acre site overlooking the James River.

Maymont Richmond VA

The house was occupied until Sallie May Dooley’s death in 1925, her husband had predeceased her in 1922. After their deaths, Maymont was left to the city of Richmond and opened as a museum just six months after Mrs. Dooley’s death. It did not fare well under the guise of the city. The upper floors’ interiors and a large original collection remained relatively untouched, uncleaned, and unprotected. In 1970 a foundation was formed, and now the palatial home, while still owned by the city, is run and funded by the foundation.

This is Fountain Court. The fountain, originally nine feet deep, apparently served as a reservoir to supply the Italian Garden fountains and the Japanese Garden waterfall. Designed by Noland and Baskerville and completed in 1911, it was based on a similar landscape feature at the Villa Torlonia near Rome.

This is Fountain Court. The fountain, originally nine feet deep, apparently served as a reservoir to supply the Italian Garden fountains and the Japanese Garden waterfall. Designed by Noland and Baskervill and completed in 1911, it was based on a similar landscape feature at the Villa Torlonia near Rome.

Maymont was named for Major Dooley’s wife, Sallie May. “May Mont,” combines Mrs. Dooley’s maiden name and the French word for hill. Construction on this Romanesque style, Victorian Age, building began in early 1879 but came to a stop early on.  Construction began again in 1890, with the mansion completed in 1893.

The 12,000 square foot, 33 room home was designed by Roman born and educated architect, Edgeton S. Rogers. The home was originally to be granite with a red slate roof to match its pink Montana marble columns and its hundreds of pink roses planted about the grounds.  The exterior, however, is made of Ohio Sandstone, and the red slate roof was replaced with black slate by the City of Richmond in the 1960s.

James Dooley descended from a successful Richmond family that had immigrated from Ireland.  Sallie May was the daughter of a prominent and long-standing Virginia family.  Their varied tastes and backgrounds are reflected in the home.

This is Mr. office and personal space.

This is Mr. Dooley’s office and personal space. The Maymont Mansion Collection is comprised of works of decorative and fine arts acquired by Mr. and Mrs. Dooley in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, evidenced by the eclectic but tasteful interiors. Throughout the house, but beginning in Mr. Dooley’s office one can see the Dooleys’ reverence for the “Old Masters,” the collection includes many well-executed oil copies of paintings in the Pitti Palace, the AltePinathotek and other major collections that the couple visited on their trips abroad.

There is no wallpaper in the house as the Dooley’s preferred the walls hand painted or stenciled. Two rooms have silk damask upholstered walls.

There is no wallpaper in the house as the Dooley’s preferred the walls hand painted or stenciled. Two rooms have silk damask upholstered walls.


Mrs. Dooley’s drawing room is done in pink damask with a gold leafed fireplace.  The silk curtains are original. Unfortunately, papers, blueprints, and documents at Maymont were burned following Mrs. Dooley’s death, and in the 1930s, pieces that the City considered superfluous were sold. Despite this, the interiors and a large collection of the Dooley’s possessions remain relatively untouched.


The settee and four chairs found in this parlor are original. The museum had sent them out to be regilded and the upholstery cleaned, only to find that they were too delicate to handle the cleaning.


This Tiffany window, found on two floors is a 15 foot tall window divided between two floors

This 15 foot tall Tiffany window spans two floors.  The first floor contains a passage from Luke Chapter 10 verse 5. Peace be unto this house.

Maymont Tiffany Window



The second floor bathroom has a few areas that were left to show the neglect that occurred before the foundation was formed. The lack of cleaning can be seen in the small panel of blue above the tile that is a much darker color that the rest of the border.

The second-floor bathroom has a few areas that were left to show the neglect that occurred before the Maymont Foundation was formed. The lack of cleaning can be seen in the small panel of blue above the tile that is a much darker color than the rest of the border.


Mrs. Dooley’s bedroom is one of the highlights of the tour.  The entire room is themed in swans.  These furnishings were originally in their summer home, Swannanoa, on Afton Mountain in Virginia. The bed is carved poplar by Newman and Company of Manhattan.


The Dooley’s were consummate travelers, including many trips to Europe, San Francisco, Yosemite Valley, Polar Springs Maine, New York City and many points in between. This is Mrs. Dooley’s Louis Vuitton trunk with her name and address emblazoned on the end.

Her rocking chair was decked with swans, and many small sculptures of swans, and a painting over the fireplace can be found throughout the room.

Her rocking chair was decked with swans, as well as the painting over the fireplace and many small swan sculptures can be found throughout the room.

This dressing table and chair are a one of a kind male Narwal tusk and sterling silver Tiffany creation. The piece is in the Viking Revival style. The sterling silver contains Celtic designs with dragons toping the tusks.

This dressing table and chair are a one of a kind male Narwal tusk and sterling silver Tiffany creation. The piece is in the Viking Revival style. The sterling silver contains Celtic designs with dragons topping the tusks.

The Dooleys’ Doric temple-style mausoleum sits on the property not far from the house on the ridge over the river.

The Dooleys’ Doric temple-style mausoleum sits on the property not far from the house on the ridge over the river.

The Normandy-style Carriage House (built of James River granite), the three-storied Stone Barn and the Water Tower were designed by Noland and Baskervill and constructed in the early 20th century. These principal buildings (in addition to the three-storied Garage, a granite compost house, chicken coop and gatehouse) all were connected by the old service road that begins at Maymont’s Hampton Street entrance. Arrayed along a high ridge, this village-like assemblage of picturesque outbuildings would have been visible to guests entering along the magnolia-lined drive. These buildings have been adaptively renovated as public spaces and for institutional use.

The Stone Barn

The Normandy-style Carriage House (built of James River granite), the three-storied Stone Barn and the Water Tower were designed by Noland and Baskervill and constructed in the early 20th century. Arrayed along a high ridge, this village-like assemblage of outbuildings would have been visible to guests entering along the magnolia-lined drive. These buildings have been adaptively renovated as public spaces and for institutional use.

The Carriage House

The Carriage House

One of two water towers

One of two water towers.

Childless, the Dooley’s were big philanthropists. Not only did they give the estate to Richmond, but upon their death, several sizable bequests: $500,000 to the Crippled Children’s Hospital, $500,000 to the Richmond Public Library and $250,000 to the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia. Upon her death, Ms. Dooley designated that her jewels be sold to benefit Episcopal missions, this included a 10 carat diamond and a considerable amount of Tiffany designed jewelry.


It was March so flowers were not in bloom, nor were the water features running due to freezing, but this will give you a sense of the Italian Garden




The Japanese garden is very large and lovely as well.

The Japanese garden is very large and lovely as well.


The grounds and gardens are open Daily
April-September, 10am-7pm
October-March, 10am-5pm
Admission is Free

The Mansion is open
Tuesday-Sunday, 12-5pm
Guided tours on the hour and half-hour; last tour begins at 4:30pm.
$5 per person suggested donation

Mar 222017

The Edgar Allan Poe Museum
1914 East Main Street
March 2017

Edgar Allan Poe Museum

Though Poe never lived in the building, the museum serves to commemorate his time living in Richmond. The museum holds one of the world’s largest collections of original manuscripts, letters, first editions, memorabilia and personal belongings. The museum also provides an overview of early 19th century Richmond, where Poe lived and worked.

Richmond Virgiinia CanalWalkThe museum is just a few blocks from the James River and is an excellent jumping off spot for the Canal Walk.

First proposed by John Marshall in 1812 to connect the tidewaters of the James River with the navigable stretches of the Ohio River, the Kanawha canal required the back breaking effort of thousands of laborers. In 1837 there were as many as 3300 men, the majority of which were white Irish immigrants working on the canal. The summer of 1838 had such high temperatures that many of the Irish laborers died of hypothermia. They were replaced by slaves that worked not only through the grueling summer, but through horrible winters as well.

Richmond Virginia Canal Walk*

Richmond Virginia Canal Walk


Richmond Virginia Canal Walk

Captain Christopher Newport arrived in Virginia on May 24, 1607 where he planted a cross in honor of King James I. In 1907 the Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities erected this cross on the tercentenary of Newport’s visit. It was moved to this location in 2000.

Richmond Virginia Canal Walk

The Slave Trail begins at the Manchester Docks which operated as a major port in the slave trade making Richmond the largest source of enslaved blacks on the east coast from 1830 to 1860. The trail follows the footsteps of those who remained in Richmond and who crossed the James River, often chained together. The trail then follows a route through the slave markets and auction houses of Richmond. It continues past Lumpkin’s Slave Jail and then past the African Burial Ground and the First African Baptist Church.

Canal Walk Richmond Virginia

Walking through the abandoned portion of the hydroelectric plant.

canal walk richmond va

Stone arches supporting bridges that cross the Haxall canal.

Canal Walk Richmond VA

*RICHMOND Canal walk


Richmond VA Canal Walk

Stretching one-and-one-quarter-miles along the James River and the Kanawha and Haxall canals, the Canal Walk has access points at nearly every block between 5th and 17th streets. There are handicapped-accessible entrances at 5th, 10th, 12th, 14th and 16th streets.

Mar 222017

412 South Cherry Street
Richmond, Virginia
March 2017

Hollywood Hills Cemetery

This stunning sculpture was done by Edward Valentine. His work and sculpture maquettes are enshrined in the Valentine House in Richmond, VA

Hollywood Cemetery is the resting place of two United States Presidents, James Monroe and John Tyler, as well as the only Confederate States President, Jefferson Davis. It is also the resting place of 28 Confederate generals, more than any other cemetery in the country.

This stone for a woman from Wales is an excellent reminder of how our country was settled by immigrants from all over the world.

This stone for a woman from South Wales is an excellent reminder of how our country was settled by immigrants from all over the world.

In the late 1840s, William Haxall and Joshua Fry hired John Notman (architect of Laurel Hill Cemetery in Philadelphia) to design the cemetery in the rural garden style. Its name, “Hollywood,” came from the holly trees dotting the hills of the property.

There are two areas that stand out in this massive cemetery the first one you come upon is The Pyramid.  Built in 1869, it is 90 feet high, and its size must be seen to be believed. This giant pyramid was built as a memorial to the more than 18,000 enlisted men of the Confederate Army buried in the cemetery.

The Pyramid of Hollywood Cemetery

*Hollywood Hills Cemetery

*dsc_0991 *dsc_0989 *dsc_0988 *The Pyramid of Hollywood Cemetery

The second most notable area in the cemetery is Presidents Hill.  The Hill is covered with flowering plum trees and sits on a knoll overlooking the James River.

President's Hill Hollywood Cemetery

James Monroe Grave

James Monroe’s grave sits at the center of Presidents Hill.  Governor of Virginia and the Fifth President of the United States, he is best known for the Monroe Doctrine, which prevented European intervention in the Americas.  His wife and daughters are buried along the sides of the tomb.

John Tyler's Grave

John Tyler was governor of Virginia and the 10th President of the United States. He was also the first President to succeed to the office following the death of a predecessor (William Harrison). Arguably the most significant achievement of Tyler’s administration was the annexation of the Republic of Texas in 1845.

The James River

The James River

The cemetery consists of 130 acres, and can take hours and hours to explore, here are a few shots of some of the more interesting graves.

Said to be a favorite of visitors, there is really no indication of who the dog belongs to or if it is the dogs grave.

Said to be a favorite of visitors, there is really no indication of who the dog belongs to or if it is the dogs grave.

This dog, however, is obviously pining for its old master

This dog, however, is obviously pining for its old master.

I cannot imagine going through life with this tongue twister of a name.

I cannot imagine going through life with this tongue twister of a name.

Ellen Anderson Gholson Glasgow (April 22, 1873 – November 21, 1945) was an American novelist who portrayed the changing world of the contemporary South.

Ellen Anderson Gholson Glasgow (April 22, 1873 – November 21, 1945) was an American novelist who portrayed the changing world of the contemporary South. She won the Pulitzer Prize for her 1942 book In This Our Life.

This grave, near Ellen Glasgow's had a fascinating design

This grave, near Ellen Glasgow’s had a fascinating design

Hollywood Cemetery Richmond Virginia

Jefferson Finis Davis is most noted for serving as the President of the Confederate States of America. His daughters are buried in the tombs with the angels.

I was unable to find the oldest grave in the cemetery, but I did find a pretty old one.

I was unable to find the oldest grave in the cemetery, but I did find a pretty old one.  The first burial was an infant in 1849.

Hollywood Cemetery Richmond VA

Hollywood Cemetery richmond VA

Hollywood Cemetery Richmond, VA

*Hollywood Cemetery

The cemetery opens at 8 a.m. and closes at 6 in the summer and 5 in the winter.

Mar 222017

Fourth and Hospital Street
Richmond, Virginia
March 2017

Shake Hill CemeteryJust north out of the downtown area of Richmond, Virginia is Shokoe Hill Cemetery. Originally called the “burying ground” it opened in 1820, its original 4 acres has grown to a little over 12 acres.

There are an estimated 300,000 bodies buried in Shockoe Hill, these include such notables as Chief Justice John Marshall and unionist spymaster Elizabeth Van Lew, intermingled with the wealthy (especially after Chief Justice John Marshall was buried there in 1835) and the poor, the native and the immigrant, all in Richmond’s first city-owned and operated cemetery.

Between 1861 and 1864 The Alms House hospital was just north of the area. The cemetery became the resting place of many Confederate soldiers, especially those who died at the hospital.

Between 1861 and 1864 The Alms House hospital was just north of the area. The newer Alms House is just across the street on Hospital Street.  The cemetery became the resting place of many Confederate soldiers, especially those who died at the hospital.

Some of the more neglected, and yet lovely graves

Some of the more neglected, and yet lovely graves

All Southern states (except Arkansas) are represented here by soldiers killed in battle. Including both wartime casualties and veterans.

The Cemetery is still open to burials of family members in existing family plots; the last such burial occurred in 2003. In July 2016 the City reclaimed title to several unused plots, on one of which will stand a columbarium with niches to hold cremated remains. Those plots and niches are now available for purchase by the general public, marking the first sale of grave spaces in the Cemetery since about 1900.

There are many illegible grave stones and all manner of flags

There are many illegible grave stones and all manner of flags

The city still maintains the cemetery, although it is in a rather sad state of disrepair. There are over 25 notable people buried in Shockoe Hill and if you visit there are sign posts that hold maps, but even then it isn’t very easy to find the graves you are searching for.

Here are some of the notable ones that I found.

Justice John Marshall

Justice John Marshall 1755-1835

A Revolutionary soldier, Congressman, and Secretary of State, Marshall served as the fourth Chief Justice of the United States between 1801 and 1835. In Marbury v Madison he ensured that the judicial branch was made co-equal to the executive and legislative branches with the power to invalidate actions at odds with the Constitution.  He is buried here with his wife, Mary Ambler “Polly” Marshall and other family members.

Shackoe Hill Cemetery

Elizabeth Van Lew (1818-1900) was raised in a prominent Richmond family but grew to abhor slavery. As an adult she created the most effective Unionist espionage ring in Richmond during the Civil War. From her home on Church Hill she organized spy missions, assisted escaped prisoners, and dispatched critical data to Ulysses S. Grant. After the war, President Grant named her Postmistress of Richmond.  She went on to champion black Richmonders and integrated the postal service.  Her grave marker is a memorial gift from Union soldiers.


Jane Stanard (1793-1824) was the mother of a close friend of Edgar Allan Poe.  His home life was turbulent and he often turned to Jane Stanard for respite and comfort. She treated Poe with kindness and encouraged his writing. She died early and Poe spent long nights pining at her grave.  She is believed to be the inspiration for his poem “To Helen”.

Shackoe Hill Cemetery

Shackoe Hill Cemetery

Sarah Elmira Royster Shelton (1810-1888)  had a romance with Edgar Allan Poe when they were teenagers. When Poe went off to the University of Virginia their romance cooled and they each married others.  By 1848 both of their spouses had died and they rekindled their relationship. Sarah is thought to be “Annabel Lee” in his poems.

Shockoe Hill Cemetery

The center stone if for Peter Francisco (1760?-1831). A Portuguese orphan, Peter grew to almost seven feet tall, leading him to be nicknamed the “Sampson of the American Revolution”. He fought in more than a dozen battles, and suffered as many serious wounds. In his last years he served as Sergeant-at-Arms to the Virginia State Senate.  Virginia, Rhode Island and Massachusets all celebrate a Peter Francisco Day.

John Mercer Patton

John Mercer Patton(1797-1850) was the great grandfather of General George S. Patton.  John Mercer trained as a doctor but never practiced, instead, he went into law and politics. He served as a Congressman and briefly as a provisional Governor in 1841.  All eight of his sons served in the confederate military two of which are buried here.

Shockoe Hill Cemetery

In this vicinity are buried 220 Confederate soldiers and 577 Union soldiers that are recorded, as well as, hundreds of others soldiers of whose burial no record was made.

Shockoe Hill Cemetery

Shockoe Hill Cemetery

One of the more sad stones in the cemetery is this one. This is the March 1863 Memorial Marker. The marker was placed on the 150th anniversary of the explosion on Brown’s Island in Richmond that killed dozens of munitions workers, mostly young girls.  Fourteen of the victims are named on the marker and are buried in the cemetery.

Shockoe Hill Cemetery

This monument is dedicated to the memory of more than 27 patriots of the American Revolution and 400 veterans of the War of 1812 buried in this cemetery. Their loyalty, faith, courage and self-sacrifice in serving our country preserved the freedoms we enjoy today. We hope that every visitor to this cemetery recognizes the service they provided to our country and that it is never forgotten.


Notice the angels on the grave site railings

* *Shockoe Hill Cemetery

Jul 212016

125 W. Fullerton Parkway
Lincoln Park
Chicago, Illinois

Alfred Caldwell's Lily Pond

Chicago’s official motto is “Urbs in Horto,” which translates to “City in a Garden”, much of the garden aspects of this town can be attributed to Alfred Caldwell and his mentor Jens Jensen.

Lily Pond is the work of Alfred Caldwell. During the depression, Caldwell worked on and off for the Chicago Park District. It was a tumultuous relationship, but it was also steady work. In 1936, under the guise of the Park District and with WPA money Caldwell designed the Lily Pool.

Caldwell suggested that “besides being a nature garden,” the Lily Pool is “a geological statement.”

He explains: “The landscape of all Chicago was once a lake formed by the melting ice of the Late Wisconsin Glacier. These dammed-up waters finally broke through the moraine ridge at the southwest extremity of the area. This surging torrent carved out the underlying strata of Niagara limestone. The present Des Plaines River, in part follows that channel; and the stone bluffs are a veritable statement of the natural forces that created the terrain of Chicago.”

The front gate

The front gate

You enter this small oasis through a stunning wood and stone gate. Originally there was to be a Prairie style lantern at the entrance to the park, placed within the stone entryway, this was eliminated from the original project.

Prairie River Alfred CaldwellThe center of the park is a large body of water, it was called the prairie river by Caldwell. The intent was to emulate the melted glacial waters that had cut through the Niagara limestone. The curved shape gives the illusion of a larger space with views and scenery continuously changing.

On the northwest side, to the right as you enter, Caldwell created a small waterfall out of slabs of limestone. Caldwell suggested that, “A body of water presumes a source. Hence the waterfall.”

Lily Pool Alfred Caldwell

The waterfall

On the southeast side of the river is a circular round bench made of stone called a council ring. Although Caldwell included council rings in many of his park plans, this is the only one in Chicago that followed his exact specifications.

Circle at Lily Pond

The Council Ring

The most prominent feature is the wood pavilion. This Prairie style edifice is often wrongly attributed to Frank Lloyd Wright.

Lily Pool by Alfred Caldwell

Two stone and wood shelters are joined together by a large horizontal wood beam, to Caldwell “The spreading horizontal structure is like a tree, rooted in a rock ledge.”

The Lily Pool in Lincoln Park is the most fully realized surviving example of the work of landscape architect Alfred Caldwell. The disciple of renowned Prairie style landscape designer and conservationist, Jens Jensen, Caldwell “…imbibed deeply of Jensen’s philosophy. A total respect for the processes of nature was the basis. The landscape architect was an artist, or more correctly a poet, who would interpret and reveal nature, by using its materials.” …    Richard Guy Wilson – Commonwealth Professor in Architectural History at the University of Virginia

There are two interesting stories regarding this project by Caldwell. The first is regarding the plantings.

The park service had decided to cut the budget for the wildflower plantings that Caldwell has proposed.

Caldwell later told the story: “So not to be beat, I talked it over with my wife. I had recently taken out an insurance policy for $5,000 dollars. I cashed in my insurance policy. I got $250 dollars. I went up to Wisconsin. I hired a truck. I had three or four people and they worked like mad for a whole day and a half. I loaded all these thousand and thousands of plants. I loaded them and brought them in all the way from Sauk County, Wisconsin. When I got back to the Lincoln Park Lily Pond, it was 6:00 pm on a Saturday night. We spread all the stuff out on the side of the slopes where they were to go. In the morning we planted them all. We finished the whole thing by 1:00 or 2:00 p.m. The lily pond was finished. The Juneberry trees were in blossom. It was like paradise.

Lily Pool by Alfred CaldwellA second story, that comes down through Paul Finfer, a student of Caldwell’s, is of three men that would not only have a impact on Chicago and the world of architecture, but on Caldwell’s career itself.

Caldwell explains that while working on the pool three mysterious men in black overcoats stood and watched. “They spoke in German. The tall one could speak a little English.”

As the men studied the pavilion at the Lily Pool, Caldwell approached. They pointed to the pavilion and asked, “Frank Lloyd Wright?” He thumped himself on the chest and replied, “No, Alfred Caldwell.” Caldwell remembered that one of the men was also intrigued with the way plants were growing between the crevices of the rocks. The three men left, and Caldwell “often wondered mightily about them.” It wasn’t until a couple of years later that Caldwell learned that they were Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Ludwig Hilberseimer and Walter Peterhans, the famous architects and planners who fled Nazi Germany to settle in Chicago to teach at the Armour Institute (now Illinois Institute of Chicago).


Sadly, by 1946 the Park district had allowed the nearby zoo to encroach upon the pool. Exotic birds left droppings in the pool and destroyed much of the vegetation. This allowed invasive plants to take over cutting down on the sunlight, causing erosion and destroying the design created by Caldwell.

In 1997 a non-profit group was formed to raise funds and work with the park department to restore the Lily Pool.

During this period the original entry gate was replaced. White oak barn wood was used to match the original and photographs were carefully studied to ensure accuracy of the elements. Also, during the restoration, the light fixture was recreated and placed as Caldwell had envisioned.

Caldwell's light fixture was added during the restoration. Photo courtesy of the Park Service

Caldwell’s entrance light fixture was recreated and added during the restoration.                                   Photo courtesy of Wolff Landscape Architecture – Chicago.

Alfred Caldwell was born in St. Louis in 1903, he moved to Chicago when he was a young boy. He enrolled in University of Illinois in Champaign- Urbana, but quickly became disillusioned. After a few missteps and thanks to some well-intentioned connections, he found himself apprenticed to renowned landscape architect Jens Jensen. He worked as a superintendent for Jensen for 5 ½ years. During this time he met Frank Lloyd Wright and was asked to join Wright at Taliesen. Caldwell’s wife had misgivings and he turned down the offer, although he did spend a few weeks there.

By now the depression was beginning to rear its ugly head and Jensen could no longer keep Caldwell on. At this point he was hired for a large project in Dubuque, Iowa, this project was to be Eagle Point Park.

Fired in January of 1936, most likely because he just did not fit in, he returned to Chicago.

He decided to sit for the Illinois architects exam and began attending classes. His instructors were the three Germans dressed in black overcoats that watched over him while planting Lily Pond. Caldwell passed the exam without difficulty.

Caldwell designed scores of landscapes, he also taught for more than 35 years at the Illinois Institute of Technology and the University of Southern California and was a visiting professor at Virginia Polythechnic Institute. Despite all of this he remained relatively unknown. In a 1977 article, architectural historian Richard Guy Wilson changed all of that with his article “Alfred Caldwell Illuminates Nature’s Ways,” in Landscape Architecture Magazine.

“…as historians begin to inspect the [1930s] period it becomes increasingly obvious that certain strains of indigenous American creativity have been overlooked. Alfred Caldwell’s work encompasses the broadest definitions of landscape architecture, an activity not simply of plant types and topography, but a vision and philosophy of man and nature that is at the core of the American dream.”

Alfred Caldwell's Lily Pond


Jul 192016

951 Chicago Avenue
Oak Park, Chicago

Boulder ManOn the piers flanking the entry to Frank Lloyd Wrights 1898 architectural studio in Oak Park, Illinois, sit these two pieces, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright and executed by Richard Bock.

“Boulder Man” is the most valuable of Richard Bock’s work.  He originally designed and modeled the piece to top a gate post.  The body, apparently half buried in the earth is stunning from every angle.  These sculptures are reproductions.  They were re-created from photographs.  The originals had disintegrated beyond repair, the replicas were done during the 1980s restoration of Frank Lloyd Wrights home and studio.

The story goes that Wright wanted two sculptures, but could only afford one.  To get reflecting sculptures, i.e. a right and a left, two separate sculptures must be made and then two separate molds and final castings, so he simply turned one of them to a different angle, giving the sense of two different sculptures.

Richard Bock was born 1865 in Schloppe, Germany. He moved to Chicago, with his family as a youth, where he grew up in German neighborhoods.

Frank Lloyd Wrights StudioBock spent three years at the Berlin Academy studying and later at the Ecole des Beaux Arts School in Paris.  In 1891 he returned Chicago to establish a permanent sculpture studio. Almost immediately upon Bock’s return to America, he received three major commissions and for the World’s Columbian Exposition in 1893, he sculpted major architectural works for the Mining and Electricity Exposition Halls.

He created interior bas-reliefs for Chicago’s  Schiller Building, during which time, in the winter of 1891 to 1892, Bock studied under its architect Louis Sullivan. It was in the Sullivan’s office that Bock met Frank Lloyd Wright.

From 1903 to 1913, Bock worked almost exclusively with Wright on multiple projects, The two became close friends and their families often spent time together.

The close working relationship came to end when Wright invited Bock to accompany him to Japan. Bock, a family man, declined. Though they remained friends they were never worked together again or visited much afterwards.

In 1929, Bock became the head of the Sculptural Department at the University of Oregon, he retired in 1932.

In the 1940s, Bock and his wife moved to California where in 1949 he died at the age of 84 of Parkinson’s Disease.

Richard Bock

Jul 172016

Off N. Lake Shore Drive near W. North Avenue
Screen Shot 2016-07-09 at 5.00.36 PM

This is one of the two sculptures in Lincoln Park that were bequeathed to Chicago upon the death of lumberman Eli Bates.

This 12 foot tall figure known as the “Standing Lincoln” was the first of Saint-Gaudens’ statues of Lincoln. He received the commission for this monument in 1884 and began work the following year.

Lincoln had made quite an impression on Saint-Gaudens when he saw Lincoln in 1860 . “Lincoln stood tall in the carriage, his dark uncovered head bent in contemplative acknowledgement of the waiting people, and the broadcloth of his black coat shone rich and silken in the sunlight”.

To capture Lincoln’s appearance, Saint-Gaudens relied on plaster life masks made by Leonard Volk of Lincoln’s Hands and face. To achieve the pose Saint-Gardens used Langdon Morse a 6 foot 4 farmer from Windsor Vermont.

As he worked out the design for the statue, St. Gaudens experimented with a variety of poses: seated and standing, arms crossed in front of his body, or holding a document. Art critic Marianna Griswold Van Rensselaer described the decision  in her review of the statue in The Century (1887):

“The first question to be decided must have been: Shall the impression to be given base itself primarily upon the man of action or upon the man of affairs? Shall the statue be standing or seated? In the solution of this question we find the most striking originality of the work. The impression given bases itself in equal measure upon the man of action and the
man of affairs. Lincoln is standing, but stands in front of a chair from which he has just risen. He is before the people to counsel and direct them, but has just turned from that other phase of his activity in which he was their executive and their protector. Two ideas are thus expressed in the composition, but they are not separately, independently expressed to the detriment of unity. The artist has blended them to the eye as our own thought blends them when we speak of Lincoln. The pose reveals the man of action, but represents a man ready for action, not really engaged in it; and the chair clearly typical of the Chair of State reveals his title to act no less than his methods of self-preparation. We see, therefore, that completeness of expression has been arrived at through a symbolic, idealistic conception.”

Standing LincolnArchitect, Stanford White, of the New York firm of McKim, Mead and White, designed the monument’s base. He added the long, curving exedra bench to encourage visitors to sit and enjoy the statue,

This was one of 20 such artistic collaborations between White and Saint-Gaudens who also became close friends.

The monument was cast in bronze by the Henry-Bonnard Bronze Company in New York, and dedicated on October 22, 1887, to a large crowd. Lincoln’s son, Robert, considered this the best sculpture of his father of the many that were done.

After Saint-Gaudens’ death, his wife authorized an edition of smaller bronze copies. These are found in public institutions around the country. Full- size casts of the statue were later installed in London, England, Mexico City, Cambridge, Massachusetts and Hollywood Hills, California. The image of Lincoln used for the commemorative stamp
of 1909, was drawn from the head of this statue.

Saint-Gaudens has been in this site before, you can read about him here.

Abraham Lincoln

Jul 162016

N. Lincoln Parkway West and W. Belden Avenue

ShakespeareAccording to the Chicago Parks Department:

“When Samuel Johnston, a successful north side businessman, died in 1886, he left a sizeable gift in his will for several charities as well as money for a memorial to William Shakespeare in Lincoln Park.

A competition was held to select a sculptor. The winner was a Columbia University graduate, William Ordway Partridge (1861–1930), who had studied sculpture in France and Italy after a short stint as an actor.

This commission presented a unique challenge for Partridge since the only known portraits of William Shakespeare (1564–1616) had been done after the death of the famous English playwright and poet. Partridge made an intensive study of Shakespeare and life in Elizabethan England. He visited Stratford and London, reviewed dozens of existing artworks, and examined a death mask that was then believed to have been authentic.

Partridge also consulted with Shakespearean actors including Henry Irving and his costumer, Seymour Lucas, who helped him portray the world-renowned literary figure in authentic period clothing.

Partridge displayed a plaster model of the William Shakespeare Monument at the World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893. He had the work cast in bronze in Paris and shipped to Chicago.

The donor’s grandniece, Miss Cornelia Williams, unveiled the sculpture on April 23, 1894, the supposed anniversary of both Shakespeare’s birth and death. At the dedication ceremony, Partridge said: “Shakespeare needs nothing of bronze. His monument is England, America, and the whole of Saxondom. He placed us upon a pedestal, but one cannot place him on one, for he belongs among the people whom he so dearly loved.” The artist’s remarks offer insight into the sculpture’s unusually low pedestal, which provides exceptional visual and physical access to the artwork.”


On the base is inscribed Shakespeare’s words from Hamlet.
What a piece of work is man! How noble in reason! How infinite in faculty!

On the opposite side are Samuel T. Coleridge’s words,
“he was not for an age but for all time, our myriad- minded Shakespeare….”

William Partridge was born in Paris to American parents. Partridge travelled to America to attend Adelphi Academy in Brooklyn and Columbia University (graduated 1883) in New York. After a year of experimentation in theatre, he went abroad to study sculpture.

Aside from his public commissions, his work consisted mostly of portrait busts. In 1893 eleven of his works were displayed at the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago

Partridge went on to lecture at Stanford University in California, and assumed a professorship at Columbian University, now George Washington University, in Washington, D.C.

He died in Manhattan on May 22, 1930.

Jul 152016

Eli Bates FountainThis whimsical fountain is known as both the Eli Bates Fountain and “Storks at Play”.

Eli Bates was a Chicago lumberman who died in 1881. He bequeathed a fund for the commission of Standing Lincoln, also by Saint-Gaudens, and this fountain, both to be placed in Lincoln Park.

Installed in 1887 it was a joint collaboration between Augustus Saint-Gaudens and his student Frederick W. MacMonnies

Storks at PlayThe figures for the fountain were cast by the Henry-Bonnard Bronze Company of New York.

Augustus Saint-Gaudens has been in this site before, you can read about him here.

In 1880 MacMonnies began an apprenticeship under Augustus Saint-Gaudens, and was soon promoted to studio assistant, beginning his lifelong friendship with the acclaimed sculptor. MacMonnies studied at night with the National Academy of Design and The Art Students League of New York.

In Saint-Gaudens’ studio, he met Stanford White, who was using Saint-Gaudens for the prominent sculptures required for his architecture.
Augustus Saint-GaudensIn 1888, Stanford White helped MacMonnies win two major commissions for garden sculpture, a decorative Pan fountain sculpture for Rohallion, the New Jersey mansion of banker Edward Adams, and a work for ambassador Joseph H. Choate, at Naumkeag, in Stockbridge, Massachusetts.

In 1891 he was awarded the commission for the Columbian Fountain, the centerpiece of the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago: the sculpture of Columbia in her Grand Barge of State, in the central fountain of the Court of Honor became the focal point at the Exposition and established MacMonnies as one of the important sculptors of the time.

MacMonniesIn 1894, Stanford White brought MacMonnies a commission for three bronze groups for the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Arch in Brooklyn’s Grand Army Plaza.

Three of MacMonnies’ best-known sculptures are Nathan Hale, Bacchante and Infant Faun, and Diana.

Lincoln Park Fountain

Jul 112016

6000 Cottage Grove Avenue
Chicago, Illinois


Fountain of Time, or simply Time, is a 126 foot long sculpture by Lorado Taft, within Washington Park in Chicago, Illinois.

The sculpture was inspired by Henry Austin Dobson’s poem, “Paradox of Time”. “Time goes, you say? Ah no, Alas, time stays, we go”.

Father Time

Father Time

The sculpture includes Father Time, hooded and carrying a scythe. He watches over a parade of 100 figures showing humanity at various stages of life.

The Sculptor

The Sculptor Lorado Taft


Although most of the figures are generic Taft included himself, with one of his assistants following him, along the west side of the sculpture. He is wearing a smock, his head is bowed and his  hands are clasped behind his back. His daughters also served as models for some of the figures.

The work was created as a monument to the first 100 years of peace between the United States and Great Britain, resulting from the Treaty of Ghent in 1814 and funded by a 1905, $1 million ($26.3 million today), gift from Benjamin Ferguson. The gift formed a charitable trust to “memorialize events in American History”.

TimeLorado Taft initially conceived a sculpture carved from granite or Georgia marble, however, the trust only allotted enough funds for a concrete structure.

In 1999, Robert Jones, director of design and construction for the Art Institute of Chicago stated that Time was the first finished art piece to be made of any type of concrete.

The sculpture is made of  steel reinforced cast concrete. It was cast in a 4,500-piece mold, using 230 tons of a material described as “concrete-like”, which incorporated pebbles from the Potomac River.

TimeLorado Zadoc Taft was born in Elmwood, Illinois, in 1860 and died in his home studio in Chicago in 1936.

After being homeschooled by his parents, Taft earned his bachelor’s degree (1879) and master’s degree (1880) from the Illinois Industrial University (later renamed the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign).

Taft attended the École nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts from 1880 to 1883, he returned to Chicago in 1883 and taught at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago until 1929.

Taft also taught at the University of Chicago from 1893 to 1900 and again in 1909 as a lecturer of art history. He also wrote a number of books on art history.

TimeTaft’s body of work is impressive. Some notable sculptures around Chicago include Eternal Silence and The Crusader both at Graceland Cemetery, and Fountain of the Great Lakes at the Art Institute. He also sculpted the Columbus Fountain at Union Station in Washington DC.

Jul 092016

Nichols Bridgeway
Off E. Jackson and South Michigan Avenue

Great Lakes Fountain

Fountain of the Great Lakes or Spirit of the Great Lakes Fountain is an allegorical sculpture by Lorado Taft at the Art Institute of Chicago.  The fountain was moved to this spot in the 1960s.

Lake Superior

Lake Superior

Created between 1907-1913, the bronze fountain depicts five women arranged so that the water flows through them in the same way water passes through the Great Lakes.

The fountain is Taft’s response to Daniel Burnham’s complaint at the Columbian Exposition in 1893 that the sculptors charged with ornamenting the fairgrounds failed to produce anything that represented the great natural resources of the west, especially the Great Lakes.

It is said that Taft used the Greek myth of the Danaides, forty-nine sisters who were sent to Hades for killing their husbands on their wedding nights as inspiration. As punishment for this crime, the sisters were eternally condemned to hopelessly carry water in sieves.

Taft envisioned a fountain with five female figures each representing one of the Great Lakes. In 1902 Taft assigned Nellie Walker, Angelica McNulty, Clara Leonard, Lily Schoenbrun, and Edith Parker to bring his design to life.

“Five of my young sculptors made from a sketch of mine the first model of the “Great Lakes.” [The figures] were less than life size, they were not very good and being made separately they did not fit together well.  But the people like the idea and I was encouraged to do them again.  I did so, this time doing the work entirely myself.”

Lakes Michigan, Huron and Erie

Lakes Michigan, Huron and Erie

The fountain consists of a series of female figures symbolizing the general flow of the Great Lakes. Lake Superior sits at the top, the water from her mingles with that of Lake Michigan and empties into a shell held by Lake Huron.  The water then continues onto Lake Erie, and finally passes to Lake Ontario.

At the opening ceremony for the fountain Taft said of Lake Ontario waters “escape from her basin and hasten into the unknown, she reaches wistfully after them as though questioning whether she has been neglectful of her charge”.

Lake Ontario

Lake Ontario

Once erected, the fountain received largely positive reviews, but a few critics questioned the symbolism of the sculpture. Others were caught up in sociopolitical subtexts of the day, with regard to obscenity laws as it related to public art and this semi-nude work. The degree to which nudity in public art was more for the “sake of nudity than for the sake of art” was a contemporary issue involving confiscated Paul Chabas fully nude painting. This led to a 1913 amendment to the Chicago municipal obscenity laws which passed three months before the dedication of Taft’s partially nude fountain.


Jul 092016


Eternal SilenceThe Eternal Silence, (also called Eternal Silence or Statue of Death)  marks the grave of Dexter Graves, who led a group of thirteen families that moved from Ohio to Chicago in 1831, making them some of Chicago’s earliest settlers. Graves died in 1844, seventy-five years before the creation of the statue, and sixteen years before Graceland Cemetery was founded; his body was presumably moved to Graceland from the old City Cemetery.  The funds for the monument were provided in the will of his son, Henry, who died in 1907. The will provided $250,000 for a Graves family mausoleum, they received the statue instead.

The Eternal SilenceThe statue was sculpted by Lorado Taft and cast by a Chicago foundry owned by Jules Bercham.

The hooded figure was influenced by Taft’s own “ideas on death and silence”. Historically speaking, the figure in Eternal Silence is related to the sculpted funeral procession around the tomb of Philip the Bold in Dijon, France and the Adams Memorial by Augustus Saint-Gaudens in Rock Creek Cemetery in Washington, D.C.


Another grave stone carved by Loredo Taft is The Crusader.  This is also in Graceland Cemetery in Chicago

The Crusader

The Crusader is a medieval knight, and is used to symbolize the character of Victor Lawson, publisher of the Chicago Daily News. Standing over thirteen feet tall, it was carved out of a solid block of highly polished dark granite supplied by the Henry C. Smalley Granite Company of Quincy, Massachusetts. The knight, with a large sword and shield, was an image that Taft had contemplated for years; he used it in numerous works besides The Crusader.

Unlike Taft’s earlier work, The Crusader emphasizes its “sheer mass”. While there is no name on the grave stone there is an inscription:   “Above all things truth beareth away victory”,  a quote from 1 Esdras 3:12.

Jun 232016

The Marquette Building
140 South Dearborn

Tiffany Mosaics

This spectacular, and difficult to photograph, mosaic is in the rotund of the Marquette building.  Designed by J.A. Holler of the Tiffany Company it depicts the Mississippi voyage of Louis Jolliet and Father Marquette.

Louis Tiffany was the son of jeweler Charles Tiffany. His career took off after the display of his mosaics in the chapel at the 1893 Columbian Exposition, also known as the Worlds Fair in Chicago.

marquette buildingJacob Adolph Holzer was a Swiss artist who worked for Tiffany as chief designer and art director,  he was responsible for the design and execution of the Marquette murals.

Jacob Adolphus Holzer (1858–1938) was associated with both John La Farge and Augustus Saint-Gaudens before he left to direct the mosaic workshops of Louis Comfort Tiffany. Holzer worked with Tiffany until 1898. In 1898 he left to form his own studio.

Holzer designed the sculptural electrified lantern that became famous at that World’s Columbian Exposition, one of two electrified lanterns that have been called the “ancestors” of all later Tiffany lamps.

Tiffany ChicagoHolzer’s works include: in New York, the lobby of The Osborne, 205 West 57th Street. In Boston, the Central Congregational Church, 67 Newbury Street (1893), and perhaps the Frederick Ayer Mansion, Commonwealth Avenue (1899–1901). In Chicago, the Chicago Cultural Center, 78 East Washington Street, as well as the Marquette Building.  At Princeton, his mosaics of subjects from Homer fill the rear wall of Alexander Hall. In Troy, New York, his stained-glass east window and baptistry mosaics can be seen in St Paul’s Church.

On leaving Tiffany studios, he traveled in the Near East. He provided some of the illustrations for Mary Bowers Warren, Little Journeys Abroad (Boston, 1894).

In 1923 Holzer moved to Florence where he lived out his life painting and taking on mosaic commissions until his death at the age of 80.

Tiffany Mosaics Chicago

Jun 192016

The Marquette Building
140 South Dearborn


Herman Atkins MacNeil ChicagoThese four bronze plaques sit above the entry doors of the Marquette Building in Chicago.  They were done in 1895 by Henry MacNeil (1866-1947).  At the time MacNeil shared a studio in the building with painter Charles F. Browne.

Louis Jolliet and Jesuit Father Jacques Marquette, were the first non-Natives to explore and map the Mississippi River in 1673. The four bronze plaques are the story of their journey. They depict the launching of the canoes, the meeting of the Michigamea Indians, the arriving at the Chicago River and finally the interring of Marquette’s body.

MacNeil, born in Massachusetts, studied at the Normal Art School in Boston.  He was an instructor in industrial art and modeling at Cornell before heading to Paris to study at the Ecole des Beaux Arts.

MacNeil returned to Chicago and began assisting on the sculptures for the Worlds Columbian Exposition of 1893, also known as the White City or the Worlds Fair. He later settled in Chicago and taught at the Art Institute.

Herman MacNeil ChicagoAfter attending one of Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Shows at the Worlds Fair he began depicting the American Indian throughout his art.

He latter befriended Black Pipe, a Sioux warrior from the show, who he found down-and-out on the Chicago streets after the carnival midways of the Fair had closed. Black Pipe, at the invitation of MacNeil, assisted in his studio for the next year. Inspired by these native subjects MacNeil, along with writer Hamlin Garland and painter C.F. Browne  traveled to the four-corners territories (now, New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado, and Utah) seeing American Indians (Navajo, and Moqui — now Hopi) and studied the changing cultural element on these various reservations.

The Marquette Building ChicagoPerhaps his best known work is as the designer of the Standing Liberty quarter, which was minted from 1916 to 1930, and carries his initial to the right of the date.

He also sculpted Justice, the Guardian of Liberty, on the east pediment of the United States Supreme Court building.

One of his last works was the Pony Express statue dedicated in 1940 in St. Joseph, Missouri.

Marquette Building Chicago


Oct 222015

October 2015

Hotei, or God of Happiness isn't as easy to find as one would expect by his size.

Hotei, or God of Happiness isn’t as easy to find as one would expect by his size.

Morikami Museum and Gardens were established in 1977 after Mr. Morikami bequeathed the land for the garden.

Chie no Wa or Wisdom Ring

Chie no Wa or Wisdom Ring. This is a replica of a 500 year old stone lantern from the Japanese city of Miyazu.  Originally the ring would hold a candle and the both sides would be covered with rice paper to create the lantern.

The Japanese influence to this part of Florida is interesting. In 1904, Jo Sakai, a new graduate of New York University returned to his home in Miyazu, Japan to organize a group of farmers with hopes of experimenting with new crops in the Boca Raton area of Florida. With the help of the Model Land Company, a subsidiary of Henry Flagler’s East Coast Railroad, they formed a farming colony they named Yamato.

Details on the Woodruff Memorial Bridge, the entrance to the gardens

Details on the Woodruff Memorial Bridge, the entrance to the gardens

Eventually the experiment was a disappointment and by the 1920s the small group of 30-35 people eventually left for other parts of the US or returned to Japan.

A bridge entrance to the Shinden Garden which represents the Heian Period (c. 9th - 12th centuries)

A bridge entrance to the Shinden Garden which represents the Heian Period (c. 9th – 12th centuries)

The garden was designed by landscape architect Hoichi Kurisu. Kurisu was born in Hiroshima, educated in Tokyo and today lives in Portland, Oregon. The garden took nearly two years to create and is intended to cover the eras from the 9th to the 20th centuries in Japanese Gardens.

Traditional Japanese ornaments can be found throughout the park

Traditional Japanese ornaments can be found throughout the park

Morikami Gardens

This is a Shishi Odoshi, which means Deer Chaser. The bang of the bamboo against stone, was meant for just this purpose. If you have never seen one, the green bamboo holder fills with water and when full, drops to the stone, empties and makes a very loud bang.  It then pops back up and the process begins again, as long as the stream keeps running the process is endless.

A Shishi Odoshi, which means Deer Chaser. The bank of the bamboo against stone, was meant for just this purpose


There are two traditional gravel raked gardens at Mirokami.

There are two traditional gravel raked gardens at Morokami.

There are also, non-traditional Japanese creatures throughout the park.

There are also, non-traditional Japanese creatures throughout the park.

Ishidoro Stone Lantern- erected in 1681 in memory of the fourth Tokugawa shogun, the latter made its way from Kan'eiji temple in Tokyo to a shipbuildier in Kure, Japan. then to West Palm Beach and then a South Florida Museum, before finally resting in Morikami

Ishidoro Stone Lantern- erected in 1681 in memory of the fourth Tokugawa shogun, the lantern made its way from Kan’eiji temple in Tokyo to a shipbuildier in Kure, Japan then to West Palm Beach and then a South Florida Museum, before finally resting in Morikami.

Morikami Museum and Garden, Florida


A view of the Woodruff bridge from across the lake

A view of the Woodruff bridge from across the lake

Just when you think you are truly in Japan you are reminded you just might not be.

Caution Alligators may be present

Caution Alligators may be present

Morikami Museum and Garden, Florida


The museum has a lovely teahouse.

The museum has a lovely teahouse.

There is a second story to the Yamato Colony mentioned above.  In 1942 the few that remained in the Boca Raton area had their land seized by the government to create an Army Air Corps training base.  They were eventually reimbursed for their land, but not at full market value.

George Marikami and other families retained their property and continued farming, but for a short time they had their bank accounts frozen and were watched closely by the Coast Guard.

During my visit there was a stunning exhibit by Wendy Maruyama titled Executive Order 9066.  Ms. Maruyama’s mixed media pieces were moving and brilliant, but what took my breath away was The Tag Project.

The project consists of 10 hangings of 120,000 recreated identification tags. The number of tags corresponds with the number of Japanese citizens interned during WWII. The 10 hangings represent the 10 internment camps.

The Tag Project by Wendy Maruyama

The Museum and Garden has a fabulous web presence, including an audio tour.


The following is a short video of the Bamboo.  The crack and pop that you hear is simply the bamboo moving against each other.

Oct 222015

October 2015

McKee Gardens Vero Beach, Florida

The McKee Botanical Garden began its life in 1932, when land speculator Arthur G. McKee and architect Waldo E. Sexton opened McKee Jungle Gardens.

Entrance Arbor

Entrance Arbor

This, originally, 80-acre, garden in Vero Beach, Florida was designed by landscape architect William Lyman Phillips from the office of Fredrick Law Olmsted.

The Royal Palm Grove, planted in 2012. The Royal Palm is native to Florida and can grow to a height of 100 feet.

The Royal Palm Grove, planted in 2002. The Royal Palm is native to Florida are among the tallest palms  in the world

By the 1940s more than 100,000 tourists were visiting the gardens each year.

McKee Gardens, Vero Beach, Florida

In the early 1970’s, the development of I-95 and other attractions in the area caused a serious decline in interest of the garden, and by 1976 the Gardens were forced to closed. The property was sold and zoned for development. Fortunately 18 acres of the original 80 did not fall to development, even after lying dormant for 20 years.

McKee Gardens, Vero Beach, Florida

In 1994, the Indian River Land Trust purchased the property. An additional $9 million was raised to purchase, stabilize and restore the Garden, and in November, 2001 McKee Botanical Garden was opened.


The stone bridge was part of the original gardens, it was discovered in the 1990s by volunteers, hidden under a mass of weeds.

The Garden features 10,000 native and tropical plants as well as one of the area’s largest collections of waterlilies.

McKee Gardens Water LiliesThe Hall of Giants and Spanish Kitchen, historic to the Garden, were both meticulously restored to Sexton’s original vision, and in 2002 the United State’s first permitted bamboo structure was built on site.

The Hall of Giants with its

The Hall of Giants was designed by Waldo Sexton. In the Hall of Giants is this 35 foot long Mahogany table. Said to be the world’s largest one-piece mahogany table. It is a single slab of Philippine mahogany that is 35′ 10″ long and 5″ thick. It was the centerpiece of the Hall of Giants from 1940 until 1976.

Waldo Sexton first saw the table in 1903 at the St. Louis Louisiana Purchase Exposition. He purchased it nearly 20 years later in a basement of a New York City warehouse and had it shipped by boat to Vero Beach.

In 1940, the Hall of Giants was constructed to house the table.  During that time the Hall of Giants was a gathering spot for community events, including football banquets, corporate annual meetings and Chamber of Commerce dinners.

The exterior of the Hall of Giants

The exterior of the Hall of Giants

Opposite the Hall of Giants is the Spanish Kitchen, home of famed old-time Florida cookouts. During the height of the Gardens popularity, white uniformed cooks would prepare steaks and potatoes on the triple grill.

The Spanish Kitchen

The Spanish Kitchen

Sexton also designed the kitchen and used  odds and ends of his personal collections to give the kitchen an old time feeling.

Large cooking pots in The Spanish Kitchen

Large cooking pots in The Spanish Kitchen

Tower by

Tower by Hans Gobo Froebel is the one permanent piece of art in the garden.

McKee Botanical Garden is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and endorsed by The Garden Conservancy as a project of national significance.

For more about the garden check out their website. 

Oct 212015

October 2015

Jim thorpe pa

Jim Thorpe was originally called Mauch Chunk (Bear Place in the Lenape Indian Language).  It is the seat of Pennsylvania’s, Carbon County, and is called both “Switzerland of America” and “Gateway to the Poconos”.

Mauch Chunk

This was the company town of the Lehigh Coal & Navigation Company. The company developed a gravity-fed rail system to feed the anthracite taken from the hills, to barges on the Lehigh Canal.

The rail system consisted of 8.7-miles of downhill track, (this type of track was called a gravity railroad), with the sole purpose of delivering coal, one driver to operate the brakes, and mules to haul the cars back up the hill, down to the Lehigh Canal.

The need for Anthracite Coal began to wane by the 1850s, and the “Gravity Road” (as it became known) began providing rides to thrill seekers (it got up to 50 mph)  for 50 cents a ride. It is often cited as the first roller coaster in the United States.

Mauch Chunk

How the town became Jim Thorpe is rather complicated, and is still steeped in controversy.

Jim ThorpeJim Thorpe was a Native American from Oklahoma and considered one of the greatest athletes ever.  He won Olympic gold medals for the 1912 pentathlon and decathlon.  He also played college and professional baseball, basketball and football.

It was found he was paid to play two seasons of semiprofessional baseball and was stripped of his gold medals.  Married three times, he died a pauper.

After his death in 1953 his widow was angry that the state of Oklahoma would not erect a monument in his honor.  At the same time the Mauch Chunk area was desperate to attract business to the dying communities. Thorpe’s widow promised many things that never came to fruition in exchange for renaming the town. One mile out of town, a large tomb with Thorpe’s body sits on mounds of soil from Thorpe’s native Oklahoma and from the Stockholm Olympic Stadium in which he won his Olympic medals. There is also a statue of Thorpe in an athletic stance that was funded by the local school children.

In 2010 Thorpe’s son Jack sued to have his fathers remains, his tomb and his statue, taken back to Oklahoma, the City of Jim Thorpe fought, saying that the city had invested considerably in the tomb, and the statue and while they could have the bones, they could not have the memorial.  The fight went on for years, and on October 5, 2015, the United States Supreme Court refused to hear the matter, bringing the process to an end.

An odd piece of this are his medals, while many of Thorpe’s teammates fought for years to have his medals’ restored it took until 1983 when commemorative medals were awarded to two of Thorpe’s children.  Thorpe’s original medals had been held in museums, but were stolen, and never recovered.

The town is very proud of Jim Thorpe, but many feel it is time to go back to the original name of Mauch Chunk, apparently the cost would be prohibitive.

A model of the railway station at the Mauch Chunk Historical Society

A model of the railway station at the Mauch Chunk Historical Society

The narrow streets and old stone buildings help to give Jim Thorpe the nickname "Switzerland of America"

The narrow streets and old stone buildings help to give Jim Thorpe the nickname “Switzerland of America”

The Asa Packer House

The Asa Packer House

The second most famous person in the town of Jim Thorpe/ Mauch Chunk is Asa Packer (1805 – 1879).  Packer was a railroad baron and said to be one of the richest men in the world during his lifetime.

His legacy includes Lehigh University in Bethlehem, PA as well as his home (open for tours) and the St. Marks Church in Jim Thorpe.

St Mark's Church in Jim Thorpe PA

This Gothic Revival style church was designed by Richard Upjohn between 1867 and 1869. The regularly coursed dressed stone jutting from the hill along with the crenelated bell tower and octagonal turret make for a commanding statement in the town.  Below the main church the Mary Packer-Cummings Memorial Building, designed by Addison Hutton, was added in 1912.

This Otis cage elevator was added in 1812.

This Otis cage elevator was added in 1912.

The church was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1977, and declared a National Historic Landmark in 1987.

This was the original front door, prior to the addition of 1912

This was the original front door, prior to the addition of 1912

St. Mark's Church

The Mary Packer Memorial Chapel

The Mary Packer Memorial Chapel

Ceiling above the baptismal font in the original chapel

Ceiling above the baptismal font in the original chapel

The Harry Packer Mansion

The Harry Packer Mansion

Carbon County Courthouse

Carbon County Courthouse

The Mauch Chunk Historical Society resides in the old church on the right

The Mauch Chunk Historical Society resides in the old church on the right

An old mill in Jim Thorpe

An old mill in Jim Thorpe

Mauch Chunk

Looking on to the downtown from the porch of the Asa Packer home

downtown jim thorpe

Oct 192015

October 2015

Scranton PA

Baptist minister, David Spencer, proclaimed Scranton the “Electric City

Scranton Pennsylvania is the county seat of Lackawanna and the 6th largest city in Pennsylvania. Incorporated in 1866, it saw its hey-dey in the Anthracite Coal boom.  At that time the population was about 102,000, today it is about 76,000.

Electric lighting was introduced to Scranton through the Dickson Locomotive Works in 1880 and later it had the countries first successful, continuously operating, all electric street cars, giving it the nick name “The Electric City”.

The name of the town comes from New Jersey brothers Selden T. and George W. Scranton  They were responsible for the Lackawanna and Western Railroad.  Ironically, there is no passenger railway transportation in Scranton anymore, although the Canadian Pacific Railroad does run freight through Scranton.

Joseph Hand Scranton

The Home of Joseph Hand Scranton, now the Admissions Office for Scranton University

Some of the revival of Scranton is through the five institutes of higher learning located in the city.  They include: The University of Scranton, The Commonwealth Medical College, Johnson College, Lackawanna College and Marywood University.

Door of Scranton House

The Second Empire Style house, built in 1872, was designed by New York architect Russell Sturgis, for Joseph A. Scranton, George W. Scranton’s second cousin.  It is believed construction costs were $150,000.  It was also called the Stone House.  The stone mason was William Sykes.

Wood in Joseph Scranton House

The wood carvings in the home are by William F. Paris

The home is three stories tall, 19,925 square feet and originally had 25 rooms.  It also originally had a tower, which has since been removed.

Dining Room of the home

Dining Room of the home

In December 1941, Worthington Scranton, Joseph’s son, donated the home and property to Bishop William J. Hafey for use by the University of Scranton. The building has housed the Admissions office since 2009.

The skylight is by Tiffany

The skylight is by Tiffany


The wood stairwell

The solid mahogany stair case and Minton Tile floor



More of the Dining Room Ceiling

More of the Dining Room Ceiling

Oct 192015

October 2015

Scranton Lackawanna Train Station

This is now the Radisson Hotel, however, it originally was the Lackawanna Train Station a vital piece in the development of Scranton, Pennsylvania.

Scranton began as an iron mill town, these mills began manufacturing iron rails for the trains, which till then, had been imported from England.  This manufacturing made the organization of railroads in this area possible.  Later when Anthracite was discovered the railway system expanded across the country to distribute this new found fuel source.

Lackawanna Train StationNew York architect Kenneth Murchison was chosen for this project and ground was broken in September of 1906.  The building was originally 5 stories tall, a sixth floor was added in 1923.

The station was 240 feet long by 88 feet wide and was built at a cost just slightly over $600,000.  This French Renaissance style station has six statement columns on the front, and is faced with Indiana limestone and a 8 foot high bronze clock.  The overhang is twenty feet and gives the station presence.

Lackawanna Train StationThe track side, which now serves as a meeting room and the bar, has steel trusses with a concrete roof and, at one time, glass skylights.

Lackawanna Train Station SkyLightThe former waiting room, which is now the dining area, was 2 1/2 stories tall, capped with a barrel vaulted Tiffany leaded glass ceiling and clad in Formosa Italian marble.

Christopher Street Ferry dock, New York City

Christopher Street Ferry dock, New York City


Delaware Water Gap and East of the Delaware Water Gap

There are 36 panels surrounding this area. They are faience panels showing various scenes along the route from Hoboken, New Jersey and Buffalo, New York.  These tiles were modeled after paintings by Clark G. Voorhees.

Lackawanna StationThe first floor once has a lunch room, newsstand, telegraph office, ticket office, mail room and baggage room.  The station also had offices for the railroads, auditing, engineering, legal, real estate, bridges and buildings departments.

The station was officially dedicated on November 11, 1908.Lackawanna Train Station

In the early 1980s Scranton found itself struggling with a 13% unemployment rate and was looking hard to work their town into a tourist destination spot.  The train station became the focus of this concept.  Originally the building was purchased by a group of private investors put together by the Chamber of Commerce.  The building renovation was overseen by Balog, Steines, Hendricks and Manchester Architects and opened New Years Eve 1983.  In 1993 the hotel was purchased by DanMar Hotel chain for $4million and turned into a Radisson.

Lackawanna Train Station

*Lackawanna Train Station


Oct 192015

October 2015

Masonic Hall Scranton Pennsylvania

The Masonic Hall in Scranton Pennsylvania is so massive, this postcard is the only way to show it in its entirety.

Masonic Temple Scranton, PA

The building is loaded with Masonic iconography, including this dragon unfurling its wings over the entryway. The reference is to the Draconis star system which equals light, light being the symbol of education and the purpose of Freemasonry.

Masonic Temple Scranton

The building, designed by Raymond Hood includes both the Masonic Temple and Scottish Rite Cathedral. Today it is also home to the Scranton Cultural Center.

This architectural masterpiece is a combination  of Gothic Revival, Romanesque Revival, Richardsonian Romanesque and contemporary Art Deco styles.  The building, completed in 1930, was designed with a dual nature; it was built to house the more private Scottish Rite Cathedral and Masonic lodge while housing a theater and ballroom for public use.

Masonic Hall

There are three entries to the building, and in the lobby there are two large sliding doors. The lobby is usually one very long hall, however, the sliding doors can be closed to allow the three entries to be closed off from each other and therefore private. The public entry to the theater or ballroom was through the center, and entry by members of the private areas through the doors on the right and the left.
Masonic Hall Scranton *Masonic Hall Scranton *

Masonic Hall Scranton

Symbols of Masonry can be found throughout the Masonic Temple and Scottish Rite Cathedral. The two-headed eagle, along with other symbols of various branches as well as the four cardinal virtues are engraved on the exterior of the building.

A Dragon on the most forward point of the front door ornamentation

A Dragon on the most forward point of the front door ornamentation

This ceiling is in the foyer of the entry to the public space

This ceiling is in the foyer of the entry of the public space.

Scottish Rite Temple, Scranton

The ceiling of the ballroom with its Art Deco lighting

Stencils found on the walls of the ballroom

Stencils found on the walls of the ballroom

The ballroom getting ready for a wedding

The ballroom getting ready for a wedding

The unique feature of this building is that the black screen that you see is also the backdrop for the theater, so it is possible to have both sides open and have a double facing stage.

Looking toward the stage of the theater from the back of the room.

Looking toward the stage of the theater from the back of the room.

The ornamentation around the stage

The ornamentation around the stage

The patterned ceiling of the theater

The patterned ceiling of the theater

Mason Lodge Scranton PA

The ceiling where the Masons hold their ceremonies. Notice the two headed eagles. Frederick of Prussia introduced the symbol of the two headed eagle when the Scottish Rite was in its formative stages.

Scottish Rite Temple Scranton PA


A window in the stairwell shows you the depth of the walls.

A window in the stairwell shows you the depth of the walls.

One of many meeting rooms

One of many meeting rooms that is still in need of restoration.

A patterned wall in one of the meeting rooms

A patterned ceiling in one of the meeting rooms.

Masonic Hall Scranton PA

The elevator doors

The building is 180,000 square feet and is technically 10 stories, although only 5 are accessible to the public.  There are 4 below ground and the turret that are not accessible.

There was originally an 8 lane bowling alley in one of the basement levels, it had a pin operated system that was not restorable, and the need for a bowling lane wasn’t really there, so it was removed.


The flowerettes in the center of these ceiling rosettes begin wide open on the top floor and gradually close to the somewhat pinecone shape you see in the first floor lobby.


The people of Scranton and the Masonic members have worked hard to keep this building standing and a center piece of the community.  The State of Pennsylvania holds the deed, and the building is on the Historic Register, these two items will keep it from being torn down and turned into a parking lot.  The temple association has a lease back agreement and there are a lot of paying functions held in the building, such as weddings and theater events, and yet, it runs a $250,000/year deficit.

DSC_9145Despite a $1.5 million restoration on the 2000 standing/900 seated capacity theater/ballroom, the building needs another $14million to bring it back.

For more information, as well as how to donate, check out their website.

Oct 192015

October 2015


Lackawanna County Courthouse

This is the Lackawanna County Courthouse at 200 Washington Avenue.  It was designed by Isaac G Perry in the Romanesque Revival Style and built in 1884.  It utilizes a local West Mountain stone The third story was added in 1896 by architect B. Taylor Lacey.  The interior has been so radically modified as to not warrant mention.

The John Mitchell Monument

The John Mitchell Monument

There is a considerable amount of art around the courthouse, I would like to mention two that stand out.  This is the John Mitchell Monument by Peter Sheridan.  John Mitchell was the leader of the United Mine Workers. Its placement is fitting due to the fact that in May 1902, 150,000 mineworkers struck for six months against bad labor situations.  The Anthracite Coal Strike Commission was set up by President Theodore Roosevelt and they held the hearings in the courthouse behind this statue. The result was a few demands granted and the introduction of federal intervention in labor disputes.

Scranton Art

Art in Scranton*

ARt in ScrantonThis stunning sculptural piece is three sided.  It was dedicated in 1977 as a memorial to all men and women who served in the wars from Lackawanna County.

Elm Park ChurchThis church was built in 1892 and designed by George W. Cramer.  What makes it unique is its Akron Plan. The Akron Plan for church buildings was made popular by architectural pattern books in the late 19th and early 20th century. The plan is typified by an auditorium worship space  surrounded by connecting Sunday school classroom spaces, usually on one or two levels. The plan was first used in 1872 at the First Methodist Episcopal Church in Akron, Ohio

The Sunday School Area

The Sunday School Area, each arch represents a different classroom, there are often curtains hung from the bars that cut across the bottom of the arches.


The altar area, as taken from the Sunday School area.

There is a small chapel on the first floor of the Methodist Church with these fascinating little touches.

small chapel

DSC_9024 *DSC_9026 *DSC_9025


St Peters Cathedral Complex

St Peters Cathedral Complex

Originally built as the Church of St. Vincent de Paul and designed by engineer Joel Amsden in 1865, it was remodeled in the classic Beaux Arts Style in 1884 by Lewis Hancock.

A replication of Rafael's Transfiguration graces the altar area.

A replication of Rafael’s Transfiguration graces the altar area.

Scranton Municipal Building (1888) (340 N. Washington Ave. at Mulberry St.). Scranton, PA. Style: Victorian Gothic. Architect: Edward L. Walter. On National Register.

Scranton Municipal Building  built in 1888 at 340 N. Washington Avenue by Edward L. Walter.

Scranton Electric Building

Then there is the most recognizable building in Scranton after dark, the Scranton Electric Building.  Built in 1896 by architect Lansing Holden, the Beaux Arts building originally held the Scranton Board of trade, it was sold to the Electric Company in 1926 who erected the sign that can be seen from miles away at night.

Scranton is an ultimately very walkable town, with wonderful historic buildings where ever you go.  Pick up the History Set in Stone Walking Guide and enjoy.



Oct 172015

October 2015

Let us start with, how do you pronounce Wilkes-Barre? The town was named in honor of British Parliament members, John Wilkes and Isaac Barre and throughout its history, the city’s name has gone through various spellings, including Wilkesbarre, Wilkesborough, Wilkesburg, Wilkesbarra, Wilkes Barry and Wilkes Berry.  The two widely accepted ways to pronounce this hyphenated name are “Wilkes-BERRY” and “Wilkes-BEAR”.

Th Chevalier de Luzerne

Le Chevalier de Luzerne was born in Paris and joined the French Army.  He entered diplomatic service and was sent to the US in 1770.  He was always sympathetic to the young American Republic.


This small town, founded in 1769 and formally incorporated in 1806, is located in the Wyoming Valley of Pennsylvania and is the seat of Luzerne County.  Due to the discovery of anthracite coal in the 19th century, which gave the city the nickname of “The Diamond City”, hundreds of thousands of immigrants flocked to the area for the  jobs in the numerous mines and collieries that sprung up.

The cast-iron ornament of this house, reminiscent of New Orleans, was made possible by the mass production of the Industrial Revolution; forged in an anthracite- fueled foundry, it is an excellent example of the way in which Wilkes-Barre’s coal was helping to transform America. Philadelphia architect Samuel Sloan designed this cubical Italian villa for banker Walter Sterling.

The cast-iron ornament on this house is reminiscent of much of the south of the U.S. The house was designed by Philadelphia architect Samuel Sloan for banker William Sterling.  Built 1860

During this economic boom a number of franchises were either founded or headquartered in the city, such as Woolworth’s, Planter’s Peanuts, Miner’s Bank, and Stegmaier Beer.  During this period the population was around 86,000, today it is half of that.

McClintock’s house has borne witness to both phases of River Street’s existence. Originally, the house was designed in the Greek Revival style. In 1863, McClintock, made wealthy by the growth of the mining industry, engaged New York architects Calvert Vaux and F. C. Withers to remodel his house. The spare structure was soon transformed into the first High Victorian Gothic house in Wilkes-Barre, boasting a polychrome brick arcade which made the house as fashionable as any of its neighbors.

This high Victorian Gothic home was designed by architect Bruce Price for Murray Reynolds and his family. This was also once the home of Colonel Robert B. Ricketts, a hero from the Battle of Gettysburg and donator of Ricketts Glen State Park in Pennsylvania.  Built 1873

The coal industry survived several disasters, including an explosion at the Baltimore Colliery in 1919 that killed 92 miners, but as other forms of energy were discovered and harnessed, its use died out. Most coal operations left Wilkes-Barre by the end of World War II, and then the 1959 Knox Mine Disaster, which killed twelve men and flooded the entire underground mine system marked the end.

The city went into a decades-long decline, hastened by Hurricane Agnes in 1972.

McClintock Law Office

This small Italianate building was originally built in 1840 as a law office for Alexander McClintock

During Hurricane Agnes the Susquehanna River rose to a height of 41 feet, that is  four feet above the city’s levees, flooding the downtown with nine feet of water. No lives were lost but 25,000 homes and businesses were either damaged or destroyed.

Ornamentation on the Water Building

These water spewing ornaments grace the Neoclassical Revival office of the Spring Brook Water Supply Company, it was designed by architects Welsh, Sturdevant and Poggi.  Built 1910

Today the industry still includes beer, the recipes for Steigmair’s was sold to the Lion Brewing company and they still make beer in Wilkes-Barre. The town is the home to both Wilkes University and King’s College, both started to educate the children of coal miners after WWII, when people realized mining was dying out. Other institutions of higher learning include Misericordia University, Luzerne County Community College, Penn State Wilkes-Barre, and The Commonwealth Medical College.

Market Street Bridge is a historic concrete arch bridge over the Susquehanna River between Kingston and Wilkes-Barre, Luzerne County, Pennsylvania. It was designed by the noted architectural firm of Carrère and Hastings and built between 1926 and 1929.

The Market Street Bridge  bridge over the Susquehanna River was designed by the noted architectural firm of Carrère and Hastings, the NY Public Library being one of their most famous buildings, and was built between 1926 and 1929.

The King atop the Kings College Administration Building

The King atop the Kings College (College of Christ the King)  Administration Building which was once the office of the Lehigh Coal Company. The building was designed by Daniel H. Burnham.

Scottish Rite Temple

The Masonic Temple was designed by the Wilkes-Barre architectural firm of Welsh, Sturdevant and Poggi in 1916


This is now Weiss Hall. In 1886, a new owner, E. L. Brown had architect Albert Kipp remodel the house, what was once a Greek Revival building, into this turreted, richly textured Queen Anne style abode.

Wilkes Barre Architecture

This is Wilkes-Barre’s Shriners temple, Irem Temple, built in 1907.  Designed by architect F. Willard Puckey it was patterned after the Mosque of Omar on the outside and the Court of Lions in the Alhambra on the inside.  It is without a doubt, the most talked about building in Wilkes-Barre.  Originally it was set on a large lot, and probably had quite a wow factor when built, today, crammed amongst other buildings the beauty is, sadly, somewhat lost.

Shriners Temple
Originally a venue for large public affairs, the building has suffered from benign neglect.  It is estimated that it will take approximately $3million to bring it up to a point where it is safe for occupancy, but most likely other $2million before it is of use.
Shriners Temple
That amount is staggering when one considers that a home in the Wilkes-Barre area can be had for far less than $200,000 and that the church down the road, which is now a collection of artists studios is on the market for $250,000.
The Health Center of Wilkes-Barre
The Kirby Memorial Health Center was designed by Thomas Atherton, and is an example of simplified Classical style. The tile work on the interior is just stunning. The building was built in 1930.
The stairways and walls are tiled, and the brass railings ornamented

The stairways and walls are tiled, and the brass railings ornamented.


On the top floor each end wall has a tile mural and the walls are covered in patterned green tiles.


The building has been graced with an endowment by the Kirby Family of $5million.


Fred Morgan Kirby became an apprentice at the Moore and Smith Dry Goods Store  in Watertown, New York, at the age of 15. One of his co-workers was Frank Woolworth. Each gentleman went on their separate ways, but Kirby maintained a regular dialogue with Woolworth. By 1884 Woolworth persuaded Kirby to take a half interest in a store in Wilkes-Barre. Each man put up $600. The “Kirby and Woolworth 5 & 10 Cent Store” opened September 10, 1884. Early sales were poor and Woolworth wanted to bail but Kirby needed to see a return on his investment and insisted on bravng it out. His patience paid off and by 1887 he had made enough profit to buy out his partner.  After years of both gentlemen making plenty of money going their own ways their stores merged in January, 1912. Kirby received $9million for his stores and a chunk of Woolworth stock, but Woolworth got his name put on all of the stores from there on out.

DSC_8596 *Kirby Health Center Lobby

Wilkes-Barre is still trying to find its way in this new economy, but tourism should be a huge boon if people discover how fabulous this small town is, and what interesting history and architecture it has.  I highly suggest a visit to this town if you find yourself in Pennsylvania.

Oct 172015

October 2015

St. StephensSaint Stephen’s church is a masterpiece in understated elegance and master craftsmanship.  It sits on South Franklin Street and is a downtown landmark.

The church is built of locally-quarried yellow stone, and was the second church that Philadelphia architect Charles M. Burns designed for the site: the first, built in 1885, burned down on Christmas Day 1896 leaving only the tower standing.


These hammer beam trusses that support the roof, are capped with wooden angels.

St Stephens

*St Stephens

The polychrome brickwork is just so subtle, notice the faux arches created simply with brick.

St Stephens

The altar area is topped with a spectacular dome, while it appears to be a mosaic, it is not actually known what the material is, whether it is an applique or paint.

St Stephens

The pipe organ is just stunning and the church is used for many a music venue.

While there are no Tiffany windows in St. Stephens this plaque was done by the Tiffany Company

While there are no Tiffany windows in St. Stephens this plaque was done by the Tiffany Company

St. Stephens Church Wilkes-Barre

*St. Stephens

Oct 172015

October 2015

Wilkes-Barre PA

This is the Luzerne County Courthouse, it is an architectural wonder, not to be missed if you are in Wilkes-Barre.

Wilkes-Barre was once part of Connecticut. At the beginning of its history, the territory belonged to Northampton County, Connecticut.  In 1786, after the establishment of Pennsylvania’s claim to the disputed territory, Luzerne County was formed with Wilkes-Barre as its seat.

Luzerne County CourthouseThe Classical Revival building with its cruciform shape  is 200′ wide x 200′ long . The rotunda is 53 x 53 feet, and it terminates vertically with the dome sitting 100′ above the ground floor.

The dome is presently undergoing renovation and is netted in this photo.

The dome is presently undergoing renovation and is netted in this photo.

The foundations is concrete, the exterior walls are Ohio sandstone and then terra cotta and marble rule throughout the interior.

Luzerne County Courthouse The four piers supporting the dome and the walls of the first story are of Botticino stone, a buff-colored marble with a similar color to Caen stone.. The cornices, columns, balustrades and corridor wainscoting are white Italian marble.

Luzerne County Courthouse*Luzerne County Courthouse*Luzerne County Courthouse*Luzerne County CourthouseYou will also find bronze throughout, including inset in the balustrades, the elevators and office screens.

Luzerne County Courthouse MosaicsThroughout the building, and especially in the rotunda corridors and entrance corridors are mosaics.  They include painted portraits of prominent people throughout the history of Wilkes-Barre and are in chronological order, making the study of the area a simple “walk about”.

Prosperity under the Law by William H. Low


Prosperity under the Law by William H. Low

Over each  Judge’s Bench in the third floor courtrooms are the murals: “Justice,” “Prosperity Under the Law,” “The Judicial Virtues,” and “The Awakening of a Commonwealth,” painted  by Edwin H. Blashfield, William H. Low, Kenyon Cox and William T. Smedley, respectively.


The Judicial Virtues by Kenyon Cox


by W. F. Smelly

The Awakening of the Commonwealth by W. F. Smedly

The lighting outside of the four courtrooms on the third floor

The lighting outside of the four courtrooms on the third floor

Luzerne County Courthouse

Looking up to the second and third floors from the rotunda floor

Mahogany benches in the courtrooms of the third floor

Mahogany benches in the courtrooms of the third floor

Luzerne County Courthouse

The door plates all have the seal of Luzerne County, which is also the seal of Pennsylvania

The door plates all have the seal of Luzerne County, which is also the seal of Pennsylvania

The building was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1980.  The cost of the building at the time was $2million.  It was the subject of so many lawsuits that it did not come in on time or on budget, but I don’t think anyone today would complain.

The top of the tympanum on the exterior at the front entrance

The top of the tympanum on the exterior at the front entrance

Luzerne County Courthouse

Oct 172015

October 2015

Memorial PresbyterianThis is the Memorial Presbyterian Church, at 29 West North Street, built in 1872. It has been abandoned and is searching for a new loving owner.

Memorial PresbyterianThe church was built by Calvin Whitehead, he lost his three children to scarlet fever, and they are memorialized in these stained glass windows “being dead, might yet speak”

Memorial Presbyterian

This Gothic Revival Gem with its rather rare stone spire was designed by Edward Kendall of New York.

The tile Floor

The tile Floor

Door Escutcheons in the Church

Door hinges in the Church


This is the Kirby Health Clinic Annex

This is the Kirby Health Clinic Annex – 63 North Franklin Street, built in 1890 and credited with kicking off architect Bruce Price’s career.

Notice the rather interesting simple details.

Kirby Health Care Annex

The Kirby Health Annex with its glass and stone embedded stucco and wonderful dolphin downspout

Kirby Health Clinic Annex *

This is the Osterhout Free Library, originally built as the First Presbyterian Church in 1849.  In 1889 Isaac S. Osterhout left his estate of $325,000, to “establish and maintain in the city of Wilkes-Barre a free library” the inventor of the Dewey Decimal System, librarian Melvil Dewey recommended the church as a “temporary” building. It was purchased for $27,000.

Osterhous Free Library

Exterior of the Osterhout Free Library at 71 S. Franklin Street

The interior of the library today

The interior of the library today

The interior of the Free Library

The interior of the Free Library


Citizens Bank at 8 Market Street now sits empty.  It was designed by Daniel Burnham, best known as the architect for the Chicago’s 1893 World’s Fair (Columbian Exposition). Built 1911

Miners Bank *

Miners Bank

This is the Valley’s oldest congregation the First Presbyterian church, founded in 1779.  The building is Laurel Run Redstone and was built in 1889.  The architects was James Cleveland Cady who also designed the American Museum of Natural History in New York.

First Presbyterian Church

First Presbyterian at 97 South Franklin Street

The church is filled with Tiffany Windows

The church is filled with Tiffany Windows

The house next door served as part of the church at one time, the architect is unknown, however, look at the huge pieces of sandstone that serve as stair rails.
Frist Presbyterian Rectors House


Max Roth Center – 215 South Franklin Street- Built 1895

Designed by J. H. W. Hawkins for a local dentist the stubby Syrian arches and the rusticated walls stand out, as well as the beautiful wood work inside of the Max Roth Center.

Max Roth Center *

Max Roth Center

Bedford Hall

Bedford Hall 96 West South Street

Bedford Hall, built 1876, is architect Bruce Price’s finest example of the High Victorian Gothic Style, it was constructed for attorney and industrialist George Bedford.

Bedford Hall


Ohak Zedek

This building for the Congregation Ohav Zedek, at 242 South Franklin Street, was built in 1930.  Its Middle Eastern over tones were designed by local architect Austin Reilly. Notice the splendid terra cotta entry.

Ohav Zedek


An example of the rowhouses built throughout the city’s fashionable neighborhoods during the last quarter of the nineteenth century.

Row House of Wilkes-Barre

Row House of Wilkes-Barre


Stegmeir Beer

Stegmaier Brewing Company (1890-1913)  Wilkes-Barre Boulevard and East Market Street

Charles Stegmaier came to Wilkes-Barre from Germany in 1851 and hired A.C. Wagner, a brewery design specialist, to build the Stegmaier Brewery. This cupola-topped red brick brewhouse is a Victorian’s delight.

Steigmeir BeerIn 1974 when the brewery closed and sold their recipes to Lion Brewery, Stegmaier was the third largest brewery in Pennsylvania, producing 800,000 barrels of beer annually.

Lion Brewing


This is only a small smattering of the many wonderful historic buildings in Wilkes-Barre.  If you are able to find time to visit, you can download a walking tour put together by the Historical Society.


Oct 172015

October 2015


Hollenback CemeteryThe Hollenback Cemetery Association was formed in 1855 with 15 acres gifted by Colonel George M. Hollenback.
Wilkes-BarreAlthough this is the cemetery for the “upper crust” it resides in a neighborhood that is primarily surrounded with old miners homes.

Hollenback Cemetery Wilkes Barre

In 1887 John Welles Hollenback gave an additional five acres as a gift to the association.

Hollenback CemeteryThere are still plots available in this cemetery.

The reason for my visit is to witness, what is possibly the only historic place where an architect has designed a plot once every decade, and more importantly, that architect is Bruce Price renown architect of Wilkes-Barre.

If you have been reading along you have seen quite a few of his buildings.

Bruce Price was born in Maryland, and for a while, studied at Princeton. It is said that his stark style was a large influence on both Frank Lloyd Wright and Robert Venturi. His style included Beaux-Arts, Romanesque and what ever was needed for New York skyscrapers of his time.

In 1871, Price married Josephine Lee, the daughter of a Wilkes-Barre coal baron. They had two children, a son William, who died in infancy and a daughter who grew up to be Emily Post of etiquette fame.

George W. Woodward

The first of the graves designed by Price was for George Washington Woodward (1809 -1875), a Democratic member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Pennsylvania. The monument is meant to represent a Greek funeral pyre.  It is made “Christian” by a very large cross on the top, that at this point, only one flying over or possibly god, could see.  However, if you are so inclined it is possible to view on GoogleEarth.

The stars are there to represent an immortal, representing, of course, immortality.  The “battered” lines are an abstract representation of the personality of the subject, George W. Woodward, and apparently comes from Egyptian lore.    Hanging from the jutting stone at the top were originally bronze wreaths, meant to represent fresh wreaths placed onto the funeral pyre.


*Wilkes-Barre Cemetery

This grave stone is for Price’s father-in-law Washington Lee. (1821-1883) This being the second decade the Price placed a monument in this cemetery.

Washington Lee Gravestone

*Wilkes-Barre Cemetery

The Pergola like structure is where Price and his wife Josephine Lee are buried, he designed this monument.  His son William’s grave is the small one at the front on the left.


With the exception of this stunning sculpture, the grave stones within the cemetery are all rather simple.  Neither the deceased, nor the sculptor, are known for this particular piece.

Notice the exquisite placement of the mourners hat.

Notice the exquisite placement of the mourners hat.


May 122015

Bonaventure Cemetery

I have had a fascination for cemeteries for much of my life.  My love of them comes from their quality of art.  The rich and famous often hire the best sculptors of the time to memorialize their loved ones, so I often think of older cemeteries as large outdoor art galleries.

Bonaventure Cemetery

With that concept in mind I headed out to Bonaventure Cemetery just outside of Savannah.

In the 1800s throughout the world burial grounds began to be located outside of population centers for public health reasons.  This was the beginning of the “Rural Cemetery” movement. The rural cemetery was designed with a romantic vision of nature, based upon English landscape gardening. These cemeteries, thought by many to be the pre-cursor to our park system, were gathering places. It was common for families to picnic in these cemeteries.

The Willmington River

The Wilmington River

This nearly 100 acre cemetery sits on the Wilmington River.  Settled ca. 1761 this land was originally two plantations.

In 1846 a local businessman, Peter Wiltberger, purchased the land with the intention of creating a cemetery.  This did not happen until after the Civil War.  The, then named Evergreen Cemetery, operated privately until 1907.  In 1907 the City of Savannah purchased the Bonaventure, and while it has gone through much since then, it is well maintained and a delightful get away from the noise of the city.

Veterans of many wars will be found at the Bonaventure. These contain the remains from George Gannon Post 184 and Tybee Island Post 154

Veterans of many wars will be found at the Bonaventure. These contain the remains from George Gannon Post 184 and Tybee Island Post 154

Spanish American War Veterans

Spanish American War Veterans


In order to have a separate Jewish section, the Orthodox Jewish community bought a very large portion to the right of Bonaventure. A large two-story brick and glass preburial house sits in the middle of the  Jewish section. Today this section, although it still has a separate gate, is part of the entire complex.

Entry gate to the Jewish section of Bonaventure Cemetery

Entry gate to the Jewish section of Bonaventure Cemetery

There is a large Greek Burial area

There is a large Greek Burial area


Irish Gravestones


The plot for the Order of Railway Workers

The plot for the Order of Railway Workers


The simple grave marker of a railway worker

The simple grave marker of a railway worker

Gaston's Tomb

Gaston’s Tomb

Of course the cemetery has the historical figures of Savannah, and the South.  As you enter the cemetery you will first see.Gaston’s tomb. This mausoleum was originally in the Colonial Cemetery.  William J. Gaston (1777-1884) rose to prominence as an attorney, legislator, Congressman and state Supreme Court justice.

Well known for his hospitality and kindness to others, especially to strangers, Savannahians had this memorial built for the Judge after his death in New York City. Called the Visitor’s Tomb, it was designed as a place for out-of-towners to be laid to rest until their bodies could be sent home.

In writing the above I questioned the interchangeable words mausoleum and tomb.  The dictionary defines a mausoleum as a stately tomb.

Between 1844 and 1969 the first three generations of the De Renne family of Savannah made notable contributions to Georgia history by collecting materials relating to the state's past and by printing primary sources and other historical works relating to Georgia as colony and state. Much of this collection can be found at the University of Georgia

The De Renne family of Savannah collected printed materials and other historical works relating to Georgia’s history. Much of this collection can be found at the University of Georgia

Rufus Ezekial Lester Born in Burke Co., CA December 12, 1837 Died in Washington DC June 16, 1906 A gallant confederate soldier State Senator 1870-1873 Three years president of the senate Mayor of Savannah 1883-1889 Member of Congress 1830-1906

Rufus Ezekial Lester
Born in Burke Co., CA
December 12, 1837
Died in Washington DC
June 16, 1906
A gallant confederate soldier
State Senator 1870-1873
Three years president of the senate
Mayor of Savannah 1883-1889
Member of Congress 1830-1906

I originally went to find the grave of Corinne Elliot Lawton.  I am sure she is the heart of many of the ghost tours with the story that she died of a broken heart due to a jilted love. Miss Lawton most likely came to her premature end after a “short illness” — just as her obituary read. It is also said that the position of her parents grave shows how she brought shame to them, this more likely is due to the fact that her grave was relocated to Bonaventure after the death of her parents  The statue of Jesus was also erected in their name.

Corrine Elliott Lawtons grave, with its lack of eyes spawns more ghost stories and tall tales.

Corrine Elliott Lawtons grave, with its lack of eyes spawns more ghost stories and tall tales.

Corrine Eliot Lawton Grave

Corrine Eliot Lawton Grave

Corrine Elliot Lawton

Corrine Elliot Lawton

Here is a smattering of some other lovely weeping women and unusual grave stones.




Bonaventure Cemetery


In October of 1867 during John Muir’s Thousand Mile Walk, he spent six days and nights in the Bonaventure, sleeping on the graves as the “safest and cheapest accommodations” he could find. He found the cemetery “breathtakingly beautiful and inspiring” and wrote a lengthy chapter on it, “Camping in the Tombs.”  The chapter, which you can read here, is a magnificent description of the cemetery at the time.

Bonaventure Cemetery



Bonaventure Cemetery

Bonaventure Cemetery

Stunning Art Deco Doors at the Bonaventure Cemetery

Stunning Art Deco Doors at the Bonaventure Cemetery

Most of the few graves of Bonaventure are planted with flowers. There is generally a magnolia at the head, near the strictly erect marble, a rose-bush or two at the foot, and some violets and showy exotics along the sides or on the tops. All is enclosed by a black iron railing, composed of rigid bars that might have been spears or bludgeons from a battlefield in Pandemonium. - John Muir

Most of the few graves of Bonaventure are planted with flowers. There is generally a magnolia at the head, near the strictly erect marble, a rose-bush or two at the foot, and some violets and showy exotics along the sides or on the tops. All is enclosed by a black iron railing, composed of rigid bars that might have been spears or bludgeons from a battlefield in Pandemonium. – John Muir

Old Iron railings in the Bonaventure Cemetery

Old Iron railings in the Bonaventure Cemetery

Pre-burial house in the Jewish Section

Pre-burial house in the Jewish Section

A map and brief guide are available from the visitor center, inside the administration building at the main entrance. Public restrooms are also located at the main entrance.

Main gate of the Bonaventure Cemetery

Main gate of the Bonaventure Cemetery

As a sculpture garden, the Bonaventure did not exactly live up to my expectations.  However, it is an absolute must on anyone’s trip to Savannah.  The grace and beauty of the area, the history that it contains makes this a real highlight.

I recommend a tour.  I was unable to take one due to my time limitation.  I chose to visit on a typical Savannah day – 84 degrees and 76% humidity.  I really could only handle about one hour in that temperature, so exploring went out the window.  I missed a few of the highlights, to say the least.

Colonial Park Cemetery

While the Bonaventure is quite the cemetery, in downtown Savannah you will also find the Colonial Park Cemetery. Also known as the Old Cemetery and The Old Brick Cemetery, it was founded in 1750. Closed for new burials in 1853 it was reopened as a city park in 1896. The cemetery was much larger than it is today, and it contains over 10,000 burials but only 600 gravestones.

The reason I wanted to include it here is that even though the cemetery was closed to burials before the start of the Civil War and no Confederate soldiers are buried there, the war did leave its mark on the cemetery. Federal troops took over the cemetery grounds during their occupation of Savannah and many of the graves were looted and desecrated. It has been said that Union soldiers changed the dates on many of the headstones.

These stones can be found on the back wall of the cemetery.


Notice the change of dates, making the soldier dead before his birth

Colonial Park Cemetery Back Wall

Colonial Park Cemetery Back Wall


May 102015
The Davenport House

The Davenport House

The architectural styles of Savannah are varied and, thanks to many preservationists, available for us all to study.  There are hundreds of tour companies, riding in a variety of vehicles or by foot.  There are many books out on Savannah Architecture, better forums than here to get a decent education.  I will also say that it would take a lifetime to cover all of the items that are worth studying in Savannah Architecture, for that reason I am presenting, either some of my favorites or items that have the best of their style.

The Davenport House is the first home saved in the preservation movement. The Federal, or Adam, style dominated the American architectural landscape from roughly 1780 to 1840, having evolved from Georgian, the principal design language of the colonial period.

The Mercer House

The Mercer House

The Italianate Style Mercer House was designed by John Norris in 1871, a prolific architect in Savannah during this time.

The Armstrong House

The Armstrong House

Another Italianate house is the rather grand Armstrong House, built in 1819 for the Armstrong family.

The Andrew Low House

The Andrew Low House

The Andrew Low House, a John Norris home completed in 1849 has hallmarks of an Italianate home with bits of Greece.  This home was the home of Julliet Gordon Low, founder of the Girl Scouts.  She married the son of the original owner and received the home after her husband’s death.  The first headquarters for the Girl Scouts is located in the carriage house in the back.

Georgia Hussars Armory

Georgia Hussars Armory

Known locally as the Ford dealership, this quirky building stands out with its ogee arch and quatrefoil motif.  The stunning spiral columns are topped with Arabic inspired arches.

The Green Meldrim House

The Green-Meldrim House

The Green-Meldrim house is another John Norris building, I fell in love with the entry portico.

Entry to the Green-Meldrim House

Entry to the Green-Meldrim House

The Scottish Rite Temple

The Scottish Rite Temple

This neoclassical Scottish Rite Temple places its prettiest face on the top floor. The temple was built in 1913 by Hyman Wallace Witcover, and has lovely terra-cotta along the top.

Volunteer Guards Armory

Volunteer Guards Armory

This Romanesque Style building, designed by William Gibbons Preston and completed in 1892 is flanked by cannons and black metal work that takes your breath away.

Volunteer Guards Armory

Volunteer Guards Armory

Volunteer Guards Armory

Volunteer Guards Armory



















The Cotton Exchange

The Cotton Exchange

Another wonderful Romanesque Style building is the Cotton Exchange.

The Unitarian Church

The Unitarian Church

This odd little gothic church was designed by John Norris and finished in 1851. The Reverend John Pierpont Jr.’s brother James was the organist and the choir director.  James composed “Jingle Bells” while living in Savannah.  Their nephew, by the way, was John Pierpont Morgan.

Mickve Israel Synagogue

Mickve Israel Synagogue

Another gothic style house of worship is the Mickve Israel Synagogue. It was built in 1876 and designed by Henry G. Harrison.

12 East Taylor

12 East Taylor

Built in 1869 one side of this pair of townhouses was built for Daniel J. Purse, a one time mayor of Savannah. A renovation in 1897 added the projecting Bays that go out over the sidewalk and the mansard Roof. This excessiveness, somewhat hidden behind the trees, is what gives Savannah its whimsy.

Parkers Grocery

Parkers Grocery

This shining example of adaptive re-use was special even before it was a grocery store. Built in the 1920s this Arthur Comer designed building combined a gasoline station with both automobile sales and its service facility.

Laurence McNeil House

Laurence McNeil House

This neoclassical building by Gottfried Norman was built in 1903.

The Thunderbird Inn

The Thunderbird Inn

Built in 1964, the Thunderbird is still a fun place to stay in Savannah.

The Kress Building

The Kress Building

This Art Deco building is from 1923.

King Tisdell Cottage

King Tisdell Cottage

Originally built in 1896 by W. W. Aimar this Victorian, gingerbread ornamented cottage is now the Museum of Black History.

St. John's Cathedral

Cathedral of St. John the Baptist

This High Victorian Gothic church, Cathedral of St. John the Baptist, was built in the 1870s and designed by E. Francis Baldwin.  If you have the opportunity to visit inside, it is a must!  The support columns are cast iron, faux painted as marble.  There are murals, and paintings and ornamentation, and windows, and alters, and……well you get the picture.

Independent Presbyterian Church

Independent Presbyterian Church

Built in 1816 and designed by John Holden Greene in the English Restoration style, this church sits on land granted directly from King George II to the Church.

The Chase Bank

The Citizens Bank

These windows are the most ornamental portion of the Citizens Bank, now occupied by Savannah College of Art and Design.

William Kehoe House

Kehoe House

This Queen Anne building was built for William Kehoe in 1893. Architect Dewitt Bruyn used the railings, brackets, moldings, and interior ceiling medallions made by Kehoe’s iron company to help advertise their availability.

This is just a smattering of the unbelievable variety of architecture in Savannah, but I hope I have shown you a good idea of what you can expect.

There are several books about that help to guide you around town if you want to do a tour on your own.

The National Trust Guide to Savannah

Savannah Architectural Tours by Jonathan Stalcup.  Jonathan also gives a spectacular tour.

May 092015
Forsyth Park Fountain

Forsyth Park Fountain

There is so much cast iron in Savannah but one of the more impressive pieces is the fountain in Forsyth Park

The iconic fountain was selected out of a catalogue of ornamental ironwork by Janes, Beebe & Company of New York . Known simply as design Number Five, it was one of a handful of elaborate fountain designs featured in the catalogue and was said to have cost the city $3,000 to install. The No. 5. design is modeled after a fountain that was created by Michel Joseph Napoleon Lienard and cast by the J.P.V. Andre Iron Foundry in Paris.

Cast iron was used functionally, as in the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist, the columns there are structural and by using cast iron the church was able to utilize a smaller diameter column and increase interior space.

Cathedral of St. John the Baptist

Cathedral of St. John the Baptist

Cast iron was also used to show off one’s wealth. Cast Iron Work


Wrought Iron Downspout

Cast Iron Downspout on a private home. This is a copy by Ivan Bailey, the originals no longer exist, but it is typical of the period,  you will find these on the Oglethorpe Club as well.

Balcony of the Owens Thomas House

Balcony of the Owens Thomas House


The Marshall House Balcony


DSC_3295Wallpaper is the hallmark of many older homes, however, what is left is usually too damaged to keep, in the following cases, with the exception of the Telfair mansion (which is original) all the others are reproductions. This painstaking process requires experts that slowly tear back years of paint and covering wallpaper, then finding the original and having it reproduced.

Telfair Museum

Telfair Museum

Three different papers in the Davenport House

Three different papers in the Davenport House

Cast plaster, being my career for 25 years always makes me look.  In the case of the Green-Meldrim house, my mouth was agape.  The pierced plaster work throughout, is not only stunning but very rare.

Green-Meldrim House

Green-Meldrim House

Volunteer Regimental Armory

Volunteer Regimental Armory Building

Of course stained glass is studied by anyone that is interested in any period of historic architecture, here is a little of what is in Savannah.

The Unitarian Church

The Unitarian Church

Cathedral of St. John the Baptist

Cathedral of St. John the Baptist

B'nai B'rith Jacob Synagogue, now SCAD Student Center

B’nai B’rith Jacob Synagogue, now SCAD Student Center

Flooring is also always of interest, tile, wood, and even floor cloths were common throughout Savannah.

Center Pine Wood Floor in the Orphanage and Convent for the Missionary Sisters of the Francisan Order

Center Pine Wood Floor in the Orphanage and Convent for the Missionary Sisters of the Franciscan Order

Tile at the Oglethorpe Club

Tile at the Oglethorpe Club

Painted Ca

Painted Floor Cloth

There are many other crafts involved, here are some examples that showed up a little less in Savannah.





Terrazzo at the old Woolworth's building

Terrazzo at the old Woolworth’s building

Terracotta on the Scottish Rite Temple

Terracotta on the Scottish Rite Temple


Tin Ceilings

Varied colored bricks

Polychrome Brickwork – A style of architectural brickwork which emerged in the 1860s and used bricks of different colors in patterned combination to highlight architectural features.


May 092015
A Victorian Privacy Barrier

A Victorian Privacy Barrier

There are so many wonderful architectural styles in Savannah, with details galore.  I wanted to focus on a few items of interest that aren’t often talked about.  The Archway in a private home delineated the private rooms from the public ones.  The parlor and the gentleman’s office in this house are the two rooms that are between the front door in the background and this stunning arch.

Haint Blue

Haint Blue

Haint Blue has a lot of mysticism and rumor surrounding it. An oft repeated theory states that its roots are in the Geechee culture. The Geechee are African-Americans found mainly in the low country. Descendants of slaves, their belief system is a mixture of African witchcraft and a bit of Christianity.

The story goes that painting sections or even entire homes this shade of blue came from the Geechee belief in witches and “haints” or spirits. Apparently these ghosts could not cross water so the blue was believed to repel the spirits.

The color is made of a mixture of indigo dye, milk and lime (the burning and grinding of the oyster shells as seen in tabby). Lime is a natural insect repellent, but I believe this is just a good side benefit, I doubt they knew that at the time.

Arsenic Paint

Arsenic Paint

Another bug repellent was arsenic.  Here it is in the dining room in the green paint.

Madera Decanters

Madeira Decanters in a case with a bug catcher nearby

Madeira started arriving in Savannah in the 1760s, it was even advertised in Georgia’s first newspaper. By the 19th century, Savannah was a major importer of Madeira.  It was so popular with the wealthy, their cellar inventories are still talked about today.

So what happened to Madeira?  Three things contributed to the demise of Savannah’s Madeira culture: the economic upheaval of the War Between the States and two blights of the vine that decimated much of Europe’s vineyards in the 1850s and 1870s.

By the time production and America’s economy recovered, the taste for Madeira had waned.

Another reason for the wine’s success in the South is its stalwart character. As a fortified wine, it survives heat, humidity and rough ocean crossings. Once opened, it seems to keep indefinitely.

Feather Beds

Feather Beds

Feather beds were terribly expensive in the past.  The feathers from the occasional chicken or turkey dinner would be saved until there were enough to stuff a mattress.

Pine Straw or Spanish Moss Mattress

Pine Straw or Spanish Moss Mattress

Spanish Moss and Pine straw however, were prevalent and cheap.  The pine straw mattress took a lot of work, the pine needles would clump together, so every morning someone, a slave in the case of the south, had to pull the lumps apart. The Spanish Moss appeared, to me at least, to be the most logical.  It was a much more comfortable material, and in the south, almost as prevalent as pine needles at the time.

Ballast bricks

Ballast bricks

Since many ships arrived in Savannah somewhat lighter than they intended to leave, they needed ballast during the voyage.  These bricks, which acted as ballast, eventually became a sidewalk.



Tabby, while most often found as a material in the walls of buildings, works just as well as sidewalk material. You can read all about Tabby in my article about Beaufort, South Carolina.

The Trustees Garden

The Trustees Garden

The Trustees Garden was the first experimental garden in America.  The garden was modeled after the Chelsea Botanical Garden and was ten acres.  Botanists were sent from England to scour the world for the project.  They brought vine cuttings, fruit trees, flax, hemp, spices, cotton, indigo, olives and medicinal herbs. The trustees laid their greatest hopes on wine industry and in Mulberry trees which were essential to the culture of silk. Both of these crops failed due to the unsuitable soil and weather conditions. However, they did produce the peach trees Georgia is so famous for, as well as upland cotton.

The Pirates House

The Pirates House

Next to the Trustees Garden is the Pirates’ House. It was built in 1734 and is said to be the oldest house in the State of Georgia. It was originally the home of the gardener for the Trustees Garden.

Eventually the building became a Seaman’s Inn and obviously a drinking establishment. Rumors insist that there is a tunnel from the rum cellar to the docks for Shanghaing sailors.  What is known is that Savannah is mentioned several times in Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island, and some say that a few passages of it were based on The Pirates House.



The first Savannah radio station opened in October 1929.  Its call letters WTOC stood for Welcome to our City.

Torah at Mickve Israel Synagogue

Torah at Mickve Israel Synagogue

The congregation of Mickve Israel was founded by a group of 42 Jews who sailed from London aboard the William and Sarah, they arrived in Savannah on July 11, 1733, just months after the colony’s establishment. These founders brought with them a “Safertoro” or Torah made of deerskin, it was the first brought to the U.S. and also the oldest in the U.S.  This Torah is still used on commemorative occasions today.

Savannah has the second largest St. Patrick’s Day celebration in the country. They begin in mid-February with an Irish festival, a Celtic cross ceremony on March 1 and many lesser parades and events leading up to its big St. Patrick’s Day Parade.

Savannah's Celtic Cross

Savannah’s Celtic Cross

There is also a William Jasper Green ceremony. The event honors the Irishman who came to fight the British in the Revolutionary War and lost his life in the Siege of Savannah in 1779. It has become a ceremony that honors all who have served in the military.


Pinkie Masters

On St. Patricks Day in 1978, Jimmy Carter stood on the bar at Pinkie Masters and gave a speech.  Al Gore gave one in there on St. Patrick’s Day as well.


The Six Pence (shown above) is just one of many Irish Pubs in Savannah, it serves good food, but also starred in the movie Something to Talk About.


May 082015


I studied the squares of Savannah in Urban Planning classes at school.  I was anxious to finally get to see them, but nothing compared to being educated further by Robin B. Williams, the Chair of the Architectural History Department at Savannah College of Art and Design.  He has a book coming out in the fall of 2015 about the planning of Savannah, I look forward to its release.  I will try, here, to do justice to his lecture.

King George II

King George II

General James Oglethorpe

General James Oglethorpe










General James Oglethorpe landed in Savannah on February 12, 1733. This new 13th Colony, called Georgia, was authorized by a grant from King George II to a group constituted by Oglethorpe as the Trustees for the Establishment of the Colony of Georgia in America, or simply the Georgia Trustees.

This colony was to be a sanctuary for Protestants and debtors in the English prisons. Oglethorpe had seen a friend die of smallpox in debtor’s prison, however, there were no debtors amongst the original settlers.

The new colony also served as a buffer between the Spanish in Florida and the rest of the English Colonies to the north.

The actual person that laid out Savannah, though attributed to Oglethorpe, and the actual germinating seed for the idea, are hazy, but the original city plan of Savannah has proved to be one of the finest ever devised.


The concept of Savannah was to emphasize hard work, essentially an agrarian life was thought to be the ideal.  Settlers would be given a town lot as well as 45 acres outside of Savannah and a 5 acre garden plot.  You were allowed to purchase an extra 500 acres, but no more.  This was actually the beginning of the concept in America that “all men are created equal”.

Screen Shot 2015-05-08 at 5.39.32 PM


The town plan was based on the fact that each ward would have a square.  Savannah’s plan reflects political and organizational considerations of the day. Each ward had tythingmen, who shared guard and other duties, or “wardens”.

Tything Lots

Tything Lots

Around these squares were Tythings.  In those days Ty simply meant 10.  So on the north and south side of each square were 10 residential lots, giving each ward a total of 40.  Tything lots were 60′ X 90′. Townhouses came to tything lots in the 1800s.

Chatham County Courthouse sits on a Trust Lot

Chatham County Courthouse sits on a Trust Lot

On each square were 4 trust lots.  These were meted out to the deserving recipient by the “trustees” of Savannah.  These trust lots were to be for public buildings, most notably places of worship.  However, most of the largest mansions are on these trust lots.  Considering that these mansions were built when cotton was king, while Professor Williams did not say, I assume money had much to do with it.

The Mercer Williams House built on a trust lot

The Mercer Williams House built on a trust lot

Civic Streets are 75' wide

Civic Streets are 75′ wide

The plan made for interesting street layouts as well.  There are Civic Streets that are 75′ wide, they come in contact with the parks and have been tree lined since the 1800s.

Lanes are 45' with some 22 1/2 feet wide

Lanes are 45′ wide with some 22 1/2 feet wide

The lanes are the utilitarian streets. These run through the tything lots and tend not to have trees.  This area is where the carriage houses would have been, today they handle the garbage, sewers, phone and electric.  This is a good reason Savannah is so lovely, the utilities are hidden from the main streets and squares.

Carriage House opening onto a Lane

Carriage House opening onto a Lane

One interesting effect of the Lane and carriage house was the fact that the slave population actually had an ingress and egress to the world.  The slaves lived in the carriage houses, and this access gave them mobility.

Major Arteries

Major Arteries

Liberty Street and Oglethorpe Avenue are the only two major arteries.  These two streets have tree lined medians.

Madison Square

Madison Square, named for James Madison with a statue of Sergeant William Jasper

There were originally 24 squares, but the heyday of the 1960s and 1970s saw the loss of two of them.  Many of them include statuary of important Savannahians.  Caution however, the person named in the statue is never the person the square is named after, and yet there will be a statue of a person who also has a square named after them…confused yet?

Chippewa Square with a statue of Oglethorpe

Chippewa Square with a statue of Oglethorpe

This bench was built specifically for the Forest Gump movie and is in Chippewa Square

This bench was built specifically for the Forrest Gump movie and is in Chippewa Square

Monterey Square

Monterey Square with a statue of Count Casimir Pulaski

Troup Square

Troup Square

Lafayette Square

Lafayette Square

Originally the streets of Savannah were dirt, so the trees were planted in the street rather than the road.  Once the streets were paved the trees were given their own strips, these are called Tree Lawns.

Tree Lawn

Tree Lawn

Savannah homes are elevated and sit directly on their lot line.  This means that their entry stairways actually sit on public property.  Each home, to this day, must file for an encroachment agreement.  The stairs of Savannah are as varied as can be and just lovely.





*DSC_3274This plan worked so well that it survived seven expansions of the city from 1790 to 1850.  It is still studied as an ideal, walkable, livable plan.


I wanted to leave you with the four tenets that Oglethorpe founded Savannah on.

Religious liberty was guaranteed, except for Roman Catholicism. The Catholicism ban was not against Catholics as against their ability to build a church.  This was a military decision, as the Spanish were just a ways away in Florida, a highly catholic establishment.

Slavery was forbidden, but was allowed in South Carolina, so it was widely ignored.  On January 1, 1751, much to the disgust of Oglethorpe the parliament made slavery legal in Savannah.

Hard liquor and spirits were forbidden.  Beer and wine were fine, however, they weren’t perfect.

Lastly, no lawyers, on the theory that a gentleman should always be able to defend himself.

An additional one I find of extreme interest also was a statue requiring compliance with the Law for Maintaining Peace with the Indians.  Oglethorpe had an excellent relationship with the local Indians.



May 082015

May 2015

Savannah, Georgia is like other towns in the United States that have a plethora of historic architecture.  They have more houses to tour than is humanly possible and more historical groups than can be counted on both hands and all toes.

Savannah suffered greatly in the beginning of the second half of the 20th century, and without the foresight and forcefulness of a few brave souls that fought to preserve architecture, it would look very different than it does today.

Savannah Cotton Exchange

Savannah Cotton Exchange

There are many great homes that have been saved, and urban planning that is second to none, but I wanted to talk about what I believe, is my favorite location.

The Savannah Cotton Exchange

Factors’ Walk

I say location, because the Savannah Cotton Exchange is a stunning Romanesque Revival building that anchors what is called Factors’ Walk.

The Cotton Exchange was first established in 1872 as a place for the cotton factors and merchants to meet and decide the price of cotton.

The Savannah Cotton Exchange Building was built a little over a decade later, in 1886, by Boston architect William G. Preston.

DSC_3112This red brick building with its terra cotta façade, iron window lintels and copper finials and copings was deliberately designed to stand out from the buildings around it to to show off the prominence of the cotton industry.

The wharf side of the Cotton Exchange Building

The wharf side of the Cotton Exchange Building

The cotton exchange was one of the first major buildings to be constructed entirely over a public street.

Looking out from the back of the Cotton Exchange Building

Looking out from the back of the Cotton Exchange Building

Savannah’s port was a center of cotton trading and export in the South, the product of slave labor before the Civil War and impoverished sharecroppers after the war. This cotton was shipped to markets all over the world.

Three months after Savannah‘s founding (February 12, 1733), the first ship to visit – the James – anchored.  By June 1735, the first boat was loading and taking things from the new colony back to England.  By 1755, there were nine square-rigged ships and 43 schooners and sloops sailing from the port, loaded with things like indigo, wine, silk and potash.

Between the end of the Revolutionary War in 1783 and the beginning of the American Civil War in 1861, cotton was the major product of the South, and Savannah was to benefit directly from that fact. The first shipment of cotton from Savannah took place in 1784 – eight bags sent to Liverpool, England, and, legend has it, seized by authorities who could not believe so much cotton could have been raised in the United States.

In 1793, after Eli Whitney perfected the cotton gin at Mulberry Grove, a plantation just west of Savannah, exports skyrocketed. Shipments from Savannah reached 90,000 bales per year in 1820, with revenues around $14million.

By 1855, exports through Savannah had risen to $20.1 million, 90% of it was cotton.

Balconies on the water side of Factors' Walk

Balconies on the water side of Factors’ Walk

William Makepeace Thackery wrote of Factors’ Walk, – where cotton factors or commission merchants inspected and bid on baled cotton stacked below.  Sampling, grading and storage took place in the brick buildings that architect Charles Clusky had built for the cotton factors and brokers and merchants at the rivers edge.  There was Stoddard’s Range, brand new then, accessible from the decorative cast iron walks and bridges on Bay Street and from the new riverside cobblestone walk.


Cobblestones, brought from England as ballast, pave the area around Factors’ walk.

During the 1700s, factors and traders had conducted their business from the decks of ships and the wharves along the river. This area was 40 feet below the level of the town. The Exchange Building and the surrounding warehouses and offices built at the foot of the bluff, were built tall enough to access both levels. These buildings were connected to Bay Street by wooden bridges and cast-iron arches.




The terracotta lion in front of the Exchange was installed in 1889. (A drunk-driver destroyed the original and a cement replica was installed in 2010.)

In 1915, the cotton-destroying boll weevil invaded Georgia and eventually destroyed half of the state’s cotton. By the 1920s King Cotton was dead.


The Cotton Exchange finally closed business in 1952.  In 1974, the Freemasons purchased the remaining lease on the Cotton Exchange building. Their Lodge (Solomon’s), which now uses the building, claims to be the oldest continually operating lodge in the United States.


Michael Cash's Rock Wall

Michael Cash’s Rock Wall

In the 1850s, erosion became a factor in this area. A retaining wall was built around Factors’ Walk. The retaining wall was built of ballast rock. Built between 1855 and 1869, it not only helped reduce the eroding, forty-foot high sandy bluff but also made use of the many tons of stone stacked along the river front. The builder of the wall was an Irish immigrant named Michael Cash.


If you are heading down to Factors’ Walk I will warn you, it sits amongst many, many bad tourist shops and bars.  I am sure that there are some excellent places to dine, and some fine objects to be purchased, but one will have to sift through the t-shirts to find them.  A stroll along the river, however, will yield a myriad of delightful art pieces, and a jaw dropping reaction to the amount of shipping traffic occurring on the river.

The trip is worth it.

Shipping at Savannah Port

Shipping at Savannah Port




May 082015

May 2015

Mrs. Wilkes Fried Chicken

Mrs. Wilkes Fried Chicken

Food in Savannah is Southern and then some.  As a California girl, I will admit that I am not the absolute fondest of fried food and the lack of fresh vegetables, but the South is growing up and I found lots to crow about.

I want to start, however, with one of the restaurants people come specifically to Savannah for,  Mrs. Wilkes.  The restaurant is open for lunch only from 11:00 to 2:00 Monday thru Friday.  The line starts forming at around 10:00 and those at the end are often disappointed in the lack of ability to get in after a long wait.

This long wait does one thing I had difficulty with, you feel rushed and tend to wolf down your meal.  That being said I will agree with my cab driver Gator Bob, this is the best fried chicken I have ever tasted.

The sides at Mrs. Wilkes

The sides at Mrs. Wilkes

The meal is family style, with ten people per table, and yes, in typical southern style, you make friends with these folks both standing in line and dining with them.

The sides, and sweet tea, are already set upon the table before you sit down.  There are so many, that before the chicken arrives your plate is full, along with your belly if you aren’t careful – be forewarned.

The meal is $20 cash and a tip in the basket at the front door as you leave, and you bus your own dishes.  I was left wondering what happens to all the left over food, the photo above was taken after we finished.

I was in Savannah for a conference, so by the time dinner rolled around, I was usually only in the mood for a light meal and a good southern cocktail.

Mother’s Day, with no reservations I ended up at Alligator Soul.

Aligator Soul

Aligator Soul

That was no problem, they serve the full menu at the bar, where, as the evening progressed, several tourists joined me for dinner.  I had their shrimp and grits and will say it was moist and sumptuous.  Having ordered the appetizer size, I walked away stuffed!  The bartender was adorable, and the service excellent.

The Public Bar and Kitchen

The Public Bar and Kitchen

Despite the fact that I was in town for a Victorian Conference, I fell in love with the mid-century modern Public Kitchen and Bar.  Their “contemporary Fresh American” fare was perfect.  A great place for snacks and a drink or a full dinner, and they mean it when they say fresh, great greens, and salads.

The Irish in Savannah

The Six-Pence Pub

I have discussed the Six Pence Pub already, but I want to repeat, it was a great place for bangers and mash, or a very, very comfortable spot to just sit and drink a beer and catch a game. It, like Mrs. Wilkes, is on the tourist route, but it deserves better praise than that moniker.

Leopold's Ice Cream

Leopold’s Ice Cream

I will admit, I had never heard of Leopold’s Ice Cream, and yet I was told over and over that it was rated some of the best in the country.  So, on a very hot, typical day I stopped in.  I had the lemon custard, as it promised they had not changed the recipe since 1919.  It was delicious and refreshing.  Leopold’s is an on-again off-again Savannah institution. It is an old fashioned soda fountain, with a little Hollywood history thrown in.

This is not a restaurant or food blog, so sorry, not many food choices or photos.  As a San Franciscan and world traveler, I am a real foodie, and it is not easy to impress me.  So I hope the notes above give you some help in weeding through the many great restaurants of Savannah when your time was as limited as mine.

May 062015

Flag of South Carolina

Charleston is steeped in Southern history and they are proud of it, beginning with their flag.  The South Carolina flag was designed by Colonel William Moultrie in 1775.  The first flag simply had a crescent moon with the words liberty written on the moon.

That design flew over a fortress on Sullivan’s Island where Moultrie was part of a stand against the British in June 1776. One of the reasons the South Carolinians were able to hold Sullivan’s Island was because the  the fortress was constructed of palmettos, laid over sand walls.  These palmettos, spongy as they were, were able to withstand British cannons. The palmetto was added to the flag after that.

Map of Charleston, South Carolina

Map of Charleston, South Carolina

Charleston sits between the Ashley and Cooper Rivers, these drain into the Atlantic Ocean.  When the British first arrived in South Carolina the distance between the two rivers was 2 1/2 miles, today it is 5 miles.

The British fortified the town with a wall around it. Due to the fact that it was a walled city, the lots, and therefore, the buildings, tended to be narrow.

The Crisp Map of 1711

The Crisp Map of 1711 – showing the walls around the city

Since Charleston was founded after the Great Fire of London, and the British had learned a little about fire management, the city was laid out on a grid.  The streets, for the same reason were also wide.


Single House

Charleston developed Single House Architecture to beat the heat.  Single House is an architectural style specifically of Charleston, South Carolina and refers to homes built one room wide with double covered piazzas (or what others in the U.S. call porches), that face East. The homes can be many rooms long and multiple stories high. Some are 10 feet wide, some are 25 feet wide, but they always sit with the narrow part of the house facing the street due to Charleston’s narrow lot sizes.

Homes on the Battery

Homes on the Battery

During the Civil War a coastal defense artillery battery was built on the coastline. It stretches along the lower shores of the Charleston Peninsula.  Once this was done, homes were also built along the area.

Charleston was the fourth largest city during the period leading up to the Civil War; cotton was very good to Charleston.

While the earliest settlers primarily came from England, colonial Charleston was also home to a mixture of ethnic and religious groups. People came from Bermuda and the Caribbean,  French, Scottish, Irish, and Germans migrated to the developing seacoast town, representing numerous Protestant denominations. Sephardic Jews migrated to the city in such numbers that Charleston eventually was home to, by the beginning of the 19th century and until about 1830, the largest and wealthiest Jewish community in North America.

Hugenot Cemetery

Huguenot Cemetery – Huguenots made up 40% of the population prior to the Civil War

Charleston was also a very progressive city.  Prostitution was legal, and in fact stayed that way until after WWII.

The Dock Theater, site of the oldest American theater

The Dock Theater, site of the oldest American theater

Theaters were prevalent. In the North the theater was considered the highway to hell and was condemned or forbidden. In 1750 the General Court of Massachusetts passed an act prohibiting stage plays and theatrical entertainments of any kind. In 1759, the Colony of Pennsylvania passed a law forbidding the showing and acting of plays under a penalty of £500. In 1761 Rhode Island passed “an act to Prevent Stage Plays and other Theatrical Entertainments within this Colony,” and the following year the New Hampshire House of Representatives refused a troupe of actors admission to Portsmouth on the ground that plays had a “peculiar influence on the minds of young people and greatly endanger their morals by giving them a taste for intriguing, amusement and pleasure”.


Charleston was enjoying a prosperous and entertaining life as the seeds of Civil War were brewing.  The Civil War was not kind to Charleston.

This is the second St. Philip's Church on this site. It was constructed from 1835 to 1838 by architect Joseph Hyde, while the steeple, designed by E.B. White, was added a decade later.

This is the second St. Philip’s Church on this site. It was constructed from 1835 to 1838 by architect Joseph Hyde, while the steeple, designed by E.B. White, was added a decade later.

On December 20, 1860, the South Carolina General Assembly made the state the first to ever secede from the Union. Some of the staunchest Secessionists were members of the St. Philip’s Church.

On December 11, 1861, a massive fire burned 164 acres of the city.  In late 1863 the Union forces were able to get close enough to begin a bombardment that lasted on and off for more than a year.  The cumulative effects of this bombardment would destroy much of the city that had survived the fire.

Streets in the oldest part of Charleston

Streets in the oldest part of Charleston

The City of Charleston was evacuated from 1863 to 1865 and then sat under Marshall law for the next 16 years.

Earthquake bracing on the building

Earthquake bracing on the building

To add insult to injury a 7.5 earthquake hit Charleston in 1886. It damaged 2,000 buildings in Charleston and caused $6 million worth of damage, the city was so poor by then that the buildings in the entire city were only valued at approximately $24 million.

This was the end of Charleston.  The city became, as many cities do, an impoverished empty city.  A few people trickled in after WWII and many more with the opening of the Eisenhower Highway system, but today it is only the 225th largest city in U.S.

The House on Cabbage Row in Heyward’s novel Porgy. At the time 20 people were living in that house.

The House on Cabbage Row in Dubose Heyward’s novel Porgy. At the time of its writing there were 100 people  living in the house.

In the 1970s the city began attempting to attract tourism but the city remained rather impoverished until Hurricane Hugo in 1989.  At that time over $1billion in insurance money came in to help many people that had spent generations deferring maintenance on their homes.  This would include the installation of plumbing and electricity on the insides of the homes, rather than simply run up the exterior walls.

Hugo also, however, killed 45% of all the trees in Charleston, so tree canopy is treasured in Charleston where the trees are still large enough to provide shade. Along with the loss of trees, Spanish moss, so prevalent in the south, disappeared from Charleston.

There was also a 17 foot storm surge with Hugo bringing in “pluff” mud.

Pluff mud is a Carolina Lowcountry term for the slippery, shiny brown-gray, sucky mud, with a distinctive smell like none other, of the tidal flats and spartina grass salt marshes. When you step in it, you could sink up to your ankles, or up to your knees.

Pluff mud is a Carolina Lowcountry term for the slippery, shiny brown-gray, sucky mud, with a distinctive smell like none other, of the tidal flats and spartina grass salt marshes. When you step in it, you could sink up to your ankles, or up to your knees.

Today, Charleston is becoming a prime location for tech, it is considered a very important art center, and has the fourth largest container port in the U.S.

Robert Mills, best know for designing the Washington Monument, designed this church in his home town of Charleston

Robert Mills, best know for designing the Washington Monument, designed this church in his home town of Charleston

Tiny alleys like this run throughout the old part of Charleston

Tiny alleys like this run throughout the old part of Charleston

Trachelospermum jasminoides is called Confederate Jasmine here in the south

Trachelospermum jasminoides is called Confederate Jasmine here in the south

Victorian homes, made of wood, which is rare in Charleston are scattered in areas that were burned out in the old section of town

Victorian homes, made of wood, which is rare in Charleston, are scattered in areas that were burned out in the old section of town

The impending destruction of this building began the preservation movement in Charleston in 1920.

The impending destruction of this building began the preservation movement in Charleston in 1920.


If you get to Charleston and want one of the absolute best tour guides I suggest Tommy Dew’s

May 062015

Beaufort South Carolina

May 2015

I am in the south for the Victorian Society Annual meeting. I have never been to this part of the south, and am anxious to explore the architecture and the history.

Today was spent in Beaufort, South Carolina, a one hour drive from Savannah, Georgia.  I did not even know this town existed until today, and yet it is so rich, both architecturally, as well as, historically.

Beaufort County South Carolina Map

A little history before I walk you around town.  American Indians spent summers here, as far back as the second millennium B.C.. This fact is vital because it plays a part in the construction of homes in the area.

This area was settled around the same time as our first U.S. city, St. Augustine, Florida, Beaufort claims to be the second (1562).  There were Spanish, French, English and Scottish, all here for the rich soil and water trade routes to Europe.

The area finally was settled permanently by the English and chartered in 1711.  The town was named after the Duke of Beaufort.  The English laid out the still existing grid streets of the town.

St. Helena's Parish Church

St. Helena’s Parish was established in 1712.  The church we visited was not quite that old, but sits where the original sat.

Main industries of Beaufort at that time were indigo and rice. There is a normal tidal variation between low and high tide of eight (8) feet and eleven on “spring” tides.  This is one of the greatest variations along the Atlantic coast and makes rice planting feasible…to say nothing of oyster harvesting.

Beaufort was extremely prosperous at this time with vast amounts of wood allowing shipbuilding that added to the rice and indigo trade.  A plantation owner of this time, Thomas Heyward, was one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence.

Many of the socially prominent families of this time remained loyal to the crown during the revolution and there are British soldiers buried in St. Helena’s graveyard.

St. Helens parish british

After the American Revolution the need, by the English, for indigo dried up and Beaufort’s economy was based on Sea Island Cotton. Beaufort became the wealthiest and most cultured town of its size in America because of the Sea Island Cotton crop.

Antebellum Architecture

The architecture of the Antebellum Days was predicated on getting cool breezes through a home. The homes typically faced south and had wide verandas. Many were built close to the water, which gave them the best breezes.

During this time many of the houses were of wood with tabby and brick used for the foundations, although many were built entirely of tabby and brick.

Most Antebellum homes are in the Greek Revival, Classical Revival, or Federal style.  They tend to be grand, symmetrical, and boxy, with center entrances in the front and rear, balconies, and columns. In the case of Beaufort, often hidden behind large trees.

In Beaufort, this style included large raised basements that addressed the constant threat of flooding from the tidal marsh.

Called "The Castle" this is the last Antebellum house built in Beaufort

Called “The Castle” this is the last Antebellum house built in Beaufort

The Washington House

The Anchorage House, presently undergoing a restoration is the tallest tabby home in the United States. Although extensively altered in the late 19th century it is a classic antebellum period home originally built in 1800.


When the American Indians summered in this area, for ten thousand years, they ate oysters and left behind mounds of shells for the future use of contractors.

Lime, an essential ingredient in cement was unavailable. It was created by burning the oyster shells.  This was then mixed with sand and whole oyster shells to create a cementious mix for building. This was called Tabby.

Tapia is Spanish for “mud wall” and Arabic tabbi means a mixture of mortar and lime.  In the earliest buildings of the area they also included Spanish Moss. The Spaniards had been using this building style for centuries, but some researchers believe the English developed it in South Carolina on their own.

If you are interested in a very detailed account on how to make tabby click here.

Tabby Home

We were guests of the Beaufort County Open Land Trust in this tabby home.

This stunning wood paneling, removed early on in the life of its home found its way to New York, then California and finally back home to rest where it began

This stunning wood paneling, removed early on in the life of the home found its way to New York, then California and finally back home to rest where it began

The cotton planters living in these homes sent their sons to be educated at Harvard and Yale and and often shuttled between Newport, Rhode Island and Beaufort, South Carolina (the Newport of the south).


Basements, raised entirely above ground were typical Beaufort style in Antebellum homes


By 1886 Beaufort had lost its own style and people began building out of National Pattern Books

confederate flags

The Civil War changed everything in Beaufort, South Carolina.

November 7, 1861 known as the “Day of the Big Gun Shoot” began at 9:26 a.m.  The Union naval forces came into Port Royal Sound, found no resistance, and took over with no blood loss.

Warned by Southern spies via telegraph, every white person in Beaufort had already “skedaddled”. The white Southerners left most everything behind, leaving the homes almost intact.  They also left 10,000 slaves behind.

Beaufort was Union territory.  This area became a hospital zone and a Union army regional headquarters for the duration of the war.  Most every one of the large homes and buildings became either hospital wards or offices for the Union Army. This is what saved the architecture of Beaufort.

Baptist church in beaufort

Tabernacle Baptist Church ca. 1893 where Robert Smalls is laid to rest

On January 1, 1863 the Emancipation Proclamation was read to the freedmen of the area.  Following this, the government imposed a Federal real estate tax on the Southern landowners and their homes.  The Southerners were not going to pay taxes to these people, so the Federal government confiscated the land.  The land was auctioned off to the occupying Union soldiers and civilians.  The plantations were cut into 40 acre lots and for $2.00 an acre a freedman was able to buy 40 acres and a mule.

During the decades after the Civil War the black population of the area outnumbered the white populaton seven to one.

Robert Smalls

Robert Smalls

Robert Smalls became a very influential man during this period. Born in Beaufort, South Carolina, he freed himself  from slavery on May 13, 1862, by commandeering a Confederate transport ship, the CSS Planter, in Charleston harbor, and sailing it to freedom beyond the Federal blockade.

After the American Civil War, he became a politician, elected to the South Carolina State legislature and the United States House of Representatives.

In 1877, with the enactment of the Jim Crow laws, Beaufort lost any political power it had in the state.  However, the city itself remained a Jim Crow law free zone due to its overwhelmingly high black population.

The history of Beaufort struggled through the rest of its history, going from the richest area in the United States to the poorest.  Today it relies on income from the ever growing summer homes of the area, tourism and retirees.

Andrew Carnegie Library 1916

Andrew Carnegie Library 1918

All the original books of Beaufort were taken to Washington D.C. for safekeeping during the Civil War time.  They were lost when the Library of Congress burned in 1864. The Carnegie Library was built in 1918.


Construction on the Beaufort Arsenal began in 1795. The land was given to the volunteer organization, The Beaufort Volunteer Artillery Company, by the city. The building retains a portion of its tabby walls.

Joseph Hazel House

The plinth under these columns is typical “Beaufort Style” from the 1810s.


This home was saved from destruction by Jim Williams, the protaganist in Midnight in the Garden of Evil

This home was saved from destruction by Jim Williams, the protagonist in “Midnight in the Garden of Evil”

Beaufort College Building

Built in 1795 this stucco on brick building is now part of South Carolina Beaufort College

The Pretty Penny, owned by a lumber maven it is said to be built with perfect wood and there is not a knot in the house - ca. 1850

The “Pretty Penny”, owned by a lumber maven, is said to be built with perfect wood and there is not a knot in the house – ca. 1850

A Sears and Roebuck Catalogue Home

A Sears and Roebuck Catalogue Home

Interior of the Parish of Saint Helena

Interior of the Parish of Saint Helena

I have already shown you some exterior shots of the Parish of Saint Helena.  I would like to take this opportunity to expound a little bit.  We were given a wonderful talk about the church by this woman.

Anne Heyward

Anne Heyward

This is Anne Hayward, and if you were paying close attention, yes it was her great x 4 grandfather that was a signer of the Declaration of Independence.  Her knowledge of the church and the area is staggering.

I am always attracted to graveyards, and the one at St Helena’s has some great characters. I would like to bring you just a few.

Dr. Perry's Brick Mausoleum

Dr. Perry’s Brick Mausoleum

Dr. Perry knew of someone that had been buried alive, so he had a pickaxe, a jug of water and a loaf of bread with him when he went.

Colonel John Tuscarora Jack Barnwell

Colonel John “Tuscarora Jack” Barnwell

Colonel Barnwell, an Irish immigrant who arrived in 1700, was the builder of the Tabby home we dined in.  He built the home for his daughter Elizabeth after she eloped to Europe with an unsavory fellow and the colonel knew the marriage would not work.

This Baptismal Font is one of the few things left from before the Civil War - it is still used today

This Baptismal Font is one of the few things left from before the Civil War – it is still used today

While the homes of Beaufort survived the Union occupation the contents did not, it is rare to find items from buildings before that time period.

Bobby Pin Fence

Bobby Pin Fence

Decorative fences are all over the area, and as varied as they are many.  The fences in the past were latticed on the bottom and often very high.  This kept the chickens from escaping through the slats and the cows from the yards.







Spanish moss is EVERYWHERE! It is not Spanish, it is not moss and it is not a parasite.  It is actually an epiphyte and a member of the pineapple family, Tillandsia usneoides. It does not need a tree to grow, as you can see in the second photos where it is draped on the phone wires, it just needs lots of air and lots of sun.



Another tree that is thriving in the south is the Elm.  Dutch Elm disease can not live in areas where it is 90 degrees day and night.


Harriet Tubman

Harriet Tubman

In 1862, Governor Andrew of Massachusetts arranged for Harriet Tubman to go to Beaufort, South Carolina, as a nurse and teacher.  She was a nurse in the Tabby home in which we dined.

Clara Barton

Clara Barton

Clara Barton, founder of the Red Cross, served in Beaufort, South Carolina twice.  The first during the Civil War and again in 1893 when a horrific hurricane wreaked havoc on the area.

If you are heading to Beaufort, there are many many architectural tour companies available.  I found two wonderful books on the history of the area that can guide you easily around should you prefer to do it on your own.

The Historic Beaufort Foundation Guide to Historic Homes and Places and Beautiful Beaufort by the Sea Guidebook





The town is small and walkable with a delightful shopping main street and a waterfront for relaxing and cooling off with the breezes off the water.

Dec 022014

November 2014

What do you do in Washington D.C. when you have a day and you have already seen “the famous”  National Monuments?  Well here is my wild and crazy schedule.  Some of it is walkable, some of it was done by cab and some of it was done on mass transit.  That part is up to you, I am going to simply highlight the sites, and let you see if any of them interest you.

Adams Memorial

I will begin with this beautiful sculpture.  I visit this whenever I am in Washington D.C.  This is the Adams Memorial it is located in Section E of Rock Creek Cemetery.

The Smithsonian probably writes about it best:

Marion Hooper “Clover” Adams, wife of the writer Henry Adams, committed suicide in 1885 by drinking chemicals used to develop photographs. Adams, who steadfastly refused to discuss his wife’s death, commissioned Augustus Saint-Gaudens to create a memorial that would express the Buddhist idea of nirvana, a state of being beyond joy and sorrow. In Adams’s circle of artists and writers, the old Christian certainties seemed inadequate after the violence of the Civil War, the industrialization of America, and Darwin’s theories of evolution. Saint-Gaudens’s ambiguous figure reflects the search for new insights into the mysteries of life and death. The shrouded being is neither male nor female, neither triumphant nor downcast.

Clover Adams


Augustus Saint Gaudens

Rock Creek Cemetery is just one block from the President Lincoln’s Cottage on the grounds of the Soldiers Home if you find you have more time. I did not, and on busy days they highly suggest reservations, but I at least got a shot of the statue in front of his cabin.  If you do go, give yourself lots of time, as there is quite a museum attached to the grounds as well.

President Lincolns cabin

Did you know that the original columns of the United States Capitol are standing in a field?  Yup, here they are in the National Arboretum.

U.S. Capitol columns

The original Corinthian Columns from our United States Capitol sit on a knoll in the Ellipse Meadow.  The columns were part of the 1828 construction of the East Portico, quarried from Virginia sandstone and barged to Washington, they were part of the capitol before the dome was completed.  When the dome was finally completed in 1864 it was significantly larger than the original design making the columns look too small to support it and out of scale.  An addition to the east side of the Capitol was supposed to fix the problem, but that was not built until 1958.

National Arboretum

Then it wasn’t until 1980 that Ethel Garret, benefactor of the Arboretum and world famous Landscape Designer Russell Page were able to garner enough monies and support to have them placed on the Ellipse Meadow.

The columns are set on a foundation of stones from the steps that were on the east side of the Capitol. Old identification marks from the quarry are still visible on some of the stones.

The National Arboretum address is:
3501 New York Ave NE, Washington, D.C., DC 20002
The columns are closest to the R Street Entrance if you are on foot.
If you are going in the winter check the trolly schedule it does not run all year.


Cuban American Friendship Urn

This is the Cuban American Friendship Urn.  The urn is not easy to find, but it is marked on the National Park Service Map “National Mall and Memorial Parks” You will find it marked at Parking A, Ohio Drive, on the Potomac.

The urn once stood atop a column of marble in Havana.  It was originally made to commemorate the U.S. sailors and Marines who lost their lives aboard the USS Maine when it sank in Havana harbor in 1898.

The sinking of the Maine on February 15 precipitated the Spanish-American War and popularized the phrase Remember the Maine!

Cuban American Friendship Urn

A hurricane in October 1926 knocked the marble column over, and in 1928 the urn was sent to the United States and presented to President Calvin Coolidge.  After that, the urn stood outside the Cuban Embassy on 16th Street, N.W., in Washington. After relations between the United States and Cuba deteriorated it disappeared from public view. It was rumored to have been stolen during the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, or it may have simply been removed for a construction project. A 2009 National Park Service publication states that it was discovered in a National Park Service warehouse in 1992 and moved to its present site. However, in 1996, “The Washington City Paper”, reported that the urn had recently been found by the park service abandoned in Rock Creek Park “lying on its side”.   The urn was placed in East Potomac Park in 1998 following repair work that cost $11,000.

It has been called one of the “10 monuments you’ve probably never heard of” in the Washington, D.C., region, which is of course, why I had to go find it!

George Mason

Walking through Washington you will simply trip over statue after statue, while waiting for transit around the corner from the Friendship Urn, tucked way in the back of the bend of the street was this wonderful statue of George Mason. I had not gone seeking this out, but what a great find.

George Mason was a member of the elite Virginians. He is considered one of the “Founding Fathers” but did not sign the U.S. Constitution because it did not contain explicit rights for individuals.  He did however convince our forefathers to add them into amendments which became our Bill of Rights, these were based on the earlier Virginia Declaration of Rights, which Mason had drafted.

While the garden was the product of extensive historical research, and I am sure is stunning in the spring and summer, there was not one flower or piece of greenery on December 1st.  The design by landscape architect Faye Harwell, FASLA, Oehme Van Sweden, is intended to reflect the site’s history as a Victorian garden as well as George Mason’s love of gardens.

The sculptor was Wendy M. Ross.

Union Station Washington DC

What would a trip like this be without a quick dash into Union Station.  In 1908 architect Daniel H. Burnham, assisted by Pierce Anderson, was inspired by a number of different architectural styles, and yet the station does not feel eclectic, it feels gracious and grand. Classical elements included the Arch of Constantine (exterior, main façade) and the great vaulted spaces of the Baths of Diocletian (interior); prominent siting at the intersection of two of Pierre L’Enfant’s avenues, with an orientation that faced the United States Capitol just five blocks away; (behind me as I took this picture above) a massive scale, including a façade stretching more than 600 feet and a waiting room ceiling 96 feet above the floor; stone inscriptions and allegorical sculpture in the Beaux-Arts style; expensive materials such as marble, gold leaf, and white granite.

Interior of Union Station DC

During World War I, troops were mobilized through Union Station, and many prominent women worked in the Station’s canteen, including Eleanor Roosevelt and Mrs. Woodrow Wilson. It was reported that Mrs. Wilson had kept her husband, the President, waiting for her outside the Station, until she had finished her duties at the canteen.

DC Union Station

On September 29, 1988, Union Station reopened its doors with a gala celebration. A public/private partnership funded the $160 million restoration of the Station per legislation enacted by Congress in 1981 to preserve Union Station as a national treasure. It was the largest, most complex public/private restoration project ever attempted in the United States.

Christopher Columbus Memorial Fountain

Christopher Columbus Memorial Fountain

The fountain, which was co-created by Lorado Zadoc Taft (April 29, 1860 – October 30, 1936) and architect Daniel Burnham, was influenced by a fountain designed by Frederick MacMonnies that was displayed at the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893.

Dumbarton Bridge DC

I was going to just throw this guy in as a place holder but then I started to do my research and figured I would share a little bit about him.  There are four of these fellows on the Dumbarton Bridge.  The bridge is also, obviously, known as the Buffalo bridge, or the Q Street Bridge. These buffalo, the largest cast in a single piece of bronze, are by Alexander Phimister Proctor. 

Q Street Bridge Washington DC

I thought this was unique when I saw it, but didn’t really know how unique until I started writing, as I said. The bridge is significant as showing the impact of the City Beautiful movement in Washington. The architects studied photographs of bridges around the world choosing as models a Roman aqueduct and a mountain bridge in Italy with intent to set a precedent for further city bridges. The color of the bridge’s stone was intended to evoke the warm tones of Spain and Italy.

Indians on the Dumbarton Bridge in DCAlong with the buffalo theme the arches are decorated by Indian head designs by architect Glenn Brown based on a life mask of the Sioux chief Kicking Bear in the Smithsonian.

New Leaf by Lisa Sheer 2007

New Leaf by Lisa Sheer 2007


A day running around must include at least one meal, and while I love The Old Ebbitt Grill for oysters, todays was Ben’s Chili Bowl.

1213 U Street NW

Ben's Chili Bowl

A great spot for a cold cold day.  Chili dog, chili fries and all the entertainment you could ask for!

I hope that you have enjoyed a very quick, but unusual view of Washington DC.

Jul 162014

July 2014How do you pronounce Louisville?

Louisville is an interesting town.  Everyone knows it for the Kentucky Derby, and I have always wanted to go, not to see the Derby, but to see the fireworks display on the bridges the night before.

I found myself in Louisville for the weekend in the middle of June, and yes I suffered immensely from the heat and humidity, but I didn’t get to choose the date.

Kentucky Derby Fireworks

We stayed at the Brown Hotel, check out my post about hotel service.  We had only a few hours to spend, as we were scheduled with family things for a part of the weekend, but here are the highlights and how I would recommend you spend your few hours in Louisville.

Louisville Slugger

Wooden bats for the Louisville Slugger are still manufactured in the companies original building here at 800 West Main Street.      They have a museum and a factory tour available, but if you don’t have time for that, make sure you get your picture taken in front of the largest bat in the world and visit the gift store.  You can even have your own bat personalized right here.

Bourbon is another thing one thinks of in Kentucky.

Kentucky Bourbon

A lot of Bourbon tasting can be done along Main Street, also called Whiskey Row. Bourbon makers are slowly moving into this area and doing what they can to revitalize the area. Louisville has one of the largest collections of cast-iron facades outside SoHo New York, along Main Street.  Sadly, some of the area is in very bad shape, and historic restoration apparently hasn’t really caught on in Louisville. It is nice to see that at least Bourbon may help in this revitalization.

In case you are wondering we chose to do our Bourbon tasting at the bar in the Brown Hotel, aided by a great staff, and within easy walking distance to our room, but some highly recommended spots are Doc Crows for food at 127 West Main Street, Doc Crows occupies the former Bonnie Brothers distillery, at the healthy end of Whiskey Row (West Main Street).   Evan Williams at 528 West Main Street has a tour and artisanal Bourbon tasting.  Walk around see what you can see, and of course, drink responsibly.


Whiskey RowWhiskey Row

West Main Street is also an interesting area to spot some art.

21C Hotel

These little guys are atop the 21C Hotel at 700 West Main Street.

Owners Laura Lee Brown and Steve Wilson partnered with architect Deborah Berke to rehabilitate a series of 19th century tobacco and Bourbon warehouses into a boutique hotel and a contemporary art museum. The outcome is really rather fabulous.

The day that we visited we started with Sunday Brunch in the Proof Lounge.  The meal was excellent, the ingredients fresh and innovative and the room, well, filled with art.  The exhibit going on at the time was a photography exhibit by Chito Yoshida.

We then headed to the gallery.  The gallery space is considerably larger than one original thinks.  The exhibits rotate and while we were there I was so thoroughly glad that we had the chance to spend time.  The first, in the lobby, was See You At The Finish Line by Duke Riley.  The exhibit is thought provoking, progressive and at the same time fun.  The second show that should not be missed is Trumpf, Transporting, Transformation: Cuba, In and Out, a great collection of many artists from Cuba, not an easy feat to gather together.  The other collection that made an impression was Seeing Now, the exhibit challenges you to truly, truly look.David on West Main Street in Louisville, KY

After seeing these spectacularly curated exhibits, it was hard to understand how the hotel could place such an abhorrent copy of David in the front of their hotel, but at least you can find the hotel easily this way.

Colonel Sanders

We also spent a few hours at the Cave Hill Cemetery. The cemetery is somewhat out of downtown at 701 Baxter Avenue, but it is the final resting spot of most important Kentuckians.   The cemetery is a Victorian Era cemetery and I had hoped to wander the grounds and explore, but the beating sun of 92 degrees kept us in our air-conditioned car and driving to the highlights.

There was Colonel Sanders, and two others that I sought out.

The Frito Lay Magician Collins

This is Harry Leon Collins.  originally a Frito-Lay salesman he was Louisville’s most popular magician, “Mr. Magic”, at night.  He used the words Frito-Lay as his “magic” word.  He became Frito-Lay’s official corporate magician in 1970, and traveled the world performing magic and selling corn chips all at the same time.



Wilder Monument at

This is the Wilder Monument.  Its importance to me in that it was designed by Robert E. Launitz, considered the father of monumental art in America. In this case monumental refers to size.  Monumental sculptures of humans are at least life size and often larger.  Prior to Launitz  emigrating from Russia, marble work in the US was confined almost entirely to small grave stones, plain memorial tablets, mantel pieces and the occasional small carving.   This piece was done for Minnie Wilder, the Wilder’s only child, who died at age seven.

Why Louisville?

We had the opportunity to catch a small amount of shopping, and would highly recommend Why Louisville.  We visited the Bardstown Road store in the Highlands, but they also have a location at 806 E. Market Street. You will find lots and lots of fun items with and without the Louisville theme.

Hanging Bat in Louisville KY

And to finish with our last bat of the trip, this hangs on the outside of Caufields. 

Keran S Caufield, Sr. was an Irish immigrant who opened a photography studio in Louisville, KY in 1920. He used $15. he had received in an accident settlement, and bought some magic tricks. Soon the novelty business outpaced his photography business so he closed the camera shop and opened Caufield’s Novelties.  Today, Caufields is one of the largest theatrical distributors in the country.

We will be returning to Louisville in May/June of 2015 and I have a list of items I hope to see, including a ride on the Belle and an architectural walking tour, I’ll let you know how they are.


Jun 162014

June 2014Chicago Architectural Tours

There are several river cruises available to take in Chicago, and I highly recommend that you take at least one.  While it is a touristy thing to do, it is also a great way to see the city, and can be a great place to cool off if your day gets too hot and muggy.


We chose to take the Chicago Architecture Foundation river cruise aboard “Chicago’s First Lady”. The tour is 90 minutes long and at this point – June 2014 – it cost $37.85/person plus tax, WHICH is 9.75% in Chicago.


We took the last tour of the day, which in June was 7:30 pm.  This gave us the opportunity to leave in the day light and travel through the sunset arriving back at dark.  It was a great time enjoy the sun setting on the city.

Wrigley Building

The boat takes off from the Southeast corner of Michigan and Wacker, so you are able to sit and enjoy the Wrigley building while waiting to take off.

When ground was broken for the Wrigley Building in 1920, there were no major office buildings north of the Chicago River and the Michigan Avenue Bridge, which spans the river just south of the building was still under construction. The land was selected by William Wrigley Jr. to headquarter his gum company. The building was designed by the architectural firm of Graham, Anderson, Probst & White using the shape of the Giralda tower of Seville’s Cathedral combined with French Renaissance details. The  south tower was completed in April 1921 and the north tower in May 1924.

The building is clad in glazed terra-cotta. On occasion, the entire building is hand washed to preserve the terra cotta. The Wrigley Building was Chicago’s first air-conditioned office building.

Glass building on chicago river tour

This is 333 Wacker Drive. Designed by Kohn Pederson Fox, it sits on an awkward triangular site where the chicago river makes a sharp turn.

Chicago River Pollution

An interesting smaller structure on the river is the Union Station power plant building, which stands today at 301 S. Taylor Street. Built in 1931 and designed by architects Graham, Anderson, Probst and White, its construction  was urged along, because its predecessor occupied the future site of the new Post Office.  Construction on the Post Office could not be started until the old power plant was replaced and demolished.

You will pass the Old Main Post Office on the tour.  It has been abandoned for now and is awaiting someone to grab it up for rehabilitation/reuse. There have been proposals, but it is a whopping 2.7 Million square feet, a project that could take decades if it gets under way.

Spirit of Progress Chicago

This is the Spirit of Progress.  She sits atop a tower, which is a part of the Montgomery Ward complex.  Montgomery Ward was a large part of Chicago history, and now it is a large part of the adaptive re-use program along the river.  You will see the buildings and learn a lot about the role of Mr Ward and historic preservation.

Speaking of progress…In earlier times the Chicago River was used to dump sewage, factory, and other wastes that badly polluted the river. The river was connected to Lake Michigan, the source of water for Chicago residents. When the Chicago River watershed became too big because of rain storms, the river overflowed into the lake. A particularly heavy rainstorm in 1885 caused sewage to be flushed into the lake beyond the clean water intakes. The resulting typhoid, cholera, and dysentery epidemics killed an estimated 12 percent of Chicago’s 750,000 residents, and raised a public outcry to find a permanent solution to the city’s water supply and sewage disposal crisis.

The city’s solution? Make the river run backwards via the Sanitary and Ship Canal, constructed in the 1920’s and 30’s at an estimated cost of over $70,000,000.

The reversal of the Chicago River was the largest municipal earth-moving project ever completed. Significant new excavation technology and techniques developed and perfected on the project contributed to the construction of the Panama Canal.


Navy Pier

One of the turn around spots is Navy Pier.  Navy Pier was planned and built to serve as a mixed-purpose piece of public infrastructure. Its primary purpose was as a cargo facility for lake freighters, and warehouses were built up and down the Pier. However, the Pier was also designed to provide docking space for passenger excursion steamers, and in the pre–air conditioning era parts of the Pier, especially its outermost tip, were designed to serve as cool places for public gathering and entertainment. I was surprised to learn that today, Navy Pier is Chicago’s number one tourist attraction

The Navy Pier Ferris Wheel opened on July 1, 1995. It operates year-round, weather permitting, and has 40 gondolas, each seating up to 6 passengers. Its 40 spokes, span a diameter of 140 feet.

Bridges of Chicago

Did you know there are 18 yep Eighteen, movable bridges on the loop?  If you love bridges, or just want to learn a little bit more about the Chicago Loop Bridges check out this site.  

Corncob buildings in Chicago

Some of my favorite buildings in Chicago make up Marina City. Marina City is a complex of two 60-story towers built in 1964 by Bertrand Goldberg, a student of Mies van der Rohe. It consists of apartments, recreation facilities, offices, restaurants, banks, a theater and 18 stories of parking space.

The experimental complex was financed by unions who feared that the outflow of people from the cities in the early sixties would lead to a decrease in jobs.

The cylindrical shape was used to cut down on wind pressure. The architect chose reinforced concrete instead of steel as this was the only material in which he could create the petal shapes of the apartments.  When finished, the two towers were both the tallest residential buildings and the tallest reinforced concrete structures in the world. It was also the first building in the United States to be erected with tower cranes.

River City

Further down on the tour you will see River City II, also designed by Bertrand Goldberg. River City II represents the last of Goldbergs buildings in this style.

River City II was the one part of the larger River City plan that was constructed. It was a portion of the “snake” that was ultimately completed as River City II.

River City II was a mid-rise housing complex, containing 446 residences. Unlike Marina City, the units did not feature balconies, but did have clerestories on their “inner side” to gain light from the interior atrium. The curvilinear structure, eight to fifteen stories in height, featured a private interior passageway called “the River Road,” . The project was cast in place concrete, unusual for the time and the very large and long sklyight over River Road was made of glass block held in thin concrete ribbing. Originally designed as rental housing, the owners of the project later converted it to condominiums.

Trump Tower Chicago

Trump Tower, designed by Skidmore Owens and Merrill  includes, from the ground up, retail space, a parking garage, a 366 room hotel, and condominiums.  The sign had just gone up the day before our tour, and is very controversial.  I find it offensive, way out of scale with its surroundings, but Trump thinks it is d-i-v-i-n-e, and insists the world loves it.  How he would know that, since it had only been installed a few days of this writing when the controversy began, is interesting.

Lake Point Tower

Near Navy Pier is Lake Point Tower. The building was designed by John Heinrich and George Schipporeit, who were both students of Mies van der Rohe. The design was partially derived from a sketch Mies van der Rohe made in 1921. The original proposal made by the architects consisted of a building with 4 wings, but was ultimately replaced by a design which included only 3 wings due to cost. The advantages of the latter were a shorter construction time and a 120 degree angle between the wings, so that the apartments would not face each other.

skyscrapers of Chicago235 West Van Buren by Perkins and Will

Chicago River Architecture Tour


Chicago River Tour

You will pass so many, many more beautiful sites along the cruise and learn about the architecture that formed and is still transforming Chicago.  Enjoy!

Jun 152014

43 East Ohio Street
Chicago, Illinois

Eataly of Chicago

This is Eataly and an experience not to be missed! Owned by Mario Batali, Oscar Farinetti, Joe and Lidia Bastianich, Adam and Alex Saper, Eataly is an extravaganza,covering 62,000 square feet, on two floors, that is EVERYTHING Italian.

Eataly Chicago

In January 2007, Italian businessman Oscar Farinetti converted a closed vermouth factory in Turin into the first location of Eataly. September 2010, Eataly opened in New York near Madison Square park, with a partnership that included Mario Batali, Lidia Bastianich and her son Joe Bastianich, and brothers Adam and Alex Saper. The chain has additional locations in Italy, Japan, Dubai and Turkey.  The Chicago store opened in December 2013.

Eataly Chicago

The Chicago store is open seven days a week, and is so very much more than just a shopping experience.

La Pizza & La Pasta Chicago Eataly

 There are several places with tables and chairs to grab a bite to eat.  There is La Pizza and La Pasta serving Rossopomodoro Pizza as well as house made pasta. Rossopomodoro is a branch of an Italian chain that has locations all over Italy, as well as, in London, Buenos Aires, Reykjavik, Tokyo, and Naples, Florida.

We chose to sit at the Il Pesce bar, but you can sit at Le Verdure, or La Piazza.  They each have a special chalk board with menu items, that you can get at each of these three bars, or you can go for the specialty of the bar itself.  There were fresh oysters at Il Pesce, and the food at each of the other spots looked fabulous as well.

Bruschetta at Eataly in Chicago

The special was a three bruschetta plate, and each are truly wonderful.

Meat Department

We moved onto La Carne, which is a nice quiet corner of the second floor with windows out onto the world, white cloth napkins and wonderful service.  I can’t rave enough about everything we dined on.

Cafe Vergnano Chicago Eataly

There are two spots to grab coffee.  On the first floor is Gran Bar Lavazza and on the second is Caffe Vergnano. 

Wine store at Eataly Chicago

There is not only a large selection of wine for sale, you can taste wine at the Vino Libero that also includes tastings of salumi and verdure.

Birreria Eataly Chicago

Yes, they have their own on-site craft brewery with a dining area and of course, beer.

Cookies Chicago Eataly

You can buy sweets galore from Italy or head over to the pastry, or gelato areas on the first floor.

Eataly Gelato Bar

If you simply want sandwiches there is La Rosticceria with a selection of hand carved sandwiches, and rotisserie chicken available from 11:30 to 5:00.

Housewares at Eataly Chicago

Then there is the housewares department, you could spend thousands of hours, (and dollars) happily filling your shopping cart with items from all over and for every wild and imaginable use.

Mario Batali Cookware

You know they are going to have Mario Batali’s cookware,

Alessi Cookware

but you will also find other great names as well.


Cookware Eataly

There is a great bookstore.  Yes there are the ubiquitous cook books, but there are also some nice travel books as well.

Bookstore at Eataly

You must appreciate a spot that puts its guest services desk smack in the middle of the first floor.

Guest Services at Eataly

Nutella Bar

Oh, did I fail to mention they have a Nutella Bar?

We spent several hours in Eataly, and I warn you that you will too.  So when you are in Chicago, put it on your MUST DO list, and plan on coffee and pastries, maybe just some mezes/tapas/enotheche, or a full meal, but give yourself lots of time to explore.

My only down thing were the restrooms, it was Father’s Day around noon and they were really filthy.

That, however, should not keep you from making sure you put it on your Chicago Trip Things to Do!

Olive Bar at Eataly

Olive Oil Bar at Eataly



Jun 132014

10 South Dearborn
Exelon Plaza

Chagall in Chicago

Composed of thousands of inlaid chips in over 250 colors, this mosaic is by Marc Chagall.  Titled The Four Seasons, it  portrays six scenes of Chicago. Chagall maintained, “the seasons represent human life, both physical and spiritual, at its different ages.” The design for this mosaic was created in Chagall’s studio in France, transferred onto full-scale panels and installed in Chicago with the help of a skilled mosaicist.

Chagall in Chicago Tiles

Chagall continued to modify his design after its arrival in Chicago, bringing up-to-date the areas containing the city’s skyline (last seen by the artist 30 years before installation) and adding pieces of native Chicago brick.

Chagall Tile Mosaic

The mosaic was a gift to the City of Chicago by Frederick H. Prince (via the Prince Charitable Trusts). It is wrapped around four sides of a 70 feet long, 14 feet high by 10 feet  wide  box, and was dedicated on September 27, 1974. It was renovated in 1994.

Chagall's Four Season

Marc Zakharovich Chagall (1887 – 1985) was a Belarussian-Russian-French artist. Art critic Robert Hughes referred to Chagall as “the quintessential Jewish artist of the twentieth century” (though Chagall saw his work as ‘not the dream of one people but of all humanity’). An early modernist, he was associated with several major artistic styles and created works in virtually every artistic medium, including painting, book illustrations, stained glass, stage sets, ceramic, tapestries and fine art prints.

Chagall Signature on Mosaic




Chagall Four Seasons



*Chagall's Four Season

Jun 102014

67 River Road
East Haddam, Connecticut

Gillette Castle

This, truly unique residence was commissioned and designed by William Gillette.  Gillette was an actor who is most famous for his portrayal of Sherlock Holmes on stage.

William Gillette

Gillette’s estate, called Seventh Sister, was built in 1914 on a 184-acre parcel on top of a chain of hills known as the Seven Sisters. Gillette’s wife died long before he designed this castle, so it is the ultimate Man Cave.  When he died he specified in his will that it not be purchased by any  “blithering sap-head who has no conception of where he is or with what surrounded”. The relatives agreed that they would sell for less than it was worth as long as they could abide by his wishes.  Fortunately, in 1946,  the state of Connecticut was able to come up with the money, and only $4000 less than asking. The state renamed the home  Gillette’s Castle and the estate as Gillette Castle State Park. The estate was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1986.

The wood work was all designed by Gillette himself, although actually carved by others.  The wood carvers must have thought they had tripped into their dream jobs.


William Gillette Drawings



*Gillette Castle

The grounds once had a railroad track with a working steam engine and an electric engine that visitors could ride on.  The train system was also designed by Gillette.  The track was eventually pulled up and converted into walking trails.

William Gillette's Train

Built of local fieldstone supported by a steel framework, it took twenty men five years (1914-1919), to complete the main structure.



Seventh Sister

The woodwork within the castle is hand-hewn southern white oak. Of the forty-seven doors within the structure, there are no two exactly the same. And each door has an external latch intricately carved of wood.

Gillette Castle


William Gillete








Gillette was born in Hartford, Connecticut, in 1853, the son of former U.S. Senator Francis Gillette and his wife Elizabeth Daggett Hooker Gillette, a descendent of Thomas Hooker, the founder of Hartford. He attended classes at numerous colleges including Trinity, Yale, Harvard, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and College of the City of New York, but never received a degree. In addition to his successful stage career Gillette wrote two novels, invented many trick stage props and lighting techniques, and often produced and directed the plays in which he appeared. His last performance was at the Bushnell in Hartford in 1936, one year before his death.


Jun 082014

School has finished and I am spending a few days with dearest friends Robert and Gail Ornstein.  Robert is an architect in Providence, and is working on the restoration of Blue Garden, a Frederick Law Olmsted garden, and as architects who visit with other architects know, I had to see the sight and Robert was thrilled to show it off.

The Arthur Curtiss James home, which was lost to fire in 1967

The Arthur Curtiss James home, which was lost to fire in 1967, known as Beacon Hill.

Showing the Blue Garden which was originally part of the Arthur Curtiss James estate.

Showing the Blue Garden that was originally part of the Arthur Curtiss James estate.

“Once celebrated as the crowning achievement of America’s Gilded Age gardens when it was dedicated in August of 1913, the Blue Garden took its place at the pinnacle of landscape design.”

The garden was originally part of the Commodore Arthur Curtiss James estate, which was known as Beacon Hill.  Built in 1909 it was designed by Harriet James, Arthur’s wife, and then the plans were turned over to architects Howells and Stokes.

The main home burned down in 1967 and the grounds fell into disrepair. The land was subsequently purchased and subdivided.

The garden property is now owned by philanthropist Dorrance “Dodo” Hamilton, and it is Mrs. Hamilton that is restoring the Blue Garden.


The Blue Garden


The south portico was torn down during the 1960’s.  However, it had been redesigned from the exedra design sometime in the 1920’s.

The Blue Garden The blue tiles and parts of the coping are original. These were found during excavation for a new home recently built on the property.

Orignal paving from the South Pergola

Above is the original paving from the north portico, as shown below.


Parts of the north portico needed to be rebuilt.

There is not doubt this will be a magnificent spot when construction is finished, and it is so nice to see an Olmsted garden of this high quality being brought back.


We had the pleasure of running into Peter Borden, the executive Director of the SVF Foundation.  He was, coincidentally, showing John Tschirch, our guide at Marble House, around Blue Garden.

Peter was kind enough to give us a tour of Surprise Valley.  When the Commodore inherited his father’s prized herd of Guernsey cattle, he  hired Grosvenor Atterbury and Stowe Phelps to design Surprise Valley. This was the era in history of the gentleman’s farm remember.

The farm consists of many buildings including, during those days, a dairy, a slaughterhouse, a smoke house, a piggery, hen houses, a root cellar and a few cottages. In its heyday after WWI it employed more than 100 people.

Surprise Valley

SVF Foundation

Today it is so much more.  Mrs. Hamilton purchased this property and today it is the SVF Foundation. SVF stands for Swiss Village Farm.  When the Commodore and his wife Harriet were alive they traveled extensively, and enjoyed the architecture of Italy and Switzerland.  When they built Surprise Valley they incorporated those types of architecture.

After a two year restoration of the Swiss Village it became the headquarters for SVF.  SVF is a nonprofit that collaborates with Tuft Cummins School of Veterinary Medicine.  The foundation works in cryopreservation of rare and endangered breeds of livestock, it is state-of-the art and jaw dropping what they are working on.

SVF Foundation

This consists of the collection of germplasm (semen and embryos) and then cryogenically freezing the specimens.

Peter Borden SVF





These delightful signs, replications of originals, are all over the farm.


The chicken coop is just fabulous. While chickens are not part of the program, they grow many different types, because what is a farm without chickens?


SVF offers numerous educational programs, including: K-12 school field trips, large animal reproductive studies for fourth-year veterinary students and undergrad internships.

Smokehouse at SVF


This is the old Smokehouse/Slaughterhouse, it is now the cottage of the Farm Manager.

Roof Details

DSC_2590The front door gate – the gate folds up into the tower.

Surprise Valley is a terrific spot, doing great things, here is a paragraph from their website:

Rare or heritage breeds of livestock carry valuable and irreplaceable traits such as: resistance to disease and parasites, heat tolerance, mothering ability, forage utilization, and unique flavor and texture qualities. A particular breed that now dominates the marketplace may find its future jeopardized for any number of reasons. For instance, highly inbred and genetically uniform breeds, which dominate the industry, could be decimated by a serious infectious disease. Recall the Irish potato famine: A single variety of potato, which sustained a population, was devastated by blight. Alternatively, consumer preference could shift toward different flavors, textures or agricultural practices. With the lack of diversity in today’s animal agriculture, we are at tremendous risk.

 Surprise Valley


Jun 072014

I arrived in Newport today (May 30, 2014) to begin an 8 day course on the History and Architecture of the area.  Class does not start until this evening, which gave me the opportunity to grab the first, of what I hope will be many, lobster rolls during this visit.

I headed to Flo’s Crab Shack with my friend Phyllis, and along the walk I spotted these little plaques embedded in the sidewalk.


I am a big fan of the WPA, what it accomplished, what it stood for and the legacies that it left, so these were such a fun find for me.

The WPA employed more than 60,000 Rhode Islanders between 1935 and 1943 and spent $60million on projects offer the eight years.

WPA workers built or repaired 671 miles of highways, roads and streets and constructed or renovated 35 bridges and viaducts in Rhode Island. They also built 10,300 feet of airport runways and constructed or repaired five landing fields.

WPA Plaque in Providence RI

In Rhode Island, the WPA built or renovated 222 schools, 395 other public buildings, 34 parks, 54 playgrounds and fields, seven pools, seven power plants, and 184 miles of new sewers.

WPA employees in the state also served 818,187 school lunches; sent housekeepers on 85,558 visits; and manufactured 2.8 million garments of clothing. And 21,317 people attended WPA-produced musical performances.

If I have time to discover more WPA wonders in this coming week, I will bring them to you.

Flo's Crab Shack

A little about Flo’s…great atmosphere, but the food left a bit to be desired, but that is ok because it means the hunt is still on.

Regarding the Lobster Roll:  According to the Food Timeline:

Sometimes…the simpler the recipe the more complicated the history. Such is the case with lobster rolls. When it comes to lobster rolls, food historians generally agree on two points:

1. There is no one single recipe for lobster rolls.
2. Lobster rolls, as we know them today, are probably a 20th century invention because they require soft hot dog buns.

What is a lobster roll?
There seem to be two primary versions of the lobster roll: one is a mayonnaise-based lobster salad sandwich and the other is simply composed of hearty chunks of fresh lobster meat drenched in butter. Both are traditionally served in long (hot-dog type) buns which may be toasted. Pickles and chips are the usual accompaniments. Both are considered standard menu items with shore-based restaurants, diners and lobster shacks (inexpensive family-style outdoor eateries).

“ON A ROLL… Temperature’s rising, the surf’s pounding, the lobster harvest is at an all-time high. Bring on the lobster rolls! The roll: It must be a stand-alone hot-dog bun, rectangular, flat on both sides, coming to a crisp right angle at the flat base. If it’s oval or toasted, do not touch it. If it’s not buttered, do not even look at it. The meat: It must be fresh and predominantly from the tail. It must be at least three inches wide at the top, extending at least an inch above the crest of the bun. No less than a quarter-pound of lobster per sandwich. Some joints boast that they use a full lobster in each sandwich, but it takes nearly five lobsters to get a pound of meat. The dressing: The lobster may be mixed with a thin lather of mayo but not salad dressing. Dick Henry, co-owner of the Maine Diner, believes in naked lobster. “All meat,” he says. I, however, will accept celery, if finely chopped. “It gives a hint of the taste,” agrees Billy Tower, who has sold lobster rolls for four decades at Barnacle Billy’s restaurant. The temp: Like a hot-fudge sundae, the ideal lobster roll is a contradiction of temperatures: warm bun, chilled meat. “I’m 60 years old, and that’s the way I’ve always been told it should be,” says Georgia Kennett of Five Islands Lobster Co. But it has become quite respectable to serve the meat hot, in which case the lobster should be covered with drawn butter, not mayonnaise, and eaten with a fork and knife.”
—“On a roll,” David Shribman, Fortune, 8.13.2001 (p. 198)

A survey of current online menus confirms there is no distinct geographic boundary that separates the two versions. You can find both versions in restaurants from the top of Maine to the tip Long Island.

Mayo Lobster Roll

When did lobster rolls begin?

“Lobster rolls…because they are made with hamburger buns, they are definately twentieth century (soft, hamburger yeast buns were first maufactured in 1912).” —The American Century Cookbook: The Most Popular Recipes of the 20th Century, Jean Anderson [Clarkson Potter:New York] 1997 (p. 345)

“About 1966-67 Fred Terry, owner of the Lobster Roll Restaurant…in Amagansett, New York, produced a recipe containing mayonnaise, celery, and seasonings; mixed with fresh lobster meat placed on a heated hot-dog roll that has come to be known as the “Long Island (New York) lobster roll”…According to Carolyn Wyman…lobster meat drenched in butter and served on a hamburger or hot dog roll has long been available at seaside eateries in Connecticut and may well have originated at a restaurant named Perry’s in Milford, where owner Harry Perry concocted it for a regular customer named Ted Hales sometime in the 1920s. Furthermore, Perry’s was said to have a sign from 1927 to 1977 reading “Home of the Famous Lobster Roll.”
—Encyclopedia of American Food and Drink, John F. Mariani [Lebhar-Friedman:New York] 1999 (p. 188)

Butter Lobster Roll

“The lobster roll is a tradition, though not a very old one. My 75-year-old father, who has lived all his life in Maine, says he doesn’t remember eating a lobster roll until sometime after World War II. ”It was down around Tenants Harbor,” he said. ”Some people named Cook had a stand down there where a lobster roll cost 35 cents.””
—“Fare of the Country: In Maine, Lobster on a Roll,” Nancy Jenkins, New York Times, July 14, 1985 (section 10, p.6)

I prefer my bun toasted and my lobster with mayo, I may have it all wrong apparently.

Salva Regina Dormitory Annex

That’s my room on the top right

We are hunkered down in the dorms of Salve Regina University founded by the Sisters of Mercy, the university is a Catholic, co-educational, private, non-profit institution chartered by the State of Rhode Island in 1934. In 1947 the university acquired Ochre Court and welcomed its first class of 58 students.

We sit on the porch of the dorm and look out onto the Breakers.  Well, not exactly this view, but we can see the chimney pots.

The Breakers Newport RI

The Breakers


Jun 062014

Trinity Church Newport RI

We were told when this course began that we would learn the meaning of “Death March” or “Sherman’s March to the Sea”, well it is day one, and yup we learned it right away.

First stop was Trinity Church.  It is important to begin with a bit of Newport history, which at this point in time, is Rhode Island history.  First there were the Antimonians.  To make it simple, but I hope not offensive in it’s trite treatment towards the history of RI:  in 1639 the Antinomians came to Rhode Island and settled in Providence.  Then Ann Hutchinson left Providence with a slightly different take on religion and came to the island, a further group broke from that sect and came to Newport.  For this reason Newport has always been known as a town of religious freedom.  This point is important architecturally because, unlike most every New England town, there are no churches on the main square of Newport.

So back to Trinity Church.  Assumed to have been designed by Richard Munday,(1725) it was a period in history, where most likely, Munday was a good contractor with a lot of wealthy church members overseeing what they thought a church should look like.  There is so much history here that everyone will be happy to discuss, things such as the fact that you paid for your pew, that is how the church paid for its building, also you were taxed on that payment, another stipend in the daily grind of taxes, well afforded by the wealthy and impossible for the poor. Also the stained glass window, Tiffany versus the older English.



The church is stunning in its simplicity, but what I truly loved was the flattened-groin vaulted ceiling, somehow not noticed in the overall impressiveness of the church.

Trinity Church Vaulted Ceiling

So, yes a stop for a Lobster Roll. This time at Brick Alley Pub – FABULOUS!  Then on to 18th Century Newport…

We began with the Colony House (1739), again attributed to Richard Munday.  Because Rhode Island is actually Rhode Island and the Plantation of Newport it originally had five State Houses and one of them was the Colony House.

Colony House Rhode Island

The house is a mish mash on the exterior, and the interior consists of several different centuries of architectural styles, so I will just hit on the things I found to be outstanding.  Underneath the second remodeling are the original beams, which show that they were discarded ship masts, how cool is that?

lamp colony house

This lamp was on the second floor, and part of the second phase of construction, I just thought it was gorgeous.

Gilbert Stuart Colony House Newport RI

Gilbert Stuart was born and raised across the water from Newport, I don’t really think I need to explain further who he is, but it is fabulous to see so many of his paintings, simply hanging in buildings around Newport, OUT of the museum setting.

 Wanton-Lyman-Hazzard House Newport RINext stop, the Wanton-Lyman-Hazzard House.  Assumed to be the oldest surviving house in Newport, the Wanton-Lyman-Hazard House was built for Stephen Mumford around 1697. Mumford was a merchant and a founding member of Newport’s Seventh Day Baptist congregation.

Beams in the Wanton-Lyman-Hazzard House

Beams in the Wanton-Lyman-Hazzard House

This house has had its fair share of lives.  It had a few things of note, the fact that the second floor was the entertainment floor.  This, of course, was the way that homes in Europe were designed with the Piano Nobile being the second floor, but it surprised me to find that we had adopted that in our architecture here.

A high point of this house is that restorationists have found what appears to be the first attempt at faux-painting, or “wall art”.  While looking at it, I can hear Professor Wilson saying “You will never see anything like this anywhere else”.  I am thinking, I hope not.  I really wish there was more understanding on my part as to what was being attempted.  However, what I did walk away with was an admiration for the beautiful structural beams and the original-growth planks on the floor that were so divinely wide they made me lust after them.

Wanton-Lyman Hazzard

“Wall Art” and structural beams in the Wanton-Lyman-Hazzard House.

Wall art and Structural Beams in the Wanton-Lyman Hazzard House

We then moved on to the Vernon House. (Before 1708 Renovated  c. 1760)   So many things I can say about it this house.  First, it is where Rochambeau had his headquarters and possibly met with Washington to plan the battle of Yorktown. It is pretty well accepted that the plans were hatched in Newport, in this house… is speculation.

Vernon House Newport RI

In 1758, Metcalf Bowler, purchased the house at the corner of Clarke, and Mary Streets. He expanded it to its current form around 1760. It is thought that the expansion was designed by architect Peter Harrison who is responsible for the Redwood Library, Touro Synagogue and the Old Brick Market. In 1773 it was purchased by another wealthy Newport merchant, William Vernon.

Vernon House

William Vernon, a supporter of the American rebellion and later the president of the Eastern Naval Board (precursor to the Department of the Navy), lived at Vernon House from 1773 to 1806. However, he left Newport during the British occupation in the Revolutionary War. During his absence, the Comte de Rochambeau, leader of the French forces in America, used the house as his headquarters.

Vernon House Rhode Island

 What is phenomenal are the Chinese style paintings, thought to be painted by the original owner around 1740.  They were covered up during the occupation and remodel by the second owner, and only discovered during a restoration in 1937. While I found that the artist had absolutely no sense of perspective, the ability to draw birds was breathtaking.

Vernon House

This was followed by the Hunter House. (c. 1748) The house was restored in the early 50’s and it speaks volumes about the lack of proper restoration and the lack of monies to do it correctly in this time period.  However, the woodwork is just gorgeous.

Hunter House Newport RI

The north half of Hunter House was constructed between 1748 and 1754 by Jonathon Nichols, Jr., a prosperous merchant and colonial deputy. After his death in 1756, the property was sold to Colonel Joseph Wanton, Jr., who was also a deputy governor of the colony and a merchant. He enlarged the house by adding a south wing and a second chimney, transforming the building into a formal Georgian mansion with a large central hall. Hunter House Newport RI

During the American Revolution, Colonel Wanton fled from Newport due to his Loyalist sympathies. His house was used as the headquarters of Admiral de Ternay, commander of the French fleet, when French forces occupied Newport in 1780. After the war, Colonel Wanton’s house was acquired by William Hunter, a U. S. Senator and President Andrew Jackson’s charge d’affaires to Brazil. The Hunters sold the house in the mid-1860s, and it passed through a series of owners until the mid-1940s.

Stairwell Hunter House

Mrs. George Henry Warren initiated a preservation effort, purchasing the house in 1945 and forming The Preservation Society of Newport County. The Preservation Society restored Hunter House to the era of Colonel Wanton (1757 to 1779).

Claw foot of

Furniture by Townsend and Goddard

The Goddard and Townsend families of Newport lend their name to an extensive body of New England furniture associated with Newport, Rhode Island in the second half of the 18th century.

Newport furniture is also associated with a distinct ball and claw foot, in which there is an open space carved between the talon and ball. Such a form is thought to be unique to Newport, though not unique to the Goddard or Townsend families.


We visited the home of Tom Robinson which had been in the family from the 1700’s until it was sold about 20 years ago.  This broad, gambrel-roofed house is one of the best examples of Newport’s merchant residences of the 18th century. It was beautifully preserved, and full of wonderful sailing items, as the people that now own it are avid sailors.  What, at this point in the day most likely stood out more than anything was the siting of the house.


The original three-bay, three room-plan house could have been built as early as 1725. Soon after the purchase of the land and house in 1760, Thomas Robinson enlarged the house to the north, adding a sitting or living room to the east and a kitchen to the west. The small entrance was enlarged to accommodate the symmetrical arrangement of windows and entrance on the street or east facade. This addition was deeper than the original house. Therefore there is an eight-foot projection on the west facade. The second and third floors have this same room arrangement–one room in the northwest corner and one in the northeast corner. In 1874-1875, Charles F. McKim converted the 1760 kitchen into a sitting room, adding a five-sided bay to the north. He placed a single story porch on the west facade, extending from the center hall axis to the old kitchen door on the north wall. A single-story kitchen ell with a decorative, shingled gable at the chimney was added to the south at this time. A roof-top gallery with squared and turned balusters and flame corner finials appears in photographs of the house taken after the addition of the kitchen….From Historic-Structures.com


St John’s Church (1891-94), across the street, was next.  The new priest was especially delightful to me, as he was obviously a history buff.  I am always drawn to art work done by the nuns of any church, as it is so rarely appreciated, displayed, or even acknowledged.   There is a stunning painting in the Lady Chapel, sadly, I was unable to determine the name of the Nun that was responsible for the work, but the priest assured me it is in the church records.


I also, as a tile nut, was thrilled to see Monrovia tile in this church.  The tiles in the pew area are Minton, but the tiles in the nave and chancel are Monrovia.  I have written about Mr Mercer, the owner of Monrovia tile here.

The Church was designed by Frederick Clarke Withers, with Ralph Adams Cram adding the Lady Chapel between 1913 and 1916.



Our final stop, despite the death march and exhaustion, was still able to make ones jaw drop  This was the Sanford-Covell house (William Ralph Emerson architect – 1870), now called Villa Marina.

Villa Marina

I am starting with the peacock, because seriously, who doesn’t love a house with a stuffed peacock.  That aside, I am leaving you with a house who’s woodwork, frescoed walls and simple grandeur of entry should speak for itself.


The Sanford-Covell Villa Marina was completed in 1870 by architect William Ralph Emerson for Milton H. Sanford of Pimlico Race Course fame. It is also known as the William King Covell III House.

William King Covell II bought the house  in 1896 and it has remained in his family until this day. It is currently owned by Anne Ramsey Cuvelier, the great granddaughter of William King Covell II, who now runs the home as a Bed and Breakfast.

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The truly difficult part about a class like this, is, after a day that had everyone dropping from exhaustion, a quick dinner of oysters and wine at the Black Pearl, I came back to the dorm and continued until midnight with stimulating conversations about restoration, historic preservation and how all of it fits into life in general with great young minds.  I am loving it, but it is now 1:00 in the morning. – Good night all!

Jun 052014



So, I have come to the conclusion that the reason these are called death marches isn’t just because we hike for miles and miles, but because our esteemed Professor Richard Guy Wilson, heads straight out without a care in the world.  There are thirty of us, and watching him step off the sidewalk into traffic, knowing full well the seas will part, and then 30 of us holding up traffic like “damn stupid tourists” has become rather common.

William Watts Sherman House Newport RI

So, now it is Sunday and once again we have done another long march.  I will try to do my best to share.  Our first stop was the William Watts Sherman House designed by H. H. Richardson (1874-1876).  It was built for New York Financier Sherman and his first wife Annie Wetmore.

The house was added to the National Register of Historic Places and designated a National Historic Landmark in 1970. Salve Regina acquired the property,  in 1982.

So, what made me go wow?  The green room, inspired by The Peacock Room at the Freer, who is to know, but still…

Sherman House Newport RI

Sherman House

There are William Morris style painted windows on the second floor.  This building is now a sophomore dormitory for Salve Regina, it has suffered pretty badly, but fortunately the green room and these windows have survived.

Professor Richard Guy Wilson atop the Moon Gate at Chateau-Sur-Mer

Professor Richard Guy Wilson atop the Moon Gate at Chateau-Sur-Mer

Chateau-sur-Merwas built as an Italianate-style villa for China trade merchant William Shepard Wetmore. Mr. Wetmore died in 1862, leaving the bulk of his fortune to his son, George Peabody Wetmore.

George married Edith Keteltas in 1869. During the 1870s, the young couple took a 10 year trip to Europe, leaving architect Richard Morris Hunt to remodel and redecorate the house in the Second Empire French style. This remodel resulted in the fact that Chateau-sur-Mer displays most of the major design trends of the last half of the 19th century.

I will, again just hit the things that made me go WOW.

Château Sur Mer

Tree of Life painted at Chateau Sur Mer

This is called the Tree of Life, and I remember this from when Michael, Joyce and I toured this house years and years ago.  I have discovered in the last two days that everyone appreciates how fabulous these things are, but they have absolutely no idea who did the work.  For me, you can imagine, how completely frustrating this is.  I hope that at some point in the future, I can work on bringing you this information, but for now, I need to just get my notes down at the end of  our ridiculous days before I forget.


*Château Sur Mer

These two beauties are lamps at the top of the stairs as you enter the house.  I see so much sculpture, but these girls called to me. Alas, there is no information. AGAIN! Frustrating!

United Congregational Church

After another Lobster Roll at La Forge Casino – not as good as yesterday, but now number two – we hit the United Congregational Church.  In horrific shape, but my OMG moment was the painting behind the alter.  Again, no one knows who the painters were, but WOW.   The Church was built in 1855 and the architect was Joseph C. Wells.  However, the interior was designed by John La Farge.  This educational group is in love with LaFarge.  No judgements, he is amazing, but I am truly disappointed in the fact that only the “biggies” are known.  The unknown craftsman continues to be a fact.

Tiffany Lam[

A Louis Comfort Tiffany lamp speaks of a longtime rivalry against LaFarge (I promise that story will be brought to you in the next few days) the only reason I am showing it is because, well frankly, it is interesting.


This is a panel on the ceiling, the panels were copied from an existing carpet.  Here are the notes from the National Park Service regarding the interiors of the church:

United Congregational Church: Executive Summary

  •  The United Congregational Church is nationally significant for the interior remodeling by American artist John La Farge. The murals and opalescent and stained glass windows of United Congregational Church (later, Newport Congregational Church), executed by La Farge between 1880 and 1881, are the only comprehensive interior designed by the artist, and the most complete synthesis of La Farge’s mastery of media and design.
  •  The murals are based upon archeologically correct Near Eastern prototypes, while the twenty stained glass windows feature an inventive use of handmade opalescent glass designed to complement the paintings. One of six major ecclesiastical commissions by La Farge, the Congregational Church survives as the only example of the artist’s comprehensive decorative scheme for the interior of a church.

It is important to understand that the reason I did not include pictures of the stained glass windows is because at this point they are a mish-mash of various works.  The church suffered very badly during a freak hailstorm in 1894 which riddled the windows on the North side of the church.  The records show what a mess was created by hiring low-budget contractors, due to lack of funds.  The results are sad and hopefully can be rectified in the future when funds become available.

Newport, Rhode Island


Kingscote – So where do you begin.  In 1839 Southern planter George Noble Jones commissioned Richard Upjohn to design this “summer cottage”.  An incredible brick covered building with Horizontal Flush Board and then painted grey with sand in hopes of mimicking stone.


At the outbreak of the Civil War, the Jones family left Newport for good, and the house was sold in 1864 to China Trade merchant William Henry King. His nephew David took over the house in 1876, and several years later decided to enlarge the home. David King hired  McKim, Mead and White to make the renovations, including the new dining room.


Opalescent glass bricks by Louis Comfort Tiffany, as well as, cork ceiling and wall panels were installed in the dining room during the remodel.









The house remained in the King family until 1972, when the last descendant left it to the Preservation Society, along with the original family collections. Today, Kingscote is a National Historic Landmark.



The next house was a private home that we were so privileged to visit.  The Charles H. Baldwin House was built in 1877-78, by the architectural firm of William Appleton Potter and Robert Anderson Robertson.


The dining room was the unique portion of this home.


We finished with a party at the Isaac Bell House.  The house was done by McKim, Mead and White between 1881 and 83 for cotton broker and investor Isaac Bell.  After passing through a succession of owners, the Isaac Bell House was purchased by the Preservation Society in 1996,

It is listed as a “shingle style”, though architects would have labeled it is as modernized colonial.  With double gables, it has Japanese, French and Italian influences.  There are several shingle styles on the exterior.  These include the fish scale and wave, the fish scale being the classic style, but the wave playing into the “modern” concept.

Isaac Bell House Newport RI


Isaac Bell House Newport RI

You have got to love the entryway.

Isaac Bell House

Notice the pink mortar, the quoins are intentionally irregular.

Isaac Bell House

This is a caned wall. I was in LOVE!

Isaac House

A cast plaster basket weave – seriously amazing.  Can you imagine the sanding work it takes to get that depth?

I can not say enough about how our days are so long, but we literally walking back to our rooms, bent over with sore feet, back aches and heads that are so completely filled with information that facts are found dripping out of our ears, lining the sidewalks as we drag ourselves home.

I hope that I have shown you the amazing things we have seen visually, even if I can not iterate with words the thousands upon thousands of facts we are learning as we go along.


Jun 042014

Today was a day of only 3 houses, but what houses they were.  All three houses were designed by Richard Morris Hunt.

The Fountain at the front of Marble House

The Fountain on the front of Marble House

Our first stop was Ochre Court.  Built between 1888 and 1893 for Ogden Goelet.  These houses are well documented as to the craftspeople.  The Ochre House sculptor was Karl Bitter, however, much of the work was purchased by Allard and Son’s of Paris.

Ochre House

Ochre House is now owned by Salve Regina University.  The Goelet’s daughter, May, married Henry Innes-Ker, 8th Duke of Roxburghe. Their son, Robert, was a businessman with an interest in American railroads, hotels and real estate. Robert gave Ochre Court to the Sisters of Mercy in 1947.

Ochre Court

The Parisian firm of Jules Allard and Sons (or Jules Allard et Fils) was in business between 1878 and Allard’s death in 1907. It was one of the most notable interior decorating houses of the turn of the twentieth century. The firm opened a New York branch in 1885. Allard’s Paris origin reinforced the firm’s credibility in composing “high style” French interiors for the American elite.  Essentially, Allard went around Europe and bought up the contents of so many of the mansions that had fallen on hard times, the firm then shipped these interiors to the US and incorporated them into the homes of the wealthy in Newport.  They also employed craftspeople to recreate and rework or supplement the pieces that they had picked up.


Since Ochre Court is a University building, it is devoid of the furniture and fixings of the home, in a way, this was nice as it let one enjoy the surroundings without being distracted.

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Next stop was The Breakers, so well known it hardly seems logical to write much about it.  The first floor was essentially done by Allard and Sons, and the second more sedate floor was done by Ogden Codman.  Codman was a noted American architect and interior decorator in the Beaux-Arts styles, and co-author with Edith Wharton of The Decoration of Houses (1897), which became a standard in American interior design.

It is important to note the designation of “architect” at this point.  Codman had only one year at MIT and commented that it was a complete waste of his time.  So architects would sketch drawings, but it was really up to the builders to keep them standing.  There was no engineering going on at this point.


The only way to really get a feel for these homes is to sit quietly and take the whole room in as a whole. To sit and look at pieces as an individual is so disquieting as it is all so busy. But here are some of my favorite shots from the first floor.

The Breakers

The Breakers

The muses are beautifully painted on, not silver, but platinum, so it never tarnishes.

The Breakers

The ceiling in the Billiard Room by Batterson and Eisele.

The Breakers

The bathtub is cut from one piece of marble and weighs approximately one ton.

The Breakers

Panels done in one of the bedroom by Ogden Codman.

The Breakers

We finished in the kitchen.

Marble House

Our last stop was Marble House.  This was built for William K. and Alva Vanderbilt, as a 40th birthday present for Alva.  There is 1/2 million cubic feet of marble in the house.  This includes Tuckahoe marble on the exterior, Sienna Marble and Numidian Marble on the inside.


The amount of gold leaf in this house is staggering.

The Marble House


These two gorgeous animals were on the ceiling in the dining room

Marble House


The plaster cherubs were over Alva’s bed

Marble House

There were four of these stunning sculptures in each corner of the high ceiling, each was just a tad different.

The Marble House

The tea house, built when Alva decided to promote the suffragette movement.  She used it for fundraising purposes.

Larry Ellison

This is Summer Wind, one of Newport’s oldest summer cottages. The home was originally owned by William and his wife, Caroline, better known as The Mrs. Astor in 1881.  It was also a Richard Morris Hunt building.  I only am showing it because it is now owned by Larry Ellison and is intended to house his art collection.

Guastavino Tiles

These are Rafael Guastavino Tiles in the entry way to the Breakers.  I remember seeing them before and being fascinated by them, and here they are rearing back up into my attention, so I figured this time I should learn a bit about them.

Guastavino tile is the “Tile Arch System” patented in the United States in 1885 by Valencian architect and builder Rafael Guastavino (1842–1908). It is a technique for constructing robust, self-supporting arches and architectural vaults using interlocking terracotta tiles and layers of mortar to form a thin skin, with the tiles following the curve of the roof.

The Guastavino terracotta tiles are standardized, less than an inch thick, and approximately 6 inches by 12 inches across. They are usually set in three herringbone-pattern courses with a sandwich of thin layers of Portland cement.

So that was our day, a complete day of the height of the Gilded/Golden Age.

Jun 032014

Channing Memorial Church

Our day started at the Channing Memorial Church.  (E. Boyden and Sons 1881).  William Ellery Channing was the foremost Unitarian preacher in the United States in the early nineteenth century.

We were at the church to view the John LaForge stained glass windows.  I promised I would tell this story, so here goes.  Charles Lewis Tiffany, father of Louis Comfort and man of the silver company, agreed to sponsor John LaFarge in a business if he would teach his son Louis the art of stained glass.  At this point, LaFarge had developed a new style of stained glass.

painted glass

Originally Glass was painted and then fired and was truly lovely.  However, LaFarge realized that adding the color to the glass gave a far better experience.  The glass would be colored and then poured into large vats.  Eventually that colored glass would be either broken or cut to fit into the lead caning.  The rivalry I spoke of a few days ago, is that after LaFarge taught Tiffany everything, his father reneged on the deal.  That is a blatant statement, that possibly has other things behind it.  LaFarge was known for having absolutely NO business sense, he was always over budget and over time, and possibly this had something to do with the situation.  LaFarge windows now command a higher price  because they are considerably more detailed than Tiffany’s.

LaFarge Glass

LaFarge Glass Windows

LaForge Wiondows

Red glass in a LaFarge window, that also has a second layer of clear glass to give even more depth to the drapery.

LaFarge Glass

Even in LaFarge windows the hands and faces would be painted, I assume because the caning would interfere with the reverence.  These are the first part of the window to fail, and as you can see this guy is aging badly – who doesn’t?


An idea of the detail in the LaFarge windows.


Our next stop was the Newport Casino.  Commissioned by James Gordon Bennet, because there was no place to have fun in Newport, (after a peeing in the fireplace incident) it was designed by McKim, Mead and White (MMW) in 1873. The word Casino has morphed over the years, in this case it does not mean a gambling spot. In Italian it is a diminutive of casa, “house.” The word was first applied to a country house and then came to be used for a social gathering place, a room or building where one could dance, listen to music, and gamble.

Casino in Newport RI

Lawn Tennis was first played here in 1881.

Newport Rhode Island Casino


We were shown around the theater with its gilded woven plaster walls, but also had the chance to watch a round of the Men’s World Championship of Court Tennis.  Court Tennis is very, very different and if you are interested you can read about it here.


This is the same basket weave plaster that was first seen in the Isaac Bell house, here it is gilded for that special POP.

Theater at the Casino in Newport RI

Next was the Griswold House which now houses the Newport Art Museum. The home was originally built for John N. A. Griswold who made his money in the China Trade.  It was designed by Richard Morris Hunt between 1861 and 1864.

Newport Art Museum

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Then a stop at the Redwood Library.(Peter Harrison 1748-50)  The library has the first full temple facade in the US.


There were no photographs allowed, but it is rather gorgeous inside. More importantly is the libraries collection. The library is a private subscription library, one of only 13 in the U.S.. Founded in 1747, it is the oldest community library still occupying its original building in the United States.

We then proceeded to do another Richard Guy Wilson death march past fourteen houses with explanations. One, we pleasantly were able to tour, and it just blew me away, that was the Samuel Tilton House, McKim Meade and White (1880-82).  The home is private and yet has some of the most stunning original interiors. I am just going to leave you with the photographs.

Samuel Tilton House

The top of the chimney at the Tilton House

The top of the chimney at the Tilton House


The exterior walls made from the grout of the stone and broken glass

The exterior walls made from the grout of the stone and broken glass

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We then proceeded to a delightful cocktail party sponsored by the William Vareika Art Gallery.  The gallery has a superb collection of Newport and Narragansett related art and upstairs is a wonderful collection of LaFarge paintings.

Newport Rhode Island

Clement Clarke Moore

The home of Clement Clarke Moore house, the man who wrote The Night Before Christmas

Newport RI


William Morris Hunt did the Horses of Anahita, this seems to be a study for the final bronze.

Jun 022014

Slater Mill

Our day began at Slater Mill.  The mill is part of the Blackstone River Valley, in Pawtucket, Rhode Island. Pawtucket is the local Indian word for place of falling water.  Slater Mill is the last mill standing in the valley.  This stone building is actually the Wilkinson Blacksmith shop.  When the Englishman Slater convinced the local Sylvanus Brown that he could, in fact, build a proper mill he needed Wilkinson to build the machines.

Blacksmith shop

The water wheel weighs 20,000 pounds

Slater Mill Rhode Island

I simply took photos of the equipment because the machinery is so cool, all of this machinery was run off of the mill wheel

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slater mill rhode island

This is the Slater Mill building, notice it is all wood.  The one thing we hear constantly is the fear of fire, with all the cotton dust, it must have been truly a fire trap.

Pawtucket was a major contributor of cotton textiles during the American Industrial Revolution. Slater Mill is known for developing a commercially successful production process not reliant on earlier horse-drawn processes (i.e. the water wheel). Other manufacturers moved in and helped transformed Pawtucket into a center for textiles, iron working and other products.

The textile business in New England declined during the Great Depression with many manufacturers closing or moving their facilities South where operations and labor were cheaper.

BBurleigh House RI

This is the Fleur de Lys Studio of Sydney Burleigh in Providence.  Built in 1885 with monies provided by Burleigh’s wife, Sarah Drew Wilkinson, who with her wealth encouraged Burleigh to become a full time artist.  Burleigh along with Edmond Wilson used the house to found the Art Workers Guild of Providence.  The house was, and, remains today, an artists studio, now belonging to Providence Art Club.  This house represents the beginning of the Arts and Crafts Movement.  The exterior is simply divine.


Burleigh House

Providence Art Club

The Fireplace in Burleigh Studio

The Fireplace in Burleigh Studio



This is Providence City Hall. In 1843, the municipal council passed a resolution calling for the construction of a new city hall building. In 1873, the Providence municipal government completed negotiations and acquired a former theater site for the new building.

An open call for design led to twenty one submissions, and four finalists. Samuel J. F. Thayer’s “Blue Wafer” design was chosen, and he was paid $1000.00.  The building, modified from its original design, would evetually cost the city $1,000,000. The cornerstone was laid on June 24, 1875. Inaugurated on November 14, 1878, The Providence Journal called the building “Our Municipal Palace.”

The Providence City Hall is part of this fabulous architecture of hand painted/stenciled ceilings, tile floors and wood carved walls.


















Rhode Island State Capitol

Next stop, Lippitt House, which was the home of Rhode Island Governor Henry Lippet who served from 1875-77.  The house is a Mead and McKim built in 1875. Again, I am just sharing photographs because the house is so beautiful it needs no further discussion.

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The wood on the floor is real, but the wood on the ceiling is faux paint.

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Cloud House

This is Clouds Hill.   Built in 1872-77 by William R. Walker, this house has been in the family for four generations, and is part of the Slater Mill Empire.  What made the house so unique is that nothing has changed inside.  There is just too much to say about it, so I will let the photographs speak for it.


The parlor was Egyptian.  It was just phenomenal, the wall paper, the clocks, the furniture, and the fireplace all had Egyptian themes.  A house of this type would have been planned, as a whole, down to the gnat’s ass, but this was just spectacular.


The dining room had a bird theme, again, every single thing about it…

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This was the fireplace in the hall, obviously the fireplaces were the thing that struck me the most.

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As I said, the house is still lived in by the family


Including this fellow


Just in case you haven’t had enough, here are some random shots from the day.

Victorian Society Course

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Jun 012014

Belcourt Castle

After a morning of lectures we headed out to Belcourt Castle.  Belcourt is a R. M. Hunt building( 1891-94).  The house was built for Oliver Hazzard Perry Belmont, with changes done when he married Alva Vanderbilt once she divorced William.

The house has been purchased by Carolyn Rafaelian, founder of Alex and Ani.  She is restoring the house, and we were told that it would become a museum, however, she is maintaining an apartment on the top floor.

The house, especially the ballroom, is rather over the top, granted it  is in a complete state of disarray and in the midst of construction but here goes:

Belcourt Castle

As you can see today was a very, very rainy day, so there will be a handful of photographs that are a tad “wet”.

Belcourt was built as a sort of French hunting lodge.  There is English half timbering and French style masonry work essentially drawing from varying periods.

Belmont was an accomplished horseman, establishing Belmont Raceway with it subsequent Belmont Stakes, so the first floor was occupied by elegantly furnishes stables.   Alva was given Belmont House as a wedding present when she married Oliver  and in the beginning she toned down the “masculine” touches then, after his death she converted the tack room into a dining room.


There was a storage room that is just chock-a-block full of cast off’s, and was a treasure hunters dream.


When Alva removed the stables, the front entry was changed, this caused a complete realignment of the stairway.


The stained glass window is in the dining room.


The dining room, as I said is just over the top!










This is for Deb at Sullivan Masonry.  I am truly frustrated with terms, there is a constant interchange of the word plaster and stucco, often confused with mortar, but this was the ultimate HUH? I was told that they were spending a lot of money repointing the brick so I was excited to take pictures for you – well here you go.


Next stop was Beacon Rock.  It too has an interesting heritage.  While perfect symmetry and Greek sensibilities reign on the exterior,  the interior feels as modern and frankly as McMansion as you can imagine.

Beacon Rock was done for Edwin Morgan of the Morgan Family.  Edwin Morgan was Commodore of the NY Yacht Club and owner of several America’s cup defenders.

Beacon Rock

The landscape was done by Frederick Law Olmstead, fresh off his work on Central Park, he incorporated this aqueduct styled bridge that serves as the entry way to the property.

After three decades of Morgans the home was eventually sold to Felix DeWeldon, best know for sculpting the Iwo Jima Memorial.  There was a falling of fortunes, and then a sewage debacle and the house was purchase by attorney Brian Cunha from Boston.  There was a complete overhaul of the property and today you can rent it for around $125,000/month.

Here are some of the finer details of the home.

Beacon Rock

Italian marble was brought in to recreate the ancient Athenian Stoa of Attalos and Agora.

The Stoa of Attalos

The original Stoa of Attalos


Roman Brick

This is Roman Brick.  Modern “Roman” bricks were introduced at the beginning of the 20th century. They are invariably longer and flatter than other modern brick types, but there are no fixed dimensions. We had seen a house earlier this week with Roman Brick – below- the Commodore William Edgar house which was a MMW house.

Roman Brick

Continuing with the Beacon Rock House:



Yep, loved the landscape and the views, but again the house was fabulous on the exterior but…



Earlier,  we had been given one of the most fabulous lectures regarding the way that the house staff works and lived in these homes by John Tschirch.  John is engaging, and an excellent lecturer, and made the entire subject one you want to go running out and learn so much more about.  The next stop was a behind the scenes walkthrough of The Elms.


Walking the five stories to the servants quarters.

The Bell call system



Overlooking the ground from the roof.

The laundry room, there were originally 5 sinks in the laundry room, with lye soap to boot.


This was amazing, the owner designed a coal delivery system underground.  The coal car ran 50 feet down under the lawn to the street and the manhole in the middle of the street.  The coal was loaded up and rolled to the boilers.  The ashes from the fireplaces were removed via the same system.  No dust, no muss.


Interior of the iceboxes
DSC_2100The kitchens – can you imagine how hot this must have been running 24 hours a day on coal.

While this looked like a short day, it was filled with hours of lectures, and ended with a lecture by RGW at the Newport Art Museum to open the newest show Very Simple Charm – The early work of Richard Morris Hunt.

Dinner at the Black Pearl and back to the dorms with the funniest, smartest young group I have had the pleasure of rooming with.

Here are some final shots of the day


I absolutely love sculpted faces in the ornamentation of building, I was in seventh heaven today.



William Morris Hunt placed himself in every single house he designed, this one is in Belcourt Castle.


Found this little guy on the back of a chair.



And this of course is the maquette of the Iwo Jima statue in front of some fabulous murals. – And yes – I find that silk flag horrible too!



May 312014

We began this morning in my favorite genre, Japanese revival.  The house is just lovely, as are the couple that own it.  They still have a lot of restoration to go, but what they have done is just perfect.  The house is called the Knapp house and was designed by Ralph Adams Cram in 1894. Cram was better known for his churches and revolutionizing church design in America.  The house is also called The Rising Sun, and I was in love.

Rising Sun House

Tori Gate Doors

Notice the Tori Gate Surround


this was my favorite room.  It is the parlor off of the front door with this great little fireplace


This chipped wood wall blew my mind


Check out the Tokobishira and the grass painted wallpaper


This is the second floor, take a look at this great woodwork.


The dining room has these unusual china cabinets.


Over the fireplace


We then headed to the town of North Easton.


This is the gatehouse to the Ames Estate.  It was designed by H. H. Richardson and the gardens are by Frederick Law Olmstead.

The right hand side was a guest cottage and the left was the gardeners shed.  The Ames Shovel Company traces its beginning to 1774 when Captain John Ames began making iron shovels at West Bridgewater, Massachusetts. His son Oliver moved the company to North Easton in 1803. Gold was discovered in California in 1848, and in Australia in 1851, which created a worldwide demand for the company’s shovels.

 The Ames brothers entered politics and became influential in financing the construction of the Union Pacific Railroad, as well as the development of the village of North Easton. Expansion of the shovel factory continued over the years until 1928.

Ames shovels became standard issue for troops in the U.S. Army for every conflict from the American Civil War to Korea.

The Ames Shovel Company ceased production in Easton in 1952



The house has pretty much been remodeled past recognition, but there is this marvelous fireplace.  The tiles are Tiffany tiles, and the fireplace carvings are by Augustus Saint-Gaudens.  The covering over the little settee is lincrusta.

Ames House


On the second floor was a wishing well, and this Saint-Gaudens frog is sitting on the outside of the well.


Train Station

This is the local train station, The Old Colony Railroad Station, it is also known as the North Easton Railroad Station. The station’s facade is constructed of rough-faced, random ashlar of gray granite with a brownstone belt course and trim. Two large, semicircular arches are ornamented with wonderful carvings of a  snarling heads.

Old Colony RailRoad Station



The station was commissioned in 1881 by Frederick Lothrop Ames, director of the Old Colony Railroad.  The architect was H. H. Richardson.  The building currently houses the Easton Historical Society.


The next stop was the Unity Church. The church was built in 1875 at a cost of $100,000. It was designed by Gothic Revivalist John Ames Mitchell, nephew of donor Oliver Ames.


This frieze, which includes twenty-two oaken seraphim, was carved by Johannes Kirchmayer.  He was born in Bavaria, and educated at the University of Munich, he was considered “one of the most remarkable sculptors of wood”.


The organist, who gave us our tour, said that he had the privilege of helping to clean these, the saints lift out of their niches and are complete carvings, in other words, the backs are carved as well, even though you will never see them.


We were there, however, to see the windows.  There were the two largest LaFarge windows ever made.


This LaFarge window was commissioned by botanist Oaks Ames and his brother Winthrop Ames  in memory of his grandfather Congressman Oakes Ames, and their fathers Governor Oliver Ames and Oakes Angier Ames.  This is the “Figure of Wisdom”



This window is the “Angel of Help” and was donated by Frederick Lothrop Ames.  It was installed in 1886.


But there are more.


This window was by Gorham, better known for silver, they did two in this church.


This window is by Franz Meyer of Munich


And these are by Burnham of Boston.


Ames Free Library

Next stop, the Ames library, again designed by H.H. Richardson. The library was built from 1877 to 1879, although it did not open until March 10, 1883.


There are dragons on most every exterior corner.

Ames Library

Notice the lovely wood barrel vault ceiling

DSC_2246This chair was also designed by H. H. Richardson.


Ames Memorial Hall

Next door to the library is Ames Memorial Hall, not only was this designed by H. H. Richardson, but the citing was done by Frederick Law Olmstead.  Again, a building that has been radically changed inside, but I just loved the sculpture on the exterior.







The stone carver was John Evans, a welsh man and member of the stone carver’s guild of Boston.

We then headed to Bristol………………………

Colt School

Bristol is a lovely town with the country’s largest 4th of July parade, the main street is tree lined with quaint stores, everything you would think of as fairy land New England.  It is also the home of Herreshoff of the Herreshoff Boat Building company. Nathanael Greene Herreshoff I, was an American naval architect-mechanical engineer. “Captain Nat,” as he was known, revolutionized yacht design, and produced a succession of undefeated America’s Cup defenders between 1893-1920

Our tour was a walking tour and I am not presenting them in order here.  One stop was the Colt School, donated and named after the “gun” family. Designed by Cooper & Bailey of Boston in 1906-1913.


This is a Tiffany window in the auditorium.

Colt SchoolI loved the tile floor that looked like puzzle pieces.


This is the Bristol State House.  This was one of the five state houses in Rhode Island.  I just loved the hitching post.


Burnside House

This is the Burnside Memorial Hall designed by Stephen C. Earle in 1883.  Burnside is rumored to be the origination of the term Side Burns.


DeWolf Colt House

This is the DeWolf-Colt House (also known as Linden Place). The lineage is extremely complicated, but essentially it was built in 1810 by Russell Warren.  It was built for DeWolf.  The DeWolf family was the largest single importer of slaves to the United States.  The original DeWolf ran out on his bills in the middle of the night.  The son eventually came in and purchased the house back and found all the existing furniture and reassembled the family home. When that line died out the home went up for auction.  Colt purchased it, and yet no one knew who this Colt was.  Once the deed was recorded it was discovered that Colt had purchased the home for his mother, the daughter of the DeWolf gentleman who left the home in a snow storm in the middle of the night.




Seven Oaks

This is Seven Oaks. The architect is not known but it was done in 1816-1817.

We squeezed a few Gothic Revivals in and then headed out, it was a very full day!






May 302014


Edith Warton as a child

Edith Warton as a child


We were asked to read a few books before class started.  Henry James An International Episode and A House of Mirth by Edith Wharton.  I enjoyed An International Episode, but truly had a hard time plodding through A House of Mirth.  I came to the conclusion this it was because I really became exceptionally bored reading about a truly stupid woman that continued to make really stupid mistakes her entire life, until her life was destined to fail.  The third book I chose to read was Theophilus North by Thornton Wilder, a true gem, and absolutely worth a read.

This was all in preparation for the fact that Edith Wharton, along with Ogden Codman were such an influence on 19th century architecture and interiors, and thus a large part of our course. Together they wrote the Decoration of Houses, first published in 1897, it was a forum to denounce the “over” style of the Victorians, over stuffed chairs, over stuffed rooms and over decorated style.


Ogden Codman

Ogden Codman

The book lead to the acceptance of the professional decorator.  While I have no issue with the highly intelligent and successful Edith Wharton, and in fact I completely agree with the importance of balance, symmetry and good use of space, I take issue with the concept of “style makers” and their following.  I can not think of a worse way to create a singular way of thinking and a singular style followed by many, eschewing the concept of individuality.

Having said that, I am thoroughly aware that there are many people ready to knock me over the head with a singlestick, but hey this is my website not yours.

So, onto our day.

We began with the Harold Brown house. (Dudley Newton Architect 1894) The interior was originally done by Ogden Codman.

The Brown House



John Carter Brown was a rare book collector whose philanthropy created Brown University and the library most famous for its unparalleled collection of books on the Americas.  Harold Carter Brown commissioned the house.  Since Brown collected French furniture he most likely had quite a symbiotic relation with Codman and his lighter classical attitude.  The grounds were done by Frederick Law Olmstead.

Our hostess was Beryl Powell, and you would be hard pressed to find a more delightful woman.

Beryl Powell

Harold Brown House



Ogden Codman Interiors throughout the first floor of the house.






Next stop was the Bellevue House / Berkeley Villa  This house was done by Ogden Codman for his cousin Martha in 1910.

Martha Codman House


The house echoes Codman’s interest in Federal-style architecture  The paired columns and the monumental entry porch are so appealing.

Berkeley Villa

The entry way holds a multi storied cylindrical volume spiral staircase, topped with a dome.  The colors of the house interior seem to be chosen from the marble inlaid on the entry floor.

Ogden CodmanThe interiors seem to be more English than American with shallow inset arches and appliqué reliefs throughout.

Codman interiorsWho doesn’t love a split pediment topped fireplace?


The home is now owned by Ron Fleming, and his love of the house is obvious, but his flair seems to be in developing the garden.  As a Landscape Architect I was just gaga.  I loved the adherence to the English garden and its many follies, but the humor of monkeys spread throughout speaks volumes for this mans sense of humor.


A beautiful Japanese influenced gardenDSC_2451

One of many follies around the grounds


We stopped by Gray Craig, (also called Gray Crag or GlenCraig). Built for Michael Van Beuren  by Harrie T. Lindeberg in 1924. Lindeberg was known as the premier country house architect in the area during his time.

Van Beuren House Newport

In the late 1800s, Oliver Hazard Perry Belmont owned 77 acres of rural ocean-side land. Belmont, along with Cornelius Vanderbilt and other leaders of Newport society, formed The Gray Craig Park Association, named for the dramatic rock outcroppings which border the property and stocked the land with wild and exotic game and birds.  The Van Beuren’s purchased the property in the 1920’s when Lindberg convinced them that the property they had originally chosen in Portsmouth was not dramatic enough. The home remained in the van Beuren family for 60 years.





We finished our day in the perfect way.

This is Greenvale Farm and Winery.  It was designed by John H. Sturgis for John Barstow, and is still in the family.  Barstow had the home designed after the farm described in Robert Morris Copeland’s Country Life published in 1859.  The book preached that a gentleman’s farm should be no more than 50 acres, that 2/3 should be farm plantings and the rest the estate.  This is considered the “American Plan”, and the house has managed to maintain itself since it never got “too” big.  The present owners have planted a vineyard and make a DIVINE white wine (Vidal Blanc). I so respect what they are doing, adaptable re-use to help keep the family home in the family.



Greenvale Farm and Winery*









This family has served proudly in every war since we have been a country, including, as you can see by the last hat, Afghanistan.


Greenvale Farm and WineryThis has been an amazing experience, the course was beyond what one could absorb as a human being, which is why I am so grateful I that I was writing at the end of each evening, I could not possibly remember it all, even from one hour to the next.

I have met the most interesting people, professionals, students and people still trying to find their way (including me).

To the older adults in the crowd, thank you for bringing your experience, and knowledge to round out all that we have learned.  To the students that kept me up till 2 in the morning talking about every subject under the sun, I applaud you, and can’t wait to see where you all end up.  Good luck on your theses, and everyone keep in touch, it has been an amazing ride.