Southeastern Ohio – April 2019 – Interesting and Unusual Sights Part 2

Part 2 of the Southeastern Ohio tour shows some of the results of the struggles that an area that has been economically depressed for decades looks like.

A Ghost Sign in New Lexington.





Apparently not much fun in the sun anymore. It seems like it would’ve always been a bad business model because pools are expensive, and this area has never had much personal income, not to mention it is sparsely populated.





Some seem to have a unique beauty in their deterioration.





While others seem to be just barely standing.





Welcome to Historic Shawnee, Ohio!




This town once had over 3000 residents, now it is down to 600.




While at first glance it appears to be a ghost town, Shawnee is hanging on. While many of the buildings are vacant, some continue to be used.




Closer inspection of this ‘building’ shows the front is still there, but the rest of the building is gone, resulting in a courtyard of sorts.




This building, completed in 1907, was originally a hotel that hosted among others William McKinley. In addition there has always been a theater within.

This theater has recently been restored, and hosts concerns, plays and amazingly basketball games.




When buying a ‘fixer upper’, make sure it isn’t relying on the neighbor to stand up. (amazingly the small building behind the sign had a sign on the front indicating it was the real estate agents office, but it seems unlikely.




While sadly worn down, the buildings do have interesting architectural elements to them. If this were anywhere near somewhere with real estate in demand these cool little old buildings would be snapped up and restored.




With Shawnee being far from any population or jobs centers, they just look like a movie set.




Moving on, we passed this once a school, once a church, now (apparently) vacant building.





In nearby Glouster is a worn sign for The Wonder Bar (which apparently is long gone). No Wonder Dogs for lunch today.





Nearby is what looks like a scene from a Hitchcock movie – and old dilapidated building covered with birds.





Just out of town is an abandoned school, which nature is taking over.





As noted in Part 1 of this day, Nelsonville was a brick town. A park on the outskirts of town have the remains of a brick factory.




With the tower and a couple of large kilns, it is very cool place to check out.




This factory was started in 1880, and closed in 1940.




Amazingly the bricks are still sitting in the kiln.




Look closely you will see ‘Nelsonville Block’ embossed in many of the bricks. This company won awards for their bricks at the World’s Fair in St Louis in 1904.




Stacks of bricks are stored in the park (thankfully it appears nobody is stealing them).





Nearby is the Hocking Canal Lock 19 remains. Canals were essential to the initial development of the area in the mid 1800s.



This photo is representative of transportation in the area over the times. First there was the canal, then the railroad killed the canals.

The railroad itself was mostly displaced by the highway. Why can I stand in the middle of the highway and take this picture? Because it too has been displaced by a newer freeway that bypass all of the towns and this section of road, further killing any chance of survival these towns have.





Our final stop is in the interesting little town of Haydenville.



Haydenville is a company town founded by Columbus industrialist Peter Hayden. If you check out my posts of the Historic Architecture of Broad Street in Columbus you will find the Hayden Building and the New Hayden Building.
https://rdzphotographyblog.com/2019/03/11/columbus-march-2019-a-broad-street-national-historic-registry-lesson/

For his company town Hayden used the products he produced for sale to build the buildings.




The town was built in stages, and the materials reflect the era that they were producing them in the factory.




Some have interesting architectural features (and satellite dishes and trash).




Even the church was built out of the Haydenville Mining and Manufacturing company’s products.




In fact closer inspection shows a plethora of different tiles used for accent pieces and features.




Even some of the individual homes have these features. Note the pipes in the upper part of the left side of this house used for decoration.




Next door is a similar one, with slightly different features.




The final really unique house in the old company town of Haydenville.

Southesatern Ohio parallels much of Appalachia – there is natural beauty, but much has been destroyed by rampant disregard of nature for the benefit of industry for 100 years or so, now it is left on it’s own.

Yet some survive, either through tourism or other means. Regardless there is much to see in the area, and worth a trip (with an open mind to ‘beauty’)







Southeastern Ohio – April 2019 – Interesting and Unusual Sights Part 1

A long spring Sunday was spent wandering throughout Southeastern Ohio. For those not familiar, this area of the state is the beginning of Appalachia – both the good point and bad points.

Part 1 of the posting is showing the interesting sights of the area. Part 2 (in a second post) shows some of the hardships endured.

The day started out passing through the small town of Somerset, home of the Civil War general Phillip Sheridan. His statue graces the middle of the traffic circle in the center of town.





Just south of Somerset we passed by a large collection of ‘Ghost Bikes’. These bikes are normally placed where a bicyclist was killed in accidents. I am not sure if this person is paying tribute, or makes the bikes.





Southeastern Ohio is made up of small towns that all have seen better days. They were mostly coal towns or clay/brick towns. Murray City has restored their small train depot and even has a small engine and caboose.



While inside they have the items used to run the depot. Apparently nobody has used the calculator in a long time as it was covered in cobwebs.





Nearby Glouster has restored their depot as well.




Glouster also has a number of public art installations including a large, nicely done mural showing the history of the town.




They also have a number of reproductions of famous pieces of art on the side of the building in the center of town.





Nearby Nelsonville is a center for tourism for the area, as they have a very popular scenic railroad. In addition the town square has been restored, including this great building – the Stuart Opera House.

Nelsonville has a music festival that brings ‘nationally known’ artists, as well as many regional artists. The Stuart also hosts many concerts.




This stylish house on the edge of the town square is made of some locally made bricks, with the interesting coloring.




Nelsonville was a brick town, as noted by this great building and the brick street.




One of the manufacturers was the Star Brick company, with their distinctive stars embossed in each brick.





With the natural beauty of the hills and valleys, it has become a tourist mecca with nearby Hocking Hills being the center.

As with many parts of the country they have converted old railways to trails. This trail goes through the King Hollow Tunnel. This tunnel is unique in that is was (and still is) wood frame, as opposed to stone or concrete. It was recently restored and stabilized but still done with wood.





Nearby Lake Hope State Park has a historic Iron Furnace.





The highlight of this area is the famed Moonville Tunnel. The guide at the visitor center told us to take a road until we reached the stream and walk across the bridge. Clearly this is not the bridge to cross.




We eventually found the correct one, and headed for the tunnel. The Moonville Tunnel is infamous for being haunted, with numerous different stories about ghosts.





All we found were graffiti from previous ghosts (or tacky people).





It has rained a lot recently and the side of the trail through the tunnel had a light layer of water which coupled with the stunning amount of graffiti gave it an interesting look.

Part 2 of this day is highlighted in a second post.






Detroit – April 2019 – Random Sights

Our weekend in Detroit resulted in some venues that didn’t result in enough photos for a single posting so they are grouped together in ‘Random Sights’

Up first – Eastern Market.




Detroit has one of the finest farmers markets in the country. Contained in a number of indoor and outdoor ‘sheds’, they offerings vary throughout the year.




On this day there was little produce, but many people with various meats and even landscaping items.




A few street performers were on hand trying to generate some tips.




Surrounding the market are many food service companies. A number of the buildings had food related murals.




A little Detroit muscle in the Market.





In nearby Dearborn is the Henry Ford Estate.




When you invent the Model T you can have any house you want. Henry had this nice home on what was once a 1700 acre grounds. Most has been developed into a college, mall and corporate center for Ford.




This home’s styling has kept up better than most of it’s era.




And when you start a car company you need a really stylish 5 car garage.





A brief tour of downtown revealed a number of art pieces. This skyscraper at One Woodward Avenue was designed by Minoru Yamaski. If the design of the windows looks familiar it is because he later designed the original World Trade Center in New York.

The statue is The Passo di Danza (Step of the Dance).




The Spirit of Detroit is a large statue completed in 1958. Today this symbol adorns most of the city of Detroit’s department logos.




A recent addition is a 17′ high statue called ‘Waiting’ . While many like the addition some say the ‘X’ for eyes represent death.




Detroit is in Wayne County – and the County Building is in a classic Roman Baroque Revival style,, and was completed in 1902.




Cadillac Tower was the first building outside of New York and Chicago to be 40 floors tall when completed in 1927.




Across the street from the Guardian Building is the Buhl Building. Stylish in it’s own right, it pales to its world renown neighbor.




From the 32nd floor of the Guardian Building we had a great view of the surrounding area. This is a view southwest looking at the Ambassador Bridge leading to Canada (on the left), as well as the Rouge Factory in the distance.




The Renaissance Center was built in the 1970s in an effort to revitalize downtown, however it was built across an 8 lane street, along the river, and with huge walls that visually were imposing. Fail.




From our high vantage point we could see out to the vacant Packard factory that we toured the day before.




The Penobscot Building was Detroit’s tallest building from it’s completion in 1928 until the Ren Center was finished in the 1970s.




The building was named after the Penobscot Native American’s in Maine. The exterior motif pays tribute to them.







Detroit – April 2019 – The Guardian Building

With the auto industry booming in the 1920s Detroit was flush with cash. As a result most of their grand buildings date from that period – which coincided with the Art Deco movement in architecture.

The Guardian Building is the best example in Detroit, and one of the very best in the world. It has made every single list of top 10 Art Deco skyscrapers every published.





In addition to the Art Deco, they use a Native American theme throughout the exterior and interior.





This unique, and stylish mix is fantastic.





The building is asymmetrical, with a taller tower on the north end, with a slightly shorter wing on the south.

The unique custom coloring became so popular that it is now known as ‘Guardian Bricks’.





As you enter the smallish lobby you are greeted by this great mosaic.




The north tower elevator lobbies are unique from any other with the native theme continuing. Note the stained glass window.





A close up of the stained glass. The building was designed by Wirt Rowland, and features the colored materials set in geometric patterns.





A close up of the elevator lobby ceiling shows this detail.





A Montel metal screen separates the lobby from the banking hall.





This close up of the Montel metal screen shows the very cool clock.





The massive banking hall gave this building it’s nickname – the Cathedral of Finance, with it’s strong design homage to the great cathedrals of the world.





The hall is 3 floors high and is flanked on the south end by an impressive mural.





The mural is by Michigan native Ezra Winter, and celebrates all the highlights of the state. Winter also did the mosaic featured above.





A detailed look at the mural shows this industrial side, which compliments an agricultural side (not pictured).





At the apex of the mural is a tribute to finance (after all it was built as a bank)





The newer lighting retains the art deco look.





The ceiling is covered in an acoustical absorbing material, a 3/4″ thick horsehair covering over the plaster ceiling.





This design keeps down the echoing in the great hall, as well as provides a much easier restoration that a 90 year old building requires from time to time.





Even the information sign contains the Native American elements.

The Guardian Building is truly one of the greats, worth a trip to Detroit by itself.







Detroit – April 2019 – Cultural Center

The Cultural Center of Detroit is located in the Midtown section, just north of downtown. We had the opportunity to visit two of the centerpieces of the neighborhood, the Main Library and Institute of Art.

We started at the Library where one of Detroit’s newest features, a streetcar called the Q Line’ was passing as we arrived.





We made our way around the building to the Cass Avenue entrance, which is much newer than the Woodward Avenue side.





The original building is in an Italian Renaissance style, with it’s impressive stairways and ceilings.





This look is carried over to one of the exhibition halls.





While one of the hallways on the second floor resemble a cathedral.





Reliefs celebrating the classics adorn this level.





A look at the main entrance ceiling.





We are still in the library, not the Institute of Art…





Directly across Woodward Avenue is the Institute of Art, with a statue of the Thinker greeting you.





The exterior had a significant amount of sculptures.





It is immediately apparently that the library and art museum were designed in similar style and completed at the same time.





Coincidentally there was a celebration of India going on the day we were there.





We came for the Rivera murals and ended up celebrating India as well!





The artists were happy to tell you about their culture.





A Rangoli demonstration.





This henna artist was very skilled, with a steady hand.





The east lobby had this great display.





Another exhibition hall featured pop art.





Some great chairs.





Ruben & Iabel Toledo had an exhibit called Labor of Love.








They also paid homage to the River murals. The DIA is a destination just for the murals, but the rest of the exhibitions are world class as well.





Detroit – April 2019 – Controlled Urban Exploring

Unfortunately for Detroit when your population goes from nearly 2 million to 600,000, and most of the jobs leave the city you are left with a lot of vacant properties. One of the most famous is the 3.5 million square foot Packard Automobile Factory.




Completed in the early 1900s, it was state of the art for it’s time.




At one point there were 90 buildings in use across the campus. Today only one remains in use, the rest are decaying to various degrees.




Designed by Albert Kahn it was a model factory for 1911. This view is of the former administration office building.




The complex has been vacant so long a tree has grown over a fire hydrant.




At it’s peak 40,000 people worked here.




Today bridges lead to nowhere.




While it closed in the 1950s as a car factory, portions of it were used for a variety of other purposes until the 1990s.



There is a large amount of graffiti throughout.




Including places you wonder how they got up there.




Debris is strewn about everywhere, including this column from one of the buildings with the rebar wrapped around it.




The campus has a tunnel complex throughout – originally used to provide electrical and other utilities.




Today it is mostly filled with debris like tires. The light down the tunnel is from collapses on down the line.




This bridge ‘sort of’ connects two buildings.




Some random dumping, including a boat that was then covered in graffiti.




A bumper – but no car.




Our intrepid white hard hatted group wandered about with the Pure Detroit guide learning about the history of the Packard Company and the facility.




At last we made our way up the ramp to where the assembly line ended.




With a look down the line. In the history of the factory over 1.5 million cars and trucks were produced here.




Some of the more artistic graffiti.




One of the buildings minus every single window frame (the glass has been gone from the buildings for decades).




Some of the buildings were originally built with 2 floors, but later expanded. Look closely you will note that the columns are slightly different between the floors indicated a later construction for the upper floor.




There were a number of hard core photographers in the group.




This building still has some remaining window frames, at a great happenstance view.




An elevator building that is amazingly still somewhat standing.




Ironically the complex has become popular with large scale movie production – this ‘concrete’ is actually a piece of Styrofoam painted to look like concrete from the latest ‘Transformers’ movie.




The last bastion of glass…




A survivor of the apocalypse – or a slightly burnt teddy bear in a factory in Detroit, minus one arm but still a smile.




The front building area has been cleared of debris as they try and restore it to a functional state.




While the office area has been cleared out waiting for a lot of money to come along to rebuild.




The funeral for the Packard Automobile Company was held over 60 years ago, and the factory itself over 20 years ago – but Detroit still holds out hope someone will bring this amazing place back from the dead. (and it was total coincidence a vintage hearse drove by while we were standing there waiting on the tour).







Detroit – April 2019 – The Fisher Building

A weekend in Detroit touched on a significant amount of the auto industry history without really seeing an actual car (except the obvious high percent of American made cars on the streets and freeways of the city).

An organization called ‘Pure Detroit’ offers tours of historic structures, including the Fisher Building. Completed in 1928 as an Art Deco masterpiece, the Fisher was designed by noted Detroit architect Albert Kahn.





Despite being one of the tallest buildings in the city when completed, it is not downtown, rather about 3 miles north in an area that was named ‘New Center’. Developed in the 1920s New Center was envisioned as one of the original ‘edge cities’.

In reality the Fisher Brothers had tried to purchase a complete city block downtown, but at that time Detroit was a boom town and no land was available, making the New Center option even more attractive.




The Fisher Brothers founded Fisher Body, who provided the automobile bodies to General Motors. Most of the office space in New Center was occupied by GM, and their suppliers.

They chose this area to be closer to their factories.





As you enter the three story barrel vaulted concourse. The building is noted mostly because it contains forty (yes 40) different types of marble.

The Fisher Brothers were noted for their philanthropy and they felt that by providing a grand space for their business, as well as the public in general, they were giving back to the city.





As an architect Kahn had to be elated when the Fisher Brothers essentially said, spend what you need, make it memorable.





Including in the building is the Fisher Theater. With over 2000 seats it remains one of the oldest theaters in the city. The day we were there a matinee of ‘Hamilton’ was performing, resulting a large crowd gathering as we completed our tour.





Even areas like a small food court is opulent.





The mosaics, as well as other pieces of sculpture and frescoes were completed by Geza Maroti. As with much of the art in the period, the works have symbolism, including numerous eagles symbolizing America stretching to greater heights.





Lighting is always difficult to capture properly but when made the focus they make an interesting look.





A close up of the ceiling reveals one of the numerous tributes to knowledge.





The mezzanine level offers a nice glimpse of the ceiling, along with the main concourse.





The railing are very stylish….





… but obviously not OSHA complaint height.





The mezzanine level has great symmetry.






Just across the street is Cadillac Place. From the 1930s until the 1970s, this was the headquarters of GM.





From the 26th floor there was a nice view back toward downtown Detroit on this hazy day.

Our effervescent tour guide Jordan was great. She was very enthusiastic and knowledgeable – Pure Detroit should be proud to have her.