The city of Lexington, Kentucky like many cities has some murals around town. Unlike anywhere we have ever seen, they seem to have them everywhere – and most are very well done.
In addition they aren’t all the traditional history based murals – rather many have artistic statements. Below is an extensive view of many of the murals – if you are interested in more details behind them I recommend checking out the two links below:
Our day in Paris continued with a ride in ‘Horse Country’. Central Kentucky is the center of thoroughbred horse racing in America, and Paris is the heart of that center. Numerous well known farms surround the town.
We had booked a tour at the most famous one – Claiborne Farms.
Six of the 13 Triple Crown winners were sired at the farm. In addition to these, numerous other Kentucky Derby, Preakness, and Belmont Stakes winners came from here.
Everything about the farm is first class, but not gaudy. It is done right, but not tacky – sort of the August National of Thoroughbred farms.
The stalls for the stallions are immaculate. And for good reason, they generate the revenue
The most legendary stallion is War Front. Other farms bring mares from all over the world to mate with War Front. The cost for doing this (which takes 15 minutes) is $250,000. War Front brings in $20 million a year in stud fees.
As the guide told us – in reality War Front signs their paychecks. But he earns his money as he has 3 ‘sessions’ a day for 6 months.
But there are others as well that can earn into 6 figures for their services.
Kyle is not just a tour guide, he has a degree from the University of Kentucky in Equine Science and Management.
What do these multi-million dollar animals like – peppermint candy!
All of the studs at the farm are major winners during their 2 and 3 year old years, before moving over to their new career for the rest of their lives (which is usually around 20-25 years)
Still they act like puppies, chewing at their leads and generally playing around.
They are beautifully maintained.
Others in their stalls want attention and peppermint candy as well.
The horse Blame was quite the character!
They have a horse cemetery with some of the most noted in their history buried there including the legendary Secretariat.
Clairborne Farms is a fascinating place. Kyle was a great guide, giving significant detail into the workings of the farm, and how they care for their horses – and will continue to do things ‘the right way’ and ‘old school’ for the best for the horses.
In keeping with the morning we had lunch at the nearby Horseshoes Kentucky Grill.
The interior was decked out in racing memorabilia.
So many small towns in America are named after other places – and Paris is no different. According to Google there are 23 towns and cities in America called Paris, but the one in Kentucky is one of the nicer ones.
This town was originally called Bourbontown because it is the county seat of Bourbon County (more on that later), but was renamed to Paris as a thank you to France’s contribution during the Revolutionary War.
They have a small Eiffel Tower next to the Visitor Center/Farmers Market.
The town itself is very well preserved, as there is a lot of money in the area from the thoroughbred farms (more on this later as well).
Horse Racing is a recurring theme throughout all of Central Kentucky.
The pots along the street for flowers and bushes are re purposed horse troughs.
Hollywood has a walk of fame – but so does Paris – with horseshoes for the great ones – including the greatest – Secretariat.
Most of the downtown area buildings are 100 years old and in good condition.
The Duncan Tavern is the oldest building in town – dating from 1788.
The highlight though is the Bourbon County Courthouse. Completed in 1902 it is spectacular.
From the mosaics in the floors….
To another horse racing tribute.
The fantastic view of the dome from below.
Much of the ironwork came from nearby Maysville.
Great care has been given in the upkeep of the courthouse. We were lucky enough that on this Saturday morning it was open for absentee voting – and the Boubon County Clerk of Courts Richard Eads gave us a detailed history of the building, taking time out of his busy day for us.
The ceiling of the courtroom has a mural of Lady Justice.
Maysville, Kentucky was one of the original settlements west of the Allegheny Mountains, as it is situated along the Ohio River about 80 miles upriver from Cincinnati.
We entered the town via the 1931 Simon Kenton Bridge. Spanning the Ohio River for almost 2,000 feet it is a classic old steel bridge.
As with many river towns the flood wall is adorned with murals. Maysville’s are well done – including this one as a tribute to favorite daughter Rosemary Clooney, who from the 1940s until the turn of the century was an actress and fantastic singer (and also well known as George Clooney’s aunt).
The town is in remarkably good condition compared to most of the little river towns of this part of the world.
Much of the center of town has been restored, including this fountain and square.
More of the excellent flood wall murals – horses are a big deal in Kentucky.
This mural depicted the street we were standing on 100 years ago.
For most of the Ohio River valley in Ohio, West Virginia and Kentucky there are steep hills just a few blocks back – Maysville is no exception.
The Washington Opera House dates from 1898 in a Beaux Arts style. It is used today for theater and concerts.
Another great example of the nice restoration done in town.
The main street has some galleries to go with the small stores.
Some architecture is reflective that we are in the beginnings of the south.
The Kentucky Gateway Museum is a new building, but well done and blending nicely with it’s surroundings.
Maysville was once a center of wrought iron manufacturing, and many of the homes show this heritage.
Even a vacant lot has been re purposed as a small park – along with another great ghost sign.
Even the vacant house it very cool – the building in front and most of the house appears to be covered in kudzu, which I haven’t seen this far north before.
Just down the rest are more restored homes.
This row of houses to me is reminiscent of the famed ‘Painted Ladies’ of San Francisco – only at 1/10th the cost.
If you ever get the chance stop by Maysville, Kentucky – it is worth the visit.
The small town of Weston, West Virginia is the home to the Trans Alleghenies Lunatic Asylum. Completed in 1864, it is often considered the second largest hand cut stone building in the world, behind only the Kremlin in Moscow.
Designed by Richard Andrews, it is nearly 1/4 mile long with wings coming off the main building. It was designed to house 250 people, but by the 1950s nearly 2,400 patients were jammed in.
Weston has seen better days. From a peak population of 9,000 it now is home to about 1/ 3 of that.
Once the hospital closed in the 1990s a group purchased the historic building from the state and has done some partial restoration.
Some of the center sections, including the auditorium, have been restored.
There is also a small museum with a number of items – including original patient art.
Some of the displays show the sad approach to mental health in past days – including a display for a lobotomy.
But we are not here for the museum – we are here for the darker side of the history of the place.
We took the ‘Paranormal Tour’. The building has a reputation of being one of the most haunted places in America.
Perhaps it has something to do with this room – the lobotomy ‘recovery’ room. Not really sure exactly what a recovery from a lobotomy was like, but I doubt it was very pleasant.
Our tour Val entertained us with ghost stories – including one for this room where they did a video shoot and a ‘ghost’ appear in some of the promotional photos.
The stone structure and general decay of most of it definitely adds to the aura.
Some of the wings had inspirational paintings remaining on the walls from the 1990s when the building closed.
Abstract art? Nope – seriously peeling paint on a ceiling with the bars on the stairway.
Numerous TV ‘ghost hunter’ type shows have stayed here overnight and filmed.
When I asked why a few of the rooms had this orange tile – Val demonstrated that they were the ‘restraint rooms’ – note the small round patches on the tile on the right side of the photos – it is where the restraints were secured to the wall.
Why is this door only to be use by ghosts? We are 3 floors up with nothing on the other side but air – and a 30′ drop to the ground.
The wings last were painted to different the mens wings, from womens, from childrens (yes, children), and the criminally insane.
At a few places in the facility you find offerings to the ghosts, such as candy and cigarettes.
The children’s section has to be the saddest. Some children had the misfortune of being born there and end up being raised there since their mother was a patient and they had no other family.
The staff believes if you leave other ‘offerings’ such as the baby carriage that it will attract the children ghosts.
Having been in a few buildings like this (Mansfield, Moundsville, etc) this one was in much better shape un-restored than those.
In this room Val was summoning a ghost named Larry to turn the flashlight on and off. Some on the tour were hardcore believers and were really into it (which added to the overall amusement of the afternoon) while others hmm – looked up the story of ghosts and magnetic flashlights on the internet (not going to give a spoiler here).
Val did a great job sharing the stories of the Trans Alleghenies Lunatic Asylum. Unfortunately I did not see or feel any ghosts.
Once a year many of the embassies located in Washington have an open house, officially known as The Around the World Embassy Tour.
This was the event we went to Washington for, and it didn’t disappoint. On this busy Saturday the embassies were open from 10-4. We had selected 14 from over 50 that were open. In the end we visited 17, but only 6 that were on our original list – regardless it was a great time.
Easily the best part was meeting the people from around the world. Each embassy had a variety of people – artists, musicians, delegates, and just regular folks from their home country. In the Peru embassy we met the artist Mario Arcevedo Torero.
Our morning continued down the street at the Embassy of Trinidad and Tobago, A recurring theme soon began that the smaller countries had the most lively groups.
At the Iraqi embassy we met this artist and his traditional (yet electrified) guitar.
India’s was so popular they took over the nearby street and had a concert, with the traditional dancers, as well as a drum circle.
The visit to Albania was great as well – really tasty free food, traditionally costumed people, and a free shot of alcohol at the end!
There were numerous people in their traditional dress.
Despite tasting our way through 7 countries we had lunch in Costa Rica. As with the others it was nice to taste the local foods.
While many had small tastes of food and drink, some had food lines set up for a nominal fee – it was well worth it.
The Dominican Republic was a lively place as well.
In addition to the dancers there were a number of craftsmen, including this chain saw artist who makes amazingly small items using a chain saw (and seemingly still has all his fingers).
The Korean Cultural Center featured dancers as well.
The second act we saw was a drum line. It is interesting that the cultures from around the world tend to use similar items for their entertainment – dance and drums.
The Haitian embassy featured an artist doing paintings on site.
Meanwhile over at Cote d’Ivoire the greeters wore traditional headdresses.
They also had a display of costumes.
This artist was proudly displaying her work – it was beautiful.
Ah Belize…. What a party….
Before you even entered the grounds you couldn’t help but feel the energy of the party.
People were dancing in front – people were dancing in back.
People from very different cultures were jamming out to the Belize party. Ironically they were next door to the Muslim Center, which we visited in what I would expect should be quiet respect, but you could still hear the party next door – hopefully they get along ok.
We went through a very quiet and strangely austere Brazilian embassy, then headed on up the street to see these two colorful ladies….
Coming from Bolivia! They had a number of dancers performing their traditional dances.
And posed for a group photo at the end of their act.
This older guy was very active in his dance.
And with that we ended our amazing day at the Embassy Open House. This is one you need to put on your list!
Washington Union Station is an architectural masterpiece that was designed by Daniel Burnham. It was opened in 1907, as a result of a decree from Theodore Roosevelt to provide a rail station worthy of the nation’s capital.
As you arrive you are greeted by Columbus Circle, along with a statue designed by Lorado Taft in 1912. This fountain symbolizes the 1492 expedition to the New World. The 3 flags represent the 3 ships, the figures on each side represent the new world and the old world.
The large bell is a scale replica of the Liberty Bell, and was cast by the same foundry in, ironically, Great Britain. This bell however was completed in 1976.
The colonnade is a signature Burnham design.
As you look down Delaware Avenue you get a sense of how close you are to the Capitol Building.
The Main Waiting Room, a misnomer now, is one of the largest rooms in the country, with 96′ high ceilings in a room that is 760′ along the entire corridor.
There are 36 Roman Centurions standing guard around the hall.
The entrance to the East Hall has a line of these Centurions as well as a great clock.
A close up of the clock shows the ‘4’ in Roman numerals is not IV, rather it is shown as IIII.
The East Hall was originally a dining room, with a Pompeii look.
A close up of some of the East Hall artwork.
The food court was once the train shed.
This view shows how it was outside the original Main Hall.
Washington’s Union Station is truly one of the great train stations in the country – well worth a stop, even if you drove of flew to the city.