Lancaster, Ohio – May 2021 – A Historic Town With a Big Hill (or Small Mountain)

Lancaster is a town 30 miles southeast of Columbus. As one of the earliest settlements in Ohio, it has a number of historic buildings.

This site was chosen where the Zane Trace Trail crossed the Hocking River near a 250′ high sandstone hill. Now known as Mt Pleasant , a hike up offers great views of the area.

Lancaster is the birthplace of a number of famous people, none more than Civil War General William Sherman.

Cincinnati – May 2021 – Architecture

The Cincinnati architecture tour starts with a view of the historic City Hall. This impressive Romanesque building dates from 1893, after taking 5 years to build. The design was intended on reflecting the taste of the German descended majority of the population of the city at the time.

The Cincinnati Fire Museum (back side). Dating from 1907, the building is on the National Register.

The Plum Street Temple (now known as the Isaac Wise Temple), was built in 1865, with construction occurring during the Civil War. As with City Hall, which is caddy-corner from the temple, it is built in a style (Byzantine Moorish) that was popular in Germany at the time.

With World War II, all the temples in Germany in this style were destroyed, leaving only this and one in New York City in this style.

The Cincinnati and Suburban Telephone Company Building – This art deco building was completed in 1930.

Note the frieze – it is a series of rotary phones.

One interesting note, in the 1930s it contained the worlds longest straight switchboard (photo from Cincinnati Enquirer article). The floors were built at an unusually tall for the time 12′ high to support the equipment.

The western end of Garfield Place has a number of interesting structures.

The red brick building is the 1891 Waldo Apartments. The designer, Samuel Hannaford, also designed the Music Hall, nearby City Hall, and the Hooper Building.

The Covenant First Presbyterian Church is another late 1800s religious building. Both the church and the Waldo are on the National Registry.

William Henry Harrison is overlooking the entire scene. The statue’s statement of ‘Ohio’s first President’ is a bit of a controversy, as Harrison was born in Virginia, but elected from Ohio.

The Doctors Building is just down the block, on the south side of Piatt Park. The building has an impressive terracotta façade, while the construction itself is brick and concrete.

The east end of Piatt Park has a wider view of the Doctor’s Building on the left, as well as a statue of James Garfield.

The Garfield statue was commissioned just 2 years after he died, finally being unveiled in 1887.

Tucked in what is essentially an alley, the Cincinnati Gymnasium and Athletic Club dates from 1902. The club claims to be the oldest continuously running athletic club in the country, including Rutherford Hayes once being a member and president of the club.

In a controversial move the club would hold basketball games against other clubs, charging an admission and sharing the proceeds, thus making them ‘professional athletes’ in a time where that was frowned upon.

The Second Renaissance Revival Building was named to the National Registry in 1983.

The former Shillito’s Department Store building is unique in that the front and one side is very Art Deco in style, but the back is a far more traditional look.

TV fans of the 1970s will recognize this building as the home of ‘WKRP in Cincinnati’. In reality it was the home of the Cincinnati Enquirer newspaper.

This limestone building was opened in 1926. Today it is home to a couple of hotels.

Cincinnati was clearly a boom town in the 1920s, as yet another of the classic buildings, the Taft Theater, opened in 1928. This art deco hall seats 2,500, and is used for touring Broadway shows and concerts.

The John Roebling Bridge is one of the highlights of the city. When completed in 1866 it was the longest suspension bridge in the world, at 1057′. This was supplanted by his more famous Brooklyn Bridge in 1883.

A mix of old and new – the St Louis Church. Another 1930s building, it’s location at Walnut and East 8th Street is located along the new Cincinnati Streetcar route. Ironically the streetcars that would’ve been there when the church was built was torn out in the 1950s, only to be replaced by this new system costing $148m.

Just down the street, and a few decades before, streetcars ran everywhere. (photo from Wikipedia – ‘Metro Bus’). If only they had left the tracks.

Easily the best (in my opinion) is Cincinnati Union Terminal. Once a grand train station (still a small Amtrak station), it is now a museum center.

The building is known as the second largest half dome building in the world, after the Sydney Opera House.

Two landmarks for one – Fountain Square and the Carew Tower.

Fountain Square has been the center of the city since it was installed in 1871. The fountain’s name is ‘The Genius of Water’.

The Carew Tower was the tallest building in the city from it’s opening in 1930 until it was surpassed by the Great American Tower in 2010. While the interior is very ornate, the exterior is a very basic approach towards art deco.

Our tour complete it is time to get out of town at the 1937 Lunken Airport Terminal.

Toronto – July 2019 – An Impressive Skyline with Architectural Variety

The city of Toronto has the 3rd best skyline in North America, according to the building website Emporis. There are more than 60 buildings at least 500′ high.


We had the opportunity to take an architectural tour with Daniel, from the Toronto Society of Architects. If there was someone you wanted to wander downtown Toronto with to learn about the history of the city, and the buildings, it is Daniel, as he has over 40 years of experience designing many of them.



Not all the buildings on this posting were seen on Daniel’s tour, but with the knowledge from him we were able to seek out more than what he had time to cover.

Included in these is (to me) the Mecca of Hockey – Maple Leaf Gardens. The Gardens were closed to NHL hockey more than 20 years ago, but the good folks of Toronto had the sense to retain the building and re-purpose it.

Most of the 1st level is a large grocery store, while Ryerson University uses the remainder of the building for athletics.



The highlight is on the current 3rd level – the ‘original ice’, as well as the exposed original ceiling!



Since the 1970s Toronto has had a near continual skyscraper building boom.



There are pockets of historic buildings scattered throughout downtown. In the distance is the clock tower of the ‘old’ city hall.

Completed in 1899 it was used as city hall until 1966 when the new city hall (feature photo for this posting) was completed.



E J Lennox was the primary architect for the old city hall in the 1890s. As was custom at the time he expected to have his name engraved on the building. When city council told him no – he got his revenge – by doing a ‘grotesque’ of himself. He is in the center with the mustache.

Even better was his revenge on his bosses in the city council – he included them as goofy looking people in grotesques, which means 120 years later he is still getting his revenge.



If you look enough you find many art deco touches, including these nice skylights in the Toronto Coach Lines building. Not bad for a bus station.



Another art deco entrance along Yonge Street.



All around you get glimpses of old and new.







The Bank of Nova Scotia building is one of the better art deco examples.





As is the Canadian Bank of Commerce.



A portion of the Hockey Hall of Fame is in the ornate lobby of an old bank.



Union Station is another example, and will shine even more when the renovations are completed in a few years.



Not downtown, and not a skyscraper the ‘Palace of Purification’ is the R C Harris Water Treatment Facility in Scarborough. It is an art deco masterpiece with a great setting along Lake Ontario.



Toronto is a city on the move, and their architecture shows it.







Buenos Aires – June 2019 – A Walk Down the Avenida de Mayo

Of all the important streets in Buenos Aires, none is above Avenida de Mayo, May Avenue. Named in honor of the May Revolution of 1810 that lead to the Argentine independence, the street takes you from the Plaza of Congress to the Presidential Palace.

The Congressional Building graces the far end of the plaza.





The plaza has a massive fountain and a collection of statues.



The view from the plaza looking down Avenida de Mayo.



The Confiteria El Molino, an Art Noveau coffee house was completed in 1917. All of the marble, ceramics an glass was imported from Italy.

The windmill was in honor of the Molino Lorea, the first flour mill in Buenos Aires.



Across the plaza is the Senate Building.



Most of the buildings along the street have character.






None have more character than the Palacio Barolo. Once South America’s tallest building, the entire structure is an ode to Dante’s Divine Comedy.

The height of one hundred meters corresponds to the one hundred cantos of the story. There are nine access points within the building, representing nine circles and nine hierarchies of Hell.

The 22 floors of the building reflect the number of stanzas in the poem. Even moving up the building takes one through hell, purgatory and paradise.

The building is a beautiful masterpiece.







This relatively plain, Spanish mission looking building is the Cabildo. It was used as the center of government during the colonial era. Since 1610 there has been a government building on this site, with this one dating from the late 1700s.



The Piramide de Mayo, or May Pyramid, was originally constructed in 1811 in celebration of the revolution. It was renovated in the 1860s.



During the ‘Dirty War’ of the 1970s dictatorship in Argentina, up to 30,000 people ‘disappeared’, without a trace, including many children. During this time 3 people together was considered a mass assembly, with possible arrest.

Beginning in 1977 women began together in the plaza in public defiance of the ban on public gatherings, they wore white head scarves to symbolize the diapers of the ‘lost’ children. This is memorialized in the pavement of the plaza.

Many of the children taken were given to families of those in power, and raised as their own. To this day the ‘Mothers of the Mayo Plaza’ continue to pursue to reunification of the now older adults to their rightful families.




The Casa Rosada (Pink House), is the office of the President. While it is officially the Presidential Home, in reality the president lives elsewhere in Buenos Aires.



Soldiers from the Regiment of Mounted Grenadiers march from the Palace every few hours.



The Metropolitan Cathedral is the state church for Argentina. Before he became Pope, Francis was the Archbishop of Buenos Aires in this cathedral.



The interior is impressive.






The tomb of General San Martin is located in the Cathedral. As the Father of the Nation of Argentina, he is honored with guards.

Argentina at times has had a volatile history, but they seem to make sure all aspects are remembered, and the Avenida de Mayo is the best way to understand what makes up Argentina of today, by understanding their past.



Lexington, Kentucky – May 2019 – Scenes of the City

Two things are important in Lexington – horse racing and bourbon!




Even some of the public art – including giant sculptures of books often depicts horse racing.


A number of artistic horse sculptures are scattered around town.

A downtown sculpture area is called Thoroughbred Park – depicting the finish line in great detail.


The best ‘ghost sign’ in town is for Horse Racing Oats.

But there is more to Lexington that just horses and bourbon – there is the University of Kentucky, and their stunning library.



For a city this far off the east coast there are a number of early 1800 or older buildings and homes.



A former courthouse is now the main visitor center – as well as other civic offices.



The area has been growing, and there is evidence of new investments downtown with government buildings and plazas.



The main library is newer as well, and features this 5 story pendulum clock – reputed to be the largest in the world.



We visited Transylvnia University and an art fair that was occurring there. The college was the first institution of higher learning west of the Allegheny Mountains. It is named for the Transylvania Colony – a proposed 14th colony that never really came to be – but the university name stuck.




Our final stop was the arboretum shared by the University of Kentucky and the city of Lexington. On this spring day there were a number of groups using the setting for their backdrops – homecoming groups, weddings, engages, and others…




Our final stop was a memorial to 49 people who lost their lives in a commuter airline crash in 2006. They are represented by 49 birds in flight.

For a mid sized city Lexington has a lot to offer – a good place to spend a day or two.






Washington DC – May 2019 – Union Station

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.







Mansfield, OH – August 2018 – Kingwood Center Gardens

For this warm and windy Saturday we headed to Mansfield to see the Kingwood Center Gardens.  These gardens, and the mansion, were built by Charles King, who made his money leading a company that made electrical fittings for the trolleys and railroads of the early 1900s.

The house and grounds were built in 1926, and feature 47 acres of formal gardens, as well as greenhouses.

When Mr King died in the 1950s the estate was turned over to a private foundation that to this day own and operate the beautiful grounds.

My first photo of the day was taken with the ‘wrong’ settings. A couple of nights earlier there was a vivid full moon and I had changed the white balance and numerous other settings, forgetting to reset them. When I took the photo of the fountain it did not represent it’s actual look, but rather this ‘full moon’ look.

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Returning my camera to more proper settings for garden photography we set off. We were immediately impressed with the landscaping.

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As we made our way through the gardens we passed numerous planters with interesting mixes within each one.

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The stone paths and perfectly trimmed hedges framed the flora.

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The newest lens was perfect for some close ups.

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With the full frame capabilities, getting clear shots of the flowers is much easier.

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So much easier I came home with numerous photos of insects on plants and flowers.

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Additional planters on stone walls.

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The lawn and gardens in front of the house was immaculate (except for some gardener put tire tracks in it 🙂 )

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As with most gardens, weddings are a big business. Unfortunately for the bride this day some heavy rains came later, after we finished our tour.

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The house opened at 11, and a local peacock was there waiting for entry.

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While not extensive, there was some statuary well placed throughout the gardens.

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The carriage house had 5 bays for automobiles. What could be better, a 5 car garage and great landscaping.

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One of the greenhouses featured cacti.

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More insect closeups, this time in the greenhouse. Fortunately for this one he stayed away from the nearby Venus fly trap.

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We were pleasantly surprised by the Kingwood Center Gardens. While not Longwood (who is), this is one of the best, if not the best, gardens we have seen in Ohio.

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Washington DC – June 2018 – Views of the City

A day and a half in DC gave the opportunity to visit numerous museums (later posts) as well as check out the town. This post are randoms views of the city.

Starting with an unusual view of the Washington Monument down the tracks.

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Stores near Eastern Market

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The Eastern Market interior. I was surprised how small it was.

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A lone runner going past the capital. The reason there are no people around is the visitor center is underneath, and the police keep everyone off the steps.

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The aforementioned police.

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For those who read this blog that are not from America – nearly every 8th grader (13-14 year olds) make a field trip to Washington DC. They always have matching shirts so their chaperones can keep track of them.

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Apparently DC ducks don’t fly, so they have a ramp to get into the reflecting pool.

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The view down the Mall

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A well protected fountain

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The famed Watergate Hotel/Apartment Complex.

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And finally a ride on the Metro.

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Kennett Square, PA – May 2018 – Longwood Gardens

Longwood Gardens is located in suburban Philadelphia, in the town of Kennett Square. Considered by most as one of the foremost gardens in America it is an amazing display of horticultural coupled with architecture and water features.

The Gardens have been located here since the 1700s where the Pearce family began cultivating trees. It wasn’t until the early 1900s when one of the DuPont family members purchased the gardens did it really become the showcase that is renown around the world.

 

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The day we visited nearly every person arriving headed straight for the flower gardens.

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Where a fountain graced the pathway.

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There are over 800 volunteers who keep the gardens immaculate. Once a flower loses it’s bloom they will remove it and replace it with something else.

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Resulting in vivid displays.

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Water features are everywhere, including this Italian Water Garden.

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This gazebo is a popular spot for weddings.

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While other buildings used for mechanicals are equally impressive with the floral.

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But the highlight is without a doubt the are the fountains. The  5 acre Main Fountain Area is said to combine Italianate ornamentation with French Grandeur coupled with a World’s Fair showmanship.

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Water features are everywhere, all synchronized to provide displays. The Bellagio has nothing on Longwood for fountain displays.

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Inside the Conservatory the floral and fauna continue to amaze.

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The variety of plants and flowers are extensive, many I had never seen before.

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And all in picture perfect condition.

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As you exit the conservatory you are again given an expansive view of the fountains.

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As well as another smaller flower garden.

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Before ending up at the Carillon, which provides chimes every 15 minutes. Longwood Gardens is truly an amazing place.

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