Bloomfield Hills, MI – June 2017 – Cranbrook Art Museum & Saarinen House

The Cranbrook Academy of Art was founded in the 1920s by George Booth, who asked renown Finnish architect Eliel Saarinen to design the campus and buildings. Eventually the campus was expanded to include both boys and girls schools, a Science Museum as well as the Art Museum.

The Saarinen House has been restored to it’s 1930s look, and the museum offers tours, which we attended. The house itself (in my opinion) was somewhat disappointing as it did not give the ‘wow’ feeling that I often have when going into other famous homes, such as many of the Frank Lloyd Wright homes of the same period. Instead it seems more ‘practical’ and commonplace, in a 1930s art deco way.

The grounds of the campus are very nice, with gardens scattered about, along with numerous sculptures and fountains. The museum was somewhat smallish, but had some interesting artifacts including the chair collection.

 

The Art Museum

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Gardens and Fountains

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The interior of the Art Museum

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Saarinen House

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Cincinnati – June 2017 – Spring Grove Cemetery and Arboretum

The Spring Grove Cemetery and Arboretum was designed in the 1840s by Adolph Strauch, a renown lanscape architect who’s view was to have a ‘garden cemetery’ made up of trees, lakes and shrubs.

It is the second largest (in area) cemetery in the United States, with over 700 acres, including 400 that are landscaped. As we toured in our car we passed trams leading tours, as well as numerous walkers. It clearly was different than most cemeteries with the spaciness and landscaping.

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Cleveland – May 2017 – An Afternoon in University Circle

The University Circle neighborhood in Cleveland is the home to most of the major museums in the city, the Cultural Gardens and Case Western Reserve University.

 

The Cultural Gardens is a collection of 31 unique Nationality gardens, most with sculptures interspersed with the plantings. Unfortunately we only had time to visit a handful.

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A residential neighborhood near Case Western Reserve University is home to Hessler Court – an amazing little street that is made out of wood. Known as Nicolson Pavement, the wood block construction was popular in the mid 1800s. Now less than 5 remain in America, and Cleveland is home to one. It is smooth and quiet.

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The Cleveland Botanical Gardens roses were in full bloom.

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Sculpture in front of the Botanical Gardens.

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Nearby they were having stilt walking lessons.

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Columbus – February 2017 – Franklin Park Conservatory Orchid Exhibit

The Franklin Park Conservatory has had an Orchid Exhibit going for a few weeks, and with it coming to an end soon we spent a cold afternoon in the warmth of the indoor botanical gardens.

The orchids were beautiful, as were the other flowers and plants (and yes I realize all of the photos below are not orchids, but I like how they turned out):

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Dayton – October 2015 – Packards and Gardens

Another weekend day – another road trip – this time back to Dayton. Since the weather was still holding up our first stop was Wegerzyn Gardens, a Dayton Metro Park. These gardens contain a large formal gardens area, a children’s gardens, and some walking trails. While some of the summer color was gone, and the leaves had not yet changed in full force, there was enough to keep us entertained.

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We essentially had the place to ourselves which made it even more peaceful, walking amongst the well landscaped grounds with manicured shrubs, and sculptures near the Dayton Playhouse, which is on the grounds as well. Afterward we enjoyed lunch at a nice restaurant called Jimmie’s Ladder 11, in a restored fire house.

Going back to downtown Dayton we admired some of the local public sculptures celebration Dayton’s favorite sons, the Wright Brothers, including a very impressive sculpture in the middle of a street celebrating their initial, brief flight at Kitty Hawk with an exact replica of the height and distance of the flight (12 seconds long, 20′ high and going 120′).

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We moved on to the American Packard Museum, billed as the only Packard Museum operating in a restore Packard dealership. The building is beautiful, perfectly suited for it’s purpose and filled with amazing cars. The people working there appear to love their volunteer jobs and are very helpful, yet leave you to yourself enough to explore at our pace.

The original 20′ tall neon Packard Sign out front beckons you in to an award winning museum, having been named to numerous lists as one of the ‘top ten’ auto museums in the country. There are more than 50 cars on display. As we entered and I went into complete awe one of the volunteers showed us around the beautiful cars in the lobby sitting on the original tile floor.

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As you move from the showroom to the shop area you find even more vintage vehicles, as well as a restored parts counter. In most museums the cars in this section would be front and center, but here they are nicely displayed, but in the secondary area. We spent a long time admiring the classic Packard hood ornaments and other details like the wire spoke wheels.One was even sitting on the lift, ready to be raised.

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In the back corner of the garage area was a 1919 Packard flatbed truck. In a secondary garage they have a collection of miniatures, Packard memorabilia, artworks, small carved prototypes and other small items nicely displayed in well lit cases.

This secondary garage also had nice examples of 1940s and 1950s Packards including a woody station wagon (complete with a wooden Chris Craft boat), and the hearse used in the movie the Godfather. Finally there is a library with a large collection of books on Packards, and automotive topics in general. Without a doubt this was one of the best stops I have made, and recommend it not just to car people, but anyone who appreciates beautiful art, because these cars, and the building, are works of art.

Our last stop was the Huffman Flying Field. We had stopped here in the winter but at that time is was far too cold to explore. This day the weather was much nicer, so we made our way around the field where the Wright Brothers perfected flight. Included here is a restored ‘hanger’ and numerous signs pointing out what occurred. It was a bit unnerving though as a gun club has a range not far and you would constantly hear gunshots while you are out in the middle of this open field. All in all it was a very good day in Dayton.

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