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.






Maysville, Kentucky – May 2019 – Great Architecture in an Unlikely Place

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.






Weston, West Virginia – May 2019 – Trans Alleghenies Lunatic Asylum

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.







Cleveland – March 2019 – Statuary Faces Are Watching You

Have you ever walked around a city and get a feeling someone was watching you. They are, and I am not referring to the thousands of security cameras – it is the faces on the sculptures and statues all over the older buildings of the city.

Our friends in the 14th Street/8th Avenue subway station in Manhattan apparently have cousins at the Cleveland Library!





The classic Post Office and Library buildings have numerous sculptures all over them.





The Society Bank Building have some of the more intense looks.





Sculptures along the Mall.





The Guardian Building lion.





Another Euclid Avenue building.





Finally this guy is watching over the Colonial Arcade.






Cleveland – March 2019 – Historic Downtown Buildings

Since we were in downtown Cleveland for the Historic Hotel tours, we took the opportunity to check out some other great old buildings.

Most of the buildings are on the National Historic Registry, but interestingly not all.

The Leader Building is a 106 year old, 15 floor structure along Superior Avenue. The name comes from it’s original owner – the Cleveland Leader newspaper. Designed in a Beaux Arts style, it is currently undergoing renovations.








The Main Library was completed in 1925, situated between Superior Avenue and the Mall. Both the Library and the Federal Building next door are on the National Historic Registry.







The Federal Building and Post Office Building was part of the 1903 Group Plan, which built the Mall and a number of the buildings surrounding it. Since it was the first building completed under the plan, it served as the model for others.

The Beaux Arts styling contrasts nicely against some of the newer buildings.







The Society for Savings Building on Public Square was completed in 1889. For 10 years it was the tallest building in Cleveland, eventually being surpassed by the Guardian Bank Building (visited during the Historic Hotel Tour).

The Gothic, Romanesque and Renaissance styles give this structure a lot of character, resulting in it’s inclusion in the National Historic Registry.









The Old Stone Church was added to Public Square in 1855, the oldest significant structure in downtown Cleveland.





The 15 floor building at 75 Public Square was designed by Hubbell & Benes. In use for more than 100 years, there are plans in place to convert the building to apartments.





The Terminal Tower and the Union Station complex. When built in the late 1920s, the Terminal Tower was the tallest building outside of New York when completed. It it part of the massive complex built by the Van Sweringen brothers, who also built rapid transit lines to the suburb of Shaker Heights (which they also built).





The May Company building has been on the southeast corner of Public Square since 1915, designed by the famed Chicago architect Daniel Burnham. As you can see it too is undergoing restoration.





The City Club Building is located on Euclid Avenue. Completed in 1903 as the Citizens Savings and Trust Bank, it became home to the City Club of Cleveland in the 1980s.





Our next stop for lunch was at the Cleveland Trust Rotunda. A recent post featured this building, but it is worth a second look. It has been restored into a Heinen’s Grocery Store.










While it may seem strange to end up at the bus station, in Cleveland it is worth it. The Greyhound Station on Chester Avenue is an Art Deco Masterpiece.