Cleveland – June 2019 – Architecture and Public Art of University Circle

Featured on a number of postings, the University Circle area of Cleveland is home to Case Western Reserve University, as well as most of the museums for the city.

We were in town on this sunny Saturday for ‘Parade the Circle’ (featured on an upcoming posting), we also wanted to participate in a walking tour of the area lead by the volunteers from ‘Take a Hike Cleveland’, but apparently because of the parade they cancelled. As with other times like this, we made our own tour.



The Cleveland History Center features a carousel from a long lost amusement park – Euclid Beach.



The Cancer Survivors Plaza. A local independent newspaper named this the worst public sculpture in America, with the surreal look of the people seemingly running away from something.




The tower in the background (and on the featured photo for this posting) has unique brickwork.




Just across the street the Museum of Natural History has an excellent welcoming sign.



While the population of Cleveland has dropped precipitously over the last 50 years, there are still some grand old apartment buildings in the city, as evidenced by the Park Lane Villa.



The Maltz Performing Arts Center. Built in 1924 as the Temple Tifereth, it now serves the arts community.



There are statues scattered throughout the area.



A view of University Circle United Methodist Church.



There was once the largest skating rink the world located in here – the Elysian. It is celebrated by art on an electrical box.




Mark Hanna – While William McGinley was officially the president, Mark told him what to do.




A view of the Museum of Art.




Severance Hall – home of the Cleveland Orchestra.



The Kelvin Smith Library at Case Western Reserve.



Case Western Reserve was at one time two separate entities, including the Western Reserve College for Women.



A chapel at Case Western Reserve.




Finally, the best building in the area. It is now home to the Cleveland Institute of Art, but it’s first life was as an assembly plant for making Ford Model T’s!






Clovis, New Mexico – May 2019 – Amazing Music from a Small Town

Thanks to a man named Norman Petty the small eastern New Mexico town has a big piece of American music history. It is here that Buddy Holly, Roy Orbison and others first recorded their music.

When I was planning out the road trip I discovered this, and made plans to stop by the ‘studio’. When the navigation system said we arrived it was in front of a newer building that was the Chamber of Commerce, as well as a museum. Upon entry I asked about the studio, the person at the desk said that is across town – and rarely open. Disappointed, we checked out the museum.



The museum was in the basement. After watching a video about Norman and Vi Petty, we toured their exhibits. They have a number of nice displays.












After leaving I was able to google and find the actual studio address. It was located across town, just a couple of miles away.

When we arrived I noticed the gate to the compound was open. When I walked in I tried a door to a building and to my surprise it too was unlocked. There were four people standing in the lobby and when I asked if I could take some photos outside they said yes, but then said they were starting a studio tour – would we like to see it!



Our first stop and the room that the recording engineer worked the soundboard.




Our tour was lead by a man named Dave Bigham. Our good fortunate hit the jackpot here, as Dave was one of Buddy Holly’s backup singers back in the 1950s.

Dave was a fantastic guide – he was very knowledgeable, adding tons of background to each of the songs. When he started to sing his backup parts along with the song he was playing I got goose bumps!



While the mixing board was updated in the 1970s, most of the other equipment is from the 1950s when Buddy and others recorded here.







In the back of the building is an apartment where the musicians would crash when recording here. The story was told that they tended to record overnight, and sleep through the day.




The studio is where the magic occurred. Nearly all of the instruments, amps and other equipment is original from the 1950s.







We were very honored to have lucked into this tour, and to have Dave lead us through the facility. It was easily one of the highlights of the 3 week road trip.





The actual mic that Buddy Holly recorded all those classics. What an afternoon in Clovis, New Mexico.






Langtry, Texas – May 2019 – Judge Roy Bean and a Cactus Garden

In West Texas the story goes there are 3 types of people: Those who know Judge Roy Bean from a 1970s movie, those who know Judge Roy Bean from their Texas schoolbooks, and those who are ignorant to the most important person in the history of West Texas. I come from the first group.

Roy Bean was born in Kentucky in 1825, and lived an adventuresome life that eventually lead him to a small Texas town which he renamed after his favorite actress, Lily Langtry – and became the Justice of the Peace for the ‘Law West of the Pecos’

Today there isn’t much in Langtry except a visitor center with a fantastic cactus garden, as well as the original buildings the Judge built in the 1800s.










The cactus garden is very cool with numerous different types of cacti.





























The Judge Roy Bean Visitor Center & Museum, and Cactus Garden was a very unexpectedly nice stop in the desolation of West Texas.






San Antonio – May 2019 – The Missions

There are 5 Spanish frontier missions in San Antonio, four of which make up the San Antonio Missions National Historical Park. The fifth is the Alamo.

We were able to visit two of the missions on our day in the city. Up first is the Mission San Jose.




The mission was founded in 1720, with work on the current buildings beginning in 1768 and completing in 1782.



The community’s life was fully supported within the walls of the mission, including this oven.




There are many homes contained along the perimeter walls.




Massive stone arches frame walkways near the church.





Mission San Jose has had more restoration than the others in the area, resulting in a more ornate interior.



The south wall of the church features the ‘Rose Window’. This window is considered one of the finest examples of baroque architecture in North America.



There is evidence of the earlier exteriors on one of the walls.



The main gate to the compound.



The church is holding up remarkably well for being 250 + years old.




Additional views of the Mission San Jose.










Just a few miles away is Mission Concepcion.



This mission dates from essentially the same time as Mission San Jose, however the grounds are much smaller.



Some restoration has occurred here as well.



Mission Concepcion is known for the fresco’s on the interior and exterior of the building.



The interior of the church is not as ornate as Mission San Jose, but elegant in it’s simplicity.



The missions we were able to visit in San Antonio are national treasures. We look forward to a return trip to the area to check out the others we missed.







Galveston, Texas – May 2019 – The Strand Historic District

Greetings from Galveston, Texas.




Galveston was one of the earliest settlements in what eventually became Texas. The main commercial street in town is known as the Strand.

The first buildings were built out of wood, but it became apparent that with the frequent hurricanes that hit Galveston that more sturdy buildings were called for, hence by the 1870s the entire street was built of iron and brick.




Old Galveston Square dates from 1859, with recent repairs complete due to yet another hurricane that did damage to the building.




While Galveston is a city of 50,000, and part of the massive Houston Metro area, the street feels more like a smaller Midwest town.



The Peanut Butter Warehouse dates from 1912, where it served for nearly 100 years as a grocery warehouse. Today it has been converted into condos.



At one time the street was known as the ‘Wall Street of the South’.




Most of the doors on the buildings are huge – nearly 10′ high.




The Hutchings Building is one of the earliest examples of a steel frame building in Texas.



A few of the classic buildings are in the surrounding blocks.




While not as old, but second to none, the former Santa Fe Railroad Station now serves as a museum on the 1st floor, and offices above.




Built in the art deco style, it has the requisite stylish mailbox.




By the time we reached this building the museum was closed for the day, but could still be viewed through some windows.





Our home for the night was the Tremont Hotel, and classic old building. When I asked if the building was always a hotel the desk clerk said ‘no, it was a store, and a warehouse among other things. In fact during the terrible storm of 1900 (which caused more deaths than any other event in American history – over 8000 people) they used the building to store the bodies.

It turns out this hotel has quite the history for being haunted, but we didn’t have any unexpected visitors during our stay.

The stylish arch over the street was placed there over the street in 1985 for Mardi Gras They liked it so much they left it.

New Orleans – May 2019 – St Louis Cemetery #1

New Orleans is famous for their approach towards funerals and burials. Because of their location the city has always taken a unique approach towards cemeteries. Instead of burying people in the grown New Orleans has always gone vertical.



Because of the popularity, and vandalism, you must attend a tour to check out the cemetery. Our tour guide was fantastic – combining humor with knowledge.



The cemetery is the oldest in town, dating from the late 1700s.



There have been a number of construction approaches over the years for the vertical vaults. As a result there are tens of thousands of remains throughout the cemetery.



Most are owned by individual families. Many have small fences surrounding them to delineate their space.



Over the years some have been maintained more than others. The original brick ones have had their mortar dry up and fall out, with the fix being to cover them in stucco.



From certain angles they appear to be additional downtown buildings.



A few have tributes – not sure what an angel and a voodoo head symbolize.



The visuals throughout are stunning.















Some of the other tour participants fit the mood.



One of the interesting aspects is the ‘common’ space. If you don’t have a family crypt, or you have ‘lost your lease’, you are placed into the large community vault. There are literally thousands of remains there.

The history of New Orleans and cemeteries is a very interesting one. With the guide we had we learned much, and were able to experience the macabre beauty of the St Louis Cemetery #1.






Vance, Alabama – May 2019 – Benz in ‘Bama

As you are driving down the interstate in rural Alabama one of the most unlikely road names you expect to see is Mercedes Drive!



That is until you exit and find car carriers leaving with new Mercedes Benz SUVs.



Over the last 25 years most non domestic car makers have built factories in the U.S., and Mercedes is no different. Their facility here is first class – an almost 4 million square feet manufacturing plant…



A state of the art training facility…



And a beautiful visitor center.



Normally you can go to the visitor center and take tours of the factory but they are retooling and the tours are shut down.

The visitor center however remains open with their museum to tour.



It features some recent models from AMG.



Lewis Hamilton’s Petronas F1 car.



The display included a concept car.



The museum portion have some very early examples of Mercedes.



The classic 1970s MB look.



The pre war years were very stylish.



It was disappointing that the factory tours are unavailable, but the small museum was worth the stop.