“Life is a parable about life” (Anna Blake)

Network 3

Sometimes, I wonder how things would turn out if all of us who want peace and justice and relationship with others where we share and nurture and create a wholesome space got to have one side of the world.  All of those who want war, and battle, and killing and blowing things up and in general ruining the earth and our opportunity to live meaningful lives together get the other side.

Anna wrote about dog rescue today, and like many of her posts, it resonated with me because of where we were in the class–looking at how to create healthier communities.  One of the students said “It is complex, but then, it is so simple.”  It is simple; the complexity comes in due to the need for consistent, patient, nurturing carrying out of the principles that are what make it work.


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Harrisonburg, VA: Main Street

Exchange 2

One of my characteristics is I tend to underestimate how long a given task will take.  On our travel from Knoxville to Harrisonburg, we had three stops to make, and thus, arrived later than intended.  By the time we were able to get to dinner, it was late.  We were just driving down the street and spotted what looked promising, but the dining room would close shortly so they did not seat after 8:30.  However, we were welcomed at the adjoining bar for full menu service.  Good choice!  The Local Chop House is located in the other end of the former exchange building, and this section has been renovated to urban flats.

The following morning on our way out of town, we drove down Main Street to reach the Exchange building.  I was fascinated by the streetscape, and wished for the time to stroll a few blocks, but we had to be in Mount Laurel, New Jersey that evening, and quite the distance to cover across Pennsylvania.  The Ruddle building (above photo with canted corner wall and entrance) was the Rockingham National Bank, opened 1900.  The Masonic Temple occupied the upper floors of the Keezell Building, constructed in 1907, and housed the News Register.

City Produce Exchange Building’s construction began in 1911, and housed an ice-making and cold storage plant for the egg and poultry industry.  The building is alongside the Southern and Chesapeake-Wester railway, and the business operated until 1948.  Wetsel Seed Company was also located in the building after the exchange ceased operations, and was used for cleaning seeds and a laboratory to test seeds and grains.  Luxury condos were developed in the building in 2006.  The Local Chop House and Grill offers locally produced fruits, vegetables, and meat, and also served regional brewery selections.


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Cargill Grain Elevator, Harrisonburg VA


William Wallace Cargill began the business in 1865 in Conover, Iowa.  The Cargill grain elevator in Harrisonburg, Virginia is now one of many aspects of the international corporation for agriculture-related industries.  In the 1950s, Cargill emerged as a major international merchandizer and processor for agricultural and related commodities.  The company

…developed a transportation and grain elevator system that enabled it to respond to worldwide demand…(Kingsley Smith, 2010, “The History of Shaver Breeding Farms,” p. 32.)

The Harrisonburg facility produces turkey feed.  The single elevator tower located across the street is the tallest structure in downtown Harrisonburg.

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Barter Theatre

Barter Theatre

The Barter Theatre was begun in 1933 by Robert Porterfield.  Porterfield was an actor who returned to his home state and began the theatre with a proposal to pay for admission with produce.  Porterfield was among many actors on Broadway when the Great Depression hit in earnest, and struggled to find work.  His idea was to bring the artists to an area where farmers were struggling as well, and unable to sell excess produce.

On June 10, 1933, Barter Theatre opened its doors, proclaiming “With vegetables you cannot sell, you can buy a good laugh.”  The price of admission was 40 cents or equivalent amount of produce.  Four out of five Depression-era theatregoers paid their way with vegetables, dairy products and livestock. (Our History: A Unique Beginning. Barter Theatre. Retrieved from bartertheatre.com/about/history)

Barter Theatre reported that the first theatrical event known to be held in the building was a production of “The Virginian” in 1876.  Originally owned by the Sons of Temperance, the building was transferred to the town of Abingdon, Virginia.  It was used as a town hall and fire hall.  Some furnishings came from the Empire Theatre of New York City, where Porterfield obtained seats, lighting fixtures, paintings, tapestries, and carpeting prior to the demolition of the Empire.  The lighting system used at the Barter until the 1970s was designed and installed in the Empire by Thomas Edison.

Among the former actors of the Barter Theatre are Gregory Peck, Patricia Neal, Ernest Borgnine, and a number of others.

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Monocacy Park, Bethlehem PA

pavilions and dam

Monocacy Park, an outstanding example of WPA landscape architecture, was an unexpected find while we were in Bethlehem.  Sometimes, in spite of searching scholarly sources and archival data, the fortuitous result of a google search turns up something–voila! A news article about restoration work in Monocacy Park led me to locate this park and photograph what was undeniably the prettiest of the New Deal locations I visited on the recent trip to the northeast.

WPA 1937While many WPA projects bear a metal plaque, much of the stone work is marked with either stylized concrete such as the WPA and 1937 incorporated into this bench niche, or chiseled into the stone itself. The park was constructed 1936-1937 on a section of land purchased from the Illick’s Mill in 1907 (Jason Rehm, August 22, 2013, This week in Bethlehem history: Monocacy Park, a WPA project, Bethlehem Press). Under the leadership of city councilman and head of the Parks and Public Property Department Ario Wear, the city submitted plans for park development of the property to the Works Progress Administration.

Monococy Park opened with an August 1937 concert attended by 2,000 people.  The Fox Environmental Center received a $20,000 grant to restore some of the stonework in the park, such as the retaining wall and the stone columns at the entrance to the park.  Work was begun in June 2014, but the Fox Center closed in July, and I assume the work ended with the center.


Posted in Works Progress Administration, landscape architecture, New Deal Administration, Pennsylvania | Tagged , , | 5 Comments

Stone Picnic Shelter in Roanoke

Wasena Park Stone Picnic Shelter

The stone picnic shelter in Wasena Park, Roanoke, VA was constructed during the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps.  The land for the park was donated to the city in 1934, and landscape architect A. A. Farnham was selected to develop the plan for the park and amenities, including the stone picnic shelter. Several sources refer to the construction of the shelter and other amenities by the CCC “in the 1930s).

Blanton, A. S. (2011). Wasena Historic District. Nomination form for National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. Department of Interior.

Harris, N. (2007). Greater Raleigh Court: A History of Wasena, Virginia Heights, Norwich, and Raleigh Court. Charleston, SC: The History Press.

Townsend, B. (2010). Wasena Historic District. Virginia Department of Historic Resources Information Sheet.

Posted in Civilian Conservation Corps, landscape architecture, New Deal Administration | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

Van Zandt County Courthouse

Van Zandt County Courthouse front elevation 2

I love that I can now spot a New Deal courthouse as soon as I see it!  I was in dire need of a break from driving yesterday, albeit having hardly been on the road at all, and exited at the Canton, Texas stop and headed downtown.  I parked and walked the lovely little Square.

The Art Moderne courthouse constructed in 1936-1937 is the 6th courthouse for Van Zandt County.  The 5th was designed by architect James Riely Gordon, and was a Richardson Romanesque style constructed in 1896 and demolished in 1935.  Apparently since Van Zandt seemed to go through courthouses fairly quickly (six in 89 years), they had the foresight to begin a courthouse fund in 1886, when it dedicated a new courthouse.  In 1929, the discovery of oil in East Texas caused the fund to skyrocket, and it reached $125,000 in 1935 (“Free State of Van Zandt” now has new debt-free $210,000 courthouse building, 16 June 1937, Lubbock Morning Avalanche, p. 1).

J R Gordon eagle and cornerstone

Copper eagle and cornerstone from the 1896 courthouse by James Riely Gordon

Wichita Falls architects Voelcker & Dixon used similar Art Moderne details to their other Texas courthouses during this period in designing the brick with cast stone veneer courthouse.  Contractor was L. W. Wentzel.  The Public Works Administration (PWA) provided a grant of $86,000 (The Canton Herald, 22 November 1935, p. 1).  The new courthouse was formally opened June 15, 1937, and remains in use today, apparently largely unchanged, and has been standing for almost as long as the other five courthouses added together.

Posted in Art Moderne, Courthouses, New Deal Administration, Public Works Administration, Texas | Tagged , , , | 7 Comments

Off the grid in Texas

I have been in rural Texas, just Rio and me and the storms and wind and no Internet.  I will be happy to return to Mississippi Friday and I will see you all soon with a plethora of posts of great new buildings!

Posted in Texas, Young County | 4 Comments

Rosemont Elementary School, Bristol, TN

Rosemont Elementary

The former Rosemont Elementary School in Bristol, TN dates to at least 1930 (Stone & Haskins, 2005).  The 3-story building contains 32,640 sf of space on 4.5 acres in the center of town.  It was purchased by Tri-Cities Christian School in 1984 and closed in 2009.  In 2014, plans were initiated to purchase the building to be renovated into a teen center.  Since it remains vacant and unused in 2016, that apparently did not come to pass.

Stone, G., & Haskins, S. A. (2005). Bristol. Charleston, SC: Arcadia Publishing.

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Nazareth, Pennsylvania Post Office and Mural

Nazareth Post Office building

The Nazareth Post Office was constructed in 1935 under the New Deal work that expanded post offices throughout the nation.

Nazareth Mural

Used with permission of USPS

The mural, “Cement Industry,” was painted by Miss Ryah Ludins, commissioned in 1938.  She was a muralist and painter from New York City, and completed a number of mural projects for the Section of Painting and Sculpture, and well as some for the Mexican government (Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institute). See her working on a mural at the link to the Smithsonian.

Cornerstone Nazaeth PO

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