Old Ruskin Church, Ware County, GA

Traveling across Highway 84 in Ware County, Georgia, you’ll see a worn sign with red lettering on the side of the road in Ruskin, an unincorporated community in Waycross.

Off Highway 84.

Off Highway 84.

Looking back down the dirt road (in front of the church).

Looking back down the dirt road and across the tracks (in front of the church).

The “Old Ruskin Church” intrigues a preservationist familiar with John Ruskin’s, The Seven Lamps of Architecture.  Pull over, make a u-turn and turn down the southern dirt road, Griffin Road. Cross the tracks at the curve in the road is the Old Ruskin Church. This darling white church sits quietly beneath the picturesque canopy of long leaf pines, among the fallen pine straw.  On a sunny day, it seemed to be one of the most serene spots to find.

Old Ruskin Church.

Old Ruskin Church.

Perfect southern setting.

Perfect southern setting.

The steeple among the pines.

The steeple among the pines.

Beautiful detail on this little church. And also many bees nests. It's in need of some maintenance.

Beautiful detail on this little church. And also many bees nests. It’s in need of some maintenance.

One more for good measure.

One more for good measure.

The Old Ruskin Church, ca. 1899, belonged to the Ruskin Commonwealth, a Utopian socialist community incorporated in 1899. This community was founded by 240 people who moved near Waycross in 1899 from the Ruskin Colony in Tennessee (1896-1899). As the name suggests, the community was founded on principles of the English social reformer John Ruskin.  See photographs of the community here. Unfortunately, the settlement lasted only a few years, disbanding in 1901 due to poor farming land, poor business ventures, disease and poverty.

Who owns this church? What goes on here? There was no indication. Do you know anything about it? Please share!

Preservation Pop Quiz: Buena Vista, GA edition

It’s been a while since there’s been a Preservation Pop Quiz around these parts. This one is from my travels in Georgia. A group of us attended a local art opening in Buena Vista, GA. The opening took place in a historic building, though the drop ceiling and other modifications hid the original details of the building. But, like the preservationist that I am, I walked around the perimeter of the big room and looked up, staring at a particular corner for a while. Why was this door here and how did it function? I do have the answer to this one, but tell me your impressions first!

First up: the exterior of the building in Buena Vista, GA.

First up: the exterior of the building in Buena Vista, GA.

Storefront of the building.

Storefront of the building.

Exterior of the particular corner that perplexed me.

Exterior of the particular corner that perplexed me.

Interior space for the art opening. Note the fluorescent lights and drop ceiling.

Interior space for the art opening. Note the fluorescent lights and drop ceiling. Corner in question is on the right.

The interior corner, a door.

The interior corner, a door.

Bottom of the door.

Bottom of the door.

Looking up above the door.

Looking up above the door.

Looking up in the same area.

Looking up in the same area.

You can see the door, then the transom, then the ceiling.

You can see the door, then the transom, then the ceiling.

And another interesting feature of this building. Vents beneath the sidewalk.

And another interesting feature of this building. Vents beneath the sidewalk. (Unrelated to the quiz question.)

What do you think?

Boquet Octagonal Schoolhouse

It’s not everyday that you encounter an octagonal stone schoolhouse; but drive on Route 22 through the tiny hamlet of Boquet in the town of Essex, NY and you’ll come across this historic 1826 structure. Designed by architect Benjamin Gilbert, the school served the population around the local, growing sawmills. The octagon was later popularized by Thomas Jefferson at Poplar Forest (read more here from AARCH). Today the building is owned by the town and open for tours by appointment. Many original features remain in this octagonal schoolhouse. The community is undertaking a fundraiser to raise money for restoration of the building. Read more here. And there’s an old set of swings, too. Take a look!

Boquet Schoolhouse in Essex, NY.

Boquet Schoolhouse in Essex, NY.

Stone & octagonal. The local heritage orgainzation (ECHO) is raising money to repair to building.

Stone & octagonal. The local heritage organization (ECHO) is raising money to repair to building.

And a bit of a historic playground to go along with the schoolhouse!

And a bit of a historic playground to go along with the schoolhouse!

These old swings are made of a canvas-like material instead of rubber like you'd see nowadays.

These old swings are made of a canvas-like material instead of rubber like you’d see nowadays.

Still functioning swings.

Still functioning swings.

NTHP Savannah 2014: A Location Review

A street near Forsyth Park: porches, brick sidewalk, mature trees.

A street near Forsyth Park: porches, brick sidewalk, mature trees.

Savannah, Georgia: a perfect setting for the National Trust for Historic Preservation Conference (or “PastForward” as we call it these days). Historic homes and live oaks draped with spanish moss line the gridded streets and monumental squares of Savannah, planned in the manner of the Ogelthorpe Plan. Everywhere you look, the architecture is beautiful and photo-worthy. It’s a photogenic city in every sense of the word (and we preservationists love our photographic documentation). The Savannah Historic District is a National Historic Landmark District designated in 1966. The Historic Savannah Foundation is active in restoration, stewardship, and community involvement to achieve its mission of preserving and protecting Savannah’s heritage. Students of the Savannah College of Art & Design benefit from having Savannah as a living, learning lab. Historic preservation and heritage are common conversations in Savannah (not to imply that it is always easy). You can understand why preservationists were excited for a conference in Savannah. After attending the conference, I can say that my excitement for Savannah was well worth it. The National Trust has always put together great conferences, too.

However, I am interested in discussing the location in more detail. Anyone up for it? Let me explain. Many of the conference sessions were held at the Savannah International Trade & Convention Center located on Hutchinson Island, which is across the river from the city of Savannah. It’s a short drive over the bridge or a free ferry ride across the river, which wasn’t really a big deal. The issue that I found (and discussed and overheard many times) related to the fact that the convention center felt so far removed from downtown Savannah.

Looking at Hutchinson Island, waiting for the ferry from the Savannah side.

Looking at Hutchinson Island, waiting for the ferry from the Savannah side.

Why did it feel so far removed? The only places on the island were the convention center and a Westin hotel. This meant that there were no local businesses to support on the island. Your break between sessions, if any break, could not be spent wandering the street to another session and passing by the local stores or cafes. Speaking of cafes, there was no place to buy a cup of coffee or a snack or lunch on the island, unless you wanted to spend an arm and a leg at the corporate hotel next door. If you took time to catch the ferry and head back to the city side, you would miss sessions, probably those lunch time sessions! That was not convenient.

In such a large convention center, there was definitely space to contract with a few local cafes or caterers to sell coffee, lunch, or snacks. If contracts limited that option, perhaps that was not the best location. On Thursday and Friday there were “nosh and network” breaks in the preservation studio, but it didn’t quite fit the bill. Most people eat and drink coffee on different schedules. This seemed like a major oversight.

In a city so large with so many hotels located in the downtown historic district, it would seem that session locations could be spread out and attendees could walk from one to another or easily slip outside for a coffee before catching the next session. Spending most of the day in a convention center, only staring at the historic district across the river, felt odd to a preservationist, particularly to one attending a historic preservation conference.

Perhaps there were perfectly good reasons to site the conference across the river. It should be noted that field sessions, TrustLive and other events were located on the city side of the river, but many sessions were held at the convention center. I’d be interested to know why. And I’d recommend to the National Trust that the next conference be sited more in line with preservation practices.

In summary: great conference content, great overall location, poor conference HQ choice.

What do you think?

Abandoned Vermont: Hyde Manor

Happy Halloween preservationists and all. Here’s a special Abandoned Vermont: one of the largest, most notable (and probably haunted, if you’re into that sort of thing) – the Hyde Manor. Historical information is from the book, The Historic Architecture of Rutland County. Find more links at the end of this post.

Historic Hyde Manor. Click for source and more information.

Historic Hyde Manor. Click for source and more information.

“Resort development began in Sudbury at mid (19th) century. The Hyde family had long run a tavern and inn on the turnpike south of the village, but a fire destroyed the old inn in 1862, and in 1865 the 4 story Italianate style Hyde Manor was constructed. A mineral spring on the property was a prime attraction, and after 1871 guests arrived by rail via the Addison Branch railroad in neighboring Whiting and traveled south through Sudbury village to the manor. A hotel in the village and a nearby dance hall appear to have benefited from this traffic.

As Hyde Manor prospered and the tastes of the resort going public changed in the last years of the 19th century, numerous outbuildings with special recreational functions were added to the resort, including a casino (c. 1885) and an octagonal structure (c. 1900) used for gentlemen’s card games and smoking. Visitors could also elect a mile and a half carriage ride to the Manor boathouse (c. 1870) to enjoy an excursion on Lake Hortonia. Nearby, the Hortonia offered hotel lodging for those vacationers who preferred to stay directly on the lakeshore. At the turn of the century, as vacationers sought more informal ways to enjoy their leisure, summer residences began to appear in Sudbury.”

Recreation, leisure, and travel continued to change in American society; resort hotels such as Hyde Manor fell out of favor. The automobile era and the chain hotel emergence wiped out older establishments. The opening of the interstate further changed travel patterns. As customers dwindle, income shrinks and maintenance is postponed or neglected. Hyde Manor could no longer afford operations or maintenance, and it closed in the 1970s. Today the building has deteriorated to point of collapsed wings and floors, complete structural failure, and more.

Sadly, this is not a building that could be rehabilitated. Instead Hyde Manor sits quietly in ruins, more so with every passing season. Owners live on the property and must watch it give way to gravity, the earth, and time. And even in its current condition, you can stand on the side of the road and imagine what a beautiful, luxurious place this must have been for visitors.

Hyde Manor, 2011.

Hyde Manor, 2011.

Structural failure.

Structural failure.

More structural failure.

More structural failure.

Spooky curtains blowing in the wind!

Spooky curtains blowing in the wind!

Broken windows, curtains, shutters.

Broken windows, curtains, shutters.

Through a window. Unsafe floor conditions!

Through a window. Unsafe floor conditions!

The property is big, and creepy.

The property is big, and creepy.

The front of the manor.

The front of the manor.

So many architectural details remain on this failing building.

So many architectural details remain on this failing building.

For more information read here: The Fall of Hyde Manor, Haunted Hotel, Hyde Manor (historic photos, too), and more Hyde Manor. Note to the curious: respect the owners’ property and privacy.

Featured: Happy Vermont

Today, find Preservation in Pink at Happy Vermont, a travel blog by Vermont writer Erica Houskeeper. Interested in historic buildings and abandoned buildings, Erica asked if I would be interested in talking about Vermont’s abandoned buildings in time for Halloween. Of course! Read the post here and let Erica know your thoughts.

Click to read the article by Erica Houskeeper at Happy Vermont.

Click to read the article by Erica Houskeeper at Happy Vermont.

Happy exploring!

[Book Signing] Vermont Beer: A History of a Brewing Revolution

Vermont is known for its craft breweries, in addition to our foliage, cheese, ice cream, skiing, and maple syrup. Tonight at Phoenix Books in Burlington, VT, come join the authors, Adam Krakowski & Kurt Staudter, of Vermont Beer: A History of a Brewing Revolution for a discussion of the book and a book signing. (Then go find a good pint around the corner!) It’s sure to be a good event. Adam is a good friend and a fellow UVM HP alum, and is absolutely passionate about his studies and his beer. Knowing the hard work he put into this book, I’m excited to see it presented. Way to go, Adam and Kurt!

beercoverSome information about the authors & the book:

ABOUT THE AUTHORS:

Adam Krakowski is a decorative and fine arts conservator based in Quechee, Vermont. He holds a BA in art history with a minor in museum studies and a MS in historic preservation from the University of Vermont. He has worked at museums, historical societies, art galleries and restoration firms all over New York and New England. He was the recipient of the 2010 Weston Cate Jr. Research Fellowship from the Vermont Historical Society for his project A Bitter Past: Hop Farming in Nineteenth-Century Vermont.

Kurt Staudter is the executive director of the Vermont Brewers Association, which represents all the breweries in the state. He is also the Vermont columnist for the Yankee Brew News and has written about beer and politics in the Vermont Standard and Vermont Magazine. He learned about beer at a very early age (perhaps a little too early by today’s standards) from his first-generation German American father, who made sure that his love for good food, great beer and family were passed on to the next generation. Along with his wife, Patti, he runs the trade association for the Vermont brewers from Springfield, Vermont.

ABOUT THE BOOK: Vermonters love all things local, so it is no surprise that the Green Mountain State has had a thriving craft beer scene for more than twenty years. Early Vermont brewers, though, faced many obstacles in bringing their beer to the thirsty masses, including a state-imposed prohibition beginning in 1852. Conditions remained unfavorable until Greg Noonan championed brewing legislation that opened the door for breweries and brewpubs in the 1980s. About the same time, beloved Catamount also began brewing, and Vermont’s craft beer scene exploded. Years ahead of the rest of the country, local favorites like Hill Farmstead, Long Trail and Rock Art Brewing have provided world-class beers to grateful patrons. From small upstarts to well-recognized national brands like Magic Hat and Harpoon, Vermont boasts more breweries per capita than any other state in the country. With brewer interviews and historic recipes included here, discover the sudsy story of beer in Vermont.

Hope to see you there!

Phoenix Books, 191 Bank Street, Burlington, VT @ 7pm

Philly Forum 2014

forum2014

This week Philadelphia welcomes Forum 2014: A Keystone Connection, the Statewide Conference on Heritage / Byways to the Past. The 2014 conference is a partnership between the National Alliance of Preservation Commissions, Preservation Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, and the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission.

Transportation, historic preservation, history, technology – this conference looks like it’s going to be great. Tickets sold out! Will you be there? I’ll be presenting on Thursday July 17 as part of the session, Crossing into History: Compatible Bridge Design in Historic Districts. Here’s the panel summary and speakers:

Bridges are not always mere conduits for transportation, but can play important roles in shaping, or affecting, the identity of a place.  While some bridges are small and unnoticeable, others are visual representations of a particular period in time and important elements of historic settings.  What happens when a bridge in an historic setting cannot be rehabilitated?   How do you design a new bridge that is compatible with the setting but does not end up looking historicized?  Is it better to design a bridge that is modern and does not attempt to imitate history or is it possible to develop compatible new designs that reflect their setting.  This session will explore these issues and offer insight into appropriate context sensitive design.

Moderator:

  • Monica Harrower, Cultural Resources Professional, PennDOT District 6-0

Speakers:

  • Michael Cuddy, Principal, TranSystems
  • Mary McCahon, Senior Historian, TranSystems
  • Barbara Shaffer, Planning and Environmental Specialist, Federal Highway Administration
  • Dain Gattin, Chief Engineer, Philadelphia Streets Department
  • Emanuel Kelly, FAIA, Philadelphia Art Commission
  • Kaitlin O’Shea, Historic Preservation Specialist, Vermont Agency of Transportation


Join us to learn about historic bridges, replacement projects, and historic districts!

Westmount Conservatory

An answer and a follow up to the most recent Preservation Pop Quiz

In the Westmount neighborhood of Montreal, this 1927 conservatory (also called a Victorian greenhouse) sits adjacent to the Westmount Public Library. It’s open year-round to the public and is filled with plants, flowers, and water fountains.

The view inside the conservatory.

The view inside the conservatory. 

Looking up at the ceiling on a rainy day. Imagine the warm sunshine beaming through those panes!

Looking up at the ceiling on a rainy day. Imagine the warm sunshine beaming through those panes!

Pink flowers!

Pink flowers and tiled floors.

The still-operational ventilators inside the greenhouse. The wheel and shaft open the windows.

The still-operational ventilators inside the greenhouse. The wheel and shaft open the windows.

The conservatory is adjacent to the Westmount Public Library.

The conservatory is adjacent to the Westmount Public Library.

Any greenhouses by you? I’m not a plant expert, but the sight of flowers and historic buildings is enough to draw me in for a stroll through a conservatory.

Preservation Photos #237

20140617-161844-58724267.jpg A Tudor style entrance in Westmount, Montreal. What is more inviting than a beautiful, historic entrance?