A Child’s Jewelry Box

Another one from the family keepsakes.

This will probably apply to girls more than boys, but who had a jewelry box (or similar keepsake box) as a child? Did you have one that wound up with a twirling ballerina? For some reason, I’ve kept my jewelry box all these years with jewelry I wore as a little girl. I don’t think I’ve looked at it in over a decade, except for when I’m sorting through stuff and deciding what to toss, what to keep.

Top of the box.

Top of the box. Yes, of course, it has kittens on it.

Back of the box - wind up to hear the song.

Back of the box – wind up to hear the song.

Inside: felted thick paper creates three spaces. This ballerina has lost her tutu and has seen better days, but the music still plays and she still twirls when I open the box.

Inside: felted thick paper creates three spaces. This ballerina has lost her tutu and has seen better days, but the music still plays and she still twirls when I open the box. What did I find in there? Just random necklaces and bracelets that I used to wear as a little girl (that’s a unicorn necklace on the right) and a bunch of beaded necklaces on the left.

This particular jewelry is also a music box, a combination of the two. What sort of jewelry box did you have? Today I have a few small ceramic boxes (some from childhood, too) that were gifts from relatives and friends. Did you know that jewelry boxes were uncommon to the masses prior to the industrial revolution? Requiring such craftsmanship, tiny intricate boxes were not something that everyone could afford. Boxes were crafted out of metal, whereas today we find them in all sorts of materials, shapes and sizes.

For any jewelry box or music box aficionados out there, do you know when or why a ballerina was added? I haven’t come across that information yet. Please share!

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Shard Villa

From The Historic Architecture of Addison County – Vermont State Register of Historic Places:

Columbus Smith, a successful international attorney specializing in probate law, built Shard Villa in 1872-1874. Warren Thayer, a Burlington, Vermont, architect designed the mansion for Smith in the French Second Empire style from a plate in a popular architecture pattternbook. Father-and-son Middlebury architects George and Clinton Smith, designed the detailing for the structure, as well as a masoluem on the grounds in 1882, constructed after the death of Columbus’ son Willie. The notable grounds, including serpentine stone walls and tree clusters, were designed by English landscape gardener Robert Morris Copeland. In 1886-87 Italian fresco-painter Silvio Pezzoli decorated most interior walls with colorful murals. After Columbus left the mansion and his fortune in trust for elderly Christian women “not addicted to drink,” a rear wing was added in 1922 and one of the earliest group care homes in Addison County established there.

View from the road.

View from the road.

front

Front entrance.

front

Closer view from the lawn.

Looking up.

Looking up.

Side

Side view.

On the driveway approach.

On the driveway approach.

Side view shows the historic addition.

Side view shows part of the historic addition.

Breathtaking, yes? Drive by if you’re in the area.

Preservation Photos #174

Shard Villia in Salisbury, VT.

Historic Shard Villia in Salisbury, VT.

Sometimes even the winter/spring of March in Vermont lends itself to beautiful snapshots. More of Shard Villa later today.

Library of Universal Knowledge

What if you could hold in your hand and have at your fingertips more information than you ever thought possible? Oh wait, that sounds a lot like the internet, doesn’t it? Okay, how about accurate information on more subjects than you could name? Did your family have a set of encyclopedias? Mine, didn’t, but thankfully the school libraries had plenty. Most of us probably learned our early research and citations skills by using the World Book encyclopedias, right?

What I have found among family heirlooms is The Library of Universal Knowledge. It belonged to my grandparents, though in my memory it just sat with a bunch of books on Grandma’s shelf beside the fireplace.

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This is a book that contains information about everything; dictionaries of all kinds, illustrations, color maps, all sorted by subject and index tabs. As the title page says: it is a practical self educator. (And it is endlessly entertaining.) Take a look.

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The index tabs include: Webster’s Dictionary, Student & Writer’s Guide, Business Law Dictionary, Synonyms & Antonyms, Pictorial Self Educator, Cyclopedia of Nature, Manual of Photography, Atlas & Gazetteer, Dictionary of Biography, General Information, Medical Dictionary, Encyclopedia of Gardening, and Business & Finance.

Wow, that would be a lot to learn and absorb. Good luck readers!

Have you ever seen such a thing? Does your family have a literary treasure just sitting around your house? And do you remember the days of encyclopedias as the first phase of your research? It wasn’t all that long ago

Flamingo Spring

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Thanks to Eric Gilbertson for this photograph.

It’s spring in West Woodstock, Vermont! Who else wants to crash this flamingo party?

Preservation ABCs: R is for Railing

Preservation ABCs is a series that will work its way from A to Z, bringing words into conversation that are relevant to historic preservation, whether it’s an idea, feature or vocabulary term. The idea is to help you see preservation everywhere you look and wherever you go. Enjoy! See previous letters.

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R is for Railing

railings

A variety of railings. Top left: a modern cable railing in a historic railyard turnable (Montpelier, VT). Top right: a pedestrian railing on a truss bridge (Woodstock, VT). Bottom left: An elaborate Federal style balustrade (Rutland County, VT). Bottom right: a joint on a simple storefront railing (Randolph, VT).

Porch railings, stair railings (balusters & banisters), bridge railings, pedestrian railings, even small handrails – all of these might be small elements of our historic buildings and structures, yet they contribute to historic integrity and have the potential to make quite an impression, subliminal or obvious. Varying in height, detail, material and purpose, railings are elements that have changed over time; they are part of architectural style classifications just as doors, windows and interior details.

Due to deterioration of metal or rot of wood, railings exposed to the elements are often replaced. In terms of transportation, pedestrian railings and bridge railings are often replaced due to new crash ratings and safety standards. In public buildings, railings are often replaced because the old one doesn’t meet height requirements. And structures that did not have originally have railings often have later additions, perhaps on stairs or fire escapes – wherever one might be needed. Some might be historically appropriate to the architectural style of the building or structure; however, there is a chance that this new railing addition is an inappropriate, generic selection or 2x4s or standard w-beam (on bridges that is) when it should be something else. Modern railings on historic structures are often meant to fade into the background, such as cable rails, in order to not convey a false impression of what is historic on the structure.

In fact, railings might be something you notice without thinking about it. Next time you are walking or driving over a bridge, look to the side. What is the railing? Does it tell you about the bridge? When you walk into a building, what do you hold onto as you enter? How about when you climb the stairs or stand on a balcony? And then consider this: do you think the railing has been replaced? Even if you haven’t studied architectural history, does this railing seem like it matches the building?

Before replacing a railing consider if it can be rehabilitated. Minor repairs or a creative solution, like adding a parapet to get pedestrian height might solve your problem.

What do you think about railings?

Abandoned Vermont: Longmeadow Inn

The Longmeadown Inn sits quietly on US Route 5 in Wells River; 1832 on the sign refers to its construction date. Its hsitory is traveler based: inn, stagecoach stop, tavern, bed & breakfast. It’s for sale, so neglected is likely the more appropriate term than abandoned. But this building is included here because it has that historic & abandoned look about it, looking the same in March 2013 as it did in June 2012. Fortunately, it’s in good condition. Any interested buyers?

The inn's sign welcoming travels.

The inn’s sign welcoming travels.

A wide front porch for greeting and mingling.

A wide front porch for greeting and mingling.

The main brick block with ell and frame additions.

The main brick block with ell and frame additions.

Looking up at the weathered brick and granite lintels and sills.

Looking up at the weathered brick and granite lintels and sills.

Around back, the additions don't look any better. Note the array of fire escapes, too.

Around back, the additions don’t look any better. Note the array of fire escapes, too.

Another sign for the inn.

A view to the show the thickness of the brick wall construction.

A view to the show the thickness of the brick wall construction. Look at the distance between the two window sashes.

Fire escapes on the side.

Fire escapes on the side.

The building has a beautiful backdrop. The grounds have terraces that slope down to the river. It's easy to see why an inn would be situated here, amongst the beautiful Vermont landscape.

The building has a beautiful backdrop. The grounds have terraces that slope down to the river. It’s easy to see why an inn would be situated here, amongst the beautiful Vermont landscape.

A Winter Drive

“Let’s go for a drive.”

Do you ever just drive to drive? Did you and your families take Sunday drives through the countryside for some family entertainment? In the days before automobiles, city dwellers took trolley rides out to the parks for picnics or carnivals or other entertainment. Sometimes they visited cemeteries, as many were designed as parks. When the automobile arrived on the scene, trolleys fell out of favor. (Read more about trolleys here.) With automobiles on the scene, people had greater freedom of mobility for work, travel and everyday things.

Surely as teenagers, we all drove around because we could. Nothing said freedom like driving around with your friends, whether it was to the beach, the diner or nowhere in particular. If you’re a professional now with a 9-5 job (or some form of 9-5) and “adult” responsibilities, do you still have the urge to drive? Maybe you don’t have the time for a road trip, but what about for an afternoon? Do you drive for any other reason than you have to?

This past weekend, Mother Nature graced Vermont with sunshine and blue skies (before she throws a March snowstorm at us this week). I could think of no better way to spend a late sunny Sunday afternoon than cruising the Vermont highways for a while.

US Route 2

US Route 2

US Route 2

US Route 2 (I-89 to the left)

A truss bridge in Richmond, VT

A truss bridge in Richmond, VT

VT Route 100, near the 100B junction.

VT Route 100, near the 100B junction.

Blue skies make up for the bare winter trees.

Blue skies make up for the bare winter trees.

Since a summer road trip seems so far off, these afternoon and day drives will have to suit me for now. What about you?  Stay warm and drive carefully in this upcoming storm.