Abandoned Virginia: Central High School, Painter

Central High School is located on Lankford Highway (US Route 13) just outside Painter, Acccomack County, VA.  This 1932/1935 school was constructed in the Art Deco style, common for schools in the 1930s. Central High School joined students from Painter and Keller. In 1984, the school became the district middle school. The school grounds contain recreation fields, outbuildings, and additional classrooms. In 2005, the school closed. Read the National Register nomination here.

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Central High School, Painter, VA.

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1935 addition.

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Side entrance.

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Art Deco details above the side entrance.

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View through the side door.

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View through the windows.

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Cornerstone.

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On the athletic fields: “Central Bulldogs.”

In 2008, Tucker Robbins, a furniture designer from New York City, purchased the entire property for $150,000 with a vision to rehabilitate the school into a new home for his NYC based furniture manufacturing business, as well as an environmental-educational facility. Read about Tucker Robbins’ plan on his website. Unfortunately, his vision was not realized; and in 2015, he offered up the school for sale for $525,000. (Source: DelMarVANOW and Eastern Shore Post.) Fortunately, while he owned the building, Robbins did hire a consultant to nominate the school to the National Register of Historic Places (listed 2010).

Currently the property is listed for $350,000. Bonus: the asbestos abatement is completed inside the school building. Check the real estate for interior photographs. See this youtube video for an inside tour. Anyone want to buy a school? I hope this building has a bright future.

Section 106 & Section 4(f) Exemptions from the Exemption

Exemption from the exemption? If you’re in the regulatory + infrastructure world, you’ve likely come across this. If you are not, step into our world for a few minutes.

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The “grasshopper bridge” in Lyndon, VT, carries Route 5 over I-91 and is an exemption to the Section 106 & Section 4(f) exemption. Meaning, this bridge is subject to project review, even though I-91 is not.

By law (the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966), all projects that receive federal funding are subject to review under Section 106. Review includes identifying historic resources that are listed in or eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places. Any project receiving transportation funding is required to be evaluated under Section 4(f) of the Department of Transportation Act of 1966.

But, what happens when one of largest resources in the nation becomes eligible for the National Register? By that I mean the Dwight D. Eisenhower National System of Interstate and Defense Highways (more commonly known as the Interstate Highway System). This 46,700 mile interstate highway system became eligible for the National Register on June 29, 2006, which was its 50th birthday. (Read more about Interstate history here.)

As a transportation resource, this would typically require Section 106 and Section 4(f) review on this historic resource. Imagine the amount of project review that would have spurred as a result. A majority of work on the interstate is simply paving or repairs or line striping. Basically, this had the potential to bring unnecessary paperwork and delays to state and federal levels.

Instead, the bulk of the Interstate Highway System was declared exempt from being considered a historic resource under Section 106 and Section 4(f). In other words, the Interstate Highway System was exempt from project review. This is addressed under the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU, Public Law 109-59, Aug. 10, 2005) / provision (Section 6007).

However, this exemption has exemptions! Elements of the Interstate Highway System that exhibit a national level of significance, as defined by the National Register of Historic Places, are not considered exempt, and will require project review. States submitted properties for consideration, and the final list was determined by the ACHP (Advisory Council on Historic Preservation) and FHWA (Federal Highway Administration). Find your state here.

Vermont has three elements, including the “grasshopper bridge” on I-91. Officially it is a steel rigid-frame bridge (built 1970) significant for its engineering. See the photograph at the top of this post. The official statement of significance is,

“This type of bridge is very rare on interstates in New England. In Vermont, two are on I-91; one each on northbound and southbound lanes carrying the interstate over Rte. 9 in Lyndon, Vermont. As of inspection on 01/12/05, structurally both bridges are in very good condition. Engineering-wise, this style was an experiment in 1960 and 1970 to determine if steel construction could take the variable weight loadings of an interstate environment. It was designed by a New York City firm, Blauvelt Engineering Co., and received a merit award from the American Institute of Steel Construction in 1974. The overall length of the bridges is 227 feet, 6 inches.”

Sadly, the steel arched deck truss in Brattleboro, VT that carries I-91 over the Williams River was not included in the list. It is uncommon bridge in Vermont, but not uncommon elsewhere on the interstate. Thus, it’s significance was not national. And when the bridge came up for replacement, no preservation law could save it. Thus, while not every bridge or element could be saved, the list is substantial, and better than exempting the entire system. Does your state have an interstate exemption? Have you seen it? Has your interstate lost an element not on the list?

Quebec City by Foot and by Bike

Being a tourist offers the luxury of time, assuming you’re not one to over schedule (younger me did such things – I’ve learned my lesson). Without too much of a schedule you’re free to wander, stop, stare at architecture, and take in the new sights and sounds, and hopefully local flavors (beer + gelato, anyone?). My favorite modes of transportation for city exploring are via bike and foot. Bikes cover greater distances so you can see more than when walking. It’s easier to navigate while on a bike than in a car, and you don’t have to worry about parking. You can get out of the tourist-centric areas and see more of the city. And, it’s good exercise (to work off that beer and gelato). Find a bike path or bike lane, and you’re set. Walking, of course, is best in crowded areas and really allows you to stroll hand in hand or hand in camera, whatever your preference.

Quebec City is such a place: bike friendly and pedestrian friendly. There is so much to see that you will need a bike. Just be prepared for some ridiculously steep hills. Seriously, I’d rather run up those hills than bike some. And make sure you have good brakes! The city is filled with bike paths and bike lanes, including a linear park / bike path along the St. Lawrence River (the Promenade Samuel-De Champlain). Don’t worry if you’re not into hills; it’s flat. And when you get hungry, head back into the city for some architectural eye candy and good food.

Here are some of the scenes from the bicycle and pedestrian point of view.

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It’s hard to capture the scale of steepness in a photo. On a different note, check out the terraced landscaping between the sidewalk and the traveled way. Beautiful, and such good design!

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VELO (BIKE) parking on Rue Saint-Jean.

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A very pedestrian oriented neighborhood, though there is easy automobile parking, too. And, restaurant seating instead of parking spaces.

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Heading down to the bike path along the river (Promenade Samuel-De Champlain) for beautiful views. The Quebec Bridge is in the background.

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The promenade.

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The Promenade Samuel-De Champlain is lined with parks, shelters, and other amenities. This is, by far, my favorite: an exhibit of historic and modern street lights. (Transportation nerd forever.) Recognize anything? There’s even a cobra light!

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Through careful navigating, it’s possible to get to the Quebec Bridge by bike path. It’s a tight squeeze on the path though, so be courteous to others.

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You can get off the bike path, lock your bike, and explore the Basse-Ville (Lower Town) by foot and take the Funicular up to Vieux-Quebec (Old Quebec). Note the public art swing on the left: fun for all! It’s a very family friendly place to visit.

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Another scene of Basse-Ville.

I highly recommend a visit to Quebec City. Have you been? Do you prefer to a be a cyclist or a pedestrian? What cities are your favorite?

Happy Friday, friends! Happy travels.

 

Cornwall Schoolhouse

Our tour of Vermont one-room schoolhouses continues. Here’s one in Cornwall, VT off Route 30 that I’ve wanted to photograph for years. The Cornwall District No. 3 schoolhouse was constructed in 1830. It operated as a school until the 1950s.

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Cornwall, VT. District No. 3 school. Stereoscopic view, ca. 1890. 

Today the school is a seasonal residence. The entrance has been enclosed and the vertical siding has been replaced with horizontal clapboards, but the details and characteristics remain intact (brackets, arch, steeple, slate roof, bank of windows). The house looks lonely on a spring day, but looks well maintained.

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Looks like a pretty good seasonal residence, doesn’t it? I hope people still use it.

Finding History in NJ on the D&R Canal

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Griggstown, NJ on the D&R Canal. 

As recent photographs indicate, I was in New Jersey a few weeks ago. I’m a native Long Islander (forever a Vermont flatlander) who grew up with jokes about New Jersey. Sorry, NJ, though I know you grew up with Long Island jokes. Fair is fair. My experience with New Jersey was limited to long trips that traversed the New Jersey Turnpike (traffic!) and getting lost on the Garden State Parkway (teenagers + navigation = trouble) and the Jersey Shore (great beaches, not to be confused with the TV show). Imagine my surprise while visiting friends in Princeton and we discovered the gorgeous architecture of Princeton and the unexpected discovery of the D & R Canal State Park.

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The Delaware & Raritan Canal State Park is a 77 mile linear park that transformed the former canal towpath into a recreational resource for walking, running, biking, horseback riding and kayaking. The canal opened in the 1830s, constructed (hand dug) by mostly Irish immigrants. Originally the canal connected the Delaware River to the Raritan River, the Philadelphia and New York City markets. The canal opened in 1834 and continued in operation until 1932. The land became a park in 1974. The heyday of the canal existed prior to the railroads. Mules towed canal boats, yachts, and vessels along the towpath, in the middle of or alongside the canal. The canals operated with locks and spillways to account for the elevation changes.

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Today you can see all of these elements on the D&R Canal on foot, on bike, on horse, or even driving from lock house to lock house.

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At the edge of Princeton, NJ in the village of Kingston. 

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View of the lock at Kingston. 

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Lock tender’s house, bridge, and the lock at Kingston. 

Further down the canal you’ll come to Griggstown.

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Historic Village of Griggstown, NJ. 

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The view of the canal from the bridge in Griggstown. 

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Wood deck bridge. 

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Griggstown, NJ. The building appears abandoned from the exterior, though a peak through the windows shows that it’s not. NJ State Parks have an ongoing restoration project. 

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The Long House, formerly a store and post office and grain storage. Currently under restoration for an interpretive center. 

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The bridge tender’s station. 

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The 1834 bridge tender’s house, built for the bridge tender and his family. Historically, the bridge tender had to raise the bridge for the boats and mules to pass along the canal. 

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A perfect, tiny front door on the bridge tender’s house. 

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An abandoned state park property in Griggstown, due to flooding damage. 

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More flood damage. Keep out! 

The canal continues on, and whether you travel by foot or bike or car, I’d recommend a visit!  Read more of the D&R Canal’s history here and plan your trip.  Have you been here? Or other canals? The C&O Canal is on my list, too.

Ryegate Tourist Cabins

Few in number and often serving a new purpose, tourist cabins remain easy to spot alongside highways due to their identifiable building form and site layout. Always on the lookout, I was happy to find a new (to me) tourist cabin grouping off US Route 5 in Ryegate, VT. These cabins appear to serve as storage now.

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Ryegate, VT

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Double and single cabins.

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Matching details on all cabins: siding, windows, doors, awnings.

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Closer view. I imagine they are original on the inside.

Searching on UVM Landscape Change‘s website, I found that this tourist cabin group was part of the Colonial Tea Room & Tourist Home. Tourist homes were popular before tourist cabins, as places for travelers to rent a room (think of a B&B). They gave way to more private dwellings such as tourist cabins (or tourist cottages). Often the tourist homes added cabins as a way to keep the business going, or to provide additional lodging.

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Colonial Tea Room & Tourist Home. Source: UVM Landscape Change Program.

And this image (below) shows the “Belle-vue Tourist Cabins” in Ryegate, VT. Is this the same as the Colonial Tea Room & Tourist Cabins, but across the road? Or is it another location? That requires additional research. There could be more than one set of tourist cabins in one town on the same road in the heyday of tourist cabins.

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Belle-vue Cabins. Source: UVM Landscape Change Program.

Find anything interesting on your travels recently? If you know anything about these cabins, I’d love to hear more. Happy traveling!

Previous Vermont tourist cabins posts:

The Smallest Bank in Vermont

Six years of traveling Vermont for work and for fun, and there are still some towns I haven’t passed through. Vermont 251 Club states that Vermont has 251 towns and cities. Many towns have more than one village, so the 251 is semi-misleading. Orwell, Vermont is one of those that I haven’t visited. The town center sits on Route 73, which connects Route 22A and Route 30, main north/south roads in Vermont. With some time to spare recently, I decided to turn off Route 22A and head into Orwell. I’m glad I did, as I found the most adorable (technical term, of course) bank.

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The First National Bank of Orwell. The 1832 bank on the left, the 1878 vault in the center, and a later frame addition on the right.

 

The Farmer’s Bank of Orwell was established in 1832 in the 2-story transitional Federal-Greek Revival brick house. In 1878 the bank rechartered as the First National Bank of Orwell and added a new vault and teller counters housed in a new addition, the unusual High Victorian Gothic 3-bay building to the right. This little bank does a lot of talking with its brick and slate cornice arcading and its pointed arch window heads.

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The 1878 vault.

 

The bank still operates as the National Bank of Orwell and received media acclaim and attention when the big banks were suffering losses and going under in the 2008 financial crisis. The New York Times reported on the bank (with some great interior photos) as did Seven Days, a local Vermont paper.

Three cheers for the locally operated banks (and visiting new towns). Find any unexpected gems on your travels lately?

Abandoned New York: Frontier Town

Consider it pure luck or good karma for chatting with strangers. Traveling up and down Route 9 in New York State, we were intrigued by the sad end of the roadside motels. This one had a small play area out front, so we stopped. (I have a documented interest in playgrounds.)

The Frontier Town Motel off US Route 9 in North Hudson, New York.

The Frontier Town Motel off US Route 9 in North Hudson, New York. 

Normally when photographing abandoned roadside anything, it’s more comfortable when no one else is around to either a) get in your photo or b) ask what you’re doing. However, an older couple was strolling around the front of the motel. They seemed nice (and not like people who would be annoyed that I was taking photographs), so I put on my good preservationist smile and went over to say hello. And what a good idea to be friendly that day! This couple shared their memories of this area – formerly known as Frontier Town.

Frontier Town was a wild-west theme amusement park of the 1950s era variety. Think trains & robbers, shooting showdowns on the “Main Street”, sheriff badges, horse shows, kid-friendly, small park activities “cowboy and Indian” style. Art Benson opened the park in 1952 and it operated until 1998, except for a few years in the 1980s. Frontier Town’s prime was the 1960s/1970s. Being located next to I-87 certainly helped its prosperity, and it’s location in the Adirondacks where there are few theme parks.

Back to the couple who started talking about Frontier Town. We chatted for a bit and then they said, Want to see it? Follow us. You can still get there on the access road. But it’s easier to follow. 

Follow us. Hmm. I wouldn’t follow any random stranger into the woods, but since they were in their own car and we were in our car, and they seemed like normal people, this was okay. Such is the life of a curious preservationist. Down this access road we went, dodging potholes, and closing the windows because mosquitoes were starting to swarm into the car.

True to their word, they lead us into abandoned Frontier Town.

Road in Frontier Town.

Road in Frontier Town.

Main Street, Frontier Town.

Main Street, Frontier Town. Mostly overgrown. 

A flash storm had just rolled through the area, hence the hazy air and cloudy skies. And as soon as we got out of the car, mosquitoes swarmed. Intensely. Then again, I’m mosquito bait. Always bring me along if you don’t want to be the one attacked by bugs. The couple walked with us on Main Street for a bit. The woman was especially sweet, warning us of unstable floors and dangerous places to step. I wanted to say, We’re preservationists; we do this all of the time – step on the joists! But I restrained myself, lest she think we’re crazy.

Watch out for the hole in the floor!

Watch out for the hole in the floor!

Most of the interiors looked like this.

Most of the interiors looked like this.

While the four of us were walking along the Main Street stores, the couple told us some of their memories and how their kids like to come walk around Frontier Town when they are home visiting. And, apparently it’s a very popular thing to do. Other folks were strolling around, too. People seemed curious, not destructive.

Another view in Frontier Town.

Another view in Frontier Town. Talk about mosquitoes. 

Frontier Town closed in 1998. Eventually the property was seized due to back taxes. Everything was sold off at auction. And over the years, the property has been vandalized, and anything remaining has been stolen. Various groups over the years have attempted to save Frontier Town, without luck. All that remains is a collection of decaying buildings among the overgrown vegetation, with curious and nostalgic visitors. It holds a special place in the hearts and lives of many. As of July 2015, the land was owned by Essex County and the town of North Hudson was trying to buy it.

And such is the fate of the majority of 1950s era amusement parks. Have any near you? Have you been to Frontier Town, or have you heard of it? Please share in the comments!

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Interested in more photos and info? 

[Updated] Abandoned No More: Putney Schoolhouse 

Remember the “Abandoned Vermont: Putney Schoolhouse“?

The Putney Schoolhouse, as seen in 2013. The plywood on the left covers the original bank of windows, a defining characteristic of one room schoolhouses. Click for original post.

Originally posted in 2013 with a follow-up in 2014, readers have commented and kept me (and you) informed about the project. Last month, I was traveling through Putney and thought I’d drive by to check on the schoolhouse’s progress. To my surprise, the project is complete.

Take a look at these photos, and let me know what you think. I’ll let you look before I comment.

The Putney Schoolhouse, September 2015.

The Putney Schoolhouse, September 2015.

View from the north.

View from the north, Westminster West Road.

View from the south approach.

View from the south, Westminster West Road.

Side addition.

Side addition. The bank of windows is lost.

New fenestration.

New fenestration.

Hooray, right?! An old building rehabilitated. Right? Well, almost. The massing is appropriate and respectful of the original building. Even the small woodshed remains. The setting and feeling remain. BUT, what happened to the bank of windows? That is the most defining, most visible characteristic of a one-room schoolhouse. And now there are only two windows (see two photos above, and compare to the 2013 image).

What do you think? What would you do differently? Or is this a good compromise? Would you say it meets the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation?

And to my surprise, it’s an AirBnB rental! Check it out. While I’d like the bank of windows, I’ll admit, the inside looks beautiful.

The Forgotten Village: Greenbank’s Hollow

Drive across U.S. Route 2 in eastern Vermont and you’ll pass through a small town named Danville. Turn right in Danville on Brainerd Road, which will turn into Greenbanks Hollow Road, ending at the lost village of Greenbank’s Hollow. It’s a picturesque spot in Vermont: leafy dirt roads, farms on either side, the covered bridge at the crossroads, and the rush of the water at the bottom of the hill.

Entrance to the historic site - check the map and pick up a pamphlet to guide you through the numbered sites.

Entrance to the historic site – check the map and pick up a pamphlet to guide you through the numbered sites.

It’s hard to believe now, due to the small size of Danville and the quiet, rural road, but Greenbank’s Hollow was a bustling mill village in its day. The village grew around a woolen mill. Benjamin Greenback bought an existing mill in 1849, converted to a five story woolen mill that employed 45 people in the 1850s – the largest in the area. The company village included a post office, a store, a school, residences, a gristmill, and a sawmill. Sadly, in 1885 a fire destroyed much of the village, including the mill. Slowly the village residents left, businesses closed, and the school closed in 1912. {Summarized from the Danville Historical Society’s brief history page.}

Greenbanks Mill, South Danville, probably around 1885. Photo source: Danville Historical Society. Click for link.

Greenbanks Mill, South Danville, probably around 1885. Photo source: Danville Historical Society. Click for link.

The Division for Historic Preservation marker gives you a brief history of the site.

The Division for Historic Preservation marker gives you a brief history of the site.

A covered bridge in the middle of Greenbank's Hollow.

A covered bridge in the middle of Greenbank’s Hollow.

Remains of the mill.

Remains of the mill across the river.

Looking from the covered bridge to the gristmill foundations.

Looking from the covered bridge to the gristmill foundations.

All sites are identified with a green marker. The pamphlet (grab one at the main site entrance) will give you brief descriptions of each location

All sites are identified with a green marker. The pamphlet (grab one at the main site entrance) will give you brief descriptions of each location.

The village is all foundations, and it's a peaceful walk in a quiet Vermont spot.

The village is all foundations, and it’s a peaceful walk in a quiet Vermont spot.

The trail takes you through the trees for a few sites.

The trail takes you through the trees for a few sites.

The historic site exists today thanks to the efforts of the Danville Historical Society who preserved the site as a public park. Can’t make it to Greenbank’s Hollow? Check out this virtual e-book tour.