Rockingham Meeting House

It only took me about four years, but I finally visited the Rockingham Meeting House – a National Historic Landmark. Construction began in 1787, completed by 1801. It is the oldest public meeting house in Vermont with such a high level of historic integrity. Meetings were held in this building until 1869, after which the building was neglected and vandalized until 1906, when local residents were concerned with its fate and took up its restoration. Today the building hosts weddings and special events, but remains unheated and un-electrified. You can visit in the summer months, from 10am-4pm. It’s quite the impressive building.

Rockingham Meeting House.

Rockingham Meeting House.

From the hill.

From the hill.

The drive up to the meeting house.

The drive up to the meeting house.

Foliage made the site even more beautiful

Foliage made the site even more beautiful

From the other drive. It's hard to get a photographs of the front of the meeting house because it sits on a hill.

From the other drive. It’s hard to get a photographs of the front of the meeting house because it sits on a hill.

Front entrance.

Front entrance.

Clapboard, rosehead nails, small panes of glass.

Clapboard, rosehead nails, small panes of glass.

Looking through the window.

Looking through the window.

Edge of the cemetery.

Edge of the cemetery.

Looking back to the meeting house.

Looking back to the meeting house.

Cemetery.

Cemetery.

A National Historic Landmark.

A National Historic Landmark.

In the cemetery.

In the cemetery.

Next visit, I’ll get there in time to go inside! And, when the federal government gets beyond this shutdown, you can the read the National Historic Landmark nomination and see photographs here.

Love Your Landmarks

Photographs, historic landmarks, a contest, springtime — there is so much to love about the National Historic Landmark Program Photography Contest. How to enter? Check out the rules on the NHL website. In brief: You can enter up to 10 photos per person, but one per landmark. Upload your photos to the Flickr group. And swing by the NHL Facebook page to get more information and news about the sites.  Want to know more about the NHL program? Check out this tutorial.  See last year’s winners; gorgeous!

Why enter? Here are five reasons.

(1) Most of us are snap happy with our digital cameras. Thank goodness for digital, yes? While we may take longer to print our photographs, if we ever do, at least we can experiment with the camera until we take the “perfect” shot. But, with these digital cameras, do you take the time to practice getting a good shot or are we all just clicking away on the cameras? Now is your chance to have a subject, an assignment, a goal and a deadline. Maybe you can learn a few new camera tricks and functions.

(2) Maybe after all that practicing, you’ll win. Then your winning photograph will be featured in the NHL calendar, which you can download for free. Who doesn’t love to win a contest?

(3) Our National Historic Landmarks are the most significant properties in the United States, meaning they are the most significant to our collective heritage, and are important to all of us. Understanding our history is important.

(4) The National Park Service is always in need of support, so get out there and show the federal government and decision makers just how important the NPS and landmarks are to you.

(5) It’s a great reason to get outside in the springtime, alone or with family and friends. You could even take a road trip to 10 NHLs if you’re really in need of an excuse to get away.

There are approximately 2,500 NHLs. Need to find one near you? Check here. Have fun! You have until June 13, 2012.

Thanks to Sabra for sending along the flyer and head’s up about the contest beginning. 

National Historic Landmarks Photography Contest

When you visit a historic site, what do you see? Do you see just the building or do you see the landscape? What speaks to you about a particular site? Do you ever have a shot that shows off your skill and your feelings for the subject in the photograph? Do you ever impress yourself with your photography skills? Now is the time to share those skills?

How? Enter the National Historic Landmarks 2010 Photography Contest. From the website:

The contest name, “Imaging Our National Heritage” encourages people to use their cameras to capture the meaning of the National Historic Landmark in a photo. We hope you’re inspired to visit our nation’s National Historic Landmarks, seek out the stories that have formed our American history, and create your own image to share.

The contest is easy to enter by posting your photographs to Flickr and tagging them appropriately (read: “2010nhlphotocontest“). The photographs must be of National Historic Landmarks, which you can look up in the database.  Find all of the official rules and specifications on the NHL Photo Contest website (download the documents on the left hand side).  The contest ends September 10, 2010 and NPS employees across the country will vote for the winning entries.

Visit the NHLs and capture your feelings! Enter one image per NHL, but you can submit up to 10 images. You could be famous!

See also Sabra’s post about the contest over at My Own Time Machine.

Alabama #3: Sloss Furnaces

 A series of Wednesday posts about Birmingham, Alabama and the surrounding area.                     See Post #1 and Post #2.  This is Post #3.

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Sloss Furnaces in Birmingham, Alabama is a National Historic Landmark and the only 20th century blast furnace in the country to be preserved and interpreted as a historic industrial site.  Sloss Furnaces began operating in 1882, and in the 1920s, at its height, 500 workers produced 400 tons of pig iron per day.  Pig iron is smelted iron ore and coke (fuel derived from coal) that is used to make wrought iron, cast iron, and steel. Birmingham is often referred to as the Pittsburgh of the South, for the abundance of iron producing resources located within 30 miles of the city: minerals, coal, ore, and clay. The furnace, just one of many around Birmingham, operated until 1971, after undergoing modernizations and holding out in a dying industry to due changing production methods.

Sloss Furnaces has been a National Historic Landmark since 1981, the first industrial site of its kind to be considered for this designation. The Historic American Engineering Record (HAER) documented the site. To see the documentation (photographs, data pages, documents, measured drawings), see here, in the American Memory project of the Library of Congress. Today Sloss Furnaces serves as a historic site as well as a location for community and civic events.

Visiting Sloss Furnaces was a unique experience. We could walk almost anywhere we wanted to, gaze at old engines, furnaces, pipes, and other unidentifiable (to us, anyway) mechanisms. We arrived with about 30 minutes to spare before closing, but could have easily spent much more time wandering around inside and outside. Without having industrial knowledge, it is difficult to describe. Yet, it was my favorite place in Birmingham. To walk around in this place and imagine how it must have smelled, the sounds, the dust, the employees working long hours in the heat, is almost like stepping back in time.

There were a few engraved, informational plaques throughout the furnaces, but mostly it was unguided in all senses of the word. Nothing was blocked, though common sense tells you not to walk down the basement stairs that will lead to two inches of standing water in the same way that it tells you not to climb up the ladder to the ceiling even though it’s open and within reach. Having only experienced places where everything is so guarded, an opportunity to roam free and see everything on your own was amazing. The downside was that we couldn’t really answer our own questions, whereas a guide could have helped. However, we did not visit the gift shop and information desk before walking through (again, we were short on time) – but it would have been a good idea.

It seems like there would be many liability issues with open stairwells and so many mechanisms (albeit nonfunctional) within everyone’s reach. But I hope that the freedom for visitors of Sloss Furnaces remains because being able to slip around a corner and not feel like you’re on this forced path is a rare chance at historic sites. Some paths are clearly marked on the outside, but once inside it was the free roaming experience. Most of us cannot imagine what it was like to work during the industrial age. Visiting Sloss Furnaces increased my appreciation and awe for this period of history. I would gladly go back to spend a few hours (with more information to enhance my visit).

Because there are so many pictures to share, I’m including a gallery. Click on the photograph to get the larger image. Depending on your browser, you may be able to zoom in further. Some remain unlabeled because I do not know what it is.