Walnut Room this way

Walnut Room this way
Walnut Room? This way, please.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Eliasville, Texas: Downtown

Acknowledgement: Special thanks to Margaret Donnell Lambkin for information about the original use of the buildings in this historic town in Young County, Texas.  
 Opened as the First State Bank in 1920 (according to banking history of the state of Texas), the bank closed 3/31/1924.  It re-opened 4/1/1924 as the Guaranty State Bank, and was renamed Eliasville State Bank on 12/26/1925.  The bank was closed 11/10/1947.  The upper floor was rented out for residence.
 This view of the tin ceiling was visible through the front window.  The building was sold to the Eastern Star sometime during the 1950s.  Voting was held in the bottom floor after it was obtained by the Eastern Star.
 The Eliasville Post Office was established in 1879 and closed August 1, 1993, per the USPS.  post office was located in the section of the building behind the bench, between the bank and the laundry.  The end building was first a laundry, owned by the Brown family, and subsequently, a grocery store and a cafe.
The brick building visible to the left was the Haynes grocery store, and the rock building was a service station, and later, a cafe.
Next up, the history of the Donnell mill on the banks of the Brazos River.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Callahan County Hospital, circa 1939-?

 This is the old Callahan County Hospital, built by the Works Progress Administration 1938-1939 in Baird, Texas.  In spite of due diligence in searching, I am unable to locate anything about the hospital, other than a couple of references to people being born there or working there.  It was open as late as the 60s, and possibly longer than that as I recall when it was still a working hospital when I worked for MHMR, so I am going to speculate that it was open until some time in the 1980s.  I checked with a Bairdite and his memory is no better than mine in terms of how long the hospital was open.  The building is now occupied by the Department of Human Services and appears to have undergone some work.
 The building I recall was the tannish stucco and white, not green.  I am not certain if this is a restoration or a "new paint job."  Given the austerity of most of the buildings done by the WPA, I'm going to speculate that the hospital was never green and tan, but I am open to correction, as always.
 I am unable to locate anything on the Gaskill-McDaniel architects either, so perhaps they were not from this area.  There are brief references to the first hospital in Baird, the Griggs Hospital, owned by Dr. Robert Lee Griggs.  It was the second floor of the City Pharmacy, also operated by the Griggs family.

 Emergency Room entrance for the ambulance.
I think this is probably the operating rooms for the hospital.

The T & P Depot Museum in Baird houses some of Dr. Griggs' equipment, including the saddle bags he used when making house calls.  He began his practice in Callahan County in 1900 in the nearby community of Admiral.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Texas Courthouses: J. E. Flanders' 1883 courthouse in Stephens County

 James E. Flanders designed quite a few Texas courthouses, including the second courthouse for Stephens County, built in 1883.  The three-story red sandstone courthouse with clock tower replaced the original pine courthouse erected in 1872.
 Flanders was assisted by his brother, Charles, who designed the archway that remains after the building was razed when the new courthouse was built in 1926.
 There were four commissioners at the time, but only three of their names appear on the cornerstone.  The name of the fourth was omitted "because he objected to the cost of construction."
 Charles Flanders was inspired by Egyptian architecture, and elements appear in the intricate details of the archway.




The stone mason was a local resident, a Swedish immigrant named Rosencrest.  The building is described as having vaulted ceilings, 5 cupolas, a central clocktower, and a statue of a woman holding the scales of justice.  The building was erected on the corner of the square rather than in the center as is common.  You can see the 1883 courthouse here.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Texas Courthouses: Throckmorton County, Throckmorton

The decision to photograph the Throckmorton courthouse (which spawned the thought of taking pictures of the courthouses in the 3 counties I passed through on the way home) was born from reading an article sent by an acquaintance about youth involvement in rural communities.  The article commented about a group of Cub Scouts seeing a picture of the Throckmorton courthouse in its original form, and how they restored the cupola which had been removed.  Not quite.
 The article made it sound as if the restoration has already occurred, when in reality, it is in the planning stages.  You can see the original tower here.  It was removed sometime prior to 1939 and replaced with this square cupola.

The annex at the rear of the building was added in 1938.
The courthouse was begun in 1890, and completed in 1891.  It was constructed of limestone in the Italianate style by Dewees and Rath, as indicated on the cornerstone.  Trent McKnight, one of those Cub Scouts years ago who vowed to restore the original tower, authored an article in the Throckmorton Tribune that provides some interesting information about the architect.  The National Register of Historic Places lists the architects as Martin, Byrne, and Johnston.  McKnight reported that their name does not appear in any of the county records, and that the "court ordered Mr. Camp of Albany" (in nearby Shackelford County) to produce the plans for the new courthouse.  The Throckmorton courthouse is a twin to the first courthouse in Stonewall County (also a neighboring county) in the now extinct town of Rayner, and it is "unknown if Camp stole the design" or actually worked with or for the firm Martin, Byrne, and Johnston.

The plans for restoration of the courthouse include removal of the annex and restoration of the tower.  Construction will begin this spring, and completion is projected by September 2013.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Texas Courthouses: Stephens County, Breckenridge

The discovery of oil in Breckenridge in the 1920s meant they needed a larger courthouse.  This Texas Renaissance style courthouse (a combination of Classical Revival and Renaissance Revival with Texas elements) was completed in 1926.  The building is constructed with limestone, and the streets that run through Breckenridge are still the original brick.

The architect was David S. Castle of Abilene.  Castle was known as the "Architect of Abilene" and would come to "dominate architectural design in the Abilene region for the first half of the 20th century."  He designed a number of office and commercial buildings in downtown Abilene, including the beautiful and historic Paramount Theatre, the Hotel Wooten, the Windsor, and buildings at all three Abilene Universities.  One of Castle's designs was the Sandefer Memorial Administration Building, where my office was located when I first joined the university faculty.  
 The "Texas element" in this example is the use of the Texas flag (the one on the right with the single star--thus the nickname the Lone Star State) and the Texas star in the center of the shield.
 The Texas star is repeated again in the design at the top of the columns.
 Frankly, I have to confess to a certain amount of cynicism about all the pithy equality and justice sayings displayed over our courthouses and other public buildings.
One of our friends refers to our son J as Justinian.  I am going to shamelessly display my ignorance here and admit that I always thought he was just making fun and mocking (which of course, he was) but did not realize there really was a Justinian.  Other than the fact that the original was an emperor, I don't see much resemblance between the two.  J just assumes he should be in charge; frankly, given the mess the corporately elected officials are making these days, I can't see how he could do any worse.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Texas Courthouses: Shackelford County, Albany

Shackelford County courthouse was built in 1883-84 from the plans of architect J. E. Flanders, who designed several other Texas courthouses in the Second Empire style.  (As a child living in Baylor County, I have wonderful memories of visiting the library located on the first floor of the courthouse, under the stairwell.  I read every edition they had of the Bobbsey Twins, and anything else probably.  My greatest gift has been my love of reading, and reading about local history.  I was truly saddened when I learned that the Baylor County courthouse--pictured in the Flanders link--had been demolished for the building that now takes it place.)  This is the oldest courthouse in continuous use in Texas, and the only Flanders' courthouse in this style that remains today.  It was the first courthouse to be restored under the Texas Historical Commission's Courthouse Preservation Program.

The building is made of local limestone, quarried a few miles from the site.  The building was erected by Scottish stonemasons, and the foundations are two feet deep on "natural concrete" or caliche.  (Many of the county roads in this part of Texas were "paved" with caliche.)  The walls are 4 feet thick.
 The clock tower was added at the request of the local residents, even though it increased the cost of the building.


Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Texas Courthouses: Callahan County, Baird

 The original county seat of Callahan County was in Belle Plain, a few miles south east of Baird.  When the train laid tracks through Baird instead of Belle Plain, that settlement was doomed.  In 1883, the county seat moved to Baird, and "noted architect F. E. Ruffini" built the first courthouse.  As the county grew, "another noted architect, J. Riely Gordon" was hired in 1900 to design a larger courthouse.  You can see J. R. Gordon's courthouse here (note: you have to scroll down several photos to see Gordon's courthouse).  J. R. Gordon also designed the state capitol of Arizona, along with 15 Texas courthouses, including the Bexar County courthouse in San Antonio.  The supervising architect for Gordon's 1900 courthouse was J. E. Flanders of Dallas, who designed a number of other Texas courthouses, including Shackelford and Stephens county courthouses.
The current courthouse, built in 1928, was by Voelcker & Dixon of Wichita Falls.  They were the architects of Jack County courthouse.  The building "features intricate detailing, including acanthus leaves, rosettes, medallions and cartouches." (Texas Historical Commission)  THC refers to the courthouse as both Classical Revival and Texas Renaissance in records.  Texas Renaissance style was a dominant design from about 1900-1930s.  It combined Renaissance Revival, Classical Revival, and Italianate to form a style that is "Texas in origin."  The dominant feature of Texas Renaissance is the Texas elements that form parts of the building.  Other than perhaps the eagle on the corner, I don't see a lot of "Texas elements" in the Callahan County Courthouse, but a great example is coming up "a couple of towns over" so stay tuned for more courthouse posts!
"The voice of the people is the voice of God; the law of the place is justice for all."




Goodbye, Land of Not

After a very cold night, the sun is shining, the sky is clear blue, and it is to reach the 60s today. My kind of weather.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

All I want for Christmas is access to Internet again

This trip has been a treasure hunt, between courthouses, WPA buildings, train depots, churches, and other interesting things I have discovered, like something called "Texas Renaissance" style architecture.  Perhaps it is the wind, the cloud cover, or just the bleakness of north/west Texas in terms of technology, but I am in serious Internet handicap here.  I can get the occasional weak signal long enough to check email, and for a whopping 2 hours yesterday, I had enough signal to use the iPad to look up some facts for all the historic building photos waiting to be posted.  Alas, even the United deli let me down yesterday, and I gave up after trying to upload a photo for 20 minutes.  Finished with my large latte, and I still have yet to be able to get a photo to post here today.  It's kind of like being in South Africa as far as my Internet goes right now, only not as much fun during the times you don't have Internet.

I can be flexible, so I tried the wordpress account.  Nope.  I am left with nothing to do but go buy groceries in order to cook supper, and head back out to the Ponderosa, Jr. for my last night.  I now have 3 days worth of historic building photographs waiting to be posted.  I feel a little like Frank right now, and wondering how long it will take me to catch up.

Besides all of that, a cold front came in, and the wind is blowing constantly, straight out of the north.  Growing up here, there used to be a saying "nothing between here and the north pole but a barbed wire fence."

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Chillin' in Graham

I drove down to Graham at lunch, taking some photos on the way. I have some exciting new finds, but they'll have to wait until my United visit tomorrow and my cafe latte break. I actually have a very weak signal to use my AT&T account for the iPad so I feel compelled to take advantage. I've looked up some historic information for tomorrow's post to get a little jump start. Names to toss out: J R Gordon--the real one!

Meanwhile here's an iPad photo of Tinka in her favorite napping spot.

A little rural decay

Sometime in the middle of the night, Rando opted for the couch. I think he had the best idea. My in-laws had this bed when we married...30 years ago. It's not a good sleep alone, let alone with 2 adults and a lab the size of a middle-schooler. I think between the aches and pains of the trip, the attack of the Texas allergens, and Kate, I was awake more than asleep.

It's also kind of like navigating a maze around here. Nothing has been moved since Rand's mom died several years ago. When you add in our luggage in a room already with only enough space for a narrow trail down one side of the bed and enough space at the end of the bed to stand and change clothes, it's a tough space for the three of us.

I was getting my coffee this morning and looked out the window to the formerly lush garden behind the house. Whether it is the current drought, Chet's age and infirmity, or a combination of those, it was a dreary sight. The grape arbor is gone (along with my planned Suzassippi's Taylor Hill Red), and the shed has seen better days. It reminded me of Khodachrome Guy's post yesterday "fate is unknown."

Saturday, December 17, 2011

On the way to Abilene

Yeah! Almost there--only 2 more hours! Kate says she is ready.

Update:we are here and I wasted no time getting into my pajamas and bed. I've said it before but this time I mean it--no more one day trips. It is fly or 2 days from now on. Arthritis and sitting in a truck for 13 hours are not good partners. I like to have time to stop and see interesting buildings, too and in a 12-13 hour trip, that's a luxury I don't have.

We had the usual adventures: long boring stretches on the interstate, too much fast food, searching for a pharmacy for the things we forgot, and hitting Dallas at peak traffic with two wrecks on the interstate.

On the one hand it would have seemed so natural to head for parsons lane and right into my old house. On the other I feel so out of sync and out of purpose when I am out of Mississippi that even a few days here is odd.

But for now, Kate says it is bedtime and is stretched out full length on Randy's side of the bed. I think she has the right idea.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Maybe my iPad was worth what it cost: late night surfing from bed

Yesterday was perfect chimenea weather:  just cool enough for a fire, but not so cold as to be unpleasant in my super-warm KUCB Unalaska hoodie sweatshirt.  I gathered up the usual ready supply of small limbs ever-present in my yard, pulled my Adirondack chair close enough to tend the fire, and wiled away an hour or so wondering when the end of the semester emails would start to arrive.  I did not have to wait long.

I confess to a degree of annoyance lingering on about my plans having to change...I now have to do what I didn't want to do, and don't get to do what I did want to do.  I have to make two stops now that I did not intend nor want to make.  Maybe in my old age I am turning into a curmudgeon, but it just seems like one of these years, I could get to do the end of the semester obligatory trip to Texas exactly the way that I want to instead of fit my plans around everyone else's plans.  But, I digress, and enough of the whining.

I woke up shortly after 2 a.m. this morning and could not get back to sleep.  Oh, wow, surfing the Internet without even having to get out of bed, nor sit up if I did not choose to do so!  iPad: 1; desktop: 0.

I was just going to check emails, and then look at my blog list.  As usual, that starts me off on some kind of treasure hunt.  I get sidetracked with looking at a blog on someone's blogroll (what is it that a blog about pictures of your household decorations commands 451 followers?) or reading something that sends me on a search.  For example, I've been trying to find a picture of the First National Bank Building in Vicksburg ever since Malvaney posted the post card of the bank.  So far, the best I can do is one image of the columns, and a street view that includes a door, but nothing that shows the building proper.  While snug and comfy under the covers, the iPad was a breeze to handle, unlike the lap top which requires much more effort.  No wonder people like those kindle books--it was easy to hold, light weight, and required minimal effort.  Next thing I knew, it was 6:20 and the dogs wanted to be fed and I was ready to go back to sleep.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Grades are in, I'm not in Texas, and is this iPad really worth what it cost?

I should be in Texas right now, sitting down to dinner with my folks.  I'll say one thing about all the years that Randy and I have left for Texas the moment the semester was over: I could grade in the car while he drove, and then enter grades as soon as we hit the Internet.  Many the year I entered grades on my iPhone.  I really did not want to do that for a change, and thought I would manage to get them all done by yesterday so I could depart early this morning.

 Libby has patiently watched me at the computer all day long...for the umpteenth time this week, nae, this month.  When I called my mom to tell her I was not only not in Texas, I was not even out of Mississippi, because I just submitted my grades a nano-second ago, she said: "You know why?  Because you really read the papers, and take time to evaluate them,  instead of just glancing at them and marking something."  She's right--it's my curse.  I go to a lot of trouble and extra work to provide a rubric for each assignment for how I will evaluate it, so I figure I ought to use it.  I confess, when the rubric says how many examples they need to provide, how many theories they need to use, which aspects of the model they need to address, it is really difficult for me to cut some slack on students who don't use even one example, don't use even one theory, don't use the part of the model I said to use, etc, ad infinitum.  When a student has the questions for the final exam a week in advance of the due date, and the exact information needed to answer the question is to be found in my lecture notes, the text book, or the assigned readings, or assignments already supposed to have been done, and then still does not actually address what was asked, it's hard for me to cut some slack.
Picture: Orchid from a former student; brought it home to nurture over the break.

 Now, here's the deal in Mississippi: If you are even a somewhat regular reader: you already know what I think about the reading comprehension ability of many of the students who live here.  I don't blame them. After all, if you got all the way through high school and admitted to a university, and are a senior (that's when I get them) and somehow you have made it that far, you might think you have the necessary skills.  But, and here's the rub, when I ask a question like "What knowledge from non-social work  classes do you need to know to ______?" and students start talking about anything but the other classes they have taken outside of social work, I have to wonder.  Non-social work classes answers: history, to understand in what era they lived and how that might have affected development and world-view; political science, to understand if they were able to vote, or what it took to become franchised; English, to understand their literacy, language skills, etc.; Philosophy, Sociology, etc.  Unrelated to the question answers: hearing impairments, cultural background, medication, etc.
Picture: Debra's orchid from a student; brought it home to attempt to revive it.

 I really want students to succeed.  I send countless emails, respond to emails 24/7,  write notes on their papers, ask them to come meet me with.  I can count on the fingers of one hand how many students out of all 3 classes I taught this semester did so.  I confess to struggling with the idea that a student wants to "pass" more than she or he wants to "learn."  I will work all day long to help a student grasp a concept when she or he really wants to understand.  I have had those students this semester who did that: who were in my office and discussing issues with me in the attempt to figure out a concept.  I am going out on a limb here and saying I would rather have that person be helping me someday if I am in a hospital or a nursing home than the one who struggled academically but never once bothered to come talk to me and attempt to understand.
Picture:  Sometimes, it's good to be someone else.

And the iPad?  Honestly, I thought it would take better pictures.  I wanted something that would let me access the Internet when I did not have Internet, yet with a bigger screen than my iPhone.  For someone who is so easily amused, sometimes, I am so easily disappointed.