Walnut Room this way

Walnut Room this way

Saturday, August 27, 2011

The Master Bath is Complete--after 4 years

 We started the remodel in 2007 when we had to tear out the shower in the master bathroom, due to it being incorrectly built in the first place. (See postscript at bottom).  That was the most pressing, so once finished, it was always "someday" on the rest of it.  We finally began the someday last August, slightly over a year ago.  Today, it is finished.
 Because the linen closet was sacrificed for the shower size, space is a premium and I have to get creative to store towels, personal items, and other supplies.  This bathroom has been an eyesore since we moved in, and I was ready for something that was a little more pleasing than the poorly applied, unattractive brown wallpaper that came with the house, the over-sized sink with its ugly cabinet base, and the mismatched paint on the trim.
 It's not obvious in the photos, but the wall color is Icy Waterfall--very pale with the lightest tint of blue.  When I was home earlier in the month, I was admiring these aqua and royal blue towels Mom had just bought.  Her bathroom is rose, pink, and cream, so I was not sure why she had selected them.  She asked, "Do you want them?"  You know my answer, don't you?
 The clock photograph is from our trip to London several years ago.  We took clock photos all over London, but I especially liked this one on an Art Deco building.
 The shower that was finished in 07--still going strong with no leaks.  We used Kerdi. :)  If you have read earlier posts, you know that Will built the shower with no water barrier between the tile and the walls, and with no shower pan liner.  He just poured a mortar floor on top of the wood flooring, and then tiled on it.  (I might add that it was a pathetic tile job at that, unevenly spaced, and I could show pictures to prove it.  In fact, one of these days, I might do the before and after post).  However, as a result of that, the flooring, sub-flooring, and joists rotted and the shower (along with all of those previously mentioned items) had to be replaced.
We thought about going with a blue, or blue green tile back then, and opted for a more neutral shade...and then I went with blue and aqua in the rest of the bath.  Eventually, I will figure out how to meld the two spaces with some color changes in each, but for now, I am just happy that one bathroom is finally finished, and I can go in there without wanting to find Will and give him a good "talking to."  I rest my case--yet again--that I inherited more from my dad--the master tile man and master carpenter--than just my good looks. :)  Did I mention that I tiled this shower?

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Ventress Hall

Memphis architect C. G. Rosenplanter designed this Romanesque Revival structure (similar to the Oxford City Hall) with its 4-story turret.  It was built to house the library, and served that purpose from 1889 until 1911.  The Oxford Time Machine provides a "then" and "now" photo comparison, illustrating a young campus with nothing much more than a road from Ventress to the Lyceum.

In 1985, the building was named Ventress Hall in honor of James Alexander Ventress, the first trustee of the University.  He is referred to as "the Father of Ole Miss" for his role in securing the legislative action to create the university.

Renovation of the building was completed in 1997 by Howorth and Associates.  Ventress is said to have been sketched, painted, and photographed more than any other building on campus.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Off Square Books

Remember those bad remodeling jobs on the Batesville Public Square from a couple of weeks ago?  Perhaps they would benefit from a consult with Off Square Books on the Oxford Courthouse Square.  This building was renovated in 2006 by Howorth and Associates.  You can see the "remodel" of this building here.  Fortunately, the phony facade was removed and the building restored to how it might have looked originally--a far more appropriate look for the courthouse square with its other historical buildings.  

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Reflections on Marking Years in the Struggle for Justice

I spent 3 weeks in South Africa again—my 8th visit there--during May and June.  I met one day with Ubuntu Education Centre in Zwide, an African township on the edge of Port Elizabeth in the Eastern Cape.  Over 200 young people were assembling for an after school program.  The program is a pathway to support them to be successful in the face of the overwhelming odds against them: poverty, loss of parents to HIV/AIDS, HIV+ status themselves, academic and economic disadvantage inherited from the years of apartheid.

            Ubuntu is a term that means a person is a person through others.  I am, because you are.  My personhood is intricately involved in your personhood, and your ability to become who you are meant to be and able to be.  It is a philosophy that is inculcated into the African way of life.

            In 1956, the Whites Only Group Act was passed in South Africa, beginning the many years of apartheid—separateness—and oppression of black and coloured indigenous people by the white Afrikaners—the descendents of the Dutch who colonized the Cape.  Oppression literally comes from the Latin root word “to press” or to “limit or restrict movement.”  Forcible relocation of all the black and coloured, restrictions on work and access, and violent means of carrying out these laws was the norm.  That system created those massive townships, where no toilets was a way of life.

            As I was reflecting back during that last visit, I recalled attending a workshop at CSWE back in the mid-90s, around 1994 or 1995.  Don Cooney was the workshop presenter, and addressing community organizing.  He mentioned the apartheid years and efforts made by groups in the US to stand with those in the struggle in South Africa.  I continue to return to South Africa to study and learn, and to just be with people in the struggle.  It was my impression in 2001 (my first visit) that South Africa had accomplished far more in 10 years than the US had in 40 years.

            I was also thinking in terms of marking time and events in history.  Apartheid ended in 1992, the democratic elections were held in 1994, and the 1997 White Paper on Social Welfare identified what I considered groundbreaking efforts at undoing the massive inequality intentionally created by the apartheid system.

            I was comparing those efforts with the results achieved by the US since the 1964 Civil Rights Act legislation.  Perhaps what I did not fully comprehend earlier was how easily the freedom struggle can be compromised and politicized.

            During the War on Poverty years, there were many government-led efforts to address the inequality in the US.  That war was co-opted by the war on Vietnam—resources were commandeered and political pressure exerted regarding how tax dollars were spent.

            In the beginning of the transformation in South Africa, there were government-led efforts to create housing, employment, and access to resources.  Perhaps it is inevitable, but the efforts there have been politicized as well.  I heard it described as “politicizing the resource gaps.”  Each political party made promises in the recent election about who would provide basic resources: what has been dubbed “The Toilet Wars.”

            It seems to me that the whole world is engaged in the toilet wars.  Pitting each of us against the other, without recognition of ubuntu—that my humanity is inextricably connected to your humanity.  I become who I am, I realize my human potential by working with you and walking with you to become who you are and achieve your human potential.
            When political parties achieve “victory” through toilet wars, no one wins.  We all need a toilet.  If I don’t have a toilet, what are my options?  To be blunt, only to defecate in my yard or your yard.  Without a toilet, surrounded by a million others without a toilet, how much individual accountability am I supposed to be able to achieve?  Even if we all dig our little holes and cover our own crap, a million holes of crap in the community takes up a lot of space that is needed for other things.

            At the heart here, I think, is ubuntu: the values we hold.  The government in South Africa—by all accounts I heard on the last trip—has succumbed to the same thing the government in the US has: my hand is in the till and I am not willing to take it out.  Government “service” has nice benefits that are achieved at the expense of masses.  In the US, it’s not welfare, or education, or the arts that are draining the coffers dry.  It is the government payroll at the top--administration, coupled with corporations and individuals who do not pay their fair share of taxes on their huge wealth and profits.

            The same thing has happened in South Africa according to people with whom I spoke during my visit.  People in government have discovered a way of life that allows them to have far more than they ever dreamed, and they have taken advantage of it at the expense of the masses of people who remain unemployed, homeless, ill, and in poverty.  The system becomes about perpetuating one's own lifestyle, not in ensuring that everyone has access to a basic standard of living.  

            Picture the senators and representatives in the US who have retirement income, government-funded health care, and the ability to raise their own salaries, and at the same time, are clamoring for no unions, no benefits for the public service workers, and the dismantling of the labor department and the basic social security system, citing the need for reduction of government funding.  Couple that with the fact that the majority of them already have resources, and one has to question if government service is a misnomer for power.  Service is what is done by the public workers who do police and fire protection, social work in child welfare and with other vulnerable populations, drive our busses and repair our roads—those very areas that our legislative “representatives” want to cut, all the while, not cutting any of the expense associated with maintaining their own lavish lifestyles.

            The struggle for humanity, for equality, for justice, for access to resources and our share of life-needs (toilets!) really is universal.  That is what holds us together: our universal ubuntu.  This concept unites us across barriers of color, ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation, or any other division or difference.

            This amazing human resilience and resistance unites in some of us and we embrace each other rather than retreat behind walls, gates, and electric fences, contented to block out the evidence of any relationship with those outside of the fence.  That universal struggle for human dignity is inextricably tied up in our own relationship with each other.  As we make the effort to relate to each other, to understand and deepen that connection, it enables us to carry on in the struggle.

            One final reflection about this comes from the story of the political prisoners in Robben Island under apartheid.  The white guards required the African prisoners to call them “Boss” and to ask for permission to relieve themselves during the workday.  The political prisoners were unwilling to compromise by using the term boss, or by asking for a basic human need.  They would stand in such a way as to shield a man while he urinated against the wall and cover the evidence.  A literal standing in solidarity to preserve human dignity.

            Marking time is important in the work of the struggle for human dignity and justice.  Events and years are not “the Thing” but they help to ground us in the thing: our common work for justice and our constant connectedness to each other.  The thing is our ubuntu.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

The Toilet Wars

I've been posting a lot lately about travel, and historical buildings, and architecture.  Those are a lot of fun for me and a welcome break from routine.  After reading the recent publications on social justice over at the Activist Reader, I thought it was time to spend some time revisiting an issue from my last trip to South Africa.  Whilst there, I wrote an essay about the Toilet Wars for another publication.  I decided to follow up and see what was happening.  This is the background to the Wars, and tomorrow, I'll talk about what I learned about it first hand.

 There truthfully is not any way to describe the South African townships that really enables one to visualize it if you have not seen it for yourself.  Even pictures don't fully allow comprehension of the vastness of the informal "shanties" or "shacks" that are home to those who are living in poverty.  Most of these homes have inadequate, or no, hygienic access to water, toilets, or sanitation facilities.  These conditions were created under the apartheid government, but the Constitution of South Africa written for the new democracy, describes the right to housing, water, electricity, etc.  The African National Congress was elected on those promises.  Fully 17 years after the ANC took control of the government, there are still hundreds of thousands of South Africans without access to basic needs.

 If you enlarge this picture by clicking on it, you will notice a series of gray concrete buildings next to the fence.  These are some of the toilets that have been installed in townships.  Many townships received "block toilets" right after the democratic government took control, but large public toilets were dangerous and lacked any sense of dignity.  The response has been to install single toilets, most still in clustered areas.  People continue to have to walk a distance to access a toilet.  It's dangerous.  When we were in Gugulethu in 2007, visiting a community development program, a couple of us needed a restroom.  One of the women who worked there said, "I'll take you and wait for you."  We walked about a half a block to a toilet inside a concrete shed, similar to the ones above, and squatted over a toilet with no seat, no cover, in a building with no roof, while our host waited outside.  It's dangerous to go to the toilet by yourself there.  Rape and murder occur far too often to people simply tending to this daily need we don't talk out loud about.
According to the South African Department of Water Affairs and Forestry, over 1.5 million cases of diarrhea are reported for children under the age of 5.  As many as 100 children may die every day from diarrhea; this number could be reduced by 40% with adequate sanitation facilities.  Human waste is the source of most pathogens and germs contributing to diarrheal diseases.

The ANC and the Democratic Alliance (DA) were allies in fighting apartheid.  In 1994, the ANC in taking power promised to correct the situation of the millions of South Africans without sanitation.  The DA, who hold power in Cape Town municipal government, started putting plumbing and toilets next to each shack several years ago.  The local residents were expected to put enclosures around the toilet--the concrete sheds you see in the pictures above.  For whatever reason, about 7% of those residents in that township either did not, or could not afford to, enclose the toilets.  There were "open air" toilets in use in areas near Cape Town, as well as in other parts of South Africa.  This most private and personal bodily function of any of us, and people are expected to use a toilet with no concealment for this need.

With the coming of the World Cup in 2010, The DA erected tin enclosures around the remaining open air toilets in the township near the city--no one wanted pictures of that making  the international news.  The ANC Youth League tore them down, saying they were insufficient and an insult to human dignity.  In response, the DA removed the toilets altogether.  Thus, began "The Toilet Wars."

Saturday, August 13, 2011

First United Methodist Church Batesville

 I decided to work on honing my skills to recognize features of architecture, which will be helpful when I cannot find out anything about the building.  Mega-searches have not turned up anything about this church.  However, I did locate a great curriculum for identifying architectural styles and features at the Mississippi Department of Heritage Trust.  So, in the absence of any confirming information, here is my first stab at critical thinking about architecture.  I am counting on MissPres for the usual educational feedback.
I also ran across a book, Historic churches of Mississippi, by Sherry Pace.  Pace indicates that "some designs don't fit neatly into stylistic themes" and tend to "exhibit combinations of influences."  I think that might be the case here with this church.  My take on the building is that it has some elements of Greek Revival present: Doric colums ("classic Doric is simple" per MDHT curriculum).  It also has a low pitched roof, which seems to be the case here.  The semi-circular arch is also a feature in some Greek Revival buildings.

That is the depth of my assessment as of now.  I did, however, learn some new terms that I did not previously know.  It's not hard to see a column and know it is a column, and not too difficult (I think, anyway) to discern Doric from Ionic.  I can tell the difference between a dome and a cupola; this building has a dome.

Here are the new things I learned:
Entablature: the structure of moldings and bands that run horizontally above the columns

Architrave: the support that runs from column to column and rests on the capitals of the columns

Frieze: the molded strip above the architrave; it may or may not be ornamental

Cornice: the projection below the pediment

Pediment: the triangular section above the entablature

Friday, August 12, 2011

The last of Public Square: Batesville

 The former Bank of Batesville is now an eatery.  I guess there was no place to put a drive-through window on the square.
Davis Family Pharmacy, in business for 54 years.
The sign says it all: oldest store in Batesville.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

On around Public Square: Batesville

 The only information I can find about this building is that it is described as "the oldest department store on Public Square."
 Love the interesting little detail on the roof, and the ironwork in the air vents.
Wonder what is in this mini building?  Original use?  Whatever it was, it had to be on a small scale.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Touring around Public Square: Batesville

What can one say about this building?  First, I cannot find any information about its original use.  It seems evident from the differently colored brick, and the fill in behind the iron pillars that someone repurposed the building without much regard for aesthetics.  There was probably some type of awning similar to the ones on the buildings next to it that has been removed--or perhaps it was an elegant balcony like the one across the street.

 This building is also guilty of a remodel that does not seem in keeping with the original design.  Like the first building, the iron pillars remain visible, while the area behind them has been enclosed.  Would it originally have been glass? Or open somewhat like a porch?
Spent way too much time trying to find out about these buildings.  Perhaps it would have been quicker to just have stopped in at the local library or historical preservation office!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Eureka Theater Batesville Mississippi

I found myself in Batesville today and decided to make a detour through the downtown area--known as "Public Square."  First up, the Eureka Theater.  According to what information is available, the theater is "Streamline Moderne" and opened in the late 1940s.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Edward Eastburn Building, 1898

 Edward Eastburn came to Jacksboro in 1870 from Pennsylvania "with a very small capital" (Jacksboro Gazette, August 30, 1900).  At his death in Philadelphia August 27, 1900, his estate was estimated at over $1 million.  Mr. Eastburn was the largest stockholder in the First National Bank of Jacksboro and the Merchants & Planters Bank of Sherman.
 Jay C. Henry, Architecture in Texas 1895-1945, had this to say about the Eastburn Building:
...use of rusticated limestone conveys a harmonious ambience with the Richardsonian forms of the adjacent First National Bank and the classical details are suitably simplified in consonance with the soft stone out of which they are carved.
 The building's current use is to house the surveyor's office, and perhaps a bit of nostalgia as well.
The Jack County courthouse is reflected in the large windows.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

H. J. (Hickman) Hensley Building 1899

 Hickman Hensley (1872-1932) was one of the three sons of John Hensley.  John moved to Jack County from Tennessee and was among the first of the early settlers, according to the History and Biographical Record of North and West Texas, published in 1906.  This building was the Fort Richardson Hotel, built by H J Hensley and L A Wilson in 1899.  The 1911 Jacksboro phone book lists the HJ Hensley home, ranch, and the Hensley Brothers Light and Ice Company, a Hensley-Johnson realty company, and a Hensley Meat Market.
 Hickman Hensley was identified as interested and involved in the growth and development of the county, and his name appeared frequently in the Addington Journal, a newspaper from Stephens County, Oklahoma.  Mr. Hensley apparently traveled between Jacksboro and Addington on a regular basis.
 The Hess Building was built by Crummel Oric Hess in 1898 to house his furniture store and undertaking business.  Hess was one of the first licensed embalmers in the area, and helped organize the Jacksboro National Bank.  Hess also had the first long distance telephone in the area.
This building, like many of the historical buildings in Jacksboro, is made from native sandstone.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Buildings on the Square: Jacksboro, Texas

 Without knowing the names of the buildings, it has been difficult to locate information on some of the historical buildings surrounding the Jacksboro square.  This building was apparently a pharmacy in the early 1900s, though, as the photo clearly indicates with the sign "drugs."  The 2004 photo shows how the building changed.
 There are still a number of businesses in downtown Jacksboro, and has been pointed out by others, an absence of the "big box" stores that can devastate local economies.  I recall a former colleague once talking about a small town in Texas and the story of "Walmart: the corporation that killed a town twice."  It seems that when Walmart put in a store, the smaller locally owned businesses that had operated successfully could no longer compete and closed.  Then Walmart could not make the level of profit they thought necessary, and closed the store.  Apparently, Jacksboro recognized the importance of locally owned businesses who are invested in their community.
From the Texas Escapes magazine about the architecture of the downtown buildings: Jacksboro's square today shows that architects made an effort toward uniformity.  Professor Henry, author of Architecture in Texas 1895-1945 uses the term "harmonious ambiance" to describe Jacksboro's blending of facades.
The City Drug has been owned and operated by pharmacist Ralph Hammond, and his brother Rod, since 1960.  The drug store includes a 12-stool fountain and 6 wooden booths.
Cornerstone from the old Jack County courthouse.

Still a few more posts on this charming and historic Texas town to come!  My appetite is whetted to make a day visit on my next trip, and visit inside these buildings.  I even have the offer of a tour of the renovations of the courthouse.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Graham Municipal Auditorium

Designed by Voelcker & Dixon--the same architects who designed the Jack County courthouse--this theatre was built in 1929 through the efforts of private citizens to honor World War I veterans.   The building is currently undergoing a $2 million renovation to "reclaim the original beauty and elegance of art deco design."
I performed in 3 plays on the stage of this theatre.  In 1964, I was the Queen in "The Ugly Ducking" for the regional one-act play contest.  In 1967, I had a role in "The Egg and I" and my cherished memory was the leading role in "Our Town" in 1968.
The theatre seats 780 patrons, and was also the setting for my high school graduation.
It retains a major role in the community, hosting local events and national acts.
Perhaps on my next visit, it will be complete and I can see if that "reclaimed" interior matches my recollections as well.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

First bank building: Jacksboro, Texas

 The historical marker has all the information about this building that I have been able to locate so far.  This was the first bank in Jacksboro, Texas.  I think I may be about to buy my first architecture book, though, as I discovered a thrilling find on architecture in Texas from 1895-1945!
I had family (on my mother's side) who lived in Jacksboro, so as soon as I can, I will also go through the family photos.  Who knows, I might find a c.1940-1968 photo of some of the downtown buildings.  Meanwhile, perhaps I can discover more about the buildings that surround the square.

For an update on the Jack County courthouse posting of a few days ago, go here.