Monday, September 26, 2011

Storm Front

After I finished taking sunset photos at my favorite meadow, I drove back to the Lunsford Richardson farm on Plainfield Road to catch the after-sunset clouds, plus the clouds from the storm coming from the south.

For those who think the only dramatic storm clouds can be found in the Midwest, I think our skies prove otherwise.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Sunset Sunday

This week has brought us almost three inches of rain and according to the forecasters, it will continue to rain through the coming week. Great for our drought stricken county; not so great for my Internet connection which has a tendency to disappear when the rain and wind pick up. So this will be a short and quick post.

This was yesterday evening as one rainstorm was leaving and another was heading towards us from the south. I tried to capture, but couldn't, the rays of sunlight that had glimpses of green and purple in them. I shot this in 16:9 aspect ratio after reading that it was the best setting for landscapes. Gives it a bit of a panoramic feel.

As always on Sunday I am doing this in tandem with Anyes at Far Away in the Sunshine. Wonder what her evenings brought her?

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Clotilde Soupert

Our summer ended with Greensboro more than six inches of rainfall in the deficit column. My small garden took the brunt despite all the evenings spent hand watering the daylilies; perhaps they will return next year. The antique roses from Oregon and Texas fared little better between the extreme heat and the nonstop black spot.

And then this week it started to rain . . . and rain . . . and rain with more rain to come through the end of next week. Unfortunately our ground is rock hard dry. Most of the rain will run off and we are under a flood watch until late Friday evening.

It has also affected my ability to upload to Blogger as my internet connection has ground to a very slow walk (I have an air card which seems to be affected by all this rain and wind).

But the roses love this and the cooler weather and are blooming like crazy for a second go-round. This particular beauty is called Clotilde Soupert and is from Antique Rose Emporium in Brenham, Texas.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Stunning Sunday Skies

Anyes over at Far Away in the Sunshine (and my partner on Sundays) posted photos earlier this week that she took out of a plane's window during a vacation trip she and her family took. This got me inspired and while I haven't taken any trips on a plane lately, the clouds coming in ahead of a strong cold front were the exact opposite of her beautiful blue skies and white fluffy clouds. Again, this is one of my standing in the parking lot shots on the small camera where I can't see the LCD screen while I'm taking the photo.

And this wasn't taken in black and white; the sky was exactly as you see it this past Thursday.

Go and see what Anyes saw this week up in the skies on the west coast of Canada. I bet it was really amazing.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Edwards-Franklin House, Lowgap, NC

Our last stop before going home was the Edwards-Franklin House outside of Mount Airy. It was built in 1799 by state senator Gideon Edwards and then remodeled in 1820 by his son-in-law, Meshack Franklin, who was a US Representative prior to the Civil War.

While I didn't have before pictures of the Richmond Hill house, I was able to find a before picture of this house before it was restored by the Surry County Historical Society in 1973.

And how it looks today:

And while I read on their website that the house would be open that weekend, it wasn't to my great disappointment. Oh, well, we'll go back to the mountains and try again some other weekend.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Kapp's Mill, Dobson, NC

I think of these Saturday day trips as the equivalent of a photographer's scavenger hunt, especially when we are doing specific trips, i.e., barn quilts, scenic byways, historic architecture.

After we left Rockford, the scenic byway took us towards the Surry county seat of Dobson. Taking this particular route took us right by Kapp's Mill, a former gristmill on the Mitchell River. The mill was established in the 1820's and was operated by the Kapp family until the mid-20th century. According to Catherine Bisher's book on North Carolina historic architecture, there was also a general store (now converted to a private family residence), post office and blacksmith shop next to the mill. This is still considered on the best-preserved rural industrial complexes in the state.

The person who owns this property is trying to sell it and the original farmhouse, so if you would like to see the interior of the mill and the beautifully restored house, check out the photographs on Flickr.

Sigh. If I only had $399,000 and was independently wealthy (the commute to my job in Greensboro would be a killer) . . .

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Rockford Memorial Methodist Church, Rockford, NC

After we finished at Richmond Hill Law School, back to the scenic byway and through the historic town of Rockford. We had visited the town back in the winter and I hadn't planned to stop.

But I glanced to my left and saw that the door to Rockford Memorial Methodist Church was wide open and being thwarted in last Saturday's attempt to go inside any of those churches, made an u-turn and pulled into the parking lot.

A glance through the door showed a surprise at the back of the sanctuary.

A life-size fresco of Jesus. This is titled "Come Unto Me" and was created by Tony Griffin in 1989. Tony is the brother-in-law of Ben Long, who is a world-renown fresco artist. For those who live here, Ben's most famous work is at the Episcopal Church in Glendale Springs.

The church was closed in 1967 by the North Carolina Methodist Conference as an active congregation. However, it is open for tourists who come to Rockford and couples who want to use it for their weddings.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Richmond Hill Law School, Yadkin County, NC

Another Saturday and another day trip. This time we decided to travel on the newest North Carolina Scenic Byway, the  Yadkin Valley Scenic Byway which would take us through the area that was designated an American Viticultural Area in 2003 - the first designation of its kind for the state.

I wasn't planning on stopping at any of the vineyards on Saturday; I was just out for a drive and some good snapshots.

But, as with last Saturday, we found some interesting NC historic sites with stories of people and events I had never heard of before (the fact that I went to school in Ohio and learned Ohio state history might have had something to do with that lack of knowledge).

This is Richmond Hill, the home of Richmond Pearson who was elected to the state supreme court in 1847 and later became the chief justice of the state supreme court. He established a private law school here at this site in 1848 which remained open until his death in 1878. Over the years, he taught more than a thousand students, some of whom went on to the state supreme court, three who became governors of North Carolina and three others who became United States Representatives.

The house is only open on the third Sunday of the month from April until October, so unless we can go in October we won't be able to tour it until next spring. From the pictures on the outdoor plaque, the house was a total ruin when it was bought by the Historic Richmond Hill Law School Commission. Little remained intact - the roof had caved in, the plaster had fallen off the lathes and the windows were all broken. It took the commission close to 30 years to buy and then completely restore the house. It now is the centerpiece of a 30 acre park and nature center.

And yet, despite all this history, beautiful setting, picnic shelters, walking trails, etc., we were the only people in the park.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Sunset Sunday

Once again, it's Sunset Sunday and back to the meadow down the road from my house. I think these clouds may be the end of Tropical Storm Lee as it made its way very slowly from the Gulf of Mexico to the Northeast US. This storm added to the misery of those inhabitants in Virginia, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and New York who had already been pounded by the remnants of Hurricane Irene, but for us here in North Carolina, Lee just brought us some much needed rain and a gorgeous sunset.

Go and check out Anyes's sunset over at Far Away in the Sunshine. No hurricanes or tropical storms there, but she always finds beautiful skies to share.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

St. James Episcopal Church, Kittrell, NC

And in downtown Kittrell (Plank Chapel United Methodist was outside of town), we found this tiny little church called St. James Episcopal Church.

A little history about Kittrell and this tiny chapel from the NC Office of Archives and History (NCOAH):
Kittrell’s Springs, 34 miles north of Raleigh in Vance County, was the site of North Carolina’s first summer resort—a resort that became a makeshift Confederate hospital during the Civil War. All that remains of the site is a cemetery, the final resting place of 54 Confederate soldiers buried between 1864 and 1865.
The springs, about a quarter of a mile west of Kittrell, were discovered in the 1840s. The mineral water quickly developed a reputation for therapeutic healing powers and soon cabins and tents had grown up in the vicinity. “Some who drank it found their health improved,” said Oscar Blacknall, son of springs co-owner, Charles C. Blacknall. “It grew gradually into a rural summer retreat.”
Charles Blacknall, along with George Blacknall and Thomas Blacknall, purchased Kittrell’s Springs and the surrounding land in 1858. The cabins were demolished and replaced with a three-story hotel that included well-ventilated rooms, a dining hall, a spacious ballroom, and long building-length porches on every floor. Several adjacent buildings were erected that featured a bowling alley, billiard tables, and a barroom.
Kittrell Springs Hotel opened in 1860. Unlike the Glass House, the Blacknalls’s resort catered exclusively to a wealthy southern clientele. The Glass House was a haven for northerners looking for mild weather and good hunting during the colder months. Most of Kittrell Springs Hotel’s business derived from affluent neighbors in nearby counties making healthful pilgrimages. Often rooms would be crowded with four to eight guests at a time. It is believed that the hotel housed 500 guests at a time in 1860.  
With the onset of the war in 1861, Charles Blacknall returned to Kittrell to organize troops and prepare for what he viewed as an “unholy war, in which we have been forced by our unnatural enemies of the North.” Blacknall trained his company, the Dixie Guards, who later became the Granville Rifles, in Kittrell’s Springs. After enlisting, Blacknall was appointed captain of the Granville Rifles, which then became Company G of the 23rd Regiment of North Carolina troops. 
 George Blacknall remained at home and managed the resort, which continued to be a profitable business until 1864. However, as the war moved closer to North Carolina with the Petersburg campaign in southern Virginia, Confederate casualties continued to shift towards the rear. Given that Kittrell’s Springs was on the Raleigh and Gaston Railroad line, the Confederate government pressured the Kittrell Springs Hotel into becoming a hospital. 
 The conversion of the resort to General Hospital Number One was first announced in the Raleigh Daily Confederate on June 18, 1864: “This popular place of summer resort is now open for the reception of our sick and wounded soldiers—as we have turned it over to the government for their benefit.” The hospital began admitting patients in June 1864. By the third week 223 soldiers had been admitted. Reverend Matthias M. Marshall, an Episcopal priest from the nearby St. James Episcopal Church, worked as the hospital chaplain and saw over religious services and the deaths of patients in the hospital.
 Only 17 percent of patients at the hospital suffered from war wounds. The rest suffered from various fevers, diseases and illnesses. Estimates are that about 70 soldiers died there. From the known causes of death of the 54 buried nearby, almost half died of typhoid fever and pneumonia. Only seven percent of the buried died by gunshot wounds. 
The hotel burned to the ground in 1884 and the town was bypassed in the late 1890's by the railroad, all of which led to the near extinction of the town. 

The church itself looked abandoned with its paint peeling off the sides in large pieces and the grass on the grounds nearly knee-high. But as I got out and walked around, I saw that the roof was new as was the central air-conditioning unit. Through the window in the back I could also see a cross on the altar, so the church must be used sometimes. But outside of the above information from NCOAH and a mention of it being listed on the National Register of Historic Places, that's it. As far as I can tell, no active congregation, no website, but someone is making sure that it doesn't fall to pieces as shown by the new roof and central air conditioning.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Plank Chapel United Methodist Church, Kittrell, NC

Saturday turned into taking church snapshots day. As we drove through the back roads of eastern North Carolina we stumbled upon some beautiful churches along with the one church that I was specifically looking for.

This is Plank Chapel United Methodist Church in Kittrell outside of Henderson. According to the church's history, the first meeting house was founded by Roger Jones in the 1780's. That meeting house was replaced by several more churches until this current sanctuary was built in 1900. The church's website says this was the first church building with a steeple. The copper cross on the steeple comes from a former whiskey still!

Plank Chapel as it looked in 1909

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

St John's Episcopal Church, Williamsboro, NC

This past Saturday I decided to find the oldest church in North Carolina which is fortunately within driving distance of Greensboro. Actually I was looking for the oldest frame church in North Carolina as the oldest stone church exists on the coast, St. Thomas's Episcopal Church in Bath, far out of range of a day trip.

The oldest frame church is St. John's Episcopal Church, located near Williamsboro in Vance County. It was built in 1771, refurbished in 1821 after falling into disrepair and then restored to its original condition in the 1950's. It is no longer used for regular church services, but is open on Sundays throughout the summer and for special occasions as warranted by the parish.

As I missed out on the summer Sunday openings, I just wandered around the property admiring the building and looking at the tombstones in the small graveyard. The earliest burials were in the 1790's (of the tombstones that were readable) and the last one was in the 1990's.

I also took a picture of the hand-blown glass in the windows (original or replication? I have no idea) from the north side of the church. You can see through the windows the flags of the colonial era, albeit backwards.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Stunning Sunday's Skies

I feel as though I have been shirking my blogging duties - posting very little in the way of anything interesting in the past few weeks. Mostly it has been due to the fact that TB and I haven't been able to do a Saturday day trip in a long while and I'm not comfortable driving my poor old minivan to out of the way places that generally don't have cell phone reception and require a long walk back to civilization. But this week I will have some interesting places to post about as we did an extremely long day trip to the eastern part of the North Carolina Piedmont.

But today is Stunning Skies Sunday and with lots of different weather fronts coming through recently (and it looks like more predicted for this week with Tropical Storm Lee making a soggy trip in our direction and Hurricane Katia coming in the direction of the North Carolina Outer Banks), I had a lot of amazing skies to choose from. I think the owners of this field have gotten used to seeing me standing in the middle of it taking snapshots of the skies and so haven't (at least yet) called the sheriff on me.

I'm doing this with Anyes over at Faraway in the Sunshine. Go see what stunning skies she found for today.