Sunday, December 18, 2011

Sunday Sunset

What a frustrating week this has been. I use an USB modem to connect to the Internet and for the entire week, it would connect and then drop after 30 seconds, connect and drop, and so forth, leaving me without a dependable Internet connection for four days. I had long discussions with the Internet provider (I hate dealing with call centers overseas . . .) with fixes that wouldn't resolve the problem and requiring more fruitless phone calls.

I don't know if one of the fixes that was pushed through from the provider's end finally solved it, but I have had a whole day of Internet connection without any drops. So back to blogging!

For today's Sunday Sunset photo, I stopped on the side of the road on my way home from work to take this shot. I didn't quite catch the pink and blues of the cloud overhead, but it certainly was a breathtaking sky that evening.

I'm doing this in conjunction with Anyes over at Far Away in the Sunshine. Go see what she saw on the other side of the continent.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Yuletide Camellia

I took this shot of a camellia bush while we were at Thyatira Presbyterian Church. I knew it wasn't a spring blooming camellia that had unexpectedly bloomed like the one that Marie over at 66 Square Feet saw up in New York City, as winter blooming camellias are quite common here in North Carolina.

But imagine my surprise to find out the name of this particular camellia bush - Yuletide. How appropriate for a camellia that blooms this time of year. If you live in Growing Zones 7-9, you can plant this bush in your garden and expect blooms from September through December. You'll just need a fairly large space in your garden as it will spread 10 feet wide although you can cut it back and grow it in containers.

Hmm, wonder if I have a space in my small garden for this beauty?

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Stunning Sunday Skies

A snapshot of the sky after a thunderstorm. I took this in September down at my favorite meadow a couple of miles from my house. We've been lucky this week with brilliant blue skies with not a cloud in them. Unfortunately that makes for a bland snapshot when you want a stunning sky.

I'm doing this with Anyes over at Far Away in the Sunshine. Go see what stunning sky she saw.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Back Creek Presbyterian Church, Rowan County, NC

The next stop was a church down the road from Thyatira Presbyterian Church and which was also on the Rowan County tour, Back Creek Presbyterian Church.

Back Creek was founded by a group of disaffected Thyatira members in 1805 during a period called The Second Great Awakening. Many church revivals were held throughout the United States with the idea of "restoring" Christianity to its most pure and primitive form before the Second Coming of Christ. This included displays of dancing, shouting and screaming during these religious revivals and meetings. Presbyterians were not pleased with the type of evangelical zeal that these revivals engendered (there is a reason they're called "The Frozen Chosen") and that some of the Thyatira members were displaying.

So, 20-30 family members split off from the Thyatira congregation and established this church in 1805. This is the third sanctuary at this site with the first two being wood-framed buildings. This Greek Revival style sanctuary was finished in 1857.

The interior of the sanctuary has not changed in those 164 years. Like Thyatira, the upstairs gallery surrounds the sanctuary on three sides and was originally built for the slaves owned by local plantation owners. The upstairs pews are original, too, as are the massive front doors. The pews downstairs were replaced in 1978 when the ones that had been there were taken away for restoration, but deemed too fragile to restore and return.

And after 206 years this congregation is still separate from Thyatira. Thyatira belongs to Presbyterian Church (USA), one of our mainstream Protestant denominations, while Back Creek belongs to Presbyterian Church in America, an evangelical denomination.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Thyatira Presbyterian Church, Rowan County, NC

It turned out to be a good thing that I had left my books and map to tour Rowan County the weekend before last, because this past Saturday the Salisbury Symphony Guild was having a holiday tour of historic places which included a couple of the churches that I wanted to take snapshots of.

The first church we went to was Thyatira Presbyterian Church outside of Salisbury. The church was founded in 1747 and is the oldest Presbyterian Church in North Carolina west of the Yadkin River. At the time that Thyatira was being established, more than a quarter of the population in North Carolina were Scotch-Irish Presbyterian immigrants.

This is the fourth building on this site, built in 1860 to replace a wood-framed meetinghouse. I'm sorry for the cropped picture, but there was a woman sitting right in front of the doors (right in the best place to take a picture) with a card table selling tickets to the tour. We'll go back later on and I'll get a better picture to show the wonderful cruciform windows there at the front of the sanctuary.

Inside a docent was getting ready to give a short speech about the history of the church and its congregation and there were other visitors milling around. He pointed out the gallery surrounding the main floor on three sides and told us that it was the slave gallery as the local plantation owners would bring trusted slaves with them to hear the minister preach on Sunday.

The cables stretched from both the walls and galley areas are to keep the walls from collapsing from the weight of the roof. The docent said that a few years after the 1860 construction of the sanctuary, the minister noticed large cracks in the walls and they added the iron cables to maintain the integrity of the building. 

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The Old Mill of Guilford County, Greensboro, NC

And a contrast to Kerr Mill down in Rowan County . . .

This is the Old Mill of Guilford County, the county that I live in. This is just ten miles from my house and is four years older than Kerr Mill. The Old Mill was built in 1819 by Joel Saunders. It grinds (as it is still a working mill) corn and wheat daily.

When the road that runs in front of the mill was built in 1932, the original wooden flume which provided water from the dam pond to the overshot at the water wheel was replaced by this 26" steel pipe (which from the look of it is the original pipe).

An interesting side fact - Guilford County was created out of Rowan County in 1771. However, due to the large population of Quakers in the area who were strict abolitionists, there were no huge plantations or large slave holdings as there were south of the area down around Salisbury.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Kerr Mill, Millbridge, North Carolina

Last weekend our trip to Salisbury was called off because I had left my maps and book at my house. This time I remembered maps, my book of historic architecture and the GPS and so, off TB and I went to find some of these places.

First up was Kerr Mill in the Millbridge area of Rowan County. Now part of Sloan Park and open to the public, this grist mill was built in 1823 by Samuel Kerr, a physician and one of the county's largest slave owners, having 51 slaves at his plantation nearby. He was also one of the richest men in all of North Carolina having an estimated worth of $400,000 in 1860 which would be close to $10,800,000 today.

Kerr Mill was one of the ways that Dr. Kerr showed off his wealth. Of the 22 grist mills in Rowan County in the nineteenth century, this was the only one that was built from brick, an expensive proposition in its time. The mill produced flour at a monthly profit of $9,750 which added to his wealth.

The mill passed down through Dr. Kerr's family until the late 1800's when it was sold off to an outside investor. By the 1940's it was no longer operating as mill, but as storage space for its owner who then sold it to Rowan County in 1973 along with enough acreage to create Sloan Park.

The mill houses a tiny museum of Early American artifacts from families in the area and the water wheel has been restored (I saw a 1988 photo where the mill had no water wheel) and is working with water diverted from a nearby stream.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Stunning Sunday Skies

This time of year the sky stays cloud-free all day long until late in the afternoon. Then it becomes cold enough that jet contrails from the airplanes arriving and leaving the local airport create clouds in the air.

Another quick dash out the side door at work to catch the sun before it disappears completely for the day (the sun now sets completely for the day at 5 pm, just as I'm gathering up all my stuff to go home). I wonder if my co-workers look out the windows just as I'm taking these snapshots and wonder what this crazy person is doing taking pictures at the retention pond.

I'm doing this in conjunction with Anyes over at Far Away in the Sunshine. Wonder what she saw at the end of the day there in Vancouver.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Upside Down Weather

I thought with the hard freeze we had a couple of weeks back that that was the end of the growing season. Obviously not. The last week with its temperatures in the 70's coaxed one last bloom out of the Clotilde Soupert, the antique rose bush from Texas. I see over at 66 Square Feet, that the warm weather is doing the same to spring-blooming camellias up in Brooklyn.

Wonder what the spring will look like if this up-and-down weather continues . . .