Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Liberty Hall, Kenansville, North Carolina

The front entrance to Liberty Hall which used to be the side door before the street realignment
The once front entrance to Liberty Hall. Now the side door.
Sometimes I get really frustrated with people who say there is nothing to see or do in North Carolina. If they just take a little time to look, there are so many interesting places to go to and visit.

Liberty Hall in Kenansville, the county seat of Duplin County, is just one example. Built by the Kenans, who have been part of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill since it became the first public university in the United States (Kenan Stadium, Kenan-Flagler Business School, anyone?), the family estate has been a house museum since 1968, after a member of the Kenan family, Frank, deeded it to Duplin County and the family established an endowment to restore and maintain it.

From the North Carolina Historic Markers Society:

The first member of the Kenan family to live in America arrived in Wilmington from Ireland in 1736. Once established, Thomas Kenan married and had several children at his home on Turkey Branch in what is now Sampson County. Thomas’s son, James, inherited his father’s wealth and became an integral figure in the Colonial Assembly, Provincial Congress, Revolution, and North Carolina’s Constitutional Conventions. James Kenan lived at his father’s home, which he named “Liberty Hall” during the patriotic fever surrounding Independence. The first Kenan family home burned by 1800. Descendants of the first Kenans built another home, also called "Liberty Hall," in the present town of Kenansville in the early nineteenth century. Subsequent generations lived in the house, over the years making several architectural changes. In time the property passed down to Frank Kenan who donated it to the county in 1964. The house was then restored, furnished, and opened as a museum in 1968. 
The financial resources of the Kenan family long have been made available to the public through ongoing philanthropic gifts to the University of North Carolina and various Duplin County organizations, including "Liberty Hall." The Kenan family funded most of the restoration and furnishing of the house and its twelve outbuildings. The house features eleven rooms and two formal entrances, one of which is accentuated by a classically inspired portico. Many of the furnishings in the home can be traced to ownership by Kenan family members or are pieces similar to those owned by the family. 
Of particular note to the history of "Liberty Hall" was the marriage of Mary Lily Kenan to multi-millionaire Henry Flagler on August 24, 1901. Flagler’s immense fortune was gained from oil, railroads, and a multitude of other investments and he lavished much wealth on his bride, many years his junior. The Flaglers moved to Florida and, after Henry’s death in 1913, Mary remarried only to die a few years later. Through the actions of her estate, endowments were established at UNC to fund professorships and building campaigns. Furthermore, their winter home in Florida was subsequently transformed into the Flagler Museum. 
 The house is also stands out from other house museums in that more than 50% of the furnishings are original to the house. Amazing considering that the house stood empty and was used for storage from 1910 to 1964 when it was donated to the county.

And we were the only visitors to that house the two hours we were there the Saturday that we were at the beach . . .

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Why My Posts are Hit and Miss

Down the road at my favorite meadow.
So far this week, it has been one thunderstorm after another and that affects my ability to blog. I have an aircard as my modem, which is nothing more than a cell phone in a tiny little case which inserts into my USB port.

And that means I am very, very dependent on having a good cell connection in order to upload my snapshots and write my blog posts. Thunderstorms put a kibosh on the connection being anything more than hit or miss.

Right now we are between storms - one is heading towards the coast and the next one is coming over the mountains heading our way. So a quick trip in the car to take this snapshot and a quick post to tell you why my posts have been mostly missing in action.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Northern Cardinals in My Small Garden

Not too bad of a snapshot - I took this standing at the back of my dining room, shooting through two sliding glass doors as the one side was open. Probably a good 30 feet from shooter to subject.

Northern Cardinals are the most frequent visitors to my bird feeder in my small garden.  It is monogamous in nature, staying with one mate for its entire life. If you see a male Cardinal at the feeder, its mate is not far away.

Cardinals are devoted mates. This male was actually feeding his female partner at my feeder. I wasn't able to snap the exact moment that he fed her, but they spent a considerable amount of time at the feeder with the female asking for and getting seeds from the male.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Fishing Trawlers, Holden Beach, North Carolina

A Sunday sunset on the Intercoastal Waterway at Holden Beach. While Holden Beach itself is a location for beach cottages and vacation places, the ICW is where the real work gets done as evidenced by the fishing trawlers tied up at the dock. This keeps the trawlers safe from ocean storms which the barrier islands do not. Some of these boats are commercial fishers while others take sports fishermen out far into the Atlantic to search for tuna, blue marlins, king mackeral and the like.

You can travel the Intercoastal Waterway all the way from Norfolk, Virginia to Key West, Florida, although you can continue to Maine using bays and canals, but that will bring you at times into the open ocean. Using the ICW is what most recreational boaters will do as it provides safe navigation.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Laughing Gull, Calabash, North Carolina

A gull living up to his name - Laughing Gull.

While I was at the beach all I saw were Laughing Gulls along with Brown Pelicans, Killdeer and Grackles, but no Herring Gulls which have been the usual gull at the coast in the past. And unlike Ring-billed Gulls which you can find far inland from the beach in such exotic locations as the Walmart parking lot, Laughing Gulls are only found on beaches up and down the East Coast.

From Cornell University's ornithology website: "The Laughing Gull’s species name is cachinnans, which is a 10-dollar word that comes from Latin and means to laugh heartily. Linguists believe that the word came about because it sounds like laughing—try saying it and see if you agree."

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

St. Peter and St. Paul Russian Orthodox Church, St. Helena, North Carolina

If you leave US Highway 117 which runs north out of Wilmington and take a lightly traveled side road in Pender County, you will come across St. Peter and St. Paul Russian Orthodox Church. This is the first Russian Orthodox Church built in North Carolina (an Eastern Orthodox church was built in Asheville in the late 1800's) and it was built by Ukrainian immigrants in 1932 who came to work on nearby vegetable farms.

Today the congregation is down to four (as of a 2007 article, so it may be that there are no congregants now) and the church has been put on a historic building endangered list.

But someone is taking care of at least the outside. Although the grass was a little long, the bushes were neatly trimmed and, as you can see, the building itself looks in good shape.

The cornerstone. I couldn't find a translation from the Russian to English, so I will just have to leave it as such without any comment.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Killdeer, Holden Beach, North Carolina

Can You See Him?

A Little Better Now?

Now you can see him. This is a little Killdeer, one of the smallest of the plovers who live at the coast, although sometimes they do come inland and have been found here in Piedmont North Carolina.

He was actually right at the edge of the driveway at the beach cottage when I came back. I had to wait for about five minutes for him to move along so I didn't end up driving over him (horrors!).

It's been a long, long time since I've seen a Killdeer. Gulls, yes. Brown pelicans, yes. And more grackles than I care to count.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Supermoon at Holden Beach, North Carolina

I'm at the beach this weekend, so there will be plenty of interesting snapshots for the coming week.

But I was really lucky to get a good shot of the Supermoon just before a strong thunderstorm came down from the north. This was taken from the porch of the beach cottage with the FZ150.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Occoneechee Speedway, Hillsborough, North Carolina

This may look like a walking trail through the North Carolina woods, but it is actually one of the first three NASCAR speedways from the inaugural season of 1949 and the only one that still remains. It is a one-mile oval dirt track that once hosted the likes of Lee Petty, Richard Petty, Junior Johnson and Joe Weatherly. It was such a famous racetrack for stock car racing that when Junior won in 1961, Jayne Mansfield handed him the trophy.

The raceway closed in 1968 and soon became overgrown and forgotten. The trees in the center weren't there during the 20 years that the speedway was in use, but now it has become heavily forested in the 40 years since its closure.

When the site was threatened with destruction in 2003 (the state wanted to run a major road through there), it was purchased by a consortium of private conservationists and public organizations and turned into a city park with the dirt track now a walking trail. But once or twice a year, for old times sake, they will run a race with historic stock cars.

A Replica of the Original Flag Stand

The Original Concrete Grandstand with the Officials' Booth
Another Snapshot of the Grandstand