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Archive for July, 2011

Happy Friday everyone.

Today’s fantasy: The Myrtles is said to be one of America’s most haunted homes.  Since it is also a Bed and Breakfast, you can experience the fright for yourself if you happen to be in St. Francisville, Louisiana, if you can make it through the night, which it seems some guests cannot. The Myrtles, seen below (photo from the This Old House website), was built around 1796 for General David “Whiskey Dave” Bradford.

Architecturally the home is best known for its lace grill work and double dormers, but in the media world and pop culture, the Myrtles is best known for its spirits. Most notably the spirit of a slave named Chloe, who supposedly (but not in reality) poisoned her master’s wife and children by baking oleander leaves (which are highly toxic) into a cake. Still even though Chloe is innocent of the crimes she is accused of, there are plenty other specters to choose from since 10 alleged murders took place and The Myrtles.

Pictured below is the Myrtles at night. (Pictures from nola.com)

Not sure you have what it takes to make it through a night at The Myrtles? Don’t worry! They offer daytime tours, if you’d rather limit your terror to a shorter stint in the day-time hours. Tours are offered everyday from 9 to 5, and if you would like a little more intrigue, they offer mystery tours on Friday and Saturday evenings (but reservations are highly suggested).

Still, one thing is certain: if you love a good ghost tour (I know I do!) or you just can’t get enough antebellum architecture, The Myrtles is the place for you.

That’s all for today, have a lovely weekend.

-Etta

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Ash and I have just gotten back from a quick mini-vacation where we caught up with my best friend, who currently lives in Philly (and re-met her boyfriend who we had met once before for like 6 seconds), so I don’t get to see her very much.  Because of this, I am all out of sorts and haven’t had any time to plan blog material, so I’m going to share some of my photos from past trips to Philly instead.

Congress Hall was constructed between 1787 and 1789.  It is run by the National Park Service and you can take a free tour if you get there early enough.

This is a cool architectural Detail I found on a building. I don’t remember anything more about it than the fact that there were other sea-creatures on the building as well. Anyone familiar with Philly recognize this?

This staircase if from the University of Pennsylvania’s Fisher Fine Arts Library designed by the very cool but slightly off-kilter Frank Furness. It kind of reminds me of the staircase scene in Labyrinth.

Here is a cool building I spotted while we were walking to a used book store.

And last but not least some photos I took at one of my favorite places (and not just because Steve Buscemi narrates the audio tour) Eastern State Penitentiary.


Hope you enjoyed this impromptu tour of Philly!

See you for tomorrow’s Friday Fantasy.

-Etta

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Happy Friday readers, it’s time again for another Friday Fantasy home. This week’s house is a bit of a bonus because it’s three houses in one. What could I mean by this? Well, today’s house is the First Harrison Gray Otis house. “First?”, you might ask. “How many Harrison Gray Otis houses are there?” Well, my friends, the answer to that is three! There are three Harrison Gray Otis houses (Ah, ha,ha ha), all designed for prominent Boston Mayor, Harrison Gray Otis, by his good friend Charles Bulfinch. While today’s house is (technically) the First Harrison Gray Otis house (now owned by Historic New England, though they’ll always be SPNEA (Society for the Protection of New England Antiquities) to me), I’m throwing in a couple bits of information and pictures of the other two Harrison Gray Otis houses because, quite frankly, the Second Harrison Gray Otis house is actually my favorite. Of course, I’m more able to provide you with links and visiting information on the First Harrison Gray Otis house, since the other two houses are privately-owned.  I’ll discuss the First house, just in case you find yourself in Boston and want to take a house tour (which is what Ash and I do when we travel…. so if you are as nerdy as we are, you’ll appreciate this).

Wow, that was a long intro… okay, on with the blurb and pictures. The First Harrison Gray Otis House is located on Cambridge Street in Boston right next to Old West Church. It was designed by the first great American-born architect (in the opinion of many historians), Charles Bulfinch. Constructed in 1796, it is perhaps most known for its third-story lunette.

Historic New England moved the house in the 1920’s when Cambridge Street was widened. It is now connected to several brick row houses, and HNE has some office space there.  The first Harrison Gray Otis house is open year-round for tours, every day except Monday and Tuesday. For more information, see Historic New England’s Website on the house here.

The Second Harrison Gray Otis house (again, my favorite) was built between 1800 and 1802. It is a grander home, situated in the elite and notoriously unnavigable Beacon Hill area of Boston, sited at 85 Mount Vernon street, to be exact. It is said to be the only free standing, single-family home still found on the hill. So, if you happen to be driving around Beacon Hill (I don’t recommended it, walking is so much easier) you should take a look at it.

Finally, the 3rd Harrison Gray Otis House is located at 45 Beacon Street and is now the home of the American Meteorological Society. It is the largest of the 3 houses and the last one that Harrison Gray Otis lived in. It is close to the Boston Common.


That’s all for today. Keep cool out there and have a great weekend.

-Etta

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Hello again everyone.

Today’s blog post is more of a question for you all than any sort of informative talk. So here it goes… with a little background.

As you may recall, back on June 7th, I had written a quick post asking you guys to vote in the This Place Matters Community Challenge. Well, the challenge is over now and a winner has been declared.

A winner very near and dear to my heart actually: The Breakers  which is run by the Preservation Society of Newport County.  It is one of the most, if not the most, visited house museums in this country, and one that I got a chance to learn in as part of my Preservation education.  But I have a bit of a dilemma, and that dilemma is… as a preservationist, should I be glad that a building so well-known as the Breakers that draws thousands of visitors a year from around the world got the money?  After all, the Preservation Society of Newport County has several mansions to maintain and operate, and it isn’t getting any less expensive. Or, should I feel like that money would have done a lot more good somewhere else?  For example… one of the lesser-known properties that the money might have saved from demolition or restored so that it will last longer?  (I’m fairly certain the Breakers isn’t in danger of being bulldozed soon, and if it were, I’d be in line to chain myself to its massive gates!).

So… since I have yet to come up with a satisfactory answer on my own, I’m polling you guys. Feel free to answer “other” and give a more in depth opinion.

-Etta

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Hello.

Some of you may not know this, but I am a Harry Potter superfan! I have read all of the books at least 10 times each, I’ve seen all of the movies and I am undefeated in Harry Potter Scene-It amongst my friends. So, it seems only fitting that, while I both celebrate the final Harry Potter movie and mourn the loss of new Harry Potter things to look forward to (until Ms. Rowling releases the encyclopedia), I should theme today’s Friday Fantasy according to another of my loves, besides Ash, Preservation and Rainbow Brite.

Obviously there isn’t actually a castle with moving staircases and rooms of requirement, but the Hogwarts we see in the movie (pictured below they way a 1st year would see it) that we all know and love was still based on a real castle. Alnwick Castle to be exact (please note there are a few other buildings used in the filming but I am narrowing it down to one for Friday Fantasy purposes) North West view of Alnwick pictured second below.

Alnwick Castle was first constructed in 1096 to guard against Scottish invasion. Through the years it has been expanded multiple times.  Today, it is the second largest inhabited castle in England,  and the Percy family (heirs to the title of Duke of Northumberland) have lived there since the 1300’s.

There are many great things about Alnwick castle other than its Harry Potter connection.  One of those things, in my opinion, is the gardens at Alnwick, and more importantly, their Tree House! It’s the largest in the world.

Alnwick has a good website that you can learn about the gardens and the history of this great castle, but if you can’t get to England you can always visit Hogwarts and enjoy a Butterbeer in Hogsmead in the US by visiting the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando seen below.

Whichever one you get to, enjoy the Magic!

-Etta

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Morning everyone (well, morning for me anyway).

A while back, I made a list of movies and books that were Preservation-themed and I realized recently that I left one off. How in the world I could over-look this gem? I have NO clue, but I did, and that movie is the Pixar Gem: UP. UP is the story of a grouchy old man named Carl who is going to lose his house to development pressure… or maybe just find himself waking up in the linens aisle of a new box store.  Carl loves his house too much for that, so he attaches millions of balloons to his house and floats away to paradise! Here is a movie still of Carl’s house before it takes flight.

 

Well, it seems that IRL (In Real Life, for those not up on the internet-speak) some people don’t think that Carl’s idea is that far-fetched, or at least they think it makes for great visual commentary on their Preservation quest. Who knows?  Maybe balloons will someday be as prevalent as “This Place Matters” signs in the Preservation community. So, because I’ve seen a few houses with balloons over them on the internet lately, I’ve decided to bring you some real life “UP” house as seen around the internet:

Here is a house owned by a lawyer in Portland, Oregon, whose house is now surrounded by college dorms and transportation projects. You can find an article on his Preservation Battle here.

The next Real Life UP house is not actually a Preservation story, but it comes to us from National Geographic. This guy simply wondered, “How hard can it be?” and in an episode of a show entitled exactly that, they attach 300 balloons to a 16×16 house (significatly smaller than Carl’s Queen Anne, by the looks)  and this is what they got:

And last, but cetainly not least, we go to the UP house in Utah,to a  home built by a  Disney Movie buff like myself. Again, this house isn’t the center of a Preservation story, but I bet people will fight to save this house one day.

Blair Bangerter and his brothers build custom homes and while watching UP, he realized he could build a house like that. Once they had the green light from Disney, that’s exactly what they did. Read about it here. Oh, and another cool thing about the UP house in Utah? It also has a replica of Andy’s bedroom from Toy Story! If only I lived in Utah.

I hope these great places have lifted your spirits for the week ahead. Have a great day!

-Etta

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Hello folks. It’s time again for another Friday Fantasy!  Since it’s rainy and dreary where I am, I’ve decided to take you to sunny  Pasadena, California, to the Greene and Greene masterpiece that defined the American Arts & Crafts Movement… the Gamble House.

The Arts and Crafts style originated in England with artist and writer, William Morris, as a response to stuffy and overly ornamented Victorian design.  It brought about sleeker lines, an appreciation for natural shapes and colors, and most importantly, encouraged craftsmanship and pride in design and product.

I have loved the Gamble House and the work of Greene and Greene for a long time, but have not yet made it to California (although someday I’d love to!), so I’ve scoured the internet for pictures that I feel depict the best assets of the Gamble House and the brothers’ work.

Oh, and if you like what you see here, check out the Greene and Greene virtual archive at USC.

My posts have been a bit few and far between as of late, but I’m hoping to get some material written this weekend. If you have any ideas for articles or issues that you’d like to see me cover, or pieces that you’d like me to feature that you’ve written as a guest writer, please feel free to leave me some comments. I’d love the opportunity to work with my readers to develop new and exciting content.

That’s all for today.  Have a great weekend!

-Etta

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