Saturday, April 6, 2013

Point Isabel Lighthouse - Port Isabel, Texas

Lighthouses are fascinating to so many people. They hearken back to a time before GPS devices. They conjure up memories of sailing ships being warned away from dangerous shoals and rocky shores. When we see a lighthouse, we also remember those who served as faithful lighthouse keepers. Each and every day they dutifully lit their lamps to keep sailors safe from harm. They shined their lights in the darkness and offered guidance to those in peril on the sea.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Dixon-Globe Opera House - Robinson-Schwenn Building - Hamilton, Ohio

Buildings have some amazing stories to tell. If the walls of the Dixon-Globe Opera House -Robinson-Schwenn Building in Hamilton, Ohio could talk, it would be a long and varied conversation. Opera house, saloon, drug store, skating rink, offices, department store, university classrooms and coffee shop have all called this building home. Even the long hyphenated name of this building, located in the heart of Hamilton's business district, suggests that it has served many purposes throughout its history.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

President Ulysses S. Grant Birthplace - Point Pleasant, Ohio

President Ulysses S. Grant Birthplace
Location: 1551 State Route 232, Point Pleasant, Ohio
Constructed: 1817
Architect: Unknown
Type: Residential
Style: Vernacular
Original Use: Residence
Current Use: Museum

The Grant Birthplace in Point Pleasant, Ohio was the birthplace of President Ulysses S. Grant who was born there in 1822. The home was built in 1817 and in 1821, Jesse Root Grant wed Hannah Simpson Grant (Ulysses's parents) moved into the home where they paid $2 a month rent.
The house was originally a one-room cottage that included a large brick chimney. The exterior is clapboard wooden siding painted white. The house is roofed with wood shakes. There are two windows on the front facade of the house. The front door is located in the center of the main facade.
The interior walls are finished with plaster. The interior ceiling is constructed of exposed wood beams and planks that are painted white. The interior floor is composed of wood planks. Simple painted wood baseboard serves as trim around the intersection of the walls and floor boards. The brick fireplace opening is trimmed by simple painted wood mantelpiece.
The house now has three rooms. The two rear rooms were added after the Grant family moved from the house. The two rooms in the rear of the house serve now as a reception area and display area for artifacts related to President Grant's life.
Shortly after President Grant's death in 1885, Michael Hirsch, the owner of the house at the time, had the house placed on a towboat and ferried to Cincinnati, Ohio. The Grant birthplace remained on display for the Ohio Valley Centennial celebration. Henry T. Chittenden and William F. Burdell of Columbus, Ohio bought the house in 1888 and moved it to the Goodale Park in Columbus. In Columbus, the house was displayed during the Northwest Territory centennial celebration. After this, the cottage went on a tour of the nation by rail. When the house returned to Ohio, it was moved to the State Fairgrounds in Columbus, Ohio where it was eventually enclosed in a glass and limestone pavilion called the Grant Memorial Building. The house remained at the Fairgrounds for 40 years.
In the mid-1920's, the State of Ohio purchased the property where Grant's birthplace had stood and Grant Memorial Park was established. In 1936, the house was dismantled and reconstructed on its original foundation.
Today the house is furnished with items that once belonged to Grant as well as a few period items. In 1998, the birthplace and several associated buildings were listed on the National Register of Historic Places as a historic district. The Ohio Historical Society operates the site as a historic house museum.

East Facade

North Facade

From Southeast

Interior with period furnishings and Grant family artifacts

Interior with period furnishings and Grant family artifacts

Interior with period furnishings and Grant family artifacts

Fireplace with period furnishings and Grant family artifacts

exterior signage

Historic Photo - 1864
Historic Photo - House being dismantled - 1936

Historic Photo - Grant House being moved - 1936

Historic Photo - east facade - 1937

Historic Photo - top of Grant birthplace during 1937 flood

Historic Photo - Grant birthplace in background - 1942

Sources and Links:

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Soldiers, Sailors, and Pioneers Permanent Monument - Hamilton, Ohio

Location: 1 South Monument Avenue, Hamilton, Ohio
Constructed: 1901
Architect: Frederick Noonan
Type: Memorial
Style: Neoclassical
Original Use: Memorial Building
Current Use: Memorial Building/Museum

The Soldiers, Sailors and Pioneers Permanent Monument stands on the east bank of the Great Miami near the entrance to the High Street Bridge in Hamilton, Ohio. The site is immediately adjacent to where Fort Hamilton (a frontier military post built in 1791) once stood. In September, 1897, a committee comprised of prominent citizens incorporated for the purpose of perpetuating "the memory of the soldiers, sailors, and pioneers of Butler County, Ohio." The laying of the cornerstone of the memorial monument took place on Thanksgiving Day, November 21, 1902. Replicas in concrete of the stockade and two block houses of Fort Hamilton were constructed in 1901. The official dedication of the building took place on July 4, 1906.
The monument, a three-story high building, is designed in the neoclassical style. The exterior is constructed of smooth cut limestone. The building is 100 feet tall and the base measures 40 feet by 40 feet. Clustered Doric columns flank the entrance on the east side. A large stone staircase on the east face leads to the main entrance to the memorial. The wooden double doors of the main (east) facade are ornamented with classical detailing. Over the entrance is a large arched stained glass window. A large ornamental keystone tops the arched opening.
Over the entrance is a large half circle stained glass window depicting women taking care of wounded soldiers near a battlefield hospital tent entitled "The Army Nurses". A larger arched stained glass window on the west side is titled "Our Loyal Mothers and Sisters" and portrays women and children making lint and packing bandages for the war efforts. The north and south rectangular shaped windows on the first floor display the seal of the Grand Army of the Republic and the Great seal of the state of Ohio in stained glass respectively. The Erkins Glass company of Cincinnati designed the art glass windows.
Upon entering the main (east) doors, one enters the main room that now serves a museum housing military uniforms, weapons, and a model of Fort Hamilton. The main room is flanked by two small rooms on the north and south that house display cases containing additional military artifacts.
Crossing the main room, one can ascend the staircase on the west wall to the second floor. The staircase is constructed of highly polished marble and includes a classical balustrade. The second floor has a high domed ceiling. An organic frieze covered with gold leaf and keystones above both arched windows continue the neoclassical detailing on this level. The second level houses more historic military artifacts. Two small rooms on the north and south house additional military artifacts. These ante rooms contain round windows with clear glass.
The interior of the memorial is finished with marble. Tablets of Tennessee marble are hung on the walls of first and second level main rooms and bear the names of Butler County pioneers and veterans of American wars through the Spanish-American War.
The monument is topped by a small round temple-like structure that is supported by Corinthian columns. Topping the temple dome structure is a 3,500 pound bronze statue. The l7-foot statue is titled "Victory" (known locally as "Billy Yank") and depicts a Union soldier standing on an exploded shell and giving a joyous cheer over battlefield success. German native, Rudolph Thiem, was the designer of the statue.

Monument from Northeast

East Facade

East Facade detail

west facade keystone detail

clustered Doric columns detail - east facade

main door detail

Domed temple structure with statue of "Victory"

Domed temple structure with statue of "Victory"

bronze statue of "Victory"
bronze statue of "Victory"

temple column detail
west facade with recreated fort wall and tower

recreated fort wall and tower

South Facade

east doors interior

inscription above east door - interior

First floor interior window detail - Great Seal of the State of Ohio

First Floor interior window detail - Seal of the Grand Army of the Republic

interior stairs railing detail

interior stair detail

interior dome art glass detail

second floor interior detail

second floor interior detail above west window

West Window - "Our Loyal Mothers and Sisters"

West Window - "Our Loyal Mothers and Sisters"

East Window - "The Army Nurses"

Interior Wall Detail - tablets with names of Butler County, Ohio veterans

historical marker

historic photo of monument without statute on top

parade on High Street with Monument in upper left corner - 1906

historic postcard - 1907

historic photo - 1911

historic photo - after 1913 flood

historic photo - 1915

historic photo - 1938

Sources and Links:

Schwartz, James, PhD (1986), Hamilton Ohio: It's Architecture and History, The Hamilton City Planning Department, pp. 97-99.