As we near the Easter holiday, I wanted to post these photos of an old church I found yesterday in Floyd, Virginia, in the midst of the Blue Ridge Mountains. It’s adjacent to the main highway into this small, scenic and historic town, and I have passed it many times before now without noticing. This time I saw it on the way into town, and on the way back out I pulled off the road and made my photos. The lesson learned for me is that no matter how many times you think you are paying attention to what’s around you, the more you are often surprised by what you fail to see. From the condition of the church, it’s obvious to me that it’s been unused for many years, but when it was a regular place of worship for many local residents I am sure it was a much more vibrant building.
Category Archives: America’s Past
Old farm structures such as this are like a magnet to me when I have my camera. I’d photographed this old storage barn before, but when I saw it recently I noticed that the metal roofed shed on one side had fallen down, on top of what I was really wanting to make an image of — an old horse-drawn farm wagon. But, I still got a photo which as it turned out, was not that bad.
One type of home I love to photograph are those with a Victorian style design architecture, popular in the late 19th and early 20th Century. The name “Victorian” refers to the reign of Britain’s Queen Victoria (1837–1901), called the Victorian era, during which period the styles known as Victorian were used in construction. Not only did the design include all sorts of colorful windows, peaked roofing, and intricate trim designs and scrollwork. but entrances to the home and yard often included cast iron fencing with its own unique design, crouching concrete lions, and large bells. In those times people spent a lot of time on their front porches watching sidewalk passers-by, and inviting friends to enter their front fence gate and come sit for a spell. I bet many a young boy’s pants were ripped when trying to climb over those type metal fences rather than using the gate! Today, one hardly ever sees anyone sitting on their front porch, assuming their home even has one that is functional in that regard. Many young people today probably would as, “What’s a sidewalk?”
Reidsville, NC was once home to the American Tobacco Company, which made the iconic cigarette “Lucky Strike.” The plant is closed now, but the town has not declined as have many other similar-sized manufacturing towns in North Carolina. In fact, the main street of Reidsville hardly had an open parking spot the day I visited recently to make some “street Life” photos as I wandered around town. Below is a varied mix of scenes I saw that day for your enjoyment, so you may see what I saw. I note that there is a main line train track running through the center of the town, and while I was there two long trains passed by. A busy place in many ways.
From a photographic point of view, I am a big fan of any old advertisement or business sign still around. They remind me of my personal time growing up in the late 1940s and 1950s when what we became interested in from a “buying” standpoint was a result of some interesting sign hanging outside a business, or some painted version on the side of brick or wooden buildings. No TV to help the selling spree, but that’s indeed NOT a bad thing. Coke or Pepsi?
I have photographed this old “rock house” several times before. It is located between Martinsville and Danville Virginia along the main highway and whenever I drive by I always take a look to see what might be “new.” As I drove by recently, I noticed that the owners had removed the wire fence that once kept visitors like me from getting too close. That did it. I had to stop. I assume the home was lived in during the early 20th Century based on its design. Today, it serves as a great photo subject. I liked the small purple flowers growing on the porch steps and the view out from an old window opening surrounded by lots of ivy.
I’ve written before that when you are walking around with your camera, especially on streets in towns and cities, there are lots of interesting objects or scenes to photograph besides the typical tourist shots. Just use your imagination. It works for me anyway. Here are several examples recently made in Uptown Martinsville, Virginia. The “face profile” image is in fact a section of a stucco wall that had fallen off. I also thought the unique “hand” door knocker was pretty neat. Never seen one like this before. Caught my eye. Try your hand at making your own different images.
I love trains, especially those that thrived throughout the United States during the early-mid 20th Century. Rail lines went just about everywhere it seemed, connecting towns and cities large and small. Most train depots had a similar look. Long, single-storied brick and wooden structures that lay parallel to the train tracks. There was always a long wooden deck or concrete loading and unloading platform which felt the pulse of thousands of travelers for decades. Today, in locations such as Bassett Virginia, these iconic stations still exist, albeit in some decay, but are still being used for purposes other than train traffic, which has ceased. When I visited the Bassett train depot recently I was looking for something different to photograph, but with an objective to portray the aging and rustic nature of the facility. The town of Bassett now uses this building for a city market, where local goods are sold on weekends. It is also used for special community gatherings. While trains no longer pass by, people like me often do.
I enjoy wandering our relatively small and somewhat struggling city center of Martinsville, VA adjacent to where we live, and making photos of items in store windows and store fronts. It’s interesting to note that Martinsville was, until the late 1980s, a primary “economic engine” for the Commonwealth of Virginia. With the demise of American manufacturing over the years, especially textiles and furniture, given that cheaper goods are available from off-shore resources, cities like ours have struggled. Many, like here, are seeking ways to make their business districts more vibrant and that brings out ingenuity of store owners to attract customers. But, economics and government policies are not my focus here, photos are. The main challenge faced when making photos through store window glass is the angle of the sun and reflections, much less dirty glass. So, picking the right time of day is important. Anyway, as I walk along, my eyes are always roving to see what I can find. Colors, shapes, interesting items, etc. Here are some examples I made recently.