The City of Martinsville, Virginia is a part of Henry County. The old county courthouse in the city center was once a hub for activity. Today, it still is but for different reasons. Several years ago the county built a modern administrative complex some distance away, but planners and historians elected not to abandon the historic courthouse and elected to renovate it to serve other purposes to include being home to a popular visitors center. Recently I made some photographs of the newly renovated structure to shown what can be done when people care about their history.
Category Archives: America’s Past
As I was walking a main street recently in Greensboro, NC, I walked by a building that is being renovated. Along both sides of the long entryway to the building an artist had painted several scenes of what the city looked like historically from the 1930s era. I was very impressed by the composition of the painted scenes but more so by the detailed work that had been done to make them look realistic. Thanks to those who bring history back to life.
The Dan River is an integral part of history in the Piedmont Region of North Carolina and Southern Virginia. During the 19th century, the Dan was essential in the development of cities and towns as “bateau” crews and small stream launches used it for commercial river transportation. The Dan is the only place left in North Carolina where remnants of the bateau systems can still be seen today. This wall mural located on one side of the Historical Society Building in the “Leaksville” portion of Eden, North Carolina, represents the legacy of those who once traveled up and down the Dan River.
Mabry Mill is a watermill located on the Blue Ridge Parkway in Floyd County, Virginia. It is a tourist attraction mainly for the picturesque views of the mill itself. A short trail around the mill connects historical exhibits about life in rural Virginia. The mill was built in 1910 and over the years its condition deteriorated significantly. It was restored during the early 1940s when the parkway itself was relatively new. Since then it’s been rebuilt several times, including the pond adjacent to the structure. Today, the mill is one of the most photographed and painted attractions along the 469-mile route of the Blue Ridge Parkway. Living (fortunately) less than an hour’s drive away, I can visit the mill when the mood strikes — summer, fall, winter and spring.
I’ve pretty much photographed the mill from all angles, close up and far away. I decided recently to try my hand with a new wide angle camera lens at the mill, looking for a “new” composition I’d not tried before. The first image above is what I call a “standard tourist composition.” Compare that with my second and third images below which (to me) seem much more interesting, photographically and artistically. As I’ve written before, try to be different and look for photo compositions most people overlook.
Making photographs of urban architecture is fun and also educational if you take the time to examine the history of what it is you are photographing. It’s not hard to find such interesting scenes around SW Virginia, given the the number of long-closed textile plants that once were economic engines for the Commonwealth of Virginia and the United States. Here are some examples made in Eden, North Carolina.
All along the busy Norfolk Southern Rail Line that winds through the hills and mountains of SW Virginia, there are remnants of days when trains stopped at many small towns, given that railroads were then the primary mode of transportation. Such was the case in Boones Mill, VA which in 2000 had a population of less than 300. Boones Mill is located along the main highway south of Roanoke. What its population was when trains stopped there is unknown to me. Trains don’t stop there today, but I did to record a small piece of history.