We live in a moderately “rural” part of SW Virginia, very near my second most favorite state, North Carolina, and one common sight I see all over both states down here are backyard storage buildings, I’m calling them “barns.” People do a lot of yard and garden work and for that a suitable place to store tools and such is required. Here are two just up the street from our house. I really like the red one best. Just because. Here’s a close up.
My prior post was about the decline of American industry and the remnants of associated buildings left behind. I saw lots of “beauty” in that regard, and decided while making those photos to take a look at how local community developers and elected officials have decided to improve on that situation. I recently began following a blog written by a couple living in Greensboro, NC who live in a renovated textile plant in that city, which is attracting many young people like them. I decided to take a look closer to home here in Martinsville, VA and what follows is what I saw recently.
For years I drove by a somewhat rundown brick building that once was home to the Martinsville Novelty Company. What’s a “novelty” you ask. Good question and certainly not something we see anymore with that title. Wikipedia defines this as “A novelty item is an object which is specifically designed to serve no practical purpose, and is sold for its uniqueness, humor, or simply as something new.” I remember as a kid seeing ads in comic books that touted many “novelties” each of which captured my attention. Anyway, I digress. Several years ago a developer purchased the building and turned it into a very nice apartment complex with lots of amenities. The adjacent parking lot was crowded the day I visited to make this photo. Success number one!
Success number two. The historic Henry Hotel sat for years in the center of Martinsville, and served its purpose well. Then it closed years ago. Recently another developer gave the building a new chance in life. Martinsville’s Historic Henry Hotel is now The Henry, a 25-unit downtown loft complex. Small businesses were attracted and that has helped put a bit more vibrancy into the city, previously impacted by closures of many local major industries.
Lastly, and perhaps most significant is what has happened to the main production facility for Tultex, Inc located here in Martinsville. The city was once referred to as “the sweatshirt capital of the world”, due to Tultex’s production of athletic and other popular lines of clothing. Then along came China to compete, and “boom” Tultex and many companies like it shuttered their facilities. The loss of jobs had a obvious significant impact on Martinsville, but left behind was a very large multi-story brick building. That changed due to forward-looking and wise action on the part of many people. A portion of the plant has been converted to office space with large meeting/conference facilities, that have over the past several years, added a lot to the community. Here’s what it looks like today in its new life.
I’m proud to have been witness to the transformation processes related to each of the three examples I cited above. I already mentioned one such success in Greensboro, plus I’m aware of many other examples elsewhere in North Carolina and Virginia. It makes me proud to see what’s happening. We Americans are indeed adaptable.
I’ve written many times that I love trains and most things associated with them. Especially old depots such as this one in Madison, NC. Trains still use the adjacent tracks, and that’s good. It’s just that they don’t stop here anymore. When I visit such locations I like to imagine what it was like living here during the 1930s, 40s, and 50s in America when passenger and freight trains were the main mode of transportation, and many small cities and towns like Madison were serviced daily. When I was a young boy I recall traveling about on passenger trains with my parents, going from city-to-city. It was exciting, albeit a bit daunting, to have to walk along a passenger and baggage platform that ran in between train depot tracks, where massive locomotives sat waiting to depart. The steam engines hissed and rumbled above me as we walked along. But I began to relax as we boarded our train, with a friendly uniformed Conductor helping me climb the steep steps into our assigned car. I always had a window seat with my face plastered to the glass most of the time, peering out at passing sights. These are memories I’ll never forget. I guess that’s why I like making photos at places like this old depot.
Danbury, NC was not a location of American Civil War battles but it was, toward the end of the conflict, part of Union forces forays through the state, destroying Confederate facilities that had some relation to sustaining the war. The iron works near the town were one such target, as were rail lines. Today, Danbury is home to some historic and beautiful buildings such as the old Stokes County Courthouse (above-below) and the adjacent Moodys Tavern (third image) which was headquarters for Union Army forces in the area. Part of the old building is now home to a few of the approximate 200 residents of the town, and it still has the “look” of what it once was. The next photo I liked very much, because I was not expecting to find such a building there. It’s a nicely designed small building used by the town’s present day government, and it fits in very well with surrounding facilities. Last, is a small church I found a bit of a walk away from the courthouse. I liked the wooden cross at ground level by the freshly painted white picket fence. Danbury isn’t a place most folks would travel “to”, but mostly “trough.” I’m glad I stopped.
I’ve been fortunate to have lived and traveled throughout Europe, and it was during one visit to England when I learned there is a difference between a “graveyard” and “cemetery.” It’s all related to a church. This United Methodist Church in southern New Jersey in the United States, illustrates my point. In the 17th Century, burial places located on church property in Europe were called graveyards, but as the population grew significantly in the 18th Century, church yard space was filled and thus burial locations were located some distance away and … cemeteries were created. I’m happy that the United States has so many close historical ties to Europe, especially Great Britain.
Cape May is situated along the southern shore of New Jersey and besides the interesting and beautiful Victorian Style homes, private and rental, the colors and welcoming atmosphere is what made it enjoyable for me last week. Here are a few images made that might make you want to visit. Very unique “beach” location.
Per North Carolina Historical Marker online research: “The Wright Tavern is a landmark in Rockingham County that has successfully been restored to its nineteenth century condition. Construction on the inn commenced around 1810. The building remained in the Wright-Reid family until it was sold to the Rockingham County Historical Society in 1967. “I’ve visited the site several times, and each time I do I see more than I’d seen before.
I like to “get close” after making an overview photo, and by so doing I’ve been transported back in time. I especially liked the open “walk through” area between adjacent living areas, with the old stairway to the second floor..
Details of the historic structure, and out-buildings made me smile. I’m even more pleased when I see the results of volunteers and others renovating rare buildings such as Wright Tavern, and by doing that they bring great credit to the locality involved.
When I wander around the Virginia-North Carolina region in which I live, I’m drawn to the numerous small, rural towns nearby. These places contain a wealth of photo compositions, most probably unseen by those who don’t walk around like I do, looking for something different. It’s easy to make photos of popular attractions or scenic views. It’s harder to make photos of things that tend to blend in to the surrounding area. Like, why would anyone want to make a photo of this?
Or how about these two compositions? I saw them and jumped with joy.
To end this post, I offer the following images which prove my point. There are many, many interesting sights out there, folks, if you’ll just take time to find and “see” them.
I just returned from a visit to Western North Carolina, visiting family and making photos of various aspects of the scenic Smoky Mountain region. I think it’s important to note that there is lots more to be seen there than just “mountains”, especially when you visit small towns and marvel at the interesting and beautiful architecture therein.
As the sun lowered in the sky late this afternoon, after twelve hours of moderate to heavy snowfall (the first of 2017 for us here in SW Virginia) the beauty of our back yard made me smile. I made the Barn Quilt you see attached to the side of our storage shed for my wife Barb several years ago, and its color, that of the shed and the dark blue sky really made this scene memorable. I believe this will be just one of hundreds more I’ll record during this new year. Many to share here.