Today I’m trying out a new topic for an ongoing series much like my, “What is the Jargon!?!” series. It is no surprise that I enjoy exploring cemeteries wherever I go. The closest cemetery near me is Bayside Cemetery, here in Potsdam and when the weather is nice, I like to walk to it. There’s a lovely path that runs along the Raquette River that goes all the way to the rural cemetery.
Now, almost every time I adventure around Bayside or another burial ground, I take tons of pictures of gravestones that interest me for one reason or another. I figured I could share some of those gravestones with you all, along with information about the person who the stone represents.
The first story and stones I wanted to share with you are the gravestones of William and Thankfull Davis, located in Section E, Lot 168.
The timing for this post was completely unplanned until I looked at a calendar on Tuesday and realized that May 25, which is today, is the death anniversary of William. He was a Patriot during the American Revolutionary War and possibly the War of 1812, though I couldn’t confirm that.
William Davis was born September 30, 1762 in the town of Rutland of Worcester County in Massachusetts. His parents were Nathaniel and Ellen (Hubbard) Davis. William was the youngest of 15 children! When he was 17, William enlisted in the 7th Worcester County Regiment.
On July 5, 1787, William married Thankfull Nye in Hardwick, Massachusetts. Thankful (Nye) Davis was born February 10 1764 and was the daughter of Joseph Nye Jr. of Sandwich and Thankful (Goodspeed) Nye of Barnstable (they were married in Hardwick on October 20, 1757). Thankful (Goodspeed) Nye was the eldest child of Ebenezer Goodspeed and Elizabeth (Bodfish) Goodspeed; AKA Thankful Davis’ grandparents. On a side note, Thankfull’s gravestone is the only place where her name is spelled with two of the letter, “L.”
Both William and Thankfull passed away in 1833 in Potsdam, NY.
So how did William and Thankfull get all the way from Hardwick, Massachusetts to Potsdam, NY. Well, it’s unclear when exactly they arrived in Northern New York. A source I used for initial information, indicates that they were in Potsdam by 1820 – they would have been in their 50’s.
The other curious thing about the couple, looking at the detailed family trees for both William and Thankful, none of them indicate that they had kids, which seems really weird. Especially when you envision two middle age people in the early 19th century moving all the way to Northern New York from Massachusetts. That’s normally a 6 hour car drive – imagine doing that on horses and wagons. Plus, during this time, it was usual to have large families because of infant mortality rates and having more kids meant having more helping hands on a farm. So that’s why I thought something must be missing in the record.
I went back to the New York State DAR blog that explained William’s service during the American Revolution and checked to see what records were used, so I could check them out for myself. Census records from 1820 and 1830 were used, so I found those online. Looking at the 1820 Census records, I kind of found the answer I was looking for. William Davis is listed and in the row associated with his name, marks were made to indicate that in his household there was one “Free While Male over 45,” and one “Free White Female over 45” and that one person worked in agriculture. A few lines under William, another Davis is listed, Joseph!
The markings in Joseph’s row indicate one male aged 16-25, one male aged 26-44, and one female aged 16-25. From this I assume, Joseph Davis is either a son or other close relation of William and Thankful. Joseph doesn’t show up on the family tree from William Davis’ family but they’re actually buried next to each other at Bayside.
Looking through online records for Bayside Cemetery and searching for the last name, “Davis” I was able to make some more connections. Mary Harwood Davis (1797-185?) was married to a Joseph N., the “N.” is probably for Nye, Thankful Davis’ maiden name. Mary Harwood Davis was the mother of Ebenezer H. Davis, who was born 1832 and passed away 1911. By the way, they’re all buried in a row next to each other at Bayside. So they all have to be related! Ebenezer is an interesting name to choose…it would have been same name as Thankful (Nye) Davis’ grandfather.
So based on the new information and comparing that to the 1820 Census information for Joseph’s household we can conclude that: Joseph is the, “male aged 26-44” and Mary would be the “female aged 16-25.” Her birth year is 1797, in 1820 she would have been 23. The other male in the household, I have no idea because their son, Ebenezer, wasn’t born until 1832, so it can’t be him. I assume it must be a relative of either Joseph or Mary. If the other male was a brother of Joseph, that would mean William and Thankful Davis had another son but why isn’t he living with them? I think it might be a relative of Mary Harwood, maybe a brother. That would make a little more sense…
I went back to the 1810 Census and William Davis shows up there too; I couldn’t find Joseph Davis listed on his own.
Looking through the Bayside Cemetery records further, I found some other Davis family connections and another Joseph Davis. I found the Joseph Davis that I have been talking, about via the census records from 1820 and 1830. In the cemetery records for Bayside, the Joseph Davis that is listed is occasionally listed as the husband of Mary Harwood. Sounds correct right? Well it’s not the same Joseph. This new Joseph that keeps getting confused with our correct, old Joseph, was born 1860 and died in 1872…..Mary Harwood Davis died in the 1850’s. The other glaring issue- this new Joseph would have been 12 when he passed away.
I assume the mix-up has happened because of a few possibilities:
There are two different Joseph Davis- our adult Joseph Davis, the son of William and Thankful and the child Joseph Davis, maybe a relative in someway;
The old Joseph Davis’ gravestone in actually broken and embedded into the ground next to Mary’s stone- it was never seen during the original inventory of the cemetery;
There’s only one Joseph Davis and his birth year has been recorded incorrectly but he still died in 1872.
If the last one scenario is the correct mix-up- Joseph when he passed away would have been at least 75 years old, assuming he was born the same year as Mary Harwood, his wife.
The other Davis family members that are immediately related to Joseph, Mary, and ultimately William and Thankful include:
Thankful Davis (died 1836) Apparently this Thankful doesn’t have a stone but is buried in Section E, Lot 168).
Catherine Davis Averill (died 1882). Her father is listed as Joseph Davis. Her spouse’s initials are E.W. buried in Section E, Lot 106.
Thankful Davis Chapman (1838-1882). Her father is listed as Joseph Davis. She is buried in Section E, Lot 105.
? Elmina S. Davis Barnes (1838-1859). No parents are listed for her entry in the cemetery records. Her husband was Charles. She is buried in Section D, Lot 019. I included Elmina because her maiden name is Davis and her birth year is very close to the other “confirmed” Davis daughters. Maybe she is a cousin.
A few final points about the family to make. William Davis was a supposed veteran from the War of 1812. I researched and I couldn’t find any records officially indicating this. Joseph Davis though, served during the War of 1812 in Darius Hawkins Company of the NY militia. The record for his pension also lists that he married Mary Harwood on September 16, 1816.
Joseph’s son Ebenezer H. Davis was a veteran from the Civil War. Ebenezer was a private during the Civil War. He served in Company B of the 50th NY Volunteer Engineer Regiment. Ebenezer’s enlistment lasted from September 1, 1864 to June 1865, when the regiment was mustered out.
So that makes three generations of the same family, veterans in a number of wars fought in the early years of American history.
Researching this family showed a couple of interesting issues in that can happen when researching history of a family. The first issue was the lack of information in William and Thankful’s family trees especially in regards to their own family and whether or not they had kids. Based off of their family trees it would appear they didn’t have kids but the census records and location of gravestones at Bayside would indicate they moved to Potsdam with some children. The lack of clear information can indicate a couple of things: records along the frontier area of the United States weren’t well maintained AND it can be assumed that once William and Thankful moved to Northern New York, their communication with their family back in Massachusetts was very limited.
The other unplanned aspect of this post is that it’s right in time for Memorial Day, which is May 29th here in the United States. So maybe if you have time this weekend, head to your local cemetery and see what graves you can find of veterans of the United States Army and Navy, and pay respects to our pass veterans.
If you have questions or comments, leave them below.
This month’s jargon term is, “board and batten” or “board-and-batten,” depending on whether you’re using the term as an adjective or noun; for the record, hyphenate when using the term as an adjective. Every now and then, this type of exterior siding many be called, “barn siding,” because many barns across North America are constructed with this.
The actual definition of “board and batten” from my handy-dandy Guide to Vermont Architecture is this, “Exterior siding of flush wide, vertical planks with narrow wooden strips (battens) covering the joints.”
Historically, board and batten would refer to siding built of wood but given today’s building material options, this siding can be made of plastic, metal, or even fiberglass. Board-and-batten siding can be seen on informal styled architecture, think country homes, churches, and/or barns. During the Victorian era it would have been seen as an architectural feature on Carpenter Gothic homes.
So, board-and-batten siding has an interesting back story. Basically, people built in this style because of a lack of materials plus it helps create a stronger and more energy efficient wall. You’re probably wondering what the hell I’m talking about…
Imagine yourself, a recent arrival to the New World. There’s extensive, old growth forests that you’re not familiar with; England really doesn’t have forests like this anymore. You are also in desperate need of a shelter for yourself and family. Cutting down trees and building a log house would be the easiest and quick; you only have axes and saws and there are no saw mills yet built. The log house is easy to build, for the most part, the issue is that the felled tress do no exactly fit together, so there are gaps that you and your family fill in with moss, leaves, sticks, and mud. It mostly does the job…but there’s still a cold draft during the winter. By the way, you’re not the only family that needs to build a quick home plus there’s also an extreme logging occurring in the New World with lumber being shipped back to Europe. The forests are slowly depleted but houses still need to be built because of the increasing numbers of colonists. Eventually a town is built up around where you and your family settled and a saw mill in constructed. Because of the lack of trees and a new sawmill, newer settlers are building there houses out of planks and strips of wood. Out of one felled log, a lot of planks can be planed, meaning it is most cost effective. The seams between vertical standing planks can easily be covered with narrow wood strips (batten), keeping the cold out during the winter.
For an actual visual of a log home located in Northern New York, check out this link: http://www.watertowndailytimes.com/article/20110108/DCO01/301089932. The article is about an actual log cabin that was reconstructed to represent the home of the first settler in Parishville, Luke Brown and his family. In the photos accompanying the article, you can see the space in between the stacked logs.
Check out the following images to see buildings constructed with board-and-batten siding. There are no spaces in between planks!
Buildings from Upper Canada Village:
Let me know in the comments if you have any questions or have any board-and-batten sided buildings in your neighborhood!
4) Like always, my handy dandy resource for architectural jargon is:
“The Historical Architecture of Vermont: Guide to Vermont Architecture,” Curtis B. Johnson, editor and Elsa Gilbertson, Principal Author, published by: the Vermont Division for Historic Preservation, 1996.
I’m super excited to tell you all that the George T. Robinson House has been officially listed in the National Register of Historic Places. I wrote the nomination for the property this past summer! Working with a representative from the State Historic Preservation office, we edited the nomination during the fall. It was submitted to the State for review in December and officially listed to the State Register in February. From there it was forwarded to the Keeper of the National Register to be reviewed and finally it was listed April 17, 2017!
Today’s post is going to look at sections of the nomination that I wrote and submitted during the late summer. At the end of this post, there is a link to the final copy of the nomination.
Building Description Summary The George T. Robinson House, located in the town of Clayton, Jefferson County, New York is a highly intact 2 ½ story, rear-facing “T” plan, Shingle Style home. The home occupies a center location on the southern side of Bluff Island overlooking the St. Lawrence River and mainland New York State. The home was constructed in 1901 and designed by Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania architect, Thorsten E. Billquist, for George T. Robinson and his family, also from Pittsburgh. The south-facing front facade is dominated by an open porch that almost wraps around the entire length of the first floor; the porch is supported by evenly spaced stone pillars. The walls and roof are finished with shingles, and the foundation and porch supports are built of red granite that originated from quarry located on Picton Island located to the north of Bluff Island. The interior of the home is finished with wood paneling and wainscoting from floor to ceiling. There is an 11 foot granite fireplace located within the wall that separates the living room and dining room, so that there is a fireplace in both rooms. The upstairs historically consisted of seven bedrooms, four bathrooms, and a living space in the attic for employed help. To the east of house once stood a 2-story boat house that collapsed sometime after 1966. Other important resources of the property include surface remains of walled garden located directly north of the house on a slight slope. While to the west of house there is a path that leads to the powerhouse that was once used for water pumping. The Robinson Family Estate is in good condition with the only alterations to the home being general maintenance throughout the years, and the current renovations to update the utilities of the property and replace shingles that have been severely weathered because of the elements. The maintenance changes and loss of the boat house do not detract from the overall integrity of the Robinson Family Estate in terms of location, design, setting, materials, workmanship, feeling, and association.
Setting and Location:
The George T. Robinson House is located on the southerly side of Bluff Island, one of the islands situated in the St. Lawrence River; the Island is located within the township of Clayton located in Jefferson County, New York. Bluff Island is a 61 acre island, with the property of the Robinson Family Estate occupying 26 acres of the Island. The property is accessible by boat and is roughly two miles north-east of Clayton, while the closest islands are Picton Island to the north and Grindstone Island to the west. The home is located on rocky south point of Bluff Island, with the front facade facing south towards Round Island and the mainland of New York. To the east of the home is another summer cottage, once owned by Colonel Harry C. Kessler, once called “The Bluffs.” Today the property has a shop on it called “Boateak” and the shop features American arts, crafts, and antiques and is only opened during the summer months. To the west of the Robinson Family Estate is a modern style home situated on a rocky outcrop.
Before you check out the statement of significance, which is basically the WHY is this building important enough to be listed in the State and National Registers of Historic Places…let me explain a little bit more about the statement. What you see below is literally only half of the statement. The section that is missing is related to the historical “context” that the house falls under. In this case the historical contexts for the George T. Robinson Houses includes the Gilded Age in the Thousand Islands Region and the commonly seen use of the shingle style in summer residences.
The other exciting part of this is that one of the main secondary sources I used in researching the Thousand Islands was the book, The First Summer People: The Thousand Islands 1650 – 1910, written by Susan Weston Smith and published in 1993. It is a great book and I suggest checking it out if you’re interested in learning more about the region and the history of the Thousand Islands, like all of the islands. So last weekend, I went to a writing fair located at TAUNY (a non-profit that focuses on folklore in Upstate NY). Susan Smith was there!!! I was able to thank her! And tell her how much her book helped me! I also told her about this nomination and how it was approved! I also told her about some of the other projects I might be working on in the area! It was wonderful to actually meet the person who had written a book that I used for research! I fan-girled out! I got a hug from her! It was beautiful!
Soooo anyways, here’s part of the statement of significance for the George T. Robinson House:
Statement of Significance Summary
The Robinson Summer Estate is locally significant under Criterion A, “property that is associated with events that have made a significant contribution to the broad patterns of our history.” The Robinson Summer Estate was designed by Thorsten E. Billquist in 1901 as the shingle-style summer home of George T. Robinson’s family. The Robinson family originated from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where Mr. Robinson worked in the steel and manufacturing industries. The property remained the summer residence of the Robinson family until 1948, when Anne H. Robinson passed away. It changed hands during the 1950’s, and ownership passed to Harry and Ruby Butcher. The couple ran the property as the “Bluff Island Lodge,” where tourists could stay while visiting the surrounding area. The Robinson Summer Estate relates to the summer resort era of the Thousand Islands during the turn of the 20th century and then again in the tourism boom of the 1950’s. The property is also locally significant under Criterion C, “property embodies the distinctive characteristics of a type, period, or method of construction or represents the work of a master, or possesses high artistic values, or represents a significant and distinguishable entity whose components lack individual distinction.” The summer home was designed by Pittsburgh architect, Thorsten E. Billquist, in the shingle-style, a style commonly used in summer resort areas. The Robinson Summer Estate is significant under these two criteria in regards to its connections to architecture (a Shingle style summer cottage), entertainment, recreational, and tourism values, as well as its connections to the social history of the Thousand Islands region as a tourist resort during the early 20th century and again in the 1950’s tourist boom in New York State.
George T. Robinson House: Social History
The Robinson Family Estate fits into the overarching social history of the Thousand Islands in regards to entertainment, recreational, and tourism in the sense that the home served as a private residence and was used as a fishing lodge briefly during the 1950’s. The home was constructed at the turn of the century in 1901, near the end of the Gilded Age, to be used as the summer residence of a Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania family, the Robinson family. The home is also built in the Shingle Style, an architectural style that has been considered the leading cottage design during the Gilded Age; the home was designed by Pittsburgh architect, Thorsten E. Billquist.
George T. Robinson was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in 1838 to son of William C. Robinson and Ann Holdship. Ann was the daughter of Henry Holdship, who owned the largest paper making establishment in the area. William C. was a member of the firm, Robinson and Minis, which was a foundry that constructed engines. Specifically, William built steam boats and their engines; he himself owned a small fleet of steam boats.1 It was mostly likely because of his father’s work, that George became involved in the steel and engine building industry in Pennsylvania.
George married Althea Rebecca Dilworth on November 3, 1863. Together they had five children: Mary Mason, William Christopher, Anne Holdship, Stuart Holdship, and Henry Holdship. According to the United States census of 1880, George’s occupation was listed as, “iron founder and engine builder.”2 By the 1910 census, George’s occupation had changed to, “capitalist.”3 Up until 1897, George had been the president of Robinson-Rea Manufacturing Company, which was one of the first steel foundries in Pittsburgh, building engines and rolling mill machinery.4 In that same year his Robinson-Rea Manufacturing Company was consolidated with another Pittsburgh company, Leechburg Foundry and Machine Company, into a new larger organization, Mesta Machine Company. George still had a role to play in the new, larger company; he was a member of the board of directors for Mesta Machine Company. The plant that had been used by Robinson-Rae Manufacturing Company in the South Side, was still to be used by Mesta Machine Company.5
From his work in the steel industry, George was able to provide his family with a comfortable life, given the fact that he was able to purchase land in 1900 and then build a summer home on Bluff Island in the Thousand Islands in 1901. George bought land on Bluff Island from General Harry C. Kessler, who happened to be his brother-in-law. General Kessler was born in Philadelphia in 1844 and during the Civil War enlisted in the Union Army.6 Kessler had married Josephine Alden Dilworth on November 8, 1876; Josephine was a younger sister of George’s wife, Althea.7
From the deed records at the Jefferson County Clerk’s office, Harry and Josephine Kessler, who at the time were living in Montana, sold the northerly and western portion of Bluff Island to George T. Robinson. The transaction was recorded at the County Clerk’s office August 30, 1900. The Kessler’s had previously purchased the island from Fannie and Eugene Washburn and that transaction was recorded in the county records on August 20, 1900.8 The transaction was noted in the local paper, where Bluff Island was described as, “…one of the most desirable unimproved islands in this section of the river.”9 By the next summer, the Kessler and Robinson families had begun to build their summer homes. In May of 1901, the Watertown Re-Union, briefly reported that the construction work of the buildings on Bluff Island was “progressing rapidly.”10 George Robinson employed Pittsburgh architect, Thorsten E. Billquist to design his summer home; during the construction, the Robinson family vacationed on Grenell Island.11 Documents regarding the construction process of the Robinson Family Estate are lacking and consist solely of blue prints created by Billquist for the house and a boat house. The materials for the buildings are not mentioned in the blue prints but most likely were locally sourced. During the turn of the century, red granite quarries were located on both Grindstone and Picton Islands and Clayton and the surrounding area had a number of lumber businesses.12
View of the East Facade
View of the North Facade
View of the West Facade
The connection between the Kesslers, the Robinsons, and their ability to purchase a 60 acre island and build homes on the island, show the growth of wealth among those involved in industrial capitalism, which was common among America’s elite during the Gilded Age in summer resort areas. The summer people of the Gilded Age, looked for places where they could escape from the health and social problems of the inner cities by vacationing somewhere fresh and full of natural beauty much like the region of Thousand Islands and the St. Lawrence River. The Robinson family vacationed every summer at their cottage on Bluff Island. Snippets in the local newspapers of the Thousand Islands and even from Pittsburgh, give insight into how the upper class family lived during the summer. The Shingle home was officially finished by 1904, based on news reporting that members of the Robinson family were visiting Bluff Island. George’s son, William, his wife, and their young son visited the elder Robinson and his daughter, Anne Holdship for the summer.13
In 1909, the Robinson family prepared for two weddings at the Bluff Island cottage. The Hoffman- Kessler wedding was planned at George T. Robinson’s home on Bluff Island. The local paper documented activities of the members of the Robinson and Hoffman families such as when they dined at the Frontenac Hotel the week prior to the wedding.14 The bride was Althea Dilworth Hoffman, the daughter of Mary Mason Hoffman and granddaughter of George T. Robinson. The groom was her cousin, Harry C. Kessler Jr., the only son of Harry C. and Josephine Alden Kessler; their wedding was set for August 09, 1909. The second Robinson wedding of that year occurred on October 14, when Mary Mason Hoffman married her second husband, Frank J. Lynch at her father’s summer home.15
Interesting tidbits of the family’s summer activities are found in the most unusual places such as the annual report for the Carnegie Museum. The Museum’s annual report lists Anne H. Robinson under their donations for the year of April 1, 1911 to April 30, 1912. Anne donated land and fresh water shells from Bluff Island and the St. Lawrence River, collected in July of 1911. She also donated, “insects, particularly Odonata and their nymphs, from Bluff Island.”16 These snippets of information into the Robinson family’s summer vacations paint a picture of how Robinson Family Estate on Bluff Island emulates the summer activities common to the summer peoples of the Thousand Islands during the turn of the century. It was a place to relax, socialize, and enjoy the natural splendor of the St. Lawrence River and as The House Beautiful put it to escape the “city turmoil.”17
George T. Robinson died December 24, 1917, at his home in Pittsburgh. In his will, George left his home in Pittsburgh at 4926 Wallingford Street and all of its possessions to his daughter, Anne Holdship. Anne along with his other children also received shares of the stock in the Mesta Machine Company and money.18 Anne Holdship continued to reside there during the summers and was involved in the local summer community by hosting occasional garden meetings at her home on Bluff Island.19 From local newspapers of the time, it is clear that Anne was involved with the local garden clubs. In 1935, the Cape Vincent Eagle that four ladies of the “Ann Robinson Garden Club,” attended an improvement league meeting in Clayton.20 Anne was not present at the meeting. Another garden club was formed in 1938 as part of Clayton’s Improvement League, that club formed in June of that same year. Their first meeting was held on July 5th, at the home of Mrs. Joseph Davis. The second meeting was held in Clayton, at the summer home of, “Miss Ann Robinson “Bluff Island,” ” that meeting included members of both the Clayton and Cape Vincent garden clubs.21 Anne’s own garden club was still around and made the news again in 1941, when the “Anne Robinson Garden Club,” held their meeting and picnic at her home on Bluff Island.22 Though there is no photographic evidence of Anne’s gardens, the historic newspaper record points to Anne having some kind of garden. Summer cottages of the Gilded Age, much like the Robinson Family Estate, typically had formal landscaping such as terraces or flower beds.23 The granite wall surface remains that are located north of the house on a slope are most likely the remains of her gardens. There is no other location of the property that appears to contain stone walls that would have been associated with a garden. Anne Holdship Robinson continued to summer at Bluff Island until her death in 1948; she passed away at her home in Pittsburgh.24
The records for the history of the Robinson Family Estate after Anne’s death are scarce. The majority of the history comes from the Thousand Island Museum’s archives and the Jefferson County Clerk deed records. In Anne’s will, the Robinson Family Estate was left to her brother, William, in December of 1948. William and his immediate family had no need for the property and donated it to Clayton’s Christ Episcopal Church, which Anne had been a member of during her life. In 1951, Christ Episcopal Church sold the property because they too had no use for the home. At that time Harry and Ruby Butcher of Clayton purchased the property.25 Prior to purchasing the property on Bluff Island, the Butcher’s had run a popular snack shop, “Harry’s Snack Shop,” in Clayton. The Butcher’s has plans on turning the former single family residence of the Robinson Family Estate into a fishing lodge and for three summer’s from 1951 to 1954, the Butcher’s ran the “Bluff Island Lodge.”26
In 1954, the Butcher’s began to look into selling the “Bluff Island Lodge.” The Thousand Island Museum’s archives had a number of news clippings related to the sale and eventual purchase of the Lodge. The sale ad listed the lodge as having 7 bedrooms, 5 bathrooms, a 38′ living room, an 11′ stone fireplace, quarters on the third floor for help, a dining room large enough to accommodate 24 people, a pantry, and a large kitchen. At that time the property also had a boat house and even came with seven boats. By October of 1954, the Butcher’s had either sold or begun to lease the Bluff Island Lodge to Mr. and Mrs. Jack Cutler, of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and they continued to use the property as a lodge.27 The Jefferson County Clerk’s Office deed records show something a little different. In 1956, Ruby sold the property to Willard Cutler. The Cutler family eventually sold to Timothy Hubbard in 1963, after the death of Willard Cutler.28
Since 1966, the Hubbard family continued to own the home and live there during the summers. Timothy Hubbard was a professor of Syracuse University and in 1986 wrote the Dolphin Book Club best seller, The Race. His daughter, Stephanie Hubbard, also is a writer and wrote Bluff Island Rescue Service, which is a memoir of growing up on Bluff Island; it was published in 2010.29 The Hubbard family used the property as a single-family residence up until 2016, when the home was sold to the current owner, David and Robin Lucas.
Robinson Family Estate: Architectural Significance
The Thousand Islands has been a summer resort area since the 1870’s, when George Pullman invited President Ulysses S. Grant to his summer home on “Pullman Island,” located close to Alexandria Bay, bringing national attention to the St. Lawrence River.30 Shingle Style homes are a common sight in many of the northeastern seaside resorts like Martha’s Vineyard and Bar Harbor, the same can be said about the Thousand Islands. Between the townships of Clayton and Alexandria Bay, which make up a majority of the Thousand Island Region, there are only three other Shingle Style properties listed on the State and National Registers. Those properties include: the Boldt Yacht House on Wellesley Island built in 1903 for George C. Boldt’s estate, listed 1978; the Densmore Church, constructed in 1900, also located on Wellesley Island, listed in 1988; and Ingelside, a private estate on Cherry Island that combines Queen Anne and Shingle Style architectural features, it was constructed sometime between 1899 and 1906, listed 1980.
George Robinson employed Pittsburgh architect, Thorsten E. Billquist to design his summer home on Bluff Island. Thorsten E. Billquist was educated at the University of Gothenburgh. He immigrated to the United States in 1892, first living in New York and working with the firm McKim, Mead, and White. He was involved to some extent with the designing of the Boston Public Library. Shortly after that, Billquist moved to Pittsburgh, where he worked for a brief time for the firm, Longfellow, Alden, and Harlow and then with architect William Ross Proctor. By 1896, Billquist had launched his own practice by having the winning entry for the Allegheny Observatory (added to the National Register June 22, 1979) in that year. By 1905, Billquist had partnered with Edward B. Lee, to create the firm Billquist and Lee that was active from 1905-1909.31
The Robinson Family Estate is located in a summer vacation area where Shingle Style homes were a common sight. There is also the previous work experience that Billquist had during his career at the firms of McKim, Mead and White and Longfellow, Alden, and Harlow. Both firms had key partners who had worked for Henry Hobson Richardson, the architect who designed the high style homes that emulated the key features of every popular architectural style of the late 19th and early 20th century. Both firms designed buildings that were key in creating the Shingle Style in America. Working with them most likely inspired Billquist in his own designs during his career.32
Billquist designed a summer home for the Robinson family that emulates many of the key architectural features commonly seen in Shingle Style summer homes. The home is a frame home that is clad in cedar shingles and has a raised basement constructed of rough cut red granite blocks. The front facade, which faces south towards mainland New York, is dominated by an open porch that is covered by the floor of the second story; the porch is supported by columns of rough cut red granite blocks. The interior of the home is finished exclusively in wood. The first floor of the home has a large, open layout, with spaces flowing into each via a hall running the length of the home. The first floor’s largest room is the living room, which is where all the main entrances open into. The room’s key features include a built in bench and an 11-foot granite fireplace. The fireplace is double sides, in that it is built within the wall that separates the living room from the dining room; both rooms could have a separate fire going simultaneous, if needed. Both of these rooms would have been used for family and social activities by the Robinson family and subsequent owners. The upstairs of the home had historically seven bedrooms, four bathrooms, and numerous closets. The historic layout of second floor is almost completely intact, the other differences are a bathroom and closet have been removed, most likely during the ownership of the Hubbard Family. The upstairs also a main hallway allowing easy movement throughout the different rooms; some rooms are connected to each other and even share bathrooms. The attic space was used to house the help during the summer months.
The Robinson Family Estate is locally significant under both Criteria A and Criteria C. The Robinson Summer Estate was designed by Thorsten E. Billquist in 1901 as the shingle-style summer home of George T. Robinson’s family. The Robinson family originated from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where Mr. Robinson worked in the steel and manufacturing industries. It changed hands during the 1950’s, and ownership passed to Harry and Ruby Butcher, who ran the property as the “Bluff Island Lodge,” where tourists could stay while visiting the surrounding area. The Robinson Summer Estate relates to the summer resort era of the Thousand Islands during the turn of the 20th century and then again in the tourism boom of the 1950’s. The property is also a great local architectural example of the Shingle Style. The summer home was designed by Pittsburgh architect, Thorsten E. Billquist, in the Shingle Style, a style commonly used in summer resort areas. Billquist also had ties and work experience in a number of important northeast architectural firms of McKim, Mead and White, and Longfellow, Alden, and Harlow. Both firms designed buildings that were key to creating the Shingle style in America. Both firms also had key partners who had worked with H. H. Richardson, the architect who can be credited with designing the prototype of the Shingle Style home in America, with the William Watts Sherman House. The Robinson Summer Estate is significant under these two criteria in regards to its connections to architecture (a Shingle style summer cottage), entertainment, recreational, and tourism values, as well as its connections to the social history of the Thousand Islands region as a tourist resort during the early 20th century and again in the 1950’s tourist boom in New York State.
If you have any questions of comments about the George T. Robinson House or about writing a national register nomination, let me know in the comment section below!
2United States Census Bureau, “United States Census, 1880, George T. Robinson, Pittsburgh, Allegheny, Pennsylvania, United States,” citing enumeration district ED1 166, sheet 357D, NARA microfilm publication T9 (Washington DC.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d, roll 1095, FHL microfilm 1,255,095, 1880), https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MG7T-YRN (accessed July 17, 2016).
3United States Census Bureau, “United States Census, 1910, George T. Robinson, Pittsburgh Ward 7, Allegheny, Pennsylvania, United States,” citing enumeration district ED 360, sheet 5, NARA microfilm publication T624 (Washington DC.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d, FHL microfilm 1,375,314, 1910), https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MG7T-YRN (accessed July 17, 2016).
7 United States Census Bureau, “United States Census, 1850, Joesphine Dilworth in household of William Dilworth, Allegheny City, Ward 1, Allegheny, Pennsylvania, United States,” citing family 82, NARA microfilm publication M432 (Washington DC.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d,), https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:M44H-2LH (accessed July 17, 2016).
8“Deed of Sale from Fannie L. Washburn and Eugene R. Washburn to Harry C. Keesler August 20, 1900,” (filed August 30, 1900), Jefferson County Clerk’s Office: Watertown, New York, Liber 296 of Deeds, page 331-332.
9“Brevities,” The Watertown Herald, August 18, 1900.
10“Clayton,” The Watertown Re-Union, May 22, 1901.
11 Thousand Islands Museum Archives, “American Islands Binder A-M,” Clayton, New York.
12“Clayton News,” The Watertown Re-Union, March 31, 1906. “Clayton News,” The Watertown Re-Union, July 21, 1900. Smith, First Summer Peoples, 79, 81.
18 Thousand Islands Museum Archives, “Family Binder: Robinson,” Clayton, New York.
19“Last Will and Testament of George T. Robinson May 15, 1909, Sealed February 20,1917,” (filed October 20, 1920), Jefferson County Clerk’s Office: Watertown, New York, Liber 2361 of Deeds, page 571-572.
20“Improvement League Holds Meeting,” Cape Vincent Eagle, May 9, 1935.
21“Garden Club is Formed in Village,” Cape Vincent Eagle, June 23, 1938.
22“Garden Club to Meet,” Clayton News, August 12, 1941.
24 Thousand Islands Museum Archives, “Family Binder: Robinson,” Clayton, New York.
25“Deed of Sale from Christ Church of the Town of Clayton to Harry W. and Ruby K. Butcher October 9, 1951,” (filed October 9, 1951), Jefferson County Clerk’s Office: Watertown, New York, Liber 559 of Deeds, page 180-181. Thousand Islands Museum Archives, “Family Binder: Robinson,” Clayton, New York.
26 Thousand Islands Museum Archives, “American Islands Binder A-M,” Clayton, New York.
28“Deed of Sale from Willard Cutler to Timothy William Hubbard August 16, 1963” (filed September 16, 1963, Jefferson County Clerk’s Office: Watertown, New York, Liber 741 of Deeds, page 380.
29John Golden, “Island Author Navigates From Ocean to Banks,” Watertown Daily Times, July 9, 1995. Stephanie Hubbard, “Great Reviews Are Coming In! Get Your Own Copy! Tell Your Friends!,” Bluff Island Rescue Service: A Memoir Website, August 25, 2010, http://www.bluffislandrescueservice.com/ (accessed August 23, 2016).
So this blog is about my history and preservation adventures but have I told you about how much I love eating when I adventure around!?!
I enjoy finding unique eateries and stuffing my face fully of messy food. I also have a soft spot for anything made locally…so when I traveled to Rochester a couple of weekends ago, there were some really awesome places my friend, Amanda, took me to.
The first cool place we went to was a burger joint called, “The Playhouse and Swillburger,” which along with serving up classic American food, has a bar, and a number of old school arcade games. When we arrived at the restaurant, I was starving. I’m not good at planning for food stops when I’m traveling. I typically wait until I get to my destination…starving and questioning when we’re going to eat.
Sooo, I’m not just telling you about the Swillburger because of how awesome the vibe was or how great the food tasted. The building happens to be old and have a cool backstory!
This brings me to another topic I’ve been wanting to write more about- building rehabilitation and reuse stories. So the idea that an old, historic, unused property gets a Cinderella-type makeover into something cool and the building remains in use!
Check out the images of the exterior and interior of The Playhouse and Swillburger to see what the building once was. The captions for the photos will give a brief history of the building and how it got into its current state.
The church was constructed in 1890 for the congregation of the 2nd German Baptist Church. The congregation had formed two years prior when 50 people of the 1st German Baptist Church wanted to establish their own branch.
The brick building cost more than planned by the congregation. So they were in debt. As a way to raise money to pay off the costs of the church’s construction, the congregation began to host concerts open to the public. By 1902, the debt was paid off! In 1918, the 2nd German Baptist congregation rejoined the previous 1st German Baptist congregation. The building was left vacant.
For a brief time the former church was owned by the Standard Automatic Machine Company. In 1926, the Rochester Community Players ( a theater group) purchased the property and made it their home. They hired architects Arnold and Stern to renovate the interior – stages and balconies were built. The theater group called this place their home until 1984.
In 1985, the former church and theater, started a new chapter in it’s long history as the home for the Cornerstone Christian Fellowship. It was used as a church again until 2013!
In 2013, the current owners purchased the property at the corner of South Clinton and Meigs Street. Brian Van Etten and Jeff Ching eventualy started a Kickstarter campaign to fund their plans on renovating the old church and theater space into a arcade/bar/burger joint combo. The fundraising campaign began in the summer of 2015 and before the end of that year, they were open for business!
So back to the burning question you have…was the food any good!?!
For the love of all foods good, cheap, and served quickly. Yes. Much good.
The crispy chicken sammie (sandwich) with Swillsauce, lettuce, tomatoes, and dad’s pickles? That was amazing and everything was so fresh tasting.
The “Smoke and Fire” french fries? Spicy and crunchy just the way I like my french fries.
The vegan chocolate milkshake? Creamy, thick, and chocolaty with a hint of coconut.
On a super nerdy yet slightly related note… For those familiar with the television show, Supernatural, there is a scene of a recurring character who is eating a hamburger, and he says something along the lines, “These make me very happy.” Here’s a link to the clip on Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s0bpejn__bQ
That’s exactly how I felt eating the food I ordered at Swillburger. The added facts that it was in a historic building and I was with my bff. Priceless.
There was one other food place Amanda and I went to while I was visiting and that was the Rochester Public Market. The market is open weekly on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays; it’s a year round market place.
Amanda and I went to the Union Street Bakery for breakfast because Amanda said they have the best breakfast sandwiches around. The bakery is part of a row of buildings at the Public Market.
They did not disappoint!
This place was packed. It was hard to get a seat. Amanda and I initially went outside to eat but it was too cold so we came back inside. Luckily we found a seat.
These were the two guys in charge of making breakfast sandwiches to order! They were quick. I would say the wait was less than 10 minutes.
This is a section of the row buildings located at the market.
The Rochester Public Market has been in operation since 1827 when it was located at the west end of the Main Street Bridge. In 1905, the market was relocated to its current location on Union Street. Originally, the vendors who sold at the market could only sell products wholesale. That changed in 1913, when the city began to allow retailers to sell directly to the shoppers. When we visited the market it was chilly out and overcast but that didn’t seem to stop people from being out and shopping at the market!
Researching the Rochester Public Market I came across some interesting articles about plans for upgrades to the market. Apparently, the Public Market has received quite a bit of money to build a few buildings and to do general upgrades to the location. The weird thing was that this collection of news articles were from 2012-2013….in one of the articles, some peoples opinions on the future upgrades were reported on. The main concerns were that the upgrades would “yuppify” the market- more hipster coffee places and prices would rise pushing out certain groups of people from shopping at the market.
I’m not sure how much work has been done on the market. My friend, Amanda, made it sounds like the biggest upgrades still haven’t happened. I’m not sure. What I do know though is when I was there, there were lots of people from all walks of life. The vendors varied from handcrafts to produce to livestock. It was great to see so many people from different cultures- I don’t get to see that often in Northern New York. I like it.
The prices also were very inexpensive. Breakfast cost me $5 and that sandwich was glorious. Between Amanda and I, we probably spent barely $30.00 on produce. I think the most expensive thing purchased were frozen pierogies that we had for lunch. Not to be too weird but I still have apples in my crisper from the market and they’re still good!
Click through the images below to get a sense of what the Rochester Public Market is like!
This is the main market space where almost all of the vendors are set up. It is a horseshoe shaped space, so it curves around. There were lots of people there as can be seen in this image.
I haven’t had cider donuts since November. So these were wonderful to buy!
This was very interesting to say the least. I saw this in the as one building at the market-all of the refrigerated foods are in this building. You can buy fresh fish in there too!
There are these type of gateways all around the public market.
Both of these places were really awesome for food adventures! If you find yourself in Rochester, check them both out!
Here in Northern New York, there are a number of good building reuse stories for me to share in the future. For example, there’s an Italian restaurant in an old train depot around the corner from me!
Is there a place in your hometown, with a cool and unique building reuse story that you frequent often? Or is there an eatery that’s really awesome and serves great food? Or does your town have a public market that is open year round?
Let me know in the comment section! I love hearing about good food.
Check out some of the links in the “Further Information” section- there news articles about the Rochester Farmer’s Market and the Playhouse and Swillburger there, along with a link to historic photographs of the market!
Recently, I traveled to Rochester, New York for my annual adventure to see my b.f.f., Amanda. While I was there, I had the opportunity to visit Mount Hope Cemetery, a rural cemetery located in Rochester. I have a fascination with cemeteries, so being able to visit Mount Hope was great. Rural cemeteries are quiet and peaceful, and I enjoy that greatly while photographing tombstones and paying my respects to those who have passed away.
Mount Hope was a wonderful place to visit. We visited the cemetery in the late afternoon and were there for a couple of hours; the weather was great! There are about 14 miles of winding roads and paths to walk along and there are many beautiful monuments and tombstones dedicated to the deceased. Amanda and I didn’t walk all throughout the cemetery but we did see a lot. To add to reasons to visit Mount Hope, the cemetery has a number of burials of historically significant people such as Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass.
Douglass was born a slave in Maryland and escaped in 1838 through Delaware and Philadelphia to New York City. Throughout his life he worked for the equality of all peoples as a social reformer, abolitionist , orator, writer, suffragist, and statesman. He also was friends with Susan B. Anthony, who is also buried at Mount Hope.
Prior to Mount Hope there had been a number of small burial grounds throughout Rochester including grounds at King’s Landing, the intersection of today’s East Ave. and Gibbs Street, Charlotte, and the intersection of Monroe Ave. and Alexander Street.
In the 1830’s, there was a growing need in Rochester for more burial space. The city had been steadily increasing in population making Rochester one of the first boom towns in the country. Apparently, Rochester had a lot of firsts for the young United States of America. The growth of population and a lack of good sanitary practices within the city caused outbreaks of cholera and typhus in Rochester during this time resulting in a number of deaths. This was just one of the many reasons the city of Rochester was looking for a larger burial ground. Other reasons included the fear of possible water contamination from the overcrowded cemeteries, plus those older sites were in prime locations for industrial and commercial development.
Rochester wasn’t the only place having these of concerns with burial grounds; Europe was having them too. As early as 1711, Sir Christopher Wren of England, was advocating for burial grounds on the outskirts of town. The first landscaped cemetery was completed in 1084 in Paris and is the Père Lachaise Cemetery. The first garden or rural cemetery in the United States was Mount Auburn in Massachusetts, which was finished in 1831. Mount Auburn inspired other cemeteries across America including Mount Hope in Rochester. These types of cemeteries are typically right outside of town and are landscaped. During the 19th century garden cemeteries were built not only for burials but also for public use, kind of like a park. They have winding paths, avenues lined with tress, garden plots, framed vistas, and monuments/funerary architecture. The concepts behind these new cemeteries were that nature could help overcome the reality and grief of a loved one’s death. There was also a push during this time to be outdoors and to take in the pastoral beauty of nature. The picturesque and romanticism of nature was seen not only in landscaped cemeteries but also in art during the early 19th century.
Click through the following photos for a general idea of the landscape of Mount Hope:
This is the gatehouse at the North Gate entrance of Mount Hope. It was built in 1874.
Another hill in the cemetery.
This cobble stone road is near the North Gate Entrance of the cemetery.
The building in the photo is the 1862 chapel and original crematory. The fountain was installed in 1875 and is called the “Florentine Fountain.” Both of these can be seen upon entering the cemetery via the North Gate Entrance (there is a parking lot here.)
Sylvan Waters is a geologic formation formed by glaciers and is called a “kettle.” The kettle is a natural source of water for the wildlife that call Mount Hope Cemetery home. The 196 acres that make up Mount Hope Cemetery have been declared a certified wildlife habitat by the National Wildlife Federation.
This view can be seen on Grove Avenue where there are many mausoleums erected.
This view of the cemetery can be seen from Patriot Hill. I believe I’m looking over at the land in between Glen Avenue and West Avenue.
This section of the cemetery is located near the single graves and graves that had been moved from previous burial grounds. This is either looking down Pine Avenue or Buell Avenue in the cemetery.
Mount Hope was dedicated by the city of Rochester in 1838 making it one of the first municipal cemeteries in the county! The cemetery needed little landscaping because the site was already fantastically formed into the hilly, winding landscape it is because of glaciers during the last ice age. For example, Central Park in New York City is not a natural landscape- that’s all created into a park- the only natural thing about the Park is the rocky outcrops. Mount Hope did employ Silas Cornell, a landscape architect, to help layout the roads and features of the cemetery. The name for the cemetery can be attributed to William Wilson, a laborer who worked on the layout of the cemetery. In his bills that he submitted to the city for his services, William kept referring to the work as “for labor at Mount Hope.” The name was informally accepted and people just kept calling the cemetery, Mount Hope.
Most of the earlier burial grounds in Rochester were moved in 1872 to Mount Hope. There are a few of the old burials still in Rochester though, they include the sites at King’s Landing, Charlotte, and Rapids.
The following are images of monuments and tombstones that I personally thought were interesting:
The monument on the left is for Michael Filon and his wife, Sarah Van Ness Filon. Michael was a previous mayor of Rochester. The monument on the right is for Azarial Boody and his wife Ambia Corson Boody. Azariah was born in Quebec, Canada and happened to be a congressman in the United States during his life.
This gravestone for an army nurse was another stone that caught my eye, mainly because it was for an army nurse. I haven’t seen many of those.
This monument is a memorial to all the children who died in the care of the orphanage. The Rochester Orphan Asylum opened in 1837 and took in eight children who had lost their parents to the cholera epidemic ( a reason the Mount Hope Cemetery was created). The memorial especially is for the 31 people (28 children and 3 adults) who lost their lives in a 1901 fire at the orphanage.
I did not find a lot about the family buried here but their monument is very unique!
My friend Amanda pointed out these gravestones to me. It was unique that the stones had a plant connecting them.
This monument caught my eye as Amanda and I drove by it to find a parking lot in the cemetery. The quote is from Revelations 14:13 and reads: “Yea Saith, The Spirit That They May Rest From Their Labours and Their Works Do Follow Them.”
This is a monument to the Wilbur Barry Coon and his family. Coon was a shoe manufacturer during his life. This monument was commissioned from Tiffany Studios of NYC. The monument is sculpted from a slab of white granite from Bethel, Vermont because of its size, it needed a special train car to transport it from the city to Rochester.
This is the reverse side of the Coon Family Monument. The quote along the bottom reads: “The shall the dust return to the earth as it was and the spirit shall return unto the God who gave it.”
While researching Mount Hope, I came across a poem about the cemetery written shortly after it was established that was published in 1840 in the Knickerbocker.
The poet was Elizabeth Clementine Stedman (1810-1889). She was a contributor to both the Knickerbocker and the Blackwood’s. During the 19th century she had three books published: Felicita, A Metrical Romance (1855), Poems (1867), and Bianco Capello, A Tragedy (1873). The last book was written during her time abroad; while traveling Europe she befriended Robert Browning and Elizabeth Barrett Browning. Elizabeth’s eldest son, Edmund Clarence Stedman, followed in her footsteps and also was a writer and a poet.
If you’re interested in seeing another example of a rural cemetery, check out my previous post about the Bayside Cemetery in Potsdam, New York:
The University of Rochester has a course where students do research on monuments and tombstones in the Mount Hope. This is a link to their website where you can search to find possible research papers on the cemetery:
During the week in Emmitsburg, I had the opportunity to travel to Gettysburg with a couple of my classmates, Aileen and Kathryn. Shout out to Aileen who brought her car with her so we could adventure!
The very brief history of the Battle of Gettysburg goes like this:
The battle lasted for three days during July 1- 3 in 1863. The battle is seen as a turning point in the American Civil War. The battle was ultimately a Union victory under Maj. General George Meade, who commanded the Army of the Potomac. The Army of the Potomac, after three days, was able to hold back General Robert E. Lee’s Confederate Army and force their retreat back south. This would be the last time, the Confederate Army would attempt an invasion of the Northern States.
During those three days it is estimated that there were between 46,000- 51,000 causalities, making it the most costly in United States History.
After the Battle, Daughters and Sisters of Charity from Emmitsburg (see previous posts) arrived in Gettyburg on July 5th to tend to the wounded of both armies. Other retreating soldiers were cared for by Sisters who had remained at Saint Joseph’s campus.
For more information about the Battle of Gettysburg, please check out the “Further Information” section, there are many wonderful online resources.
That’s all I’m going to write, the rest of this post are all just photos from the battlefield.
This is the monument for Pennsylvania, it is the largest monument at Gettysburg. It is made of North Carolina granite over an iron and concrete frame. It was dedicated on September 27, 1910.
If you have any comments or questions, let me know in the comment section below!
Part deux of my adventures in Emmitsburg, Maryland.
The really cool part of being at the National Emergency Training Center is that it is right next door to the National Shrine of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton. A tour was offered of the Basilica after hours if you were at the training center, so I took the opportunity to see the Shrine.
The grounds of the Shrine consists of a walking path, a number of buildings, and a cemetery. If you find yourself in the area, the grounds are open to walk around until dusk, while the Basilica and museum are open almost daily from 10- 4:30 pm.
Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton (1774-1821) is the first native born United States citizen to be canonized, which means to be named a saint. She was canonized in 1975 by Pope Paul VI. In 1991 the chapel, which was originally designed as the chapel for the sisters in the Daughters of Charity, was designated as a minor basilica by Pope John Paul II; it was already the national shrine prior to this.
So, I’m sure you have some questions:
1. What exactly did Mother Elizabeth Ann Seton do during her life to be canonized?
2. What is a basilica, it sounds like architectural jargon!?! It is….
Anyways, I’ll answer the easier of the two.
Who exactly was Mother Seton?
The shortened biography goes something like this…Elizabeth Ann Bayley was born in 1774 into an Anglican family in New York City. In 1794, she married William Magee Seton and they had five children. William was not in the greatest health and because of this he, Elizabeth, and their eldest child, Anna Marie, sailed to Italy for warmer weather believing this would help William’s health. William also had business partners in Italy, Filippo and Antonio Filicchi, who they planned to stay with.
Sadly, the warmer weather did not help. William passed away before the end of 1803. While in Italy though, Elizabeth was introduced to the Catholic faith through the Filicchi family. Upon returning to the United States, she converted to the Roman Catholic Faith in 1805. By 1808, she was traveling with her family and companions, to Emmitsburg to start a school for girls. She was successful in starting a school, St. Joseph’s Academy, which eventually morphed into Saint Joseph’s College. She also created the congregation of religious sisters called, the Sisters of Charity.
This is the Stone House, where Mother Seton, her children, and companions first lived when they moved to Emmitsburg to start a school. The home was constructed in 1750 and is also known as the Fleming farmhouse. The size of home today is almost double what Mother Seton and her companions lived in. When they first arrived, the home only consisted of 4 rooms and there were 16 people living in them, and they managed to have space for a temporary chapel in the same building.
This was the only photo I managed to take of this home. This house was constructed in 1810 after Archbishop John Carroll of Baltimore visited Mother Seton and saw the condition of the Stone House they were living in. He did not like the conditions of the Stone House and directed that a new home be built for the group. This building is also known as St. Joseph’s House and would have been the original location for the academy.
The cemetery contains the graves of Sisters and Daughters of Charity, along with priests.
This little chapel was constructed after Mother Seton passed away in 1821. Her son, William, financed the construction. Mother Seton’s remains were here from 1846 until the 1960’s when they were moved to the basilica after her beatification.
This is the original gravestone for Mother Seton, the stones in front of her are for her family members that traveled to Emmitsburg with her.
This leads us to the other question.
What exactly is a basilica?
So historically a basilica was a type of large public building found in Rome. It was used for business or legal matters- not religious matters. It typically would have been a semi-circular space roofed with a half dome. Finally, when Christianity was no longer illegal in the Roman Empire in the 4th century, Christians began to publicly construct basilicas.
The most basic interior layout of the basilica would have consisted of:
Nave – This is the central aisle that religious processions walk down
Aisles– One on each side of the central nave
Apse– This is the location where the altar is, typically it is opposite of the main entrance
From this basic interior plan, a basilica can greatly vary. For example there could be transepts, which would go off of the outer aisles expanding the layout into a “cross” plan. There can also be differences in the ceiling vaults. Examples: the central nave has a ceiling that extends upwards another story allowing for windows while the ceilings above the aisles are not as tall OR the height of all three ceilings and their vaults are all similar in size meaning there might not be windows.
To confuse matters a little more, “basilica” can also refer to an ecclesiastical status for a church.
There are two rankings for basilicas with this type of status: major and minor.
There are only four major or papal basilicas, these are all located in Rome and have something called a “holy door” it’s a very specific type of door.
Then there are minor basilicas, these are churches, chapels, etc. that have been decreed by the acting Pope to be designated as a minor basilica (typically a Papal brief is issued). This allows that building the right to conopaeum, a specific type of canopy to be displayed. It’s red and gold and looks like an umbrella. There is also the right to display a bell called, tintinnabulum, and the cappa magna, which is a robe. All of these link the basilica to the Pope.
The basilica at Emmitsburg was completed in 1965 and the interior was made entirely by German and Italian craftsmen and artisans. I tried researching more on the architecture of the basilica but I could find nothing! The church is definitely Italianate in style. It’s beautiful.
The following are images from within the basilica for Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton. You should be able to “right click” on any of the images to open into a new page, this will allow you to slightly zoom into the images to see more details.
The central image is of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph.
This is an altar to Saint Louise de Marillac, who was a co-founder of the Daughters of Charity in France in 1633.
Stay tune for the next post on Gettysburg, which has a link to the Sisters of Charity!
Thanks for reading!
For More Information:
All of my information came from a handout I received at the Basilica and from the Shrine’s website. I attached the National Register nomination again because it does discuss the Stone House, the White House, and the cemetery. I can’t seem to conclude whether or not the Basilica is actually included in the district. I assume it is, but there’s no real information about the building and it’s construction, which is weird.
I realized the other day it’s been months since we’ve talked about architectural jargon! So guess what we’re looking at today. Some jargon found frequently in preservation talk.
Today is being brought to us by the word….druuuummmm roooolllllll pleeeessseeee…..
Though, you might have already guessed that though based on this post’s title.
So anyways, you’re probably wondering what in good Italianate graces is a cupola?
Well here are some official definitions:
A History of American Architecture, Mark Gerlenter, 2001 edition, Pg. 322.
“A small tower-like element, often with a round or polygonal base and a domed roof, which accents the roof of a building.”
“The Historical Architecture of Vermont: Guide to Vermont Architecture,” Curtis B. Johnson, editor and Elsa Gilbertson, Principal Author, published by: the Vermont Division for Historic Preservation, 1996, Pg. 25.
“Small decorative structure crowning the roof ridge, and usually used for ventilation.”
This is my definition, combining the above info with some other stuff I found online:
A cupola is a small tower-like structure that can be found on the roof of a building. The word “cupola” is derived from the Italian word cupula, which means small cup. The architectural feature can be round, square, or polygonal in shape. It typically has windows and can help with ventilation, especially in barns. Cupolas may also serve as a belfry (bell tower), a belvedere (a point to look out), or a roof lantern (provides natural light). Sometimes cupolas may be atop of a spire, tower, or another dome.
They are seen as a decorative element in the following architectural styles: Italianate, Octagon, Second Empire, and Greek Revival.
Let’s check out some images I have of cupolas!
This next example, is the only one I had in my collection of photos for Northern New York:
Here are some more examples from Canada and Saratoga Springs:
So those are some examples of cupolas. As you can see they can range in design and look great on a variety of buildings!
If you have any comments, thoughts, or ideas about cupolas or other architectural jargon, let me know in the comments below!
Thanks for reading!
For Further Information On Any of the Above Properties:
I’m on the board of directors for Fort la Présentation Association, a non-profit organization located in Ogdensburg, NY. The Fort la Présentation Association’s main goal is to reconstruct the French mission fort that was located on the St. Lawrence River, along with preserving and presenting the history of the fort and Ogdensburg. Fort de la Présentation was a significant location on the St. Lawrence from before the French and Indian War all the way to the War of 1812.
Over the weekend, I helped at one of the Association’s events that we partner with Forsyth’s Riffle Association to put on. The event is the “Battle of Ogdensburg,” where re-enactors from across New York and Canada commemorate the “Invasion of Ogdensburg” or the 2nd Battle of Ogdensburg.
The actual event occurred on February 22nd, 1813 during the War of 1812. Meaning that today, February 22, 2017, is the 204 anniversary of the Battle!
During the early years of the United States, Ogdensburg, and well basically all of Northern New York, was the northern frontier of the country and during the War of 1812, the area was the front lines of the War. The St. Lawrence County Historical Association has a wonderful listing of all the sites in the county related to the War of 1812. A link to that web page is listed below.
The 2nd Battle of Ogdensburg Went Something Like This:
In 1813, Fort de la Présentation, had been renamed, Fort Van Rensselaer and was under the command of Captain Benjamin Forsyth and his rifle regiment, along with support from the local militiamen. IN early February, Captain Forsyth had received information that a large number of American prisoners were being held at the jail in Brockville, Ontario. The British considered some of those prisoners to actually be “deserters” from the British army and that they would be executed as an example for other British soldiers thinking about deserting. It seems that these so called “deserters” were really Americans from what Captain Forsyth learned. Not wanting American prisoners to be unfairly executed, Forsyth, his rifle regiment, and a number of citizens from Ogdensburg for a total of about 200 people, decided they would attempt a daring rescue of the prisoners on February 6th.
The raid was successful!
The combined American rescuers, were able to free all the prisoners in the Brockville jail minus one man, who actually was a convict. They left him in jail. They also took a number of prominent Brockville citizens as hostages on their way back to Ogdensburg. The hostages were let go once the Americans were back in Ogdensburg. The Americans were also able to capture 120 muskets, 20 rifles, and two casks of ammunition.
This raid, really angered the British forces located at Fort Wellington at Prescott.
On a side note, Prescott is located directly across the St. Lawrence River from Lighthouse Point, where the American fort was located. Today, Fort Wellington is part of Parks Canada and you can go there and walk around and tour the fort. It’s pretty cool!
The British forces at Fort Wellington were under the command of Colonel “Red” George MacDonnell. Colonel MacDonnell decided that his forces would attack Ogdensburg as payback for the raid on Brockville. He also personally did not like Captain Forsyth. So on the morning of February 22nd, MacDonnell split his forces into two different groups and they crossed the frozen St. Lawrence River to reach Ogdensburg. 300 men were under the command of Captain Jenkins and they headed straight to Fort Van Rensselaer, while MacDonnell took about 500 men into the Village.
The assault on the Fort was initially a failure in part because of the amount of snow, Captain Jenkins was wounded multiple times and eventually his men had to fall back. The majority of the American forces also were located at the Fort, which probably didn’t help the British.
Meanwhile in the Village, Colonel MacDonnell had better luck because the Village was only being protected by about 50 members of the local militia. MacDonnell’s plan was to capture the cannons the militiamen had and then use those cannons on the rest of the American’s at Fort Van Rensselaer!
The story goes that during the street battle in the Village, all of the American militia retreated except the Sheriff Joseph York, who continued to load and fire one of the cannons at the oncoming British soldiers. Colonel MacDonnell was so impressed with York’s bravery that he commanded his troops not to fire on York and instead took him prisoner.
Colonel MacDonnell’s plan worked. The British were able to capture the cannons and a few American prisoners including York. The British continued to Fort Rensselaer where Captain Forsyth and his men were still located. Forsyth refused to surrender to MacDonnell and supposedly told the British commander via messengers that “…there must be more fighting done first.” While MacDonnell’s forces fired at the Fort, the Americans slipped out the back unnoticed and escaped from Ogdensburg.
Click through the photos from the two days of re-enactments for commentary about the battle re-enactment.
Battle of Ogdensburg: February 18th
You could have easily followed the battle though the streets but I wasn’t sure where it started. So I hung around Phillip’s Diner on Ford Street waiting for the street battle to begin.
So as I was standing near Phillip’s Diner I decided I’d take some photos of Ogdensburg’s City Hall. Inside the building, they have on display some artifacts found during an archaeological survey of Lighthouse Point. There is also the original cornerstone of the Fort! As I was standing around…Finally! The sounds of muskets firing, alerts the spectators near me, and myself, that the unseen battle has begun on an adjacent street.
From where I was standing at Phillip’s, I could hear the gunshots and cannons, and eventually I saw members of the American forces at the corner of Caroline and Washington Streets. So I went up the road to investigate!
At the corner of Caroline and Washington Streets, the American militia decided to fall to Ford Street. So they moved themselves and their precious cannons to the end of Caroline Street where it meets Ford Street. When the Americans had set up again, they began to fire on the British troops, who were advancing down Caroline Street.
The Americans realized that their spot at the corner of Caroline and Ford Street just wasn’t going to work. So they moved themselves west down Ford Street. Heading in the general direction of Fort Van Rensselaer. As the Americans moved that way, the British had finally made it to Ford Street, where they were able to take aim at the retreating Americans.
The British proceeded to advance on the American militia. Historically, somewhere on Ford Street, is the exact location where Sheriff Joseph York heroically stood against the on-coming British. During the re-enactment, one of the re-enactors portrays York and surrenders to the British.
The street battle ends with Joseph York surrendering and the British winning. Historically, from here, Colonel MacDonnell would have marched his troops to Fort Van Rensselaer. That portion of the re-enactment is done the following day. After the street battle is done, spectators can have their photos taken with some of the re-enactors!
Battle of Ogdensburg: February 19th
Sundays activities began with a wreath laying ceremony at Ogdensburg’s Riverside Cemetery, where the final resting place of Joseph York and his wife, Lavinia, is located. So the story goes, that after York was taken prisoner by the British. Lavinia traveled to Prescott, via walking across the frozen St. Lawrence River, to get her husband back and she succeeded!
Words were said about Joseph York, who is considered the hero at the 2nd Battle of Ogdensburg. The re-enactors who made it to the wreath laying ceremony fired a volley to honor Sheriff York.
I managed to miss the exact moment the volley was fired but I did get this shot right after it happened!
The Sunday Re-Enactment is representative of what would have happened at the Fort while Colonel MacDonnell was fighting the American militia in the village of Ogdensburg. Today, there is no fort currently though the Fort la Presentation Association plans on building a reconstruction of the Fort. The American forces are prepping for the on-coming battle against the British. Preparing for the re-enactment also includes surveying the land and making sure the ground isn’t too muddy. The weekend of the event was very warm! It was in the low 50’s both days, which is unusual for February in Northern New York.
Way in the distance, you can make out the British forces advancing on the Americans. Historically, during this portion of the Battle of Ogdensburg, the Americans in the Fort were successful in turning away the British. They did not realize though, that Colonel MacDonnell was within the village with a much larger force of British, headed to the Fort from the opposite direction.
This is just a view of the Americans shooting their cannons at the row of British soldiers in the distance. This battle ends with the Americans retreating from the British.
These are some of the re-enactors from the second day’s battle. The guys in the green uniforms are representatives of Forsyth’s Rifles. The people in red, well, they’re the British obviously!
In history, after this battle, the Americans decided not to reinforce Forsyth and his men, so that they could retake Ogdensburg. The British eventually left Ogdensburg alone and for the rest of the War of 1812, Ogdensburg was left undefended by the Americans.
By 1814 Captain Forsyth was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel and was active in the patrolling and skirmishes near Lake Champlain and north in Quebec. He died during the fighting at Odelltown, Quebec in June of 1814.
The re-enactment was very fun to watch! Last year, I did not have the opportunity to watch it but I have been able to attend the other re-enactment event the Fort Association puts on, which is Founder’s Weekend, a French and Indian War re-enactment. At Founder’s Weekend last summer, I dressed up in some borrowed colonial clothing and told ghost stories that pertained to New France and the French and Indian War.
As a board member of the Fort la Présentation Association, it’s really awesome to attend these events and be able talk with both the re-enactors and the spectators. At the Battle of Ogdensburg there was also an Open House at the Ogdensburg Am-Vets, where people could check out cool displays related to the War of 1812. The Fort Association always has historical reproduction children toys for kids to play with. While some of the re-enactors put their muskets, rifles, other period reproductions, and even handmade items out on display for the general public to look at and learn about. For example, there was a woman in period clothing spinning wool on a spinning wheel.
The men, women, and even children who attend this event and others like it, are very focused on preserving history and being authentic. More importantly though, the re-enactors make history a living, breathing, and exciting concept for general people to learn about and interact with. It’s really awesome!
If you have any questions or comments, let me know in the comment section below!
There’s also a list of links and a book, if you’re interested in learning more about the 2nd Battle of Ogdensburg and those who were involved.
Thanks for reading!
For More Information:
St. Lawrence County Historical Association map on the War of 1812 sites located in the county:
A book has been written about Fort de la Présentation, which was helpful in writing about the 2nd Battle of Ogdensburg. James E. Reagan, Warriors of La Presentation (Ogdensburg, NY: Oswegatchie Press, 1999), 130-135.
After I finished walking around the National Gallery of Art, I started heading towards the Lincoln Memorial, which is located at the opposite end of the National Mall from where the U. S. Capitol Building is located.
The National Mall
So now would be a good time to talk about the National Mall and it’s history. The National Mall is the area located between the U. S. Capitol Building and the Lincoln Memorial. The Mall is home to many memorials and monuments representing different historical events and figures from our country’s history. I was able to see a few of the biggest monuments even though I was short on time. The National Mall is also known as “America’s Front Yard,” and I use that phrase a couple of times below.
Click though the following images of the National Mall landscaping and some of the memorials I saw that didn’t fit in anywhere else in this post.
This is an image I took on my flight back home. You can see a majority of the National Mall in this photo.
This is just a view of the National Mall and it’s walk ways. across the America’s front yard.
Alright, when the National Mall was redesigned in the early 20th century, rows of American Elms were placed alongside the main park area. This image just shows those rows of trees.
This is just a portion of the memorial that was constructed from 2001-2004. The original designs for this memorial were created in 1997 by Friendrich St. Florians, those designs were altered later on into what can be seen today. The memorial consists of 56 pillars, triumphal arches, a plaza, and a fountain.
This memorial is located near the Lincoln Memorial. It was constructed from 1993-1995 and it commemorates those who served during the Korean War. These are stainless steel statues designed by Frank Gaylord to represent different armed forces involved in the war.
In this image you can see the White House. Can you find it?
So looking west of the Capitol Building, you can see the whole of the National Mall. The Mall dates back to 1791, when Major Pierre Charles L’Enfant began creating designs for the new capital city.
I’ve broken the history of the Mall into a very simple time line drawing from a number of sources, which are all listed below. What I have included in the time line relate specifically to monuments and sites that I saw while walking around the National Mall. There is a lot I have left out and I know that. I look forward to the day I get to go back to the National Mall and see everything I missed!
George Washington chooses a central location for the new capital city of the United States of America. HE enlists Major Pierre Charles L’Enfant to design the new city. L’Enfant was an aide to Washington, a French engineer, and his designs were influenced by Baroque town planning. In his plans, L’Enfant, based everything around the President’s House and the Capitol Building. He designed a 400-foot wide, mile long avenue: the west axis from the Capitol, the basis of the National Mall. While the south axis from the President’s house would be a lawn and garden.
Construction for the White House begins. Designs for the White House are chosen from a competition; the winner was James Hoban, an Irishman.
Dr. William Thornton’s designs for the United States Capitol is chosen.
The White House and the U. S. Capitol Building are more “completed.” The location where imaginary lines from the White House and the Capitol intersect, is where a monument to Washington is planned. The location is very marshy, so nothing is built.
The British sack Washington D. C. Luckily the weather was crappy that day and a huge rain storm put the fires out at the White House, and most likely the Capitol.
A canal is built going east-west on the north side of the Mall. It connects the Tiber Creek with the Potomac.
The U. S. Capitol Building is officially completed.
Railroad tracks are laid across the eastern section of the Mall, separating the Capitol grounds from the rest of the Mall.
Cornerstone for the Washington Monument is laid.
President Fillmore commissions Andrew Jackson Downing to design a public park for the Mall- the designs are never fully executed.
The National Mall is used for military activities during the Civil War.
That canal is removed!
The Washington Monument is completed. Finally.
The Senate Park Commission happens. Daniel Burnham, Charles McKim, and Frederick Law Olmsted Jr. are all involved with evaluating the National Mall and giving feedback on how to improve the land for the public. Ideas that these three guys come up with are based on the “City Beautiful Movement”- rationalized axis, cleaned out inappropriate structures (the railroad), established a site for a new memorial for President Lincoln. The main idea is to “plan rationally for the common good” and civic pride in communities. They also narrowed the National Mall from its original 400 feet wide to 300 feet wide with rows of American Elms bordering the Mall. See photos above of the rows of trees.
That railroad is removed! Finally!
The Lincoln Memorial is started.
The Lincoln Memorial is completed.
Korean War Veterans Memorial Constructed.
National World War II Memorial Constructed.
The U. S. Capitol Building
The U. S. Capitol Building was where I started my journey at the National Mall; it is located right across the street from the Thomas Jefferson Building of the Library of Congress. See my previous post for more information on the Library of Congress!
The Capitol was designed by an amateur architect- Dr. William Thornton, originally from the West Indies. He literally based his designs for the Capitol off of what he saw in the architectural books of his time and he submitted his plans well after the design competition had ended. Thornton’s design was greatly liked by Washington, Jefferson, and chosen as the winning design. The original designs consisted of a modest dome atop a cubical central section that would be flanked by two wings for the House and Senate.
Construction on the Capitol Building started in the same year that Thornton’s design was chosen- 1793. The building was supposedly “completed” in 1800 but that didn’t stop later architects from adding their own ideas to the building. In 1803, Benjamin Henry Latrobe ( a really important architect) was appointed “Surveyor of Public Buildings” by Thomas Jefferson. Latrobe continued work to the Capitol by redesigning the interior and completed the House wing.
Then the War of 1812 happened. The building was burned but the Capitol was salvageable. Latrobe began work on rebuilding the Capitol around 1817-19 but was replaced by Charles Bulfinch (another really important architect), who saw the Capitol completed a second time in 1827. Another architect, Thomas U. Walter, worked on the building in the 1850’s. Walter designed new, larger wings for the House and Senate because of the growing number of Senators and Representatives (new states). Walter also replaced the dome with a Baroque, cast iron dome, that was double layered.
The Washington Monument
Along the way to the Lincoln Memorial I stopped briefly at the Washington Monument. There’s not a lot to say about the Monument. It’s tall. It’s also closed for repairs until 2019. At it’s base (well the bottom of the hill the obelisk stands upon) there is a gift shop with bathrooms. I checked it out since I’m always on the lookout for fun souvenirs. Oddly enough, what I was looking for, was a map of the entire National Mall with info. I seemed not to be able to locate one; I might have been looking incorrectly though…
Anyways, I didn’t get up close to the Washington Monument because there was a bunch of people at it’s base and I felt I could easily see the monument from a distance. As I was continued past the Washington Monument to get to the Lincoln Memorial, I did help a fellow visitor take some selfies in front of the Washington Monument. She was very nice and gave me a hug! I hope she enjoys her photos that I helped take!
I’m somewhere in the middle of the National Mall looking west towards the Washington Monument.
Can you see the different shades of marble?
So even though I said there’s not much to see at the Washington Monument, it actually has a very interesting history.
You see, there was a proposal for a monument to Washington while the man was still alive. He was like, “No. We have more important things to do. Did you forget, we have a NEW CAPITAL CITY to build. And. Oh, that’s right. BTdubs, we’re pretty much broke because of the war we just fought.”*
So the Nation held off on building a monument to George Washington until 1848, when the cornerstone was laid for the monument on July 4th. Funding ran very low by 1854, so construction stopped and then a political groups named the “Know Nothings” took over “construction” and ironically did almost nothing to the monument. Then in 1876, the Nation got a fire under these asses because that year marked the 100th anniversary of the founding of the country and realized that, “Hey, now would be a good time to finish the half built tower to Washington that’s been sitting, neglected, in America’s front yard for the past two decades.”**
President Grant authorized the federal funding needed to finish the monument-work began in 1879 and the Washington Monument was FINALLY finished in 1885. It was officially opened in 1888. During this 37 year construction adventure- a funny thing happened- the quarry stone couldn’t be matched when construction picked back up in the 1870’s. So the Washington Monument is two different shades of white marble. Look at those photos again and find where the changes in marble start!
The Lincoln Memorial
To get to the Lincoln Memorial, it’s a trek. When I arrived at the Memorial, it was about 3:00 pm. It was packed with lots of people and not to be negative about the other visitors but there were many school groups visiting the Lincoln Memorial. Some of the groups seemed well behaved and then there were other groups that definitely needed more supervision- there were students sliding down the smooth sections of marble running along the side of the stairs (there’s a real word for that space- I can’t think of it- if you know the name, let me know). I wasn’t sure how to handle watching people be disrespectful of the Lincoln Memorial. It just seemed inappropriate and honestly it pissed me off.
I went to the Lincoln Memorial not to just take some nice photos of a very popular tourist attraction in the Nation’s Capital but to pay whatever respects I can to the 16th President of the United States, who worked to hold this Union together during a time of darkness in our country’s history. I also went to there to stand on the same steps that Martin Luther King Jr. stood on and try to imagine what it was like on those steps on August 28, 1963. The Lincoln Memorial is a place to reflect on our Nation: where we have been, how far we have come, and how much further we need to go as a Nation.
The Lincoln Memorial is in the distance.
The Lincoln Memorial was designed by Henry Bacon and constructed from 1914-1922.
This is the statue of Abraham Lincoln. The design for the statue was created by Daniel Chester French. The statue was carved out of 28 blocks of white Georgia marble by the Piccirilli Brothers and French.
Looking down the National Mall at the reflecting pool and the Washington Monument.
Within the Lincoln Memorial there is obviously the statue of Lincoln but there is also some really amazing inscriptions on the walls to the right and left of the statue. To the left of the statue of Abraham Lincoln are the words of the Gettysburg Address, while on the right is Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Speech from 1865.
This is Lincoln’s second inaugural speech in its entirety. It’s located on the north wall (right of the Lincoln statue).
This is the “Unity” mural by Jules Guerin located above Lincoln’s second inaugural speech on the north wall of the Memorial.
This is the Gettysburg Address located on the south wall of the Lincoln Memorial
One of Jules Guerin’s murals at the Lincoln Memorial. This is above the Emancipation Proclamation, which is located to the left of the Lincoln statue.
In my last post, I talked briefly about getting to see a photo from Lincoln’s Second Inauguration, while I was at the Library of Congress. So, it was really cool to have seen an image of Lincoln on his inauguration day while I was at the Library, and then be at his Memorial where the words he spoke were inscribed on the walls.
Sorry, I’m totally history nerding out right now. It’s just really exciting!
I also discovered, after the fact, that there is an inscribed step on the Lincoln Memorial to signify exactly where Martin Luther King Jr. stood. Sadly I did not see this when I was there at the Memorial. Like I said, there were a lot of people there when I visited and the time I had was also limited because I had one last stop to make.
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
I left the Memorial around 3:40ish and had to book it to my last planned stop for the day: The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. The Museum closes daily at 5:30 and I wasn’t sure what to expect for crowds when I got there. I got to the Museum at 4ish and there was a small line to get in. This time of the year is considered the “off season”, so I did not need to get tickets prior to visiting the museum. The museum is free to visit but during the busy tourist season, admission tickets are needed and can be picked up at the museum in the morning or reserved online.
Before you enter the main exhibit, which you take an elevator to the top floor where it begins and work you way down to the ground floor. Before entering the elevator, you grab a small “identification card” booklet. Within the pages of the booklet is the biography of a victim of the Holocaust; you read different sections of the booklet as you progress through each floor of the museum.
My knowledge of the Holocaust isn’t extensive but I know a lot- in high school I took a course on the Holocaust through my school’s distant learning program. I’ve also visited the Holocaust Memorial in Boston, MA. So my understanding of the rise of the Nazi Party, the Final Solution, and the genocide of Europe’s Jewish population and other “undesirables” such as the Romani, Serbs, Ethnic Poles, Communists, Freemasons, Homosexuals, and Jehovah’s Witnesses, is very clear. The main exhibit added to my knowledge.
I visited the museum as a way to remember those who were murdered and to share what I have seen with those who haven’t or maybe don’t have the ability to visit the museum in person.
The museum was dark, grim, and yet I have these photos from inside the museum- a wall of beautiful portrait photographs, names of places, and of people who were victims.
I had a lot of feelings walking through the main exhibit at the museum. I don’t know what the right words are to explain how I felt about it. But walking through the glass corridors where the names of places and people are inscribed I thought about what that walkway might look like when the light is shining through those names. It just might be terrible and beautiful at the same time. They are the names of those who died. I read their names and I paid my respects to them. I think about how reading their names and seeing their faces means in a way they are not forgotten and they never will be.
This quote from General Dwight D. Eisenhower is located on the 4th floor of the Museum.
This is one of the glass walkways in the museum. The names on the glass are all of the communities that were impacted by the Holocaust. There is another glass walkway with the names of all of the victims.
This is the Tower of Faces, that consists of photographs that were collected by Yaffa Eliach. Yaffa was a survivor of the Holocaust and these photos are from the town she grew up in, Eisiskes (another spelling I found, Ejszyszki). In 1941 almost the entire Jewish population of the town and the surrounding area were murdered. About 500 people of 4,000 escaped and of those 500, only 29 survived the Holocaust.
This is a cast of an actual memorial wall located in Krakow (Cracow), Poland. The wall was constructed after the War ended and consists of fragments of tombstones found at the synagogue’s cemetery in Krakow.
Which brings me to the “identification card” that I picked up randomly from the piles of cards you can choose from at the beginning of the exhibit. The identification card I received was for Bella Judelowitz. Bella and her family lived in Kuldiga, Latvia. She and her husband, Daniel, had 10 children, one of whom died in infancy. Together, Bella and Daniel, ran a bakery-grocery store in their town, which was eventually taken over by a few of their daughters. Bella was in her seventies when her and Daniel were deported in 1941 and never heard from again.
The following link goes to a search from the Holocaust Memorial Museum’s website for Bella and members of her family: https://www.ushmm.org/search/results/?q=judelowitz. One of the people listed is Fanny Judelowitz, who I assume was a granddaughter; she survived the Holocaust. I tried researching more on Bella’s other children but I haven’t been able to find out a lot. If anyone can shed light on the rest of her family that would be nice or where to even start looking, that would be wonderful.
The White House
By the time I left the Holocaust Museum, it was about 5:30. I was hungry, thinking about everything I had just seen and read at the museum, and I realized I hadn’t seen one really important site while in Washington D. C.
The White House.
I had actually forgotten to plan to see the building. Luckily my phone had enough battery life in it to direct me in the general location of the White House. It was getting dark out by the time I found the White House but I did manage to take some photos!
The White House has been in use since November 1, 1800 when President John Adams moved in. The president’s house was designed by James Hoban, an Irishman who had immigrated to the United States in the 1780’s. He based his designs off of homes he saw in Dublin, Ireland. He won the design competition for the White House around the same time that Dr. William Thornton submitted his designs for the U. S. Capitol Building.
Have I discussed how bad I am at taking selfies…anyways. The White House has went through a lot in its existence: it was set on fire during the War of 1812, lots of interior renovations throughout the different presidencies, and then in the 1950’s it was dismantled and pieced make together over a steel structural frame because it was in bad condition.
I took this photography while standing in front of the fencing in front of the White House. I thought it was pretty cool.
If you have any questions or comments, let me know in the comment section below!
Thanks for reading!
The general website for the National Mall, it will give you links to every site I saw while walking around the national park such as the Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial, the World War 2 Memorial, etc: https://www.nps.gov/nama/index.htm
Another person I wanted to highlight, is Gerda Weissmann Klein. She wrote an autobiography entitled, “All But My Life,” that details her survival during the Holocaust. I read the book when I was in high school. The link is to the Wikipedia page for Mrs. Klein and tells about the amazing things she has done in her life as a human rights activist and author: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gerda_Weissmann_Klein. There are other resources about Gerda at the Holocause Memorial Museum’s website.
***Made Up Quotations
* Washington’s exact words to members of Congress about building a monument to himself.
**Probably an actual statement made in Congress to secure funding for the Washington Monument by President Grant.