Around and About Athens, New York, part 2

Real Estate and Ancestors

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Pam eventually caught up to report a breakthrough contact made through casual street interactions (click me for Part 1). She talked to random strangers on 2nd Street hoping to learn more about her ancestor, Jan Van Loon. The breakthrough was a name and phone number of a woman, the daughter of a new acquaintance, and a tip about an old cemetery.

Two people are visible in this first photograph, taken from the south end of Athen’s Riverside Park. Look to the left of the large tree where a artist, under the small white umbrella, is painting while in conversation with a second person. Pam struck up a conversation……

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“For Sale: 1825 Federal Home on the Hudson River”

The artist had an easel and a painting in progress, the subjects were yellow irises, part of a formal garden on the grounds of the mansion. We first took it to be a museum or public building of some sort, but were mistaken. It is a home. In the course of a conversation that touched upon Henry Hudson’s 1608 journey up the river (they knew nothing of Jan Van Loon, or of deeper local history in general), and the work of the second man who was the owner of the mansion. Here is more about the place from the Zillow listing. There was no “for sale” sign in evidence.

From the portion of the 12 South Water Street garden on the road. We chatted with the house owners and an artist as he painted these yellow iris blooms.

Zillow Listing WOW!!

” A freshly renovated home and grounds on the Hudson River, at 12 South Water Street, Athens, New York. Barely visible, to the left of the tree, is an artist, painting large yellow irises while chatting with the owner of the property. Here is what the listing on Zillow has to say, “This majestic 1825 Federal home on the banks of the Hudson River was designed by architect Barnabas Waterman for shipping entrepreneur Anthony Rutgers Livingston. Steeped in history, the house has undergone an extensive – yet sensitive – restoration. Enter into a grand hallway with Double Parlors to the right and a formal DR on the left. Original Federal flourishes abound with acanthus leaf capitals and entablatures, corinthian columns, and intact mantels and moulding. The high ceilings and tall windows provides extraordinary elegance, light and comfort. A thoughtful kitchen renovation and 1/2 Bath for 21st century convenience. Upstairs is a Full Bath and four spacious and airy Bedrooms, the Master with ensuite bath. The walk – out lower level features a family room with fireplace, a full bath and the original kitchen with hearth and beehive oven. A stroll past the box-wood garden leads to a 3-bay Garage with Studio and 1/2 Bath above, perfect for artist, home office or guests. Convenient to Thruway, Catskill, Hudson. 2- hrs NY.”

View from the home, across the Hudson River. This is the Middle Ground Flats (an island mid-stream in the Hudson River) in the distance.

Formal Garden

Restored Hudson River Mansion

Barely a half mile apart, a great distance separates the homestead of Jan Van Loon and the 12 South Water Street former mansion of a shipping magnate including 125 years and the American Revolution.

Stylized Acanthus Leaves grace these Corinthian Capitals

Click me for the next post in this series about Flowers and the Athens Country Cemetery.

Copyright 2019 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills

Around and About Athens, New York, part 1

Enjoyments of Athens, New York

Memorial Day Weekend 2019 Pam and I visited Athens, first settled in the 17th Century by an ancestor through her maternal grandmother. Click me for more about the Van Loons. Jan Van Loon is 10 generations removed from Pam and her siblings and is one of 1024 (512 pairs) of ancestors. Whatever became of the other 1022 people (and all those in between) Pam was there with me that day to enjoy the experience of walking around town and talking about Jan Van Loon’s connection to herself.

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Founded as Loonenberg, named after the first settler Jan Van Loon. today,Athens is a lovely destination, a historic village on the Hudson River.

We stopped for a very enjoyable latte at Bonfiglio and Bread on 2nd street. As we ambled south on 2nd street Pam spotted someone to talk to and I proceeded with the goal of the Hudson River, visible at the bottom of the street.

I noticed this architectural specimen and turned to capture this side in a good light and was lucky to capture a young co-admirer of its style with whom I assume is her Mother. Athens, developed as a “National Register Historic Site,” is a charming place to stroll and admire.

Southeast view on 2nd Street between Water and Washington streets. Athens, New York

Hudson Riverfront

Yesterday I did a Red Cross blood donation at an elementary school on Hudson Street here in Ithaca. Henry Hudson, the first European to sail up the river that now bears his name, is memorialized this way across New York State so much so it is unusual to find the “Riverfront Park” named as such.

The city of Hudson, in Columbia County directly across the river named its park “Henry Hudson Riverfront Park.”

Looking east toward the entrance of the Riverfront Park, Athens, New York. Found at the east end of 2nd Street.

Peace and Quiet

The Athens Park is a gathering place for the village with a large swath of grass, a short boardwalk, benches and generous shade trees along with river…….

The photograph captions will speak for themselves for the rest of today’s post. Enjoy!!

A sole reader enjoys the solitude and view across the Hudson. A large mid-stream island, Middle Ground Flats, provides a swath of green instead of a view of the city Hudson.

…and a dock.

The map shows a dotted line between this dock in the Athens Riverside Park and the Henry Hudson Riverside park of the city of Hudson. Barely visible in front of the wooded hills is the Hudson-Athens lighthouse.
A pleasure craft motoring south on the Hudson River passes in front of the Hudson-Athens Lighthouse. On the eastern shore is a line of freight cars. Amtrack uses this line for service between New York City, Albany and beyond. We have enjoyed this Hudson River view from the train and highly recommend that trip.
Built 1874, the Hudson-Athens lighthouse guides traffics around the island named “Middle Ground Flats.”

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Copyright 2019 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills

Dreams, Stories and Things from the Vanderbilt Museum

a spring day on the former gold coast of Long Island

The Dreams

For 32 years of work dreams about work visited occasionally, then when retirement approached and overtook me these became an almost nightly visitation.

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SONY DSC
Northport Harbor from the Vanderbilt Museum

Last week, a few months into retirement, the haunting stopped, replaced by adventures by and on the ocean.  

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SONY DSC

It brings to mind, a few years ago Pam and I took lessons at Cornell’s Merrill Family Sailing Center followed by several seasons of memberships.  We’d take out sailboats the size on the one enjoyed by the fellow above in Northport Harbor.

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Fountain and Pool
Fountain and Pool of the Mansion Garden

We’d spend entire days on the water, looking up at the people driving the hill up and down route 13.  “How lucky we are here and not there”, I’d say.

The Stories

Willy Vanderbilt named his Centerport estate “Eagle’s Nest” after his first yacht, “Eagle” that was anchored in Northport harbor along the estate shoreline.  In 1932 the German Krupp Germaniawerft company build a new yacht named Alva, after his mother.

Fountain and Pool
The mansion garden features several fountains and pools. Northport harbor and Long Island Sound are the view.

Willy had a “thing” about the infant Baccus.  My first Vanderbilt Museum posting “A Taste of Gatsby: details from the Vanderbilt Museum”included the following depictions of the infant Baccus.  the name preferred by the Romans.

Museum Garden Statue
Statue of a young Bacchus in the Mansion Garden with Northport Harbor and the Long Island Sound reflection

To the Greeks he was Dionysus.  Also known as the “twice born” from the myth of his being carried in his father Zeus’ thigh after Hera, the jealous wife, plotted the death of his mother, the mortal Semele.  

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Fountain Figure

The infancy of Dionysus was perilous, with Hera plotting revenge Zeus found safe haven for the child at a place of earth called Mount Nysa, with beings named Rain Nymphs.  The fascination of Vanderbilt with the story continued with the acquisition and display of a statue of the infant Dionysus with a protective nymph.

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Dionysus and protector, a Rain-nymph of Nysa

The Things

The statue and plinth are at the stairs into the garden.

Mansion Garden and Fountain from archway.

 

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SONY DSC

 

Mansion Garden with Red Maple

 

Window and Red Maple
Garden of the mansion with window, red maple and early growth of tiger lilies

 

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Ornate Grating and Flowers
The mansion garden with an ornate grated window, azelia and bleeding hearts.

Copyright 2018 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills

References
Wikipedia “Dionysus” and “Willy Vanderbilt”

More Details from the Vanderbilt Museum

a spring day on the former gold coast of Long Island

The Planetarium

Thirty five years after completing his Eagles Nest estate and twenty seven after his death, this planeterium became an addition to the museums left by William K. Vanderbilt II (“Willie K”).
Located next to the Rose Garden, where my last blog “A Taste of Gatsby – details from the Vanderbilt Museum” left off, this planetarium is on the site for the estate tennis courts. The Planeterium reopened March 2013 with a complete equipment upgrade.

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Planetarium Dome
The star of the planetarium is a Konica Minolta GeminiStar III projector; a machine that will put this museum on the map for having one of the finer planetarium projectors in the United States.

There are several museums on the grounds, joined by graciously appointed walkways.
This is a corner urn along the walk to the mansion.

Wall Planter
This planter graces a wall corner along the path from the Planetarium to the Corinthian Colonnade

 

Courtyard Entrance

The Spanish Revival style mansion gathers around a central, cobblestone courtyard entered through this elaborate sandstone gate flanked by two carved sandstone urns, each at least six feet tall with pedestal.

Archway Courtyard Entrance
A gated arch serves as the mansion courtyard entrance.

The gated entrance is the base of a bell tower. Willie brought from Russia a church bell that is older than the Liberty bell. He used to have great fun ringing the bell on Sunday mornings to disturb the sleep of his partying son and friends. That stopped when the neighbors arrived as an angry, spontaneous group to complain.

Urn at Mansion Courtyard Arch
The mansion courtyard is entered through a gated archway. This cast urn graces the right side.

The cobblestone road leads up to the mansion, over a bridge and into the courtyard.
Here is a detail of the walk way, formed from glacially rounded pebbles very common on beaches of Long Island’s North Shore.

Pebble Designs in Walkway
A walkway decorated with black and white pebbles leads into the mansion courtyard. This is a portion just inside the arch.

 

A Ghost in the Garden

Across the courtyard from the bell tower is this arched entrance to the gardens along the east mansion walls. As we approached the figure to the right seemed to be a ghost, she was so still, enthralled by the view of Northport Harbor.

Archway from Courtyard
Archway with view toward Northport Bay and Asharoken

There were many cast stone planters in an Aztec motif such as that to the left of the archway and, in a detail shot, below.

Wall Urn and Northport Harbor
A cast wall urn from the Mansion Garden of the Vanderbilt Museum.

We continued through the archway into the gardens. With plenty of time before the Mansion tour (highly recommended) we wandered at length and had an interesting conversation with the figure of the archway, a retired lady from Smithtown (and not a ghost).

Pam in Mansion Garden
Pam struck up a conversation with another visitor who was very knowledgeable about the museum history and grounds.

Click link to read more in “Dreams, Stories and Things from the Vanderbilt Museum.”

Copyright 2018 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills

A Taste of Gatsby: details from the Vanderbilt Museum

a spring day on the former gold coast of Long Island

 

Fountain FigureA Taste of Gatsby

The first weekend of May 2013 my wife, Pam, and I attended a New York City Ballet performance on Saturday. Sunday we visited the Vanderbilt Museum of Centerport, Long Island.

This is the former “Eagles Nest” estate of William (“Willie”) Kissam Vanderbilt II.

Museum visitors are first drawn to a grand Corinthian colonnade and view of this boathouse on Northport Harbor.

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Boat House

Vanderbilt and Gatsby

Willie K chose Centerport in 1910 for an anchorage on the well protected Northport Harbor, deep enough to his yacht the size of a destroyer class ship named for his mother, Alva.
The estate grounds are high above the harbor, the mansion and gardens designed to enhance the view.

There are superficial parallels between Willie K’s life and “The Great Gatsby.” The first suburban commuter, Willie K was an auto enthusiast. A theme of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel “The Great Gatsby” is travel back and forth from New York City to the great estates on Long Island’s North Shore. In Gatsby, while the vehicles are grand, the travel is pointless or worse. In comparison, Willie K as a pioneering automobile racer, achieved a land speed record and founded a major race, “The Vanderbilt Cup.” Gatsby, above and beyond his fictional status, is a tenuous, transient figure. Vanderbilt established this estate, grounds and museums we still enjoy today.

Rose Garden

A short walk from the colonnade is a rose garden surrounding a pool and fountain. These Corinthian columns sized to a human scale flank a dedication bench on the northern side overlooking the boathouse through a hillside forest.

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Rose Garden Bench

Spirit of the Mediterranean

This figure of a flourishing infant is atop the rose garden fountain. Pam and I first noticed this character of the Eagles Nest estate here, with his abundant grape cluster, and came to know him as an expression of Willie’s outlook.

To the northeast / east is a dramatic view of Northport harbor and the Long Island Sound.

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Rose Garden Fountain

The mansion and surrounding grounds were imagined by Willie and implemented by the architects Warren, Wetmore and Pearce, over a twenty five year building campaign, from his feeling for the Mediterranean.

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Museum Garden Statue

We were gifted with weather that evoked the full expression of the Mediterranean spirit.

Click Link to read more in, “More Details from the Vanderbilt Museum.”

Copyright 2018 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills

Details From Arcosanti, Paolo Solari’s Timeless Vision of a human environment

A Vision of a Human Environment

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Paolo Soleri passed away five years ago, April 9, 2013 at the age of 93.  I was fortunate to attend a University of Arizona lecture by Dr. Soleri in the 1970’s. He was at the height of his accomplishments that afternoon and for an hour we vicariously shared his vision and philosophy.  What most impressed me was Dr. Soleri’s openness and humanity.  Solari’s vision was of an architecture of a dense occupation of humanity that has a minimal environmental impact, Arcology was the term he coined for this idea.  I remembered that hour and Arcosanti, his desert village north of Phoenix since then.

Thirty years later my personal project of reconnecting to the University of Arizona brought me for the first time to Arcosanti. In that time, Dr. Soleri’s trained thousands of students and his desert village grew slowly. Arcosanti is now a vision that achieved a center while events which seemed to pass it by, actually are stones with the strength of Dr. Solari’s ideas and humanity.

Here is a sampling of architectural details from Arcosanti, a place that is real enough and quite charming.  To find the site, head north on US Route 17 in Phoenix, travel about 67 miles to Cordes Lakes and take Arcosanti Road to the site.

 

Pam Checking Her Equipment prior to our visit the summer of 2008.

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Entrance and a Tower of the Crafts III building

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Ceramics Apse Sand Cast Panels I

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Ceramics Apse Sand Cast Panels II

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Ceramics Apse Sand Cast Panels III

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Bell and Panel from the Colly Soleri Amphitheater

Bell Casting was and continues to be a major source of income.

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View from the East Housing complex to the East Across Arcosanti

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View to the South with Cypress Trees from a Portal of the Crafts III Building

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