San Xavier del Bac

Wordless Wednesday

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Wordless Wednesday

Christmas Ornaments 2018 VI

The past summer, the first of my retirement, my early morning hours were spent on Ancestry.com researching our family histories to bring this process, started 2013 in preparation for our tour of Ireland, to a point where I can start to consolidate it into a document shared with other family members.

Pam, at the Cobh Heritage Center

It is a wonderful feeling when the pieces come together. For example the passenger manifest when Grandfather McArdle brought Grandmother and then three year old Mom to Quebec, Canada from the port of Belfast April 1926.

Outside the exhibits there was this collection of authentic emigration trunks on a hand cart.
My father’s trunk from the war was stenciled with his name. A. Lett. took such care marking this suitcase, blocking out the black ground for the carefully hand written white letters.

Their belongings are gathered together in just such a manner. My parents marked all my belongings that left the home with me with my name and address.

Our thought were on this when we selected this suitcase marked with the shamrock from a “Christmas Store” along the streets of the Pennsylvania town of Jim Thorpe, as the memory of our ancestors our exploration of Ireland.

Click this photograph for my Fine Art Photography gallery
Click this photograph for my Fine Art Photography gallery

Click this link for the first “Christmas Ornaments 2018” post.

Click this link for another post about Cobh, Ireland, “Annie Moore and her Brothers.”

Copyright 2018 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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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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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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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

Annie Moore and her brothers

A statue of Annie Moore and her brothers quayside, Cóbh,

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Annie, Anthony and Phillip Moore Statue, Cóbh– CLICK ME!!!!

Pam and I had the emotionally moving experience of  Cóbh Heritage Center on May 29, 2014.  This statue stands outside the center, on the quay from with thousands of Irish emigrated from what was then Queenstown.  My father’s mother, Elizabeth Wills nee Duffy, left from here April 28, 1898.

These are the words on the plaque:

“Annie Moore and her brothers Anthony and Phillip embarked from this town on 20 December 1891 on the S.S. Nevada.  Annie was the first person to be admitted to the United States of America through the new immigration centre at Ellis Island, New York on 1 January, 1892.  This sculpture was unveiled by the President of Ireland, Mary Robinson on 9 February, 1993.  It was erected by Cóbh Heritage Trust Ltd. and is dedicated to all who emigrated from Ireland.
This sculpture won the Zeneca Ireland Ltd. commemorative sculpture award .  A statue of Annie Moore was also erected at Ellis Island, New York.  The commemoration of Annie Moore at New York and at Cóbh was initiated by the Irish American Cultural Institute.
This sculpture is the work of Jeanne Rynhart of Bantry.”

Click to visit the previous post in this series, “The Old Aghameen School.”

Copyright 2017 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Jim Thorpe Black Friday

Around and About the Town of Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania

Presenting impressions of Jim Thorpe town on Black Friday 2016: unedited shots taken in late afternoon.

The best place to park is behind the train station, along the river.  $5 for the day.

Hike up the hill to the Asa Packer Museum.  The attraction is closed for the winter, but well worth the climb past the Civil War monument, so steep there are switchbacks.

Even closed the site yields detail after detail, all interesting and worth learning more about.  I was fascinated by the casted buck sculpture, can you tell?  Placed to greet visitors, it demands your attention.

Climb some more to explore the porch…

The sun makes an appearance, drawing attention to the other mansion of the site.  Two brothers, and families, lived up here.

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Of course, my interest turned to that neighboring mansion.  It is a B&B.  “Mystery weekends” advertised.  That is a two day event.  Guests, presented with a scenario, draw on their resources to solve…..a crime.  Today, the façade decorated for Christmas.  The entire village decorated for Christmas!!  Christmas!!  Christmas!!!  I just love CHRISTMAS

For me, the charm of these places are the details.  These pull the attentive visitor into the character of the owner and/or designer.  A simple storage room dug into the hillside, designed and crafted with love in the interest of the residents who experience it everyday.  Built for a lifetime and longer.  The door and fittings appear to be modern, “nice work.”

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A substantial finial of a thick wrought iron fence rail.

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More so, the choice of building materials for retaining walls.  These were spotted in the countryside, quarry or wherever by someone with an eye for unusual beauty…or a rock hounds.  The boulders are carefully dressed conglomerate specimens with interesting clasts and matrix.

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The museum is a place to enjoy the gathering night.  Take note of the thick groves of rhododendron, native to this area: a reason to return springtime.
The surrounding hills, locally called mountains, increase the charm of the setting.

We descended into town for shopping, dinner at Molly Maquire’s and a show in the Mauch Chunk Opera house. The village was named Mauch Chunk previously until the town fathers decided to rename it to Jim Thorpe, the notable native American sports star, in a then failed effort to encourage tourism. The last decade business has improved.

Molly Maguire’s Irish Pub is a fine place for a companionable meal. Pam and I enjoyed the New York Strip steak with, of course, potatoes. A baked potato for me. Pam had the red skinned garlic mashed potatoes.

The pub is located near the train station.

If you don’t know about the Molly Macguires…google ’em.

A few more notable details.

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Ahhhh, nature….

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If you like what is here…click this link for my online gallery.  Thank You

The contents of this blog are Copyright 2016 Michael Stephen Wills