Sunday, April 13, 2014

Welcome to Florida

Usually, when we drive to Florida we enter the state by way of Interstate 75, but on a recent visit a traffic back-up motivated us to seek out an alternate route.  In Valdosta, we got off 75 and headed south on U-S 41.  This building caught my attention as we crossed the state line into the Sunshine State just north of Jasper, Florida.

I recognized the building right away.  It is one of the old Florida Welcome Centers, long out of business at this location (as is Cooter Jack's, which, as the sign indicates, took over the building for a while).  The state maintained a number of welcome centers just like this one beginning in the 1950s on major highways entering Florida.  These days, more modern versions welcome travellers on the interstates.  These smaller centers dating back to the '50s are long shuttered.

This view from an old post card shows you what the Welcome Center looked like in its original incarnation:

A comparison of the vintage photo with the current condition of the building reveals the awning windows have been covered, dramatically changing the appearance of the building.  The good news, though, is that the building survives.

Monday, February 24, 2014

A Capitol View

Here's a look at the Capitol Record Building in Hollywood as seen from a nearby parking lot looking over a mural.  Among the faces on the artwork is Capitol Records founder Nat "King" Cole.

And here's a more traditional view of the building.

I took these pictures last summer while visiting LA.  Hollywood is my favorite part of town.  Even the seedy parts are filled with great photo ops!

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Lonely Hearts House

This interesting old house at 1120 Acosta Street in Jacksonville's historic Riverside neighborhood supposedly had a role in the 2006 John Travolta movie "Lonely Hearts."

I say the house was "supposedly" in the film, because I watched "Lonely Hearts" but never pinned down which scene featured this home.  There were several houses that might have been this one, but there was never enough of a wide shot to confirm this.  However, it's a fact that "Lonely Hearts" was shot primarily in Jacksonville, in the Riverside neighborhood, and as I was taking pictures of the house, some people came out to tell me about its movie role.  Here's a side view of the house.
It's obvious the house was long ago subdivided into apartments, but the fading charm of the one-time grand single family mansion is still there. 
My guess is this house was built in the early years of the last century.  While not restored, it is still a handsome reminder of those times.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

The Wayfarers Chapel

This historic church was dedicated in 1951 in a spectacular location overlooking the Pacific Ocean in Rancho Palos Verdes, California, south of Los Angeles.  As you approach the Wayfarers Chapel, it is barely visible inside the grove of redwood trees that surround it.

Architect Lloyd Wright, son of Frank Lloyd Wright, designed the church as a "tree chapel" of glass, Palos Verdes stone, and redwood beams. 

Lloyd Wright had this to say about the design of the chapel: "I wanted particularly to allow those trees (that surround the church) and those trunks to be seen, and the space beyond and into infinity to be observed, so those who sat in the sanctuary would perceive the grandeur of space out beyond and around them.  For that purpose, I used the glass so that the natural growth, the sky, and the sea beyond became the definition of their environment, but they get the protection of the glass enclosure."

The Wayfarers Chapel is affiliated with The Swedenborgian Church, which was founded by 18th century scientist and theologian Emanuel Swedenborg.  It was conceived as a respite for all wayfarers on the journey of life.  The church states in its literature that the power of the Wayfarers Chapel is a blend of the sacred purpose and beauty that people experience.

The beauty and serenity of this special place are only about a half hour south of LAX. 

Saturday, August 31, 2013

The Martha Washington

This hotel/apartment in Jacksonville's historic Riverside neighborhood was named the Martha Washington to play off the name of the George Washington Hotel downtown.  Originally built as a home in 1911, the mansion was converted to a hotel for women in 1939 and an addition was constructed on the back.

The home at 1636 King Street was built for lumberman Bryan W. Blount and was one of the largest mansions in the King Street area.
When the home was converted to a hotel, the name Martha Washington was chosen to play off downtown's George Washington Hotel and to reinforce the identify of this as a hotel for women only.  The George Washington Hotel operated from 1926 to 197.  It was torn down in 1973.  The new federal courthouse now occupies the site.
Meanwhile, the Martha Washington Hotel's women only policy did not last through World War 2, although it remained a residential hotel until 1977.  It was closed and was slated for demolition.  A wrecking company had already moved in when a group of preservationists organized investors to raise money to save the building.  It was then re-sold to a developer who converted it into condominiums.
This vintage picture will give you a sense of how the building has been altered over the years.  Compare to the picture at the can see that part of the veranda has been enclosed.
The other change, as mentioned earlier, is the addition on the Oak Street side of the building.
Despite the addition and other changes to the building, the Martha Washington Hotel remains a Riverside landmark.

Monday, July 29, 2013

A Klutho House For Sale

We recently had the opportunity to tour the Stockton Broome Residence, a beautiful home in historic Avondale, designed by architect H.J. Klutho, who produced some of Jacksonville's landmark architecture of the early 20th century.

1845 Elizabeth Place, Jacksonville, Florida, H.J. Klutho architect, 1914.  Klutho is the architect who brought the Prairie style to Jacksonville, yet this is one of only five residences of that style that he designed.  Most of his Prairie style landmarks are large commercial buildings, most notably his masterpiece, the St. James building downtown (the former Cohen Brothers department store, now Jacksonville City Hall).  This large home on exclusive Elizabeth Place was built for real estate promoter Stockton Broome.  He developed the street and named it after his daughter.

The main entrance to the house is on the side, a feature shared by many of the houses on Elizabeth Place.

The house is deep and the rooms are of grand proportions.  The living room has original light fixtures.  As Klutho typically designed every aspect of his homes it is safe to assume these fixtures are part of his original vision.

The dining room is truly banquet size and also features the original lighting and  many built-ins.

The hardwood floors in the house are beautiful and make me wonder about the rest of the woodwork.  I suspect it was not always hidden under a layer of paint!

Pause on the landing as you make your way up the stairs and appreciate the huge arched window.

Then continue up to the second floor and the bedrooms.

Here's the master bedroom.  It is enormous and has its own fireplace.

There are original pocket doors. 

And, in addition to four bedrooms (or maybe more...I lost count), there is a large library on the second floor.

Back to the first floor now, and you'll find something that is unusual in Florida.  A basement!  It is the real thing...and believe it or not, dry.

Here's a reminder of why this is such a lovely street.  Elizabeth Place, lined on both sides by significant homes like this one, ends at the St. Johns River.  The Stockton Broome residence is one house away from the river.

1845 Elizabeth Place is for sale for $725,000.  An original Klutho and a historic landmark!  What a deal!