One of these is better for you.


Thanks for nothing, Corbusier

Thanks for nothing, Corbusier.

We’d had to sit at a stoplight opposite this thing for far too long. Its inhuman, inhumane ugliness continued imposing itself upon my eyes and mind and soul, looming, seemingly increasingly large, overhead like an executioner or perhaps like a boot stamping on the human face, forever.

Thus my response. Give me ‘frippery’ any day.

Of course, while I blame Corbu, a commentor at Flickr blames Gropius & his Bauhaus, while another blames the folks who approve prison block-like hunks of concrete that don’t weather well, much less welcome actual human beings.

Both fair points. Plenty of blame to go around, I say.

Okay. That was cruel.

How about something lovely?

Wayne County Courthouse

Wayne County Courthouse, Wooster, Ohio. Built 1878.


Mink Hollow Covered Bridge in Arney Run Park, Early Autumn

Covered Bridge, Arney Run Park

That may be my longest post title yet, but that’s barely half the name of of this pretty covered bridge—”The Mink Hollow Covered Bridge in Oil Mill Hollow Over Arney Run Near Borcher’s Mill”! That means this bridge has the longest name of any covered bridge in the nation, something I was unaware of when photographing the structure.

Covered Bridge, Arney Run Park

Built by Jacob Brandt in 1887, the bridge is 51 feet long and stands on its original sandstone abutments. Part of one of Fairfield County’s historic parks, crosses Arney Mill Run in Lancaster; the “Oil Mink Hollow” part comes from the days when a flaxseed-pressing mill stood nearby.

Covered Bridge, Arney Run Park: Bent Nail

The Mink Hollow Covered Bridge et cetera, et cetera, et cetera boasts of not just a long name, but also an unusual structure—if I understand correctly, its central X-brace, combined with multiple Kingpost through truss, are unique to the Buckeye State. This is one of eighteen (or sixteen; there seems to be disagreement) covered bridges in Fairfield County—eighteen remaining of the county’s original two hundred and twenty! Indeed, Fairfield County can still boast of having more covered bridges than any other county in Ohio.

There are reports that the bridge is illuminated at night—I may have to go back for that after a really good snow despite the cold. Wouldn’t those make lovely photos?

Covered Bridge, Arney Run Park

Continue reading

The Original Perkins Observatory in Delaware

Wesleyan University Student Observatory

No doubt we’ve all experienced the following: Having lived in or even often travelled through a place for years, we learn about something wonderful or intriguing we had no idea existed. This is more surprising (and galling, for a documentary photographer) when we have driven right by something many, many times, never knowing what we were missing. Such was the case for me with this, the former Perkins Observatory at Ohio Wesleyan University.

Wesleyan Student Observatory

Wander in to photograph an observatory, photograph the doorknob instead.

In my defense, the observatory sits on a hill high above the road (it’s not far from the darling octagonal filling station in Delaware), and I don’t remember how we learned of its existence, but after stopping at my favourite local nursery, we stopped in to take a peek. Continue reading

A cheerful excursion to the WV State Penitentiary!

West Virginia State Penitentiary, 1876-1995

Yes, nothing like a visit to a forbidding state penitentiary to start the weekend! I hope you’ve been behaving yourself.

West Virginia State Penitentiary

We happened by the former prison once again while returning from a visit to my doctor in, appropriately, West Virginia. Tours had ended by the time we arrived, but as it can be a long trip, we were happy for an excuse to stop and wander around the Moundsville, West Virginia landmark to stretch our legs.

Goofily enough, though Hubby and I lived in the wonderful Mountaineer State for many years, whenever we visited it was raining, so this was the first real opportunity I’ve had to photograph the six-foot-thick hand-carved sandstone Gothic Revival walls of the Penitentiary despite the rain that was threatening (what is it, Moundsville? Do you not like me?).

Aerial 8th Street

Aerial view, 8th St. Photo courtesy Willy Nelson, who has a nice set of Moundsville photos. CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Moundsville is named for the 2,000 year-old Adena/Hopewell people’s burial ground in the town’s center; part of the prison is rumoured to be built upon the burial ground, and the namesake burial mound is right across the street from the prison. Thus the men or women occupying cells at the Pen’s front had quite the concrete reminder of death added to the prison-life reminders.

Surrounding the prison, believe it or not, is the town of Moundsville itself—oodles of residences and small businesses, right across the street. As you can see from these aerial shots (circa 1950s-1970s, the date is uncertain), it’s a charming little all-American town! But there’s the state prison, big as life.

Aerial View of Moundsville 2

Note the prison at the upper right-hand corner. Aerial View of Moundsville 2, courtesy Willy Nelson. CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 From Nelson’s set of aerial views of Moundsville.

The Moundsville prison was birthed during an upheaval that shook the entire nation. Continue reading

Columbus’ T&OC, the Toledo and Ohio Central Railroad Station

Toledo & Ohio Central RR Station As part of my continuing effort to photograph Columbus’ architecturally significant buildings, abandoned or otherwise, I today offer you the very handsome Toledo & Ohio Central railroad station, or the T&OC, as it is called by natives. This marvellous place stands on Broad downtown—surely no one could drive by the first time without at least wanting to stop and take a closer look! This is the only remaining Columbus station, the last jewel in a crown that once held three. Toledo & Ohio Central Railroad Station, Columbus Designed by the well-regarded Columbus architecture firm of Yost & Packard (some of their buildings here), the T&OC was built in 1895 for the Toledo & Ohio Railroad. Though I know you are thinking “Asian design!” just as I did, the architects stated that it is actually based upon French and Swiss feudal architecture. Lantern Love at the Toledo & Ohio Central rail station Continue reading

Abandoned WV Route 88 Cottage-Style Gas Station & the Uglification of America (again)

Mystery Station, photo copyright Jen Baker/Liberty Images; all rights reserved. Pinning to this page is okay.

Recently I mentioned an abandoned filling station spotted during a trip to see my physician in West Virginia. More pressing projects kept me from posting my photographs of the crumbling building, but I have them for you today.

Mystery Station, photo copyright Jen Baker/Liberty Images; all rights reserved. Pinning to this page is okay.

This is a spot I’d seen before, but it rests just beyond a very sharp curve in the road; the first time I saw it the skies were already darkening and it was so hidden by brush I nearly missed it! You can imagine my happiness at being able to photograph it in spring, before it half-disappears into the wood again.

Mystery Station, photo copyright Jen Baker/Liberty Images; all rights reserved. Pinning to this page is okay.

I’m not sure what oil company originally built the old filling station, though my guess is Pure Oil. Continue reading

“The World’s Greatest Air Harbor”: Old Port Columbus Airport

Old Port Columbus Air Terminal & Control Tower Recently the Columbus Landmarks Foundation released their list of the most endangered historic properties in the central Ohio area for 2014. One of my goals is to visit as many of these places as is possible and photograph them as they stand today, so long as they are able to be visited and viewed.

At the very top of this year’s list is the Old Port Columbus Airport terminal on the east side. Opened in 1929, it’s a rather attractive Art Deco building, one hailed as “The World’s Greatest Air Harbor” by the city officials who had spent nearly a decade lobbying for it. None other than Charles Lindbergh himself selected the site for the airport, which also—this is fascinating to me—served as a train terminal for the Transcontinental Air Transport New York to Los Angeles air-rail system.

Old Port Columbus

The “street-side” of the building—this is one of the first things seen by rail passengers entering Port Columbus.

It sounds as if travelling such a distance was a bit convoluted back in ’29: For a $351.94 ticket, you’d go from New York to Columbus via the Pennsylvania Railroad, from Columbus to Waynoka, Oklahoma via air, then back onto a train to head to Clovis, New Mexico, and a final leg in the air from Clovis to LA. I’d probably handcuff my luggage to myself lest it be lost! All of that train- and plane-hopping over the course of the required 48 hours sounds exhausting, but of course it was a much different time—travel was a luxurious pleasure and event back then.

(I’ll pause so we can all lean back and fantasize about romantic railcar trips and airplane stewardesses serving cocktails. Ahhhh…) Continue reading