Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Victoria Parliament

Victoria Parliament.JPG
Victoria Parliament 5.JPG, originally uploaded by mharrsch.
Recently my sister and I visited Victoria, British Columbia on a "Girls Weekend Out" trip. We had a marvelous time! We caught the ferry at Port Angeles, Washington then a pedicab driven by a very insistent, very interesting college student to our hotel.

Our three day visit was packed with places to go from morning to night. We enjoyed a wonderful traveling exhibit about Ancient Egypt at the Royal British Columbia Museum. They also had fascinating and beautifully displayed local exhibits as well.

See additional photos of the Royal BC Museum.

We are both doll collectors fascinated by historical costume so we had a great time at the Royal London Wax Museum.

See additional photos of the Royal London Wax Museum!

We ate delicious fish and chips at the Millstone Restaurant. We sampled delicate English hoers d'oevres at high tea at the Empress Hotel.

We browsed the antique shops of Fort Street and marveled at the beautiful stained glass windows of the Victorian mansion, Craigdarroch Castle.

Photos of Craigdarroch Castle

See additional photos of Victoria, British Columbia!

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Aladdin remodel eliminates Middle Eastern theme

Some distressing news about the Aladdin Hotel with the Middle Eastern theme. When I stayed there just a few years ago it had just opened. I enjoyed the frescoes of Middle Eastern history, the Moroccan shopping environment, and the Middle Eastern cuisine in the Spice Market buffet. I read yesterday that it was acquired by Planet Hollywood, Inc. and is being totally remodelled into a boxy, sterile, Hollywood-themed venue. I can't help but suspect it is in response to our current administration's ridiculous paranoia about anything reflecting Islamic culture. How disgusting! At least I am thankful that I had an opportunity to enjoy it before it is swept away. I also see they are planning to partition the Aladdin's Center for the Performing Arts into smaller theaters - probably to feature the usual Vegas fare of comedians, impersonators, and magicians. This is also unfortunate as I thoroughly enjoyed the Broadway musical "Beauty and the Beast" that I attended in their existing theater. I also read that the pirate ships in front of Treasure Island are headed for the scrap yard to be replaced by Pirates vs. Sexy Sirens! Casino owners apparently have not been satisfied with their ROI since Vegas started catering to families several years ago. Now, I guess, they've decided to forget that strategy and go back to their usual bawdy bread and butter shows.

At least one bit of interesting news stated that a new hotel with an Australian theme shaped like the Sydney Opera House is in the works. It has potential but I was hoping for something with a Moscow theme myself.

Check out my other Las Vegas images!

Friday, September 03, 2004

Picturesque Street Light Beside London Bridge

On our vacation this past Spring, I took a 19 mile diversion off of Arizona Interstate 40 to get a chance to see London Bridge. I was a little disappointed that the magnificent guard towers were no longer on the bridge. I was told they were retained in Great Britain. However, it was a beautiful morning and was very relaxing to stroll along the lakeside plaza beside the bridge. There are little shops to browse and I did buy myself a little chip from the original bridge stone to commemorate my visit. I would have liked to have had at least tea and crumpets at the little English restaurant but they were not yet open.

Check out the rest of my London Bridge images.

Thursday, August 26, 2004

Enchanted World of Dolls

Lacy bonnet
Lacy bonnet, originally uploaded by mharrsch.
As an avid historical doll collector, I could not pass up the opportunity to visit the "Enchanted World of Dolls" museum in Mitchell, South Dakota when we passed through there on our way back to Oregon. I was not disappointed. Even though I photographed over 100 of their exhibits, I didn't even scratch the surface of the hundreds of dolls on display. I only wish I had had more time and my husband wasn't waiting impatiently for me out in the car. I even found a Ruben Tejada Native American doll that I did not have yet in my collection available for sale in their gift shop. For lovers of history, costume, and dolls, I highly recommend this museum for a fascinating couple of hours!

Check out my other images of dolls on display at this excellent museum!

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Splendid China closing a tragedy

Chinese temple scene5
Chinese temple scene5, originally uploaded by mharrsch.
Splendid China was a family theme park featuring more than 60 incredibly detailed replicas of China's most historic landmarks, including a half-mile long Great Wall, the Forbidden City, the modern archeological site of the Terra Cotta Warriors and dozens of other sites and scenes. Sadly, I read on its web site that it closed on December 31, 2003 because of the post 9/11 downturn in tourism.

I found the park fascinating despite the fact that it was 105 degrees the day I visited. I thought the opportunity to see so many beautiful historic places, even in scaled-down versions was truly wonderful, especially since I may never have the chance to see China in person. This type of educational experience is so much more memorable in the long run than a traditional amusement park full of rollercoasters although younger visitors need to have interactivity to stimulate them. When I was there, visitors had already dwindled so many of the scheduled events were scaled back or no longer offered. I love architectural models so I was enthralled anyway but other visitors would probably need additional activities to heighten their interest. I did attend a performance of Chinese acrobats but I think it would have been more intriguing if the acrobats had chosen people from the audience and tried to teach them how to balance the jars and other objects they used in their act. I think having audience participation is critical now days in themed venues since everyone is becoming so used to interactivity with the internet and with modern video games.

I especially enjoyed walking through the 1/3 scale model of the excavation of the terracotta warriors. I had seen the original warriors when the "Tombs of China" traveling exhibit was displayed at the museum in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park. However, seeing even a scaled down version of them still in their trenches was very unique since I doubt that I will ever be able to see the real ones in situ.

To see my other photos check out Splendid China

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Cahokian flintknapper

Cahokian flintknapper
Cahokian flintknapper, originally uploaded by mharrsch.
When I was a young girl in the 1950s, I was fascinated by the Aztec, Mayan, and Incan cultures that we studied in the fourth and fifth grades. But, there was no mention whatsoever about the advanced mound-building cultures of North America. I actually did not ever hear of them until I studied archaeology in college. When I finally got a chance to see the beautifully crafted artifacts that had been recovered from mounds in the American Midwest I was truly astounded.

Check out the rest of my photographs of the fascinating exhibits at the Cahokia Mounds Interpretative Center

Monk's mound

Monks mound
Monks mound, originally uploaded by mharrsch.

Eleven years ago I climbed a Hopewell mound in Tennessee and would have liked to have added Monk's mound to my conquests but there were groups of school children waiting to climb the mound and my husband was getting impatient so I just admired it from afar.

Photographed at Cahokia Mounds Interpretive Center, St. Louis, Missouri

Williamsburg Assembly Hall

Here's another view of the Williamsburg Assembly Hall.
Uploaded by Hello!

I am testing Blogger's new photo hosting service Hello. The previous images were posted with Flickr I notice that Hello provides larger thumbnails than Flickr. However, I like Flickr's format much better with the post message aligned to the right of the image, title and caption.

Check out the rest of my Williamsburg images!

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Beautiful Clocktowers grace government structures in Williamsburg

I was particularly intrigued by the detail on this beautiful clocktower perched on the roof of the Capitol building. I learned that Munns Manufacturing, a company that specializes in clocktowers and church steeples, restored the clocktower on Williamsburg's Courthouse

Williamsburg Capitol site of famous Stamp Act speech

The Capitol at Williamsburg
The Capitol at Williamsburg, originally uploaded by mharrsch.
The gentlemen at Williamsburg sat in the oldest representative assembly in what was now the world's newest nation. The legislature first met at Williamsburg on April 21, 1704, when the Capitol on Duke of Gloucester Street was still under construction. Literally and figuratively, however, its foundation dated to 1619, when the House of Burgesses first convened at Jamestown.

After fire destroyed (for the third time) the Jamestown Statehouse in 1698, the burgesses decided to move the colony's government to Middle Plantation, soon renamed Williamsburg. On May 18, 1699, they resolved to build the first American structure to which the word Capitol was applied.

In this building Patrick Henry delivered his Caesar-Brutus speech against the Stamp Act on May 29, 1765.

"Caesar had his Brutus--Charles the first his Cromwell--and George III--may he profit from their example."

Henry, George Washington, George Mason, George Wythe, Richard Henry Lee, Jefferson, and others played their parts in the legislative wars that ended in revolution. - Official Colonial Williamsburg Website

Williamsburg Courthouse served many roles in early America

Williamsburg Courthouse
Williamsburg Courthouse, originally uploaded by mharrsch.
"Williamsburg's citizens assembled at their courthouse at 1 p.m. on Thursday, May 1, 1783, to celebrate at last the end of the war with England--just as they had gathered seven years earlier to hear lawyer Benjamin Waller proclaim from its steps the Declaration of Independence.

Led by four standard bearers, a herald riding a gelding, and the mayor and his aldermen bearing the city charter, the throng marched down Duke of Gloucester Street toward the College of William and Mary. They carried a proclamation announcing the initialing of the Treaty of Paris and, nearly two years after Yorktown, the end of the Revolution." - Colonial Williambsurg official website

Williamsburg Gunsmiths Mostly Repairmen

Williamsburg Gunsmith
Williamsburg Gunsmith, originally uploaded by mharrsch.
Williamsburg Gunsmiths Mostly Repairmen"Because imported firearms were cheaper than those made in Williamsburg - typical of many goods in colonial America - the gunsmith mainly repaired arms and other objects. Gunsmiths often repaired axes and other items made by blacksmiths, cast shoe buckles and other items like bells, and sometimes repaired silver objects.

Rifles were the only Virginia arms produced in quantity. Rifle production was concentrated on the frontier to the west of Williamsburg." - Colonial Williamsburg Official Website

Another interesting account of a visit to the Williamsburg Gunsmith.

Friday, July 02, 2004

Weavers In High Demand in Colonial America

Williamsburg weaver
Williamsburg weaver, originally uploaded by mharrsch.
The middle colonies attracted Dutch spinners and weavers, despite the prohibition against textile manufacture by Dutch West Indian Co, owners of "New Netherland". Pennsylvania held English, Welsh, Irish, Dutch, German, and Quaker settlers with textile manufacturing based in Philadelphia and Germantown; land was given to professional weavers to induce them to come to the colonies.

See also: Weavers

Colonists imported fine fabrics to emulate European fashion

"The fabrics used in America between 1640--1780 were simple and plain; colonists were largely unskilled in fabric making, so textiles were primarily imported. By 1656, Americans were recognizing that their lack of skowledge was making them all-too reliant on England; they began to desperately try to import textile makers from Europe.

In 1766 (in Providence, Rhode Island), the "Daughters of Liberty" was formed by a group of upper-middle class young women. They spent their days spinning to free America from its reliance on Europe for textiles--which actually did help the colonists when the Revolutionary war was launched. Many colonists found it economically necessary to create their own basic fabrics and clothing, anyway; but the finer cloths--the brocades and damasks, for example--were purchased from Europe.

Colonists with lingering European taste insisted upon British wools, in particular. American sheep were coarse wool types, and couldn't produce the more fine, soft wools of English sheep. Yet, in the 1630s, the colonial legislative body passed several laws forbidding the purchase or wearing of such fine fabrics--because, they said, colonists were becoming far too worldly.

Although widely available in colonial America, COTTON was not expertly created by the colonists; it was very coarse when made in the colonies. American SILKS were generally of poor quality, also. Most cotton was imported from England (and originated in India), and heavy silks from England and France were bought in small quantities.

Wealthy Colonial Women Elegantly "Asphyxiated"

Colonial women's fashions could be called elegant asphyxiation as noted in this website about Revolutionary America:

"For Women, tight bodices contrasted with voluminous hoop skirts and panniers (side bustles) under multi-layered petticoats and skirts. Stays (corsets) were inset with stiff whalebone and drawn tight, often laced to the brink of asphyxiation! Intricately upswept hairstyles completed the vision.

For Men, tailored frock coats opened to beautiful waistcoats of velvet, brocade or satin, and worn with velvet breeches, fancy knee buckles, silk stockings and buckled shoes."

New England Taverns Kept by Men of Consequence

"Grave and respectable citizens were chosen to keep the early ordinaries and sell liquor. The first "house of intertainment" at Cambridge, Massachusetts, was kept by a deacon of the church, afterward Steward of Harvard College. The first license in that town to sell wine and strong water was to Nicholas Danforth, a selectman, and Representative to the General Court. In the Plymouth Colony Mr. William Collier and Mr. Constant South-worth, one of the honored Deputies, sold wine to their neighbors.

Dr. Dwight in his Travels said that English-men often laughed at the fact that inns in New England were kept by men of consequence.

BEFORE named streets with numbered houses came into existence, and when few persons could read, painted and carved sign-boards and figures were more useful than they are to-day; and not only innkeepers, but men of all trades and callings sought for signs that either for quaintness, appropriateness, or costliness would attract the eyes of customers and visitors, and fix in their memory the exact locality of the advertiser. Signs were painted and carved in wood; they were carved in stone; modelled in terra-cotta and plaster; painted on tiles; wrought of various metals; and even were made of animal' heads stuffed."

Bob Wigs Most Requested by Colonists

Wigs were made of horsehair, yak hair and human hair, the latter being the most expensive. Wigs were very expensive. A man could outfit himself with a hat, coat, breeches, shirt, hose, and shoes for about what a wig would cost him. A wig also required constant care from a hairdresser for cleaning, curling, and powdering. Bob wigs were the most popular wigs in colonial America and were also the standard wig worn by Protestant clergymen for the whole century. Catholic clergy wore a similar style with a built in tonsure at the top.

Colonial Apothecaries Practiced Herbalism

Colonial apothecary
Colonial apothecary, originally uploaded by mharrsch.
According to the Wellness Directory of Minnesota: "Herbalism reached its first major peak in Europe in 1652 when Dr Nicolas Culpeper published his book, The English Physician, filled with some 300 herbs, drawings, and their medicinal uses. He is considered by many, to be the father of alternative medicine."

It goes on to say: "When the colonists befriended the natives, their "medicine cabinets" so to say, expanded with new herbal remedies the natives brought them from their new land.

In his book, Divided Legacy, Dr Harris L Coulter describes this "second doctrine" (there were 4 competing theories of medicine in the first half of the 1800s) as the "Indian Doctors." Even though many of the arriving colonists had brought their herbal medicines with them (and seeds to grow more), the main herbal movement in this country were some of the new herbals introduced to the colonists by the natives."

These "botanics" eventually joined with a new group called the Thompsonians (I wonder if they were any relation? :-) to form the Eclectic Medicine movement.

"Thompsonians were named after the physician Samuel Thompson who left behind his orthodox practice to develop a much simpler theory based upon steam baths and the Indian remedy: lobelia."

Thursday, June 24, 2004

Williamsburg wheelwrights keep carriages safely "shod".

"Made of wood and bound with iron, the wheels of the carriages, wagons, and riding chairs that navigated rugged colonial roads had to be strong and tight.

Producing wheels requires strength, ingenuity, and the talents of both a carpenter and a blacksmith. Precise measuring skills are mandatory.

Like their Williamsburg predecessors, the wheelwrights who practice the trade at the Governor's Palace today start with a hub fashioned on a lathe from properly aged wood such as elm. A tapered reamer opens the center to receive a metal bearing; The wheelwright uses a chisel to create rectangular spoke holes around the circumference of the wheel. Carved from woods like ash, the spokes radiate to meet a rim of mortised wooden arches, called "fellies," that join to form a perfect circle." - Colonial Williamburg website

Porcelain items a luxury in Colonial Williamsburg

Ceramics in Colonial Williamsburg
Ceramics in Colonial Williamsburg, originally uploaded by mharrsch.
"Hard paste" porcelain was not invented until 1708 by an alchemist in Meissen, Germany. Therefore, European-crafted porcelain items (as opposed to imported Chinese porcelain) were affordable only by the well-to-do in Colonial Williamburg.

See: The History of Teapots

Early British-made furniture gave way to American furniture by the mid-18th century

"Cabinetmakers in colonial Virginia produced fine furniture, but neither England nor the colonies could support full-time furniture producers until the last half of the 17th century. Only then did an adequate number of people have the leisure to enjoy the material trappings that reflected their new status. By the mid-18th century, only one-third of stylish Virginia furniture appears to have come from England. This percentage diminished as patriotic Virginians increasingly honored attempts to boycott English goods as the Revolution neared."

- Official Colonial Williamsburg website

A feast fit for a governor

A Governor's Feast
A Governor's Feast, originally uploaded by mharrsch.
The governor's cook busied herself preparing such tasty colonial dishes as Carolina fish muddle and apple tansy. I ordered "authentic" Jeffersonian fish cakes for lunch at one of the taverns. The menu said they were prepared from a recipe enjoyed by Thomas Jefferson.

Marble elements connect the Old World with the New in Williamburg's Governor's Palace

Although this marble mantle in the dining room of the Governor's Palace was probably shipped to the colony from Europe, one of the largest deposits of crystalline white marble was discovered in 1835 in Georgia.

Friday, June 18, 2004

Guest Accomodations at the Governor's Mansion

Although common folk slept on mattresses stuffed with rags or corn husks, the governor's guests at Williamsburg were provided with quite comfortable accomodations. The folks at Better Homes and Gardens tell us "bed canopies first appeared in the 13th century. In those days before central heating, bed curtains were used to ward off the cold. Bedrooms of the Middle Ages often doubled as spaces for receiving guests, so the bed became an important status statement. A bed with a full canopy signaled that guests were in the presence of someone very important.

Williamsburg Governor's Mansion

Williamsburg Governors mansion
Williamsburg Governors mansion, originally uploaded by mharrsch.
Like many visitors, we began our exploration of Colonial Williamsburg at the Governor's Mansion. I was fascinated by the carved leather wall coverings and the collection of weapons in the entry way.

Thursday, June 17, 2004

Biltmore freight wagon

Biltmore freight wagon
Biltmore freight wagon, originally uploaded by mharrsch.
The maintenance of "acres of gardens, parklands, and managed forests" of the Biltmore Estate required hauling tons of supplies in wagons like this.

Appalachian craftsmen demonstrate their skills at Biltmore

Biltmore broom binder
Biltmore broom binder, originally uploaded by mharrsch.
In the historical barn a number of Appalachian craftsmen were demonstrating their skills including this broom binder.

Biltmore's Handcrafted Hardware resembles works of art

Biltmore handcrafted hardware
Biltmore handcrafted hardware, originally uploaded by mharrsch.
I found the style and detail of these hardware pieces produced by Biltmore's blacksmith to rank among works of art.

Biltmore blacksmith keeps equipment in top condition

Biltmore Blacksmith
Biltmore Blacksmith, originally uploaded by mharrsch.
The Vanderbilts maintained an extensive staff on the estate including a blacksmith to keep the farm equipment and structures in good repair. In the mansion, the laundery requirements of the family and staff necessitated a long row of large laundry tubs and washboards in a basement chamber.

Biltmore's working heritage displayed in it's historic barn

Biltmore antique tractor
Biltmore antique tractor, originally uploaded by mharrsch.
The Biltmore Estate was a working farm. A large staff included field workers as well as blacksmiths and other craftsmen. Crops were raised to feed the estate's livestock and the Vanderbilt family when they visited the property.

Biltmore Historical Barn

Biltmore historical barn
Biltmore historical barn, originally uploaded by mharrsch.
The historical barn with its copper roof had just been restored when we visited the Biltmore Estate. Here we found demonstrations of Appalachian craftsmen and were treated to an ongoing performance of bluegrass music. Here, fourth and fifth graders participate in Barn Tales, a program designed to teach children about historic equipment, farm animals, and encourage an appreciation for early 20th century farming

Biltmore's multilevel construction

Bilmore mansion stairs to plaza
Bilmore mansion stairs to plaza, originally uploaded by mharrsch.
The Biltmore mansion is composed of 250 rooms on four levels including the basement. Fortunately the tour provides enough break between stair climbing to recover if you find stairs tiring. There are also elevators for visitors that cannot physically use stairs. The multilevel construction continues in the landscaping of the estate with stairs of various lengths providing access to the gardens, conservatory, and outdoor plaza.

Biltmore's Pan

Biltmore Pan
Biltmore Pan, originally uploaded by mharrsch.
Pan seems quite at home at the Biltmore Estate with the Vanderbilt family's emphasis on music. Family guests were frequently entertained by live orchestras and today's visitors were treated to musical performances ranging from Bach to bluegrass.

Bilmore's Eros

Biltmore Eros closeup
Biltmore Eros closeup, originally uploaded by mharrsch.
With my passionate interest in classical history and art, I particularly found the sculptures around the outdoor plaza interesting. Here, little Eros plays with a shell at the feet of his mother Aphrodite.

Biltmore "butterflies" educate children about entymology at the Biltmore Estate

Biltmore butterflies
Biltmore butterflies, originally uploaded by mharrsch.
I found these beautiful "butterflies" flitting among the flowers in the plant conservatory. They were part of the Seeds, Buds, and Crawly Things program presented to fourth and fifth graders to develop an understanding of plant life cycles, beneficial insects, and composting presented the day of our visit.

Biltmore conservatory houses lillies for Easter morning

Biltmore Lillies
Biltmore Lillies, originally uploaded by mharrsch.
We arrived at the Biltmore Estate on Easter morning so I thought it was only appropriate to find lillies in their plant conservatory. We indulged in a wonderful Easter brunch at the Deerpark Restaurant on the grounds of the estate later in the day.

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Biltmore fascade reflects a European influence

The Biltmore Estate entrance
The Biltmore Estate entrance, originally uploaded by mharrsch.
Although the exterior of the Biltmore Estate resembles a French chateau, the interior is furnished with massive pieces adorned with decor from the medieval period. I was also surprised to see few formal paintings except of family members. Much of the wall space was filled with black and white lithographs. The library was the exception where the frescoed ceiling was imported from Venice.

Classical Antiquity Not Overlooked at Biltmore Estate

Biltmore Garden Nymphs
Biltmore Garden Nymphs, originally uploaded by mharrsch.
George Vanderbilt's fascination with the Middle Ages did not totally overshadow the decor at Biltmore. Classical sculptures like this one of Aphrodite and Eros grace the border of an outdoor plaza where entertainments were held in the summer months.

Dreams of Medieval Splendor Influenced the Vanderbilts

Biltmore Main Entrance Closeup
Biltmore Main Entrance Closeup, originally uploaded by mharrsch.
George Vanderbilt, a medieval history enthusiast, decorated the Biltmore Estate with medieval symbols of power and royalty. The dining room was designed like a medieval banquet hall with massive furniture and walls draped with huge medieval tapestries. Unfortunately, photos are not allowed inside the mansion.

Tulips a Spring Treat At the Biltmore Estate

The gardens at the Biltmore Estate are planted to provide splashes of color to the grounds throughout the Spring and Summer. At our visit in mid-April, Tulips were the predominate flower.

The Victorian era comes alive at the Biltmore Estate

Biltmore Lady and Ladybug
Biltmore Lady and Ladybug, originally uploaded by mharrsch.
A lady costumed in late 19th century fashion strolls the grounds at the Biltmore Estate to lend an atmosphere of time travel to the experience. The Biltmore also hosts educational programs throughout the year. This "lady bug" is a participant in a presentation on insects planned for the day of our visit.

Chamber Music Charms Vistors to the Biltmore Estate

Biltmore Chamber Musician
Biltmore Chamber Musician, originally uploaded by mharrsch.
The Biltmore Estate is not only a feast for the eyes but for the ears as well. We enjoyed Mozart in the library and chamber music in the conservatory. Summer guests can purchase tickets to a variety of evening concerts featuring such artists as Clint Black, Bruce Hornsby, and Al Jarreau.