News

Lincoln Highway Bridge in Tama Needs Repairs

The historic Lincoln Highway bridge in Tama, Iowa that crosses Mud Creek is in need of repairs caused by flood damage, according to a copyrighted story in the Toledo Chronicle, Tama News-Herald. The article by John Speer, dated September 12, 2014, reports that engineers have determined that substructure damage was caused by debris carried by flood waters in Mud Creek.

In addition, the deck will need to be removed and replaced. Estimates are that the repairs to cost as much as $40,000.00. Tama City Clerk, Judy Welch, said that the substructure repairs need to be completed in 2015 although the deck surface can wait until 2017.

The 100th Anniversary of the bridge opening will occur in 2015. It was placed on the NRHP in 1987. The distinctive bridge is known primarily for its railing balustrades that spell out LINCOLN HIGHWAY.

A small park, adjacent to the northeast quadrant of the bridge, is the location of a monument to the bridge. A support group, the Lincoln Highway Bridge Park Organization Tama-Toledo supports the park in several ways.

The article can be seen on the paper's website: http://www.tamatoledonews.com/page/content.detail/id/548245/Tama-s-historic-Lincoln-Highway-Bridge-is-in-need-of-structure-and-surface-repairs.html

Permalink · Post comment

SC Johnson & Sons Research Tower Opens for Tours

After standing unused for over 30 years, and closed to the public, SC Johnson Company's Frank Lloyd Wright designed Research Tower will open for tours.

SC Johnson Company has announced that the tower, one of the tallest cantilevered buildings in the United States, will be a part of the public tours for the first time ever. In a copyrighted story by Milwaukee's Fox 6 News, free tours of the tower and the administration building will begin May 2, 2014.

SC Johnson has restored two of the 15 floors to their appearance when the tower was closed. Period equipment has been placed to enhance work space mock-ups.

The tower has 15 cantilevered floors, six are square with circular mezzanine floors above them. (There is an additional square floor on the second level.) All the floors are supported by a central core, none are supported by the exterior walls or any additional framing. The core contains an elevator and a circular stairway that is a fire inspector's nightmare.

Wright's Research Tower

After restoration of the exterior (including cleaning the glass tubes with Windex™, an SC Johnson product) it is possible to make out the round shape of the alternating mezzanine floors.

The tower opened in 1950 and was the only R&D building Wright ever designed. It was never open to the public while in use, nor after it was closed in 1983.

More than 5,800 Pyrex glass tubes, totalling over 17 miles in length, serve as windows, letting in diffused light. The exterior alternates between stripes of glass tubes and more than 21,000 bricks. The bricks feature the signature Wright/SC Johnson “Cherokee Red” color.

Tours are free but require advance reservations. If you are interested in seeing this architectural gem, check soon for a tour opening. Tours are filling up quickly and can be made by following the link below.

Chicago Tribune Article: Frank Lloyd Wright's tower worthy of debate, and a trip by Blair Kamin.

Fox 6 News Story: For the first time, step inside S.C. Johnson’s research tower.

SC Johnson Company Tours: SC Johnson Company Tour Reservations.

Permalink · Post comment

Mary L. Nohl Art Environment to be Relocated

One of the ten most endangered historical sites in Wisconsin has met its fate, and no one appears to be a winner in this case. The modest cottage of Mary L. Nohl and all her artwork will be relocated to Sheboygan as part of the John Michael Kohler Arts Center, which owns the art site. The Nohl site is precariously located in an affluent suburb of Milwaukee that grew up around the cottage in Ms. Nohl's lifetime.

Mary L. Nohl was a very creative woman, an artist who dedicated her life to her art. Sometimes labeled an eccentric, she spent almost all of her reclusive life in a modest cottage on the shore of Lake Michigan, built by her parents, Leo and Emma Nohl.

Although she had extensive education in the arts, she abandoned classical art and created directly from her soul, her wit and whimsy displayed in her environment. She created a lifetime of sculptures and oil paintings in her home, with most of the sculptures displayed in the yard.

Mary Nohl Property Gates
Mary helped her father build these gate pillars during her 12th summer. (It is assumed that she added the figures years later.) The sand and rocks were hauled up from the beach in Mary's red wagon. She continued to use that wagon for hauling art materials from the beach over her lifetime.

All of this has been much to the dismay of some of her neighbors, consisting of large estates in this current-day affluent neighborhood. Several urban myths have grown up around the environment, sometimes known as "The Witch's House" some because of her reclusive lifestyle, some because of a huge sculpture with three eerie figures (no longer on display on the property.) She took it all in stride, even creating a mosaic on her front porch that spells. "BOO!"

Her brother, Maximilian, was educated at MIT and was a noted marine engineer that set a deep sea diving depth record in Lake Michigan. In 1960, Max and his wife, Eleanor, died tragically in a two-car automobile accident near Hope, Arkansas, leaving Mary the sole surviving heir.

The Wisconsin Preservation Trust listed the Nohl property as one of the ten most endangered sites in Wisconsin. A very vocal minority of Fox Point residents has actively campaigned in the past to have the site demolished, as they consider it an eyesore. Not all residents feel that way and many are proud of the community's unique treasure, but apparently, not enough of them. The Trust said not long ago that "...without support from within and outside the Village of Fox Point, the Kohler Foundation will be forced to develop an exit strategy and the art and home will have to be removed from the site."

The announcement on March 27 brought the Trust's prediction to fruition.

According to the Kohler Arts Center, the cost of moving the environment will be between one and two million dollars. Upon completion, the extremely valuable property will be sold to help defray the relocation costs. Plans are to reassemble the cottage and collection near Lake Michigan, allowing more access to artists and the public. A guard is on site 24 hours now, and Kohler Arts Center officials say security is being stepped up in the wake of this announcement.

There are many challenges facing the move. Almost every inch of the cottage is carved, painted, or displays Ms. Nohl's artwork. Much of her art is very delicate, made from elements that washed up on shore. The hundreds of concrete sculptures that adorn her yard will also require special care.

Silhouettes
Ms. Nohl decorated the outside of her home with colorful panels made with driftwood figures and cut-out wooden silhouettes. Even more wooden silhouettes dangle from tree branches. Many of the silhouettes were formerly pickets of a fence that she was forced to remove because of damage caused by vandals.

A complete report about the move was published by the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel on March 27, 2014. Mary Nohl House to Be Dismantled and Moved.

Permalink · Post comment

Federal Court Upholds Deal Between Car Ferry and EPA

According to the Detroit Free Press, it appears the car ferry SS Badger will continue to ply Lake Michigan between Manitowoc and Ludington. The Badger is the last operational car ferry of the once enormous fleet of railroad ferries, and the last coal-fired cargo vessel on the lakes.

And therein lies her problem. The SS Badger has been on the endangered species list since 2008, when the Environmental Protection Agency leveled the ship into its crosshairs. Coal-fired vessels disposed of coal ash by mixing it with water and pouring it overboard. The Badger is no different, and has been disposing of coal ash into the lake since it was built in 1953. The EPA claims the coal ash is a pollutant and ordered the dumping stopped in 2008. The operators were given until 2012 to stop dumping or cease operations. The legal battle has continued ever since.

On October 10, 2013, U.S. District Judge Janet Neff approved a revised deal between the EPA and Lake Michigan Carferry, parent company of the S.S. Badger.

The agreement allows the Badger to continue operations while modifications are made to the ship. The deal calls for a reduction in the amount of ash discharged during the 2014 sailing season and by the start of the 2015 season, the Badger will have to store coal ash on board for later disposal on shore.

With this ruling, it appears the Queen of the Great Lakes Car Ferries (and the last of her breed still sailing) will continue to be an operational historical landmark.

Permalink · Post comment

New York Teen Sues Over Arrest for Photographing Trains

A teenage train fanatic is suing New York authorities after being arrested and detained for three hours for the crime of taking photographs of trains.

According to the USA Today in a story republished on March 25, 2013 (by Eric Shilling of The Westchester County Journal News) Gregory Grice was 16 when he was arrested on June 6, 2011. Grice says he was stopped while harmlessly snapping photos of Metro-North trains near the North White Plains station in Greenburgh, N.Y. (That's about 30 miles north of New York City.)

The paper reports that the lawsuit was filed March 15 in U.S. District Court in White Plains, N.Y. with unspecified damages. The suit names the towns of Greenburgh and North Castle, Westchester County, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and several police officers.

An MTA spokeswoman said there is no prohibition on photography in the MTA system "as long as there is no trespass." MTA's rules of conduct call for a $25 fine for unauthorized photography or filming.

Grice had a copy of the MTA rules of conduct with him when he was arrested.

Watch out where you're shooting!

Link to story: http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/03/25/new-york-train-pictures-arrest-lawsuit/2017631/

Permalink · Post comment

This Date in History: The Worst Fire in North American History

The worst fire in North American history took place on this date in 1871. The story is part of an essay on the Peshtigo Fire Cemetery page here on Landmark Hunter.

There were five fires in the Midwest that fateful night, including one you might have heard of in Chicago. There were other fires that night, most people are not aware of them. As bad as it was, the worst fire that night was not in Chicago.

Follow the link to read the story.

Permalink · View comments (2) · Post comment

First month report

After one month, LandmarkHunter.com is doing quite nicely. I had originally imported photos of approximately 1,200 landmarks from the Historic American Buildings Survey/Historic American Engineering Record. Since then, thanks to your uploaded photos, the number of photographed landmarks has more than doubled: 2,573 at last count. Who knew there were so many barns with painted advertisements?

New features added in July:

  • Advanced Uploader tool for uploading multiple photos at a time. The system will try to use the best method supported by your browser. On recent browsers, it will automatically resize your photos before uploading them.
  • States, counties, and tag pages all have an Exhibit option. This is the same tool used on Bridgehunter.com letting you interactively hide and show markers on the map.
  • Trip Planner feature lets you enter a starting and ending location for your trip and then see all of the landmarks that are within a short distance along the route. It seems to work best for shorter trips (50-200 miles), but you can divide a long roadtrip into multiple sections. This feature is also available on Bridgehunter.com.

Permalink · View comments (1) · Post comment

Israel Stowell Temperance House In Peril

The oldest extant structure in Delavan, Wisconsin is in peril. Delavan is a city rich in historic heritage and prominant citizens are attempting to save the structure from demolition.

Israel Stowell was a transplanted temperance supporter and he joined the Phoenix Brothers in Delavan, who founded the city as a colony for temperance and abolitionists. Stowell built a hotel in 1839, meant to be a stagecoach overnght stop between Madison and Chicago. The hotel catered to Baptists, Yankees and those who did not indulge in the use of alcohol. If you weren't in one of those categories, you were turned away.

The temperance movement came to a close in Delavan in the mid 1840s. In 1847, Edmund and Jerimiah Mabie selected Delavan as the winter quarters for their U.S. Olympic Circus, the largest traveling show in the country at the time. After the collapse of the temperance movement, the Temperance House changed hands numerous times and at one point, in a strange twist of irony, it was a tavern. Its last commercial use was as a used book store. One can see shelves of books remaining inside the building.

The owner of the books, the closed bookstore and the building itself is 87 years old. He is in the process of donating the house to the Delavan Historical Society. (Most of the bookstore inventory has actually been removed to reduce the load on the structure.)

The house is in bad shape and is in peril of demolition. A banner attached to the front pleads for help to save the historic structure. It is thought to be the oldest building in Delavan and according to the Wisconsin Historical Society, is the last temperance house in the state.

The Israel Stowell Temperance House was condemned and scheduled for demolition on July 1, 2010. As of this writing, the house still stands. The demolition order was extended and recently has been lifted. On July 27, 2010, a consultant inspected the property to examine the possibility of saving the structure. Members of the city government have speculated on the restoration of the house in order to use it as a resource center for historical research and possibly to house the offices of the historical society.

The results of the study are due approximately October 1.

Permalink · View comments (1) · Post comment

Some new features

  • For most landmarks, I've included links to the appropriate USGS topographic quadrangle map. At one time the original TIFF files for these maps were hard to find, but they can now be found on archive.org.

  • Scanned PDF files of the National Register of Historic Places nomination forms are available online for some states, including Missouri, Alaska, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Nevada, North Dakota, Utah, Wyoming and the District of Columbia. I've added links to these documents where possible.

  • Missouri maintains an extensive database of springs, including coordinates and average water flow. I've incorporated over 300 of the largest Missouri springs into this site. If you know of other similar databases that might be appropriate to include in this website, please let me know.

  • If you don't already have a Bridgehunter.com editor's account, you can now sign up for a Landmarkhunter.com account. Due to a constant barrage by spammers and troublemakers, I currently have to manually approve each sign up. (I haven't even publicized the sign-up form yet, and I've already had to filter out three spammers who tried to register!)

Permalink · View comments (2) · Post comment

Welcome guinea pigs beta testers

LandmarkHunter.com is up and running! The site still has a few warts, but is mostly functional.

I copied the editor's accounts from Bridgehunter.com, so if you have an account on the bridge site, the same username and password should work here.

Permalink · Post comment