Dwight Peck's personal website

Winter 2021-2022

A photographic record of whatever leapt out at us

You may not find this terribly rewarding unless you're included here, so this is a good time for casual and random browsers to turn back before they get too caught up in the sweep and majesty of the proceedings and can't let go.

The last of the fall colors, and some 'antiques'

Filed under 13-14 November 2021 in the Attic Records Office

A coincidence? Comcast Xfinity internet phone & TV services went out on 9 November in many places round the USA, including Chicago, Philadelphia, New Jersey, and San Francisco, not to mention at our house. At 9 a.m. two days later, 11 November 2021, we noticed two Xfinity trucks in the parking lot under our window, and an hour later the internet came back on everywhere. That's really good service; we'd never even called in a complaint (since the telephone didn't work).

A search for fall colors on a walk up the historic Gospel Hill district of Staunton,
13 November 2021

Limbering up on a semi-chilly early afternoon, we're passing up E. Frederick St. under the first row of five impressive Mary Baldwin University buildings with fairly thinned out autumn trees. Mary Baldwin was founded here in 1842 as the Presbyterian 'Augusta Female Seminary' and renamed in 1895 for its longtime head teacher; that administration building dates from 1844. It became a four-year college in 1923, racially desegregated in 1963, and residentially coed in 2017. It expanded its campus up the hill just above the downtown when the Staunton Military Academy closed its doors in 1976, and its facilities could be purchased by the school. It was renamed a 'University' in 2016 because of its expanding programme of undergraduate, graduate, professional/occupational, and adult and online education coursework.

There appears presently to be a total student body of about 2,000, about half of whom live on campus, others of whom are enrolled in a graduate level College of Health Sciences outside of town, a programme in Shakespeare and Performance in cooperation with the American Shakespeare Theatre here in town, and the Heifetz International Music Institute, which moved here in 2012, with many other opportunities.

We forgot to mention that Tallulah Bankhead was an alumna.

Now we're hefting up near the end of E. Frederick St., at the north-south N. Coalter St., which runs parallel to our Augusta St. (US 250 from Charlottesville), near the corner with Berkeley Place in the Gospel Hill District.

The neighborhood is said to be so named because in the 1790s, religious exercises were held here in Sampson Eagon's blacksmith shop -- a blacksmith shop that has been significantly superseded by some fairly elegant houses in a variety of styles; the whole district was stuck onto the National Register of Historic Places in 1985.

To commence, we're at the corner of N. Coalter and Berkeley Place, across the main street from the Woodrow Wilson birthplace and in front of the impressive Berkeley House B & B, built in 1896 in the 'Shingle Style' ('though there are elements of Queen Anne') by a Richard Catlett (once a close friend of Stonewall Jackson) and long known as the Catlett House. It was recently renovated in period style, with all amenities, and opened as a B & B in spring 2015. The website's photos of the interiors are pretty stunning.

We're turning off Coalter into the extension of E. Beverley through the Gospel District, subtly edified by that fine tree in its full red bloom of dead leaves.

The building off to the left (305 E. Beverley) is an 'elegant Georgian Revival residence' built in 1912 by T. J. Collins' son Sam, but it hasn't got a flamey red tree in front of it, so we move on to 313 E. Beverley, about which we know nothing.

Around the curve in the road, this is 324 E. Beverley, gazetted as dating from 1848 and once owned 'by Stonewall Jackson's engineer, the founder of Staunton's oldest bank, and a Virginia Supreme Court justice', serially.

That tree is distinctly past its prime, in terms of fulfilling its colorful autumn duties, but it was probably something special a few weeks ago. The building is also special, at 337 E. Beverley, now the Gospel Hill Manor B & B, essentially a one-bedroom inn described on its website only as 'an 1890's Victorian'.

This lovely house at 414 E. Beverley has got all the required tree-ness but is disappointingly uncolorful.

But there is a fine bit of color to lighten our moods. It's flourishing between 411 and 425 E. Beverley. There's an interesting house just across the street, at no. 422, which is described as a Greek Revival/Italianate design from 1861; no good for autumn leaves.

There's a very nice house -- nice arches! -- at 434 E. Beverley, but alas, treeless, at least in this view.

Just on the other side of the street, this is called 'The Oaks', built in ca. 1840 but bought by the Civil War mapmaker to the stars, Jed Hotchkiss, who added to the front of it in about 1888: 437 E. Beverley St. More trees lamenting that we did not get here two weeks ago.

A lot of rather dull colored trees surrounding this house at 509 E. Beverley -- it's just across the street from one of the main entrances to the campus of the Virginia School for the Deaf and the Blind (VSDB), established by the Commonwealth government in 1839 and free of cost for eligible students.

The VSDB Drive up into the southern end of the campus

One of the VSDB buildings just up from the driveway, and . . .

. . . some very nice VSDB trees just a little farther along.

Across from the photo just above, this is 'Oakdene', 605 E. Beverley, built in 1893 for Virginia's Lt. Governor 1898-1902. In a way, it's probably best that that tree in front is bare, because in summer it's difficult to see the house at all. But it features an owl stuck up on top of the turret.

Like that. But back to the colorful trees . . . . .

That's not too bad -- it's not exactly colorful, but at least it's not just green.

These are some interesting trees, observed earlier from just down the hill, in front of the VSDB's Houser-Tyler Hall.

And another view of the owl house, for good measure

Another fine tree-festooned campus view of the VSDB campus, just along Bradford Lane on the far left.

Colorful-ish trees gracing the front lawn of 615 E. Beverley, opposite the highest building on the VDSB campus

We're continuing down E. Beverley on the far side, ready for anything.

Including the Cabell two-room exposed-log cabin, the only one in Staunton, dating from 1869

But not wishing to pursue E. Beverley St. down to Statler Blvd near the Walgreens, we've turned up Sherwood Lane, where our colorful tree results begin to improve.

This is more like it.

We've turned on Sherwood Lane at the top of the hill, maneuvering towards Sherwood Ave.

That's a peek at what appears to be a palatial Tudorfied manor house fronting onto E. Beverley below.

A glamorous seasonal display in front of 305 Sherwood Ave.

The same house. And the same tree.

After a short jog right, Sherwood Ave bursts out onto N. Coalter, at the top of the hill by Mary Baldwin leading down to the Walgreens (and eventually to the Social Security office and our dermatologist, et alia). The ominously red tree is in front of 301 N. Coalter Ave.

The spacious grounds of 215 N. Coalter, with at least a smattering of trees that meet our exacting seasonal standards.

A fascinating house at 203 N. Coalter

And an even more fascinating view of the same house from round the back, on 'Pleasant Terrace'

And just à coté, that little half-timberish cottage is at 301 'Pleasant Terrace'.

Across to the west side of N. Coalter, no. 204's got some worthy trees as well.

We're marching smartly home down N. Coalter and are drawn into passing along the second tier of Mary Baldwin buildings. No colorful trees, yet.

There's a pretty fair specimen between the Lydia Hunt Gallery on the right and the Spencer Building on the left.

And that's pretty good, and . . .

. . . that's pretty better.

At the end of our walk, we note that we should have started with this nicely yellowed tree, at the corner of the MBU campus and the rest of the world, E. Frederick and N. New Street.

The same view, looking up New Street along the parade of MBU residence halls

And turning quickly about, that's our pièce de résistance, our very own big red tree looming over the carpark just out our back alley.

A brief foray into the world of antiques

We've recently been informed that we are urgently in the market for a few little pieces of furnishings for our Old Y flat, and today we are here to visit the Stuarts Draft Antique Mall. Stuarts Draft is an easily overlooked spread-out sort-of-town, technically a 'census-designated place (CDP)', of about 9,000 souls, founded in 1749 and sometimes referred to nowadays as the 'Warehouse Capital of the US' because of all the industrial/commercial distribution centres that have planted themselves here, visible from space no doubt.

The folks in the antiques consignment centre here are very friendly, but the goods on offer are not really such as to hold our attention for long. Over our two years in the region, we've asked several handymen and technicians who've helped us out what the word 'Draft' means, and none of them had any idea or ever thought to ask.

This is entitled 'Jesus at the UN' and for $20 it's yours. As it turns out, 'draft' is an obsolete dialectic word for a creek, as well as for a ford over a creek, either or both of which might apply in this case. It's found elsewhere in town names in the region.

Continuing in the same vein. This is labeled 'Religious Picture' (duh!) and is awaiting a good home for only $60 (presumably because the 'picture is on metal').

The subject is obvious, but it's not clear for whom this was intended. The label isn't visible but probably says 'Cowboy', or 'The Old Buckaroo'.

A collector's item, not suitable for regular use

Here's a very interesting view, except for the open window in the reflection, of downtown Staunton in 1899, done by the prolific local folk artist M. A. Vessey. It's offered here, before the usual discounts, for $135, and I'd spring for it if I had the surplus dough hanging about.

This is cute (the top piece, not the surveillance threat), and clever, but a little weak . . .

. . . compared to this one on the same theme (Attention all parents: Children left without surveillance will be sold to the circus). We bought this at a street market in Arezzo, Tuscany, in 2015.

This is the 'Guardian Angel Picture' ($58) -- the lampshade on the Guardian Angel's head is an optical artifact.

Apropos . . .

We saw (but didn't buy) this thing at the same street market in Arezzo, in 2015.

Nice fall colors. All those pretty dead leaves.

The cult of the used car dealership American flag -- it appears to be, literally, universal. All used car dealership in the US will have an American flag the size of a football field.

About a year ago, an unscrupulous developer bought up a disused strip mall just outside of Staunton and gave all of the then-occupants, like Hot Wok (which had just renovated its interior), an army surplus store, and this grand used book store, a month or so to vacate the premises. Hot Wok came out okay, and now so has this one. It's got more useful books in my areas of history than any other used book store I've seen anytime recently and certainly more than in our public library, at a max price for hardcovers of $5.50, huzzah!

With a floor space that's larger than a used car dealer's American flag.

Melvin catching the last of the afternoon sun.

What's next, then? A little more of Staunton's MBU, another trip to Sherando Lake

Feedback and suggestions are welcome if positive, resented if negative, . All rights reserved, all wrongs avenged. Posted 8 December 2021.

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