Category Archives: HIstoric Buildings

Historic Lansdowne Theater

I recently was able to participate in a photography workshop at the Lansdowne Theater with photographer Valerie Hoffman.  This beautiful old theater has suffered the ravages of time like so many other old buildings in our area, but thanks to the establishment of the non-profit organization, The Historic Lansdowne Theater Corporation, the theater has been undergoing some much needed repair.

The theater was designed by prominent theater architect William H. Lee and opened its doors on June 1, 1927.  Several retails stores were also connected to theater.  Tenants included a florist, bootery, a furniture store, and a tailor.  The theater was mostly a movie venue but also hosted some live performances.

The theater has changed ownership a few times over the years but remained operational through 1986, when it was purchased by a Philadelphia attorney and local resident, Jerry Raff.  Raff closed the theater in 1986 for cosmetic repairs.  Shortly after reopening, there was an electrical fire at one of the adjoining retail shops.  The electrical system to the theater suffered major damage.  Raff and his associates tried to fix the damage but lacked the financial means.

The theater sat languishing until the Greater Lansdowne Civic Association and the Lansdowne Economic Development Corporation were able to create the Historic Lansdowne Theater Cooperation.  Through grants, donations they were able to purchase the theater and hope to one day be able to open again.

There are so many beautiful photographic opportunities from the magnificent theater itself to the projector and film rooms.  Workshops like the one I participated in provide funds to help restore this majestic beauty.

If you would like to find out more information about the Historic Lansdowne Theater visit  Lansdowne Theater’s website.



Hiking The Vindicator Valley Trail

Throughout the state of Colorado, the landscape is dotted with memories of the silver and gold mining industries of the late 1800’s.  A high concentration of abandoned mines can be found about an hour outside Colorado Springs.  Miners came to the area trying to reach the Cripple Creek and Victor mining districts with the promise of wealth to be found in the area.   There is a great trail system in this area called the Trails of Gold where you can hike past the remnants of this interesting part of American history.

On this day, we hiked the Vindicator Valley Trail.  This trail is located off Rt. 81 just outside the little town of Victor.  It combines two of my favorite things…ghost towns and hiking! And it is great for photography.  Ok, three things!!

Vindicator Valley Trail Start

The trail is about 2 miles long is a fairly easy hike with some small rolling hills.  The scenery is spectacular!

Part of the Trail

The trail is bordered in most sections by split rail fencing which protects the ruins and hikers from unseen dangers.  Posted signs warn to stay on the trail and keep an eye on kids and dogs.  One never knows where an abandoned mine might lay as more than 500 mines once could be found in this area.

Longfellow Mining Company

Many buildings along the trail have historical information markers.

Vindicator Valley Trail - Abandoned Cabin

I really wished we had been just a couple weeks earlier so that we could have seen the aspens.  It must be even more beautiful in the early fall.

Vindicator Mine


Powder Magazine

This is one of a few powder magazines that have survived.  The explosives were safely and separately kept in these buildings far from the mining operations.

Vindicator Valley Mining

Vindicator Valley Trail Mining Building 1

Vindicator Valley Trail Mining Building 2

Our trip to Colorado was a short one and the Vindicator Valley Trail was the only hiking trail we were able to do this day since we had limited time.  There are nine trails in this area and I hope to explore more in the future.  Check here for trail descriptions and maps.

Stop by Victor for lunch after a day of hiking!

Jersey Goes West Pt. 7 – Manzanar


We were back on the road and headed west on 190 to the exit of Death Valley and into the foothills of the Sierra Nevadas.  It is a beautiful drive, but for us “flatlanders”  it was a little nerve-wracking! The views were spectacular, the guardrails barely there, and people flying around switchback turns that made us a just a hair uncomfortable.  We had to get used to it though as it was just the beginning of the mountainous portion of our trip!

Once on 395 North, it is a relatively short drive to the town of Lone Pine and and then Manzanar National Historic Site.


Unfortunately, we arrived after 5 pm, so we were unable to tour the museum and other exhibits.  There is a self-guided driving tour that is available after hours with a map of sites and short descriptions.

Manzanar was a “relocation center” or interment camp for Japanese Americans (US citizens) and resident Japanese aliens during World War II. Nearly 120,000 people were relocated to 10 camps throughout the United States and forced to live here until World War II was over. Two-thirds of those people were US citizens by birth.  Without notice or due process, the government gave anyone of Japanese ancestry, days to dispose of possessions and property.  Houses and businesses had to be rented, abandoned or sold at a significant loss.  They were put on buses and traveled for hours without having any idea where they were going.   11,000 people were processed through Manzanar and lived in 504 crowded barracks.  The camp was surrounded by barbed wire, had 8 guard towers with search lights and was patrolled by military police.  For more history on the people visit the NPS site People of Manzanar.

Manzanar is the most well-preserved of these camps. It was made a national historic site and serves as an important reminder of a dark part of US history and the fragility of American civil liberties. Every American needs to know that there were interment camps on our soil that imprisoned our citizens.  I am not sure that many know that.


Most of the sites within the park are just foundations or cleared sites  where buildings used to stand.  They have recreated some buildings and a few of the better built facilities still exist.  There are some remnants of life at Manzanar such as orchard trees and rock gardens that have been preserved.


The evening had become smoky due to the wildfires burning in Sequoia National Park.  We visited the Manzanar cemetery.  150 people died while at Manzanar but most were sent to hometown cemeteries or were cremated to be sent back with relatives after they were released from the camp.  14 people, mostly men without families and infants, were buried here.  Only six remain here as family members had the others removed and reburied elsewhere.  It is a sadly beautiful,serene place and definitely a good place for reflection.

There was even a pet cemetery where people had left origami birds in remembrance and respect of pets lost.



Daylight was fading and it was time to say a quiet goodbye.

IMG_7381We drove past the last guard tower as we left.

Visit the NPS site on Manzanar to learn more.

Next up: The trials and tribulations of going from 282 feet below sea level to 10,000 feet above sea level in a few hours!  Welcome to Mammoth Lakes!


Jersey Goes West Pt. 6 – Rhyolite, Nevada

After leaving Nelson, we drove back through Las Vegas and on to Beatty, NV.  We made an overnight pit stop at the funky, retro Atomic Inn.  (Click on images to view in larger sizes)Atomic Inn

We set out in the morning and made the short drive to Rhyolite.  We even passed a wild burro on the way.  He was not interested in posing for a picture.

Beatty Burro

In about 10 minutes, we arrived in Rhyolite.

Rhyolite Entrance

Rhyolite was started with just a few miners’ tents in 1905.  By 1907, it was a city of 3500.  Many mining towns grew just as fast or maybe faster but what makes Rhyolite remarkable is how quickly and completely it collapsed.  In 1909, most businesses had been abandoned and a mass exodus of residents followed over the next 3 years.  By 1920 only 14 people remained.


These days, rattlesnakes outnumber people.  There are a few caretaker residences in the town.  If you visit, heed the warning signs.  There are definitely rattlesnakes in the area.  This one was more interested in taking a snooze in the shade than bothering me.


The Las Vegas Tonapah Depot is one of the most complete structures on the property.  Due to poor structural integrity, you can not enter the building and an unsightly fence surrounds the building.  On this day, the gate was open, so we were able to walk around the building.  It was considered the grandest depot in all of Nevada.  Due to construction delays, it was one of the last buildings finished in the town in 1908.

LV&T Depot II

LV&T Depot

The Cook Bank was one of four banks that operated in the town of Rhyolite and was the largest building in the town.  More of the building would probably have survived today except that the supports were taken when the town was abandoned.

Cook Bank

The other remaining bank ruins are the Overbury building ruins.  It is fascinating how well the vault areas have held up in these structures.

Overbury Bank

Another large structure that is still partially standing is the Rhyolite School building.  Unfortunately, the school wasn’t finished till 1909, well after the downfall of the town began.  The school opened with a huge debt and and the school bonds were not paid off until 1978 by the residents of Beatty.

Rhyolite School

Rhyolite_Through Windows

A short distance from the main town site, is the Bullfrog-Rhyolite Cemetery.  It is certainly a peaceful final resting place in the desert for the souls who lived in Rhyolite.

Bullfrog Rhyolite Cemetery

Rhyolite Cemetery

Jersey Goes West Pt. 5 – Nelson, NV

When my husband and I first started planning this trip, I knew that one place I definitely wanted to see was Nelson, Nevada.  I had seen many wonderful photographs of this area and it was a must do for me.

Nelson lies about 25 miles from Boulder City, NV so it makes it a great place to visit after a trip to the Hoover Dam.  The area is rich in history and sparse in population.  During its heyday, Nelson was an area that was home to one of the first gold strikes in the area.  Spaniards who first made gold discoveries called the area Eldorado.  The mines in the area produced several million dollars in gold, silver, copper and lead from 1858-1945.  Now most of the people have left and all that remains are a few private homes and a mine tour business.  The mine tour business operates out of an old Texaco building.

Nelson - Texaco Station

Eldorado Canyon Mine Tours are the caretakers for the “Nelson Ghost Town”.  A few movies including 3000 Miles to Graceland where shot at this location.  This site is eye-candy for photographers!  There are many old buildings and cars littering the landscape.  The current owners have placed items in such a way that are quite aesthetically pleasing.  Its not a true ghost town in the sense that it is kept up and some of the buildings are newer but made too look old.  There are many great artifacts and antiques that look perfect in the settings.  If visiting, be sure to stop into the store to check in before looking around outside and be respectful of the property.  The caretakers also live on site. Based on my research, there is a fee for professional photographers as this is a popular place for photo shoots.  There was actually a model shoot going on while we were there.

Nelson - All Lined Up

Nelson - Desert Trucks

Nelson - Desert Refreshments

Nelson - Chevron Gas Station

Nelson - Chevy Truck

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Jersey Goes West Pt. 4 – Valley of Fire (one last time)

Today is just a short post to finish up Valley of Fire.

When last I left you, we had visited the White Domes at the end of White Domes Rd.  We drove back towards the main road towards the East entrance.  On the way we passed the Seven Sisters which are seven lone, tall rocks.  There  is a little picnic area in this spot.  We continued onwards toward The Cabins and Lone Rock.

The Cabins_6781

This image was taken near Lone Rock which is kind of what it sounds like.  It is a large lone rock which a picnic area has been set up near.  We hiked back towards a little canyon and took a picture inside one of the little mini caves that dot the rockscape within VOF.

The Cabins_6791

The light was fading, but I wanted to see the Cabins, which I had missed during my visit last December.



These cabins were built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1935 to provide shelter for travelers and campers that came to visit the newly established Valley of Fire State Park.

I originally had planned to bring my tripod for some sunset shots but totally forgot it in the hotel room!  This one was captured hand held as the sun started going down.

Rainbow Vista_6811

It was a beautiful end to our day at Valley of Fire State Park!

Cars, Cars, Cars!

A couple weekends ago, my husband and I went to the 4th Annual “Shine in the Pines” Car Show held at Batsto Village in Wharton State Forest.  and hosted by the Cruisin’ Classics Car Club.   My husband loves classic cars,  I love to photograph them and Batsto is right around the corner from my house so it was a no-brainer to head over to see the beautiful cars!

It was a wonderful spring day for the show and Batsto is a lovely place to visit even if there isn’t an event.

Batsto Village

The show is held the 3rd Sunday in May (I am sure that could be subject to change) so check out the Auto Club’s website if you would like to visit or exhibit next year.  It really is a wonderful event with live music, food and crafters in addition to all the spectacular cars.

Now I will let the photos speak for themselves!

1956 Chevy 210
1956 Chevy 210
1957 Ford Thunderbird
1957 Ford Thunderbird
Thunderbird Emblem
Thunderbird Emblem
1956 Ford F-100
1956 Ford F-100
1956 Ford F-100 Truck
1956 Ford F-100 Truck
1952 Chevy Deluxe
1952 Chevy Deluxe
1952 Chevy Deluxe
1952 Chevy Deluxe

My personal favorite!

1969 Chevy Camaro
1969 Chevy Camaro
1938 Cadillac Sixty Special
1938 Cadillac Sixty Special
1950 Plymouth Special Deluxe
1950 Plymouth Special Deluxe
1956 Chevy Sedan
1956 Chevy Sedan
1938 Chevy Business Coupe
1938 Chevy Business Coupe

Check out my website where you can find many of these prints available for sale.  Thanks for reading!


Beyond Jersey!

I have been trying to blog at least once a week, but I am a bit behind. The past couple weeks have been a bit crazy!

I am going back a bit over a week for this post. Last Saturday, we went beyond Jersey (just a little) to Philadelphia. Philly is only about an hour from my house and although I am a country girl at heart, I still like to visit the city on occasion. I usually have a specific reason for going into the city and I take photos along the way. This trip was no different.

Our main reason for visiting the city was to pick up our racing bibs for the Broad Street Ten Mile Run!
Broad St

This will be my third year running the race. We had to pick up our bibs and shirts at the Philadelphia Convention Center so I brought my camera along for a few pictures.

I wanted to take some pictures of City Hall but on our way there I was sidetracked by this cool sign outside of the Reading Terminal Market.

Old City Coffee

If you have never been to Reading Terminal Market, I highly recommend it. The market is full of freshly prepared food and treats. There are butchers, bakeries, fish mongers, candle makers, and many more. You can get American, Italian, Chinese, Greek, and Amish fare (probably many more that I am forgetting too). It is a huge place with many shops and stalls with so many different things. It tends to be really crowded on the weekend and with all the race participants in the area, we skipped going in this time.

City Hall is just a couple blocks from the Convention Center. It is such a beautiful building with so many great architectural details. Every time I visit this building I find more things that I hadn’t noticed before.

City Hall

Philadelphia’s City Hall was built between the years of 1871-1901. It took 30 years to complete which it not surprising considering the workmanship that went into this building.

City Hall Clock Tower 1

The inner corridors that lead to the courtyard are full of beautiful stone sculptures.
City Hall Details

City Hall Arches

After walking through the corridor, you arrive in a beautiful courtyard.

City Hall Courtyard

Every detail of this building is a work of art including the doors.
City Hall Door

Of Lions and Rattlesnakes

While trying to research some of the history of the building I found that the city fathers actually talked of demolishing this national treasure in the 1950’s. They decided against it, not because of the history and beauty of the building but because the cost of demolition would have bankrupted the city due to its masonry construction. Whatever the reason, thank goodness this wonderful structure is still around for all to enjoy. I hope it will be around for many more years.

Two Civil War general equestrian statues grace the outside of one of the sides of City Hall. The first is General George McClellan and the second is General John Reynolds pictured here.
General John Reynolds

The General and the Church

One other fascinating building located across the street from City Hall is the Market Street National Bank Building. It is currently occupied by the Residence Inn and thankfully the owners have kept the building in beautiful condition. This art deco building was built in 1930 and the beautiful meso-american style polychrome terra-cotta decorations really make this building special.

Market Street Bank

If you are ever in Philadelphia, take some time to check out these beautiful buildings and others in the area. Philadelphia is full of special gems that we sometimes fail to notice as we rush about the city.

Estell Manor Park

This winter has been a tough one for South Jersey. We are not accustom to having 17 winter storms in one season and I was going stir crazy from having been cooped up most of the winter. I wanted to explore a place that I had not been to before. I was short on time so I chose someplace close to home – Estell Manor Park.

I had no idea that the park was so large. They have about 20 miles of hiking trails which are perfect for birding as the trails encompass many types of habitat from upland forest to cedar swamps to marshes. The skies were gray and cloudy which didn’t make for perfect photo-taking opportunities but I made the best of it. I knew that Estell Manor was home to a glassworks during the 1800’s but I had know idea that it also was home to a munitions plant during World War I. Bethlehem Loading Co. operated the plant from 1918 – 1919. I happened upon one of the towers during my hike. The foundations of the old buildings are found throughout the park.

World War I munitions plant tower
World War I munitions plant tower

The Estellville Glassworks were in operation from 1825 – 1877. All that remain are some crumbling arches and foundations.
Estellville Glassworks

As I was making my way home, I came across this cool old church, the Estellville Methodist Church built in 1834.

Estellville Methodist Church - built 1834
Estellville Methodist Church – built 1834

If you are ever in the vicinity, this park is a must visit. Aside from the hiking trails and historic sites, the park boasts ballfields, free bikes to borrow, a nature center, veteran’s cemetery, picnic facilities, a playground and much more.

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