Monday, June 12, 2006

They Call Me The Wanderer, Part I: Greensboro

In the past few weeks, I've been doing my fair share of traveling. And, like any tourist, I've done a lot of picture taking. I've finally settled down in one place for a while, so I suppose it's time to share some of these photos.

The first trip was to Greensboro, North Carolina. I'm undeniably a Yankee through-and-through, but there is a very interesting Southern Charm to North Carolina that I find very appealing. Some of it might be my enjoyment of spending time with my significant other, who is the reason I've spent any time at all down yonder. But that's certainly not all of the attraction. The country-side is gorgeous, and the cities have an interesting combination of history and modern funkiness. The people are friendly, and say y'all (which, I must admit, makes far more sense than the northern 'you guys'). The south often gets a bad rap, which I'm not so sure it fully deserves. I only wish it weren't so damn hot.

Anyways, on to some pictures. I did a decent amount of wandering around Greensboro's downtown area. Elm Street (pictured left) has lots of restaurants and shops and such. One particular favorite is The Green Bean (pictured right), with its interesting live music and tasty coffee. We happened to catch the first part of a Klezmer band performance during our visit. The Sinai Mountain Ramblers had the coffee house pretty hopping when we left, but I've heard that they can get even more raucous as the show goes on. I suppose I'll have to find out for myself at some point.

Probably the most interesting and photograph-generating portion of my visit to Greensboro was taking a tour of the historic College Hill Neighborhood, given by Preservation Greensboro Incorporated. The tour highlighted some of the unique features of the neighborhood, especially the architecture. As the first established neighborhood in Greensboro, dating back to the mid 1800's, it has a very wide range of architectural styles represented throughout.

One of the main architectural styles represented on College Hill is Victorian--more specifically, Queen Anne style. This prim-and-proper house is a prime example, with its spindle columns, detailed trims, and wrap-around porch. When I was younger, I always wanted to live a Victorian style house with hardwood floors--I was probably one of the only little girls who picked out a specific architectural style for their dream home--but now I find them a bit too fussy. When done well, though, they can be quite appealing.

This far less busy Victorian house was probably my favorite of the tour. I'm not sure just why, but I'm a sucker for a beautiful porch, and this one--which wraps around nearly the entire house--is delightful.

One thing that struck me during the tour was the interesting way such an old neighborhood has slowly been modernized. Being a historic district, much care is taken to preserve the homes of College Hill. But, people will of course want modern conveniences. Some of these renovations and additions make an odd juxtaposition of old and new, as seen in these shots. That satellite dish looks just a bit out of place with the Victorian home it belongs to. I found it very amusing.

The other most prominent architectural style on College Hill is Craftsman. I'm not especially familiar with Craftsman architecture, but what I've seen I quite enjoy. I might like to have a bungalow at some point, and not just to say that I own a bungalow. The houses are simple and to the point, without looking too plain.

In many of the houses, their style and materials were influenced by the occupations of the first owners. This house was owned by a stone mason, and featured some very impressive stone work that you don't see too often anymore. Just look at that circular detail on the walkway! Obviously, this was motivated in part by money--it's cheap for a stone mason to get stone. But I think it really adds a more personal, individual touch to the home that you don't see as much nowadays.

The other feature of Craftsman architecture that I find very appealing is the tendency to use materials specific to the area. This house's columns and surrounding landscaping were built using milk quartz, which is found in abundance in the Greensboro area, making it ideal for Craftsman designers.

An old neighborhood such as this also faces interesting challenges of finding new uses for old buildings no longer needed for their original purposes. This home was once the College Hill neighborhood's fire station. I really wish I could look inside this one. I'm very curious as to how well the inside was adapted to domestic life. It makes for a very intriguing looking house.

College Hill itself is situated in a very nice area, overlooking downtown. Some of the houses have this lovely view of the Greensboro downtown.

And to conclude this monstrosity of a post, I have a few great shots that don't really fit in with anything else.

This adorable little tyke was sitting on her porch with her father when the tour came around. She seemed very intrigued by us, though a bit shy about watching.

For some reason, I really enjoy giant old trees. They just seem so elegant. With all of the vines, this one looks especially graceful.

And that (whew!) is a sampling of my trip to Greensboro. Soon to come in this several part series: Boone, North Carolina; Salem, Massachusetts; Boston, Massachusetts.

Post Script: I apologize for the less than ideal layouts. Blogger's picture posting is a bit frustrating to use, and Picsa's Hello! program (which I love), doesn't have a Mac version. If anyone knows a Blogger and Mac compatible photo hosting program, do share.


Blogger Lis said...

Hey, the awesome pics and great commentary about the historical tour and architecture make up for the template madness

1:40 PM, June 13, 2006  

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