Another entry for Becky’s January Light Square Photo Challenge. This image was captured at the Stephenson County Historical Museum in Freeport, Illinois.
This week, Cee has chosen Books and Paper as the subject for her Fun Foto Challenge. I love old books and the second-hand book stores that sell them! Some of my favorite places to visit in London were those shops that sold used classics and hard-to-find books. Now, when we visit historic houses and museums, I’m always interested to see just which books they have in their displays, from places like the Stephenson County Historical Museum and the Williamson County Jail Museum in Illinois to the grand library at the Biltmore Mansion in North Carolina.
Pictured above is an ornate photo album on display at the Historical Museum in Marion, Illinois. Below are books that are an important part of my own family history. Both are prayer books and each has an interesting story attached to it. The book on the left was given to my father in 1912 by his uncle who was serving on HMS Black Prince at the time. Shortly after this, he transferred to HMS Indefatigable. Both ships were destroyed by enemy fire during the Battle of Jutland in 1916 with heavy casualties. Uncle William was one of those who died. The book on the right was given to my grandfather by a young girl while he was serving with the Royal Field Artillery as he was riding through a village in Belgium during WWI. She ran out of the crowd and pressed the prayer book into his hand. My mother always thought of her as an angel who had given him a gift that protected him through the worst times of the war and brought him safely back home.
This week, Patti has chosen Silhouettes as the subject for the Lens-Artists Photo Challenge. I should probably state at the outset that I don’t think I’ve ever taken a picture of something or someone specifically as a silhouette. They’ve just turned out that way, either due to my woeful inability to manually set the camera to cope with the stark contrasts of light and shade or the failure of my camera’s auto mode to do the same. The following ‘silhouettes’ were captured, however inadvertently, at the Chicago Botanic Garden, Volkening Heritage Farm at Spring Valley, Old World Wisconsin and the Stephenson County Historical Museum in Freeport, Illinois.
When I was a child growing up in London, I yearned to possess a doll house such as the one my friend owned. It was a large, three-storied wooden house with furniture and lighting and I was green with envy. I was too young to understand that my parents couldn’t afford to gratify my craving for such a lavish toy and when they did eventually buy me a small, metal 4-room house, I can remember the feeling of bitter disappointment which I hope I managed to hide. Perhaps this is why now, as an adult, I can’t resist the occasional urge to buy a wooden dollhouse and splurge out on fixtures and fittings or gaze longingly at really fancy houses and miniature furniture in museums such as those pictured below at the Stephenson County Historical Museum in Freeport, Illinois.
I’m currently renovating an old house that I bought at a thrift store and every time our granddaughter visits she looks to see how far I’ve got with the decorating, her little fingers itching to rearrange the furniture. I want to tell her that this is not the kind of toy that you play with. This is just for looking at, not for touching, but then I remember the house that I longed for when I was her age and I have to relent. “OK kid, but be careful.”
For more on Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge go to Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Teddy Bears, Dolls, Toys
Cee invited us to play musical chairs for her Fun Foto Challenge last week. I’m a bit late to the party but here are a few images that I thought I’d share. Whenever we take a tour of interesting old houses I like to look at the furniture in terms of groupings when I take pictures rather than viewing the room as a whole. Chairs very often play an important part in these sets. There were plenty of chairs at the Biltmore Estate in Asheville and one impressive pipe organ in the Grand Banquet Hall to help supply the music.
I don’t know if they ever played musical chairs at the Cuneo Mansion in Vernon Hills but there were some nice chairs and a beautiful Steinway piano if ever they felt like getting in the party mood.
Personally I dreaded being forced to play musical chairs at kids parties. I was an only child and probably because of that, I never felt comfortable around other children. Parties, I suppose, were something that my parents naturally thought I would enjoy but they only made me cringe and playing musical chairs was a nightmare. These days I love sitting in chairs and listening to music.
More chairs, this time at the Taylor House in Freeport, Illinois, and two musical instruments for the price of one, a piano and flute, also at the Taylor House. For more on Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge go to https://ceenphotography.com/2016/11/29/cees-fun-foto-challenge-musical-chairs/
My window of opportunity for participating in Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge this week may well be rapidly closing, but if I hurry I may just make it. For more on Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge go to https://ceenphotography.com/2016/11/22/cees-fun-foto-challenge-windows/
Some fancy windows at the Pui Tak Center in Chinatown, Chicago.
Imagine what it must have been like for the seventy-odd people who, at one time or another, looked anxiously out through the windows of the Apple River Fort in Elizabeth, Illinois, during the Black Hawk War in 1832. The settlers survived the attack by two hundred warriors thanks in part to the sturdy construction of the long-vanished fort. The fort has been reconstructed as is now open to the public.
Some of the beautiful stained-glass windows that were on display at the Smith Museum of Stained Glass Windows on Navy Pier in Chicago. Sadly the museum was closed when the pier was renovated this year.
Sometimes it’s what’s in and around the window that makes it interesting. A window at the Taylor House in Freeport and an antique shop in Long Grove, Illinois.
Some well-weathered windows at the Mayslake Peabody Estate in Oak Brook, Illinois.
This week Cee gave us the choice of houses or barns for the Fun Foto Challenge and although I have several pictures of barns, houses won the day and here’s why. Very often, when we go on our travels around the ‘burbs and further afield, we like to visit old houses. Sometimes we’re able to take a tour inside, other times we just gaze at them from afar. Many of these houses have been acquired by local historical societies, while some remain privately owned. Sometimes there are admission fees, ranging from just a couple of dollars to large amounts which, in the case of the Biltmore Estate, have been well worth the expenditure. Here are just a few of those houses.
The Cuneo Mansion in Vernon Hills, Illinois, once owned by Samuel Insull, the original founder of the General Electric Company and later purchased by John Cuneo Sr, owner of Hawthorne Mellody Farms Dairy, the National Tea Company and the Cuneo Press, was gifted to Loyola University Chicago in 2009. Although we never took a tour of the house, Mum and I visited the estate several times just to walk around the gardens.
The Taylor House in Freeport, Illinois is home to the Stephenson County Historical Society. Built for lawyer and banker Oscar Taylor in 1857, it was opened as a museum in 1944. The house served as a ‘station’ for the Underground Railroad during the Civil War when fugitive slaves were hidden in the basement behind a secret door, and is on the National Register of Historic Places.
Known as The Little Orphan Annie House in Lombard, Illinois, this house was once home to the parents of Harold Gray the originator of the Little Orphan Annie cartoon strip. Gray worked in a studio there until he moved to the east coast. The house was originally built for Dr. William Leroy, who specialized in making artificial limbs for Civil War veterans, in 1881. As far as I know it’s not open to the public and we just stood and looked at it longingly from the sidewalk.
The house at Kline Creek Farm in West Chicago, DuPage County, is open to the public and historically-costumed interpreters present topics from baking in the kitchen to quilting and spring cleaning while giving tours of the farmstead.
Our most recent visit to a house with a rather murky past was in Duluth, Minnesota. Glensheen offers several different types of tours varying in price and we opted for the ‘Classic’ one-hour, three-floor one. It’s always interesting to see how the wealthy lived and, after reading something about its history, I was curious to take a peek inside this house that was built in 1908 for the family of Chester and Clara Congdon. According to Congdon’s will, his youngest daughter Elisabeth was allowed to live at Glensheen until her death. In 1977, an aging and frail Elisabeth, along with her nurse, were murdered here. The husband of Elisabeth’s adopted daughter, Marjorie, was convicted of the crime. Marjorie was accused of aiding and abetting and conspiracy to commit murder but was acquitted of all charges. The estate was eventually given to the University of Minnesota Duluth.
It will take you more than one day to fully explore the house and grounds at the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina. I can understand why the Vanderbilt’s visitors never wanted to leave. What luxury! Members of the Vanderbilt family still live here and have turned the estate into a flourishing business.
Some time ago we took a tour of the Oldfields-Lilley House and Gardens in Indianapolis. The weather was rather wet and gloomy and we didn’t really get to see the outside at its best so this is definitely somewhere I’d like to re-visit. Built in 1910, Oldfields was eventually given to the Art Association of Indianapolis and this National Historic Landmark is now a museum.
One of the many picturesque houses on Mackinac Island. No house tours on this trip but just fun looking at all the different styles and taking pictures.
For more on Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge go to https://ceenphotography.com/2016/10/25/cees-fun-foto-challenge-houses-andor-barns/