Category Archives: Places

Inside the Preston Bradley Center

I spent over two hours in the Preston Bradley center with Reverend Jean Darling, David Karcher , and Virginia Polk, which provided more material than I could possibly cover in one readable blog entry. Below are some of the things that I ran out of space to cover.

Preston Bradley Center - Preston Bradley's door

Reverend Preston Bradley was quite a character.  My favorite story was that he was suspended from Moody Bible college for being seen leaving a movie theater and smoking a cigar. He, in fact, left quite a few organizations because he was “too” liberal, he started as a Presbyterian minister but was accused of heresy because he wouldn’t accept that unbaptized infants were going to hell. After leaving the Presbyterians and the Moody Bible College, he started his own church which merged with the existing People’s Church in 1912.

Preston Bradley Center - small green door that leads to crawl space above autotorium ceiling 

This is the small green door (David Karcher kindly providing size comparison).  It leads to the roof over the auditorium, probably for repair purposes.  This also quite nicely demonstrates the cause of the half-floors.  The auditorium is a full three stories high (out of six mind you) and the bottom bit takes up over a story itself.  Therefore, the balcony ends up aligned halfway through the second floor and the very top of the dome halfway through the third.

As for the Mason’s Hall.  Below is one of the blackened murals lightened up as much as my scanty Photoshop skills would allow.Preston Bradley Center Mason's Hall - Photoshop lightened mural

You can see the oasis on the left side along with maybe a building?  Here’s what it looks like unedited;  the oasis is still slightly visible if you really squint.  This is on the East side (to your left when you walk in).Preston Bradley Center Mason's Hall - Un-photoshopped mural

A few more Mason’s Hall pictures.  I really wish I had thought to take a (real) panorama shot.  This is of the back (North) wall and you’d walk into the hall from that left corner.  Preston Bradley Center Mason's Hall - Back wall

A detail of the left corner:Preston Bradley Center Mason's Hall - back wall mural

It’s hard to get a full feeling for the south-oriented front, but here’s a Frankenstein image to give an idea.Preston Bradley Center Mason's Hall - south facing front murals now with frankensteining

Finally the last set of murals on the West wall (to your right as you walk in).Preston Bradley Center Mason's Hall - west side murals

Preston Bradley Center - heating cooling unit

Moving on, here’s a shot of the heating/cooling system.  It was high-tech for it’s time because it heated outside air which was then ventilated throughout the building via fan.  Starbucks cup not original as far as I understand.

Preston Bradley Center hat racks

The church shared a few old pictures with me; my favorite showed how large the congregation once was (it’s now down to 20-30 people).Church service circa 1930

I have a few more things to show but I can’t bear to deal with any more photo editing tonight.


More #48WardLoveLocal

Yep, that’s me making chain mail because who *doesn’t* have a chain mail craft store in their neighborhood?



A Love Letter to My Neighborhood

In my ten years in Chicago, I’ve lived in five apartments in three neighborhoods, but it’s my most recent neighborhood, Edgewater, where I’ve found my Chicago.

cookies and carnitas

Edgewater is brilliant for so many reasons.  

I live two blocks from the lake/beach – one of Chicago’s best features.  There’s a plethora of places to go and things to see.  Within a mile of my house is two Ethiopian restaurants, seven or so coffee shops, uncountable amount of pho places, a beautiful brand-new library, two soda-fountainy type places, and tons of random art.  We might currently not really have any real food stores at the moment, but if you need Kinder hippos, aloe leaves, nuoc cham, or veladoras, we’ve got you covered.  There’s a wide variety of people and they’re friendly, smiling and talking to their neighbors.  Despite the people and places, it’s still quiet(ish), neighborhoody, with trees and green space, and not the hustle-and-bustle that other places might have.

In short, I love it.  So when I learned about 48 Ward* Love Local, a month of  discounts at local places, I was super excited.  I was even MORE excited when I learned that if you participated in at least five deals and either shared on social media or sent your receipts in, you could win lunch with the alderman.**  I have become obsessed with winning that lunch; I’m not exactly sure why.  Possibly since it looks like I have a fairly good chance of winning looking at social media.  Possibly because the whole concept of aldermen is weird.  I’ve already been to my five places, including Cookies and Carnitas (above), but there’s a few more on our household list, and a lot of pictures to share.

I also just realized that this sounds like some sort of crappy sponsored post or something.  It’s not, I just get excited about really weird things.

*technically wards and neighborhoods don’t match up, but whatever.  I love my ward too and my local neighborhoods!

**aldermen are both like the mayor and the senator of your neighborhood.  Chicago is weird.  And awesome.  I’ve met my alderman, Harry Osterman, several times and could go and talk to him at his office whenever, so it’s even weirder that I’ve become obsessed.

“goals” six months later: Madison, WI

I was fifteen minutes into fighting with a pie chart that carefully infographiced how few of my goals I had done when I realized – what’s the point?  You know that I’m behind, I know I’m behind.  It’s better to ignore it and move on.

So, here’s some pictures from my brief time in Madison Wisconsin this year (to and from the Minnesota State Fair).  I became really obsessed with the little free libraries to the point where Miranda pulled into a ditch so I could take some pictures of the red one.

Madison Wisconsin//aesthetic snafu

Please note that this post fills not one, but two goals!  If only I had ever gotten that stupid pie chart to work…..

Nothing ends here;

I never had any grandfathers of my own.  My father’s father died so long ago that I don’t even know the decade; my mother’s father died when she was pregnant with me.

My husband, on the other hand, was gifted with a kick-ass Zedye that he was kind enough to share, at least for a little bit.  We spent an afternoon cruising around Detroit, in one of those old steel-box American cars, cars so long that seem to take up the entire block.  Cars that don’t even have a word in their language for “hatchback.”

driving around Detroit with Zedye

I had a list of old crumbling buildings to see and Zedye was willing to humor me,  but for him, the point of the trip was the Fischer Building.

I took over 600 pictures on that trip to Detroit, at least 100 of the Fischer building; it is by far the sight to see.

only in detroit can cars and Greek art be combined

The security guards teased me about how many pictures I was taking; that they were going to charge me $20 a photo.  Zedye was having none of it.  They couldn’t charge me because he was older than the Fischer building.

It was an argument brilliant in its irrationality and its simplicity.  He was, in fact, older.  He even showed his driver’s licence to prove it.  Yet, being older didn’t prove anything.  Zedye was just feisty like that.

Westfield Seek No Further

westfield seek no further

Last week, the internet failed me…. again.  That’s the second time this summer; I’m starting to believe that the internet doesn’t know everything (is that a sign of growing up?)

Last time it was about  Bellemont, AZ, a route 66 “ghost town.”  This time it was the origins of an apple’s name.  Specifically the Westfield-Seek-No-Further.

The prize was six free apple cider donuts from our favorite apple picking place, More Than Delicious in honor of their first open weekend and their newest sapling.

The Westfield-Seek-No-Further is a desert apple first grown in Winchester, MA before the Revolutionary War.  It ostensibly has a sweet, low-acid, nutty, complex flavor, reminiscent of English apples

One of its first literary references is the 1846 report of the New York state Agricultural Society  (found in The Apples of New York, Vol. 1,) where it is described as “the apple, par excellence” of the area, although they do mention that even then it was only found in older orchards.  Michael Pollen described the Seek-No-Further to NPR as a name “puffed with hometown pride.”   (although many websites attribute it as a Connecticut apple despite that).

As for the name?  At best, people suggested that it was an apple so good that you needed to look no further.

That is not the origin of the name.

According to More Than Delicious and A Reverence for Wood by Eric Sloane,  this is how the Winchester-Seek-No-Further got its name:

In the spring of 1665 a ship lay in Bristol Harbor, England, ready for jouneying to the New World.  The ship was not a new one; it had made the crossing almost a hundred times.  The ship’s master, Robert Carter, was dining at the English estate of Ralph Austin, an extraordinary practitioner in the art of planting.  The dinner had been a bon voyage meeting, for Robert Carter was to leave on the next tide.  “I envy you your journey,” said the host.  “You will reach America at Goose Summer and the harvesting will be at its peak.”  “In America they call it Indian summer,” said Carter.

Robert Carter broke an apple in two, admired its meat, and sprinkled it with cinnamon spice.  “It is time for me to leave,” he said.  “I should like to take one of these fine apples with me and plant the seed in America.”

“What a fine idea!  But the seed would not propagate that same apple, and a graft might not last the voyage.  But wait!  I shall get you a layering plant, and you shall be the first to bring my prize across the ocean.  I have worked a long time to create this variety; I have not named it yet.  I would be pleased for you to name it.  Perhaps the ‘Westfield’ after your farm in Massachusetts?  Perhaps it might be named after your ship!  What is the name of your ship?”

“It is called the Seek-no-further.”

Even knowing the back story, I still couldn’t find this online so… here you go internet!

apple picking at more than delicious

Isn’t More than Delicious absolutely beautiful?

Route 66 “Ghost town”: Bellemont, AZ

With a morning to kill in Flagstaff, AZ and a strange fascination with mid-20th century kitsch, I ended up on the road out-of-town to see Bellemont AZ, an ostensible Route 66 ghost town.  I say ostensible because while Route 66 has flowers growing through it and there’s a famous abandoned motel, people live there and there’s even a Harley Davidson store and a restaurant (part of Easy Rider was filmed there).

There is also, surprisingly, very little information about Bellemont on the internet.  I have no idea how that can be – shouldn’t the internet know everything? – but I’m excited to be able to add a little bit.  You start by taking I-40 west out of Flagstaff, exit 185, which is a surprisingly short drive.

Bellemont AZ Rt 66 ghost town

Bellemont’s biggest claim to fame is that part of Easy Rider was filmed there.  That history is why there’s a Harley Davidson and the Roadhouse.  They’re to the left after the Navajo military base along with the famous Pine Breeze Inn.

To the right is a really rough road (the last image above) which I’m fairly certain is also part of Route 66, along with the following sign:

Bellemont AZ Rt 66 ghost town primative road

Our stupid little rental car handled driving a bit of the primitive road just fine; you don’t need an SUV to see it.  I think it’s easy to think of Route 66 as this permanent cultural object, a pinnacle of American road engineering and it’s mind-blowing to see flowers growing through it, at least for me.  I think it’s easy to look at someplace like Detroit as this epic ruin porn and unusual, forgetting how much of America was once prosperous and isn’t any more.  Detroit is Bellemont is Claremont NH is the south side of Chicago is new Florida suburbs.

Flagstaff in general is a great way to see a bit of old Route 66.  Several of the old motels and their signs still exist.

Motor City

My third visit to Detroit and I finally got to play tourist.


Old-y Timey Pictures


(Photo James Estrin/NYT)

I have always regretted that I was born too late for the joys of the automat.  This exhibit at the NY public library would almost make up for it except that NY is not on my travel plans anytime soon (hint, hint work, send me there).  I love that you can actually use the vending bit to get recipies.

Luckily I don’t have to be in NY to have fun playing with these pictures of old NY.  The best part was being able to check out the Google maps image of how things look now.

I find North Korea fascinating