Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Old fire station, North Little Rock

Google Map
Downtown North Little Rock's old fire station. Abandoned for years, it was purchased by the city and renovated to serve as the William F. Laman Library and the headquarters of the North Little Rock History Commission. They even replaced the old fire poles!

Aside: I actually visited the NLR History Commission today, and the director, Sandra Taylor Smith, told me a little more about the Baker house with its amazing tower. Turns out that story I told wasn't exactly true - a black man was probably driven out of his house in the late 19th century, but it took place at a different house (which is also amazing). I'll probably blog about that later.

Monday, January 30, 2012

My city, 1910

Google Map. Open in a new tab for super-size.
Little Rock, my city. From the Arkansas River, 1910. Very little of this scene still exists today. The Capital Hotel is a notable survivor and its roof can be seen behind the flat water tower just right of center. Also quite visible are the painted ads that would today be ghost signs.
Image courtesy of Shorpy.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Argenta Drug Co. Sign, North Little Rock

Downtown North Little Rock
Argenta Drug Co. has been in North Little Rock since 1885 or so and still operates as a drugstore. The sign is in sad shape and I don't think the neon is still functional, but it's a great example of an art form that has all but vanished in the 21st century.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

100th Post: Downtown Dreams

Someone caught a big time fish.
Over the course of the last three years and 99 posts, I've been to a lot of forlorn places. I've seen broken windows, fallen bricks, crumbling mortar, long-dead dreams, ghost signs, signs of ghosts, signs of future ghosts. Whole buildings missing like teeth. Parking lots put in their places. Main Streets empty of the souls they were built for.

Lots of forlorn places.
This isn't one of them.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

"Street, 1895," North Little Rock

Google Map
If, for some reason, you're ever curious as to how old a building is, and you have no resource other than your eyes, there are two good places to look. A lot of buildings have a cornerstone with detailed information. Failing that, check the top of the facade - like above, you might see the name of the original owner and the date it was built.

By the way: Tomorrow is my 100th post, and I've got something special in store. Stay tuned...

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Baker House Bed & Breakfast, North Little Rock

Google Map
The Baker House was built around 1899 in downtown North Little Rock. Want to know how racist Arkansas was? The house was built for a man from the north, but when he came down here, he wasn't allowed to live in it - because he was black. If I were him I would have burned down the whole city. 

Monday, January 23, 2012

Owens Building, North Little Rock

Google Map
The mission-style Owens Building was built in 1928 as a funeral home. I believe it is currently home to law offices. The wires you can see in the photo means the River Rail streetcar goes right by its front door.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Thomasons Building, North Little Rock

Google Map
Downtown North Little Rock, commonly called the Argenta Arts District, is one of my favorite places in the Little Rock metro. More to come.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

"The Standard" Ghost Sign, Nashville

Downtown Nashville
"The Standard" is a restaurant in an ornate, 1840s Italianate townhouse to the left of this sign - apparently Nashville's only remaining of its kind (Photos). It looks to me like there's an older ad underneath the Standard one. The Sears sign from yesterday is on the other side of this building.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

"SEARS" Ghost Sign, Nashville

Downtown Nashville.
This one tried to hide from me, the bugger. I don't know if the Sears advertised is the same one that exists now. Did Sears ever sell farm equipment?

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Exploration - Marathon Motor Works, Nashville

Google Map
For a long time, it was just a passing affair. I'd be driving down I-40 through Nashville, throw a glance out the passenger side window and catch an eyeful of rusting water tower, crumbling bricks and a painted white phrase: MARATHON MOTOR WORKS.

Finally, one day, I convinced some people to take me out there and solve the mystery.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Berger Building, Nashville

Downtown Nashville
Please excuse the lack of focus, but this title was just too excellent to pass up. The building was once a Genesco headquarters, a piano shop and a toy museum.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Neoclassical Moon, Nashville

Downtown Nashville
It's the same building as yesterday, but from a different angle and with the moon. Note the variation in column shapes.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Neoclassical building, Nashville

Downtown Nashville
Here is a case where I know nothing about the building in the photograph, but I love the Corinthian columns and dentals along the roof. Mmm.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Ghost Sign, Nashville

Downtown Nashville
Ghost signs are everywhere! I doubt this one is particularly old or historic, but I'll save those for later, and meanwhile, enjoy a pretty sunset view in Nashville.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Traditional and Modern

Google Map
Three buildings, two in traditional styles and one in post-1950s modern style. They do not appear to be friends.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Gazette Building, Little Rock

Google Map
Established in 1819, The Arkansas Gazette was the oldest newspaper west of the Mississippi until it was absorbed into the Arkansas Democrat in 1991. Many of my coworkers are former Gazette writers and I have been assured that the atmosphere there during its last years was...not pleasant. The building is now used for a charter school.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Alley, Little Rock

No Google Map; I forgot exactly where this is
No modern city is complete without alleys, complete with dumpsters, graffiti and shuttered windows. At night, they become the places where you don't want to meet people.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Urquhart Building, Little Rock

Google Map
 We now exit our exploration of Main Street. I'm guessing this building's name, as "Urquhart" is chiseled over the entrance. The architecture is beautiful, and I suppose whoever the Urquharts were, they had some power.

Another photo after the jump.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Lion Relief, Little Rock

Intricate Details
Little faces or animal details seem to be common on the architectural styles along South Main. This lion appears to be a bit worried. Perhaps because he's not sure how long he'll last?

Monday, January 2, 2012

Eagle Relief, Little Rock

Eagle and wreath detail on an abandoned/vacant building, North Main Street, Little Rock.