Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Sullivan Carriage House

Today when you walk through this door you are entering the San Antonio Botanical Garden.  But if you had walked through this door in 1896 you would have been walking into Daniel J. Sullivan's newly built carriage house.

Daniel J. Sullivan was a banker whose loans to ranchers had enabled the legendary cattle drives of the 19th century. He hired Alfred Giles, a well known architect in the region, to design the carriage house to be located behind his home at Fourth Street and Broadway.  The ground floor had stalls for the horses and storage for the carriages, while upstairs provided quarters for groomsmen.

Back side of the carriage house viewed from the Botanical Garden
After Mr. Sullivan died one of his daughters and her husband continued to live in the home. In the 1960's, through a Sullivan descendant's will, the property was transferred to the Archdiocese of San Antonio.  The house was sold and eventually torn down. 
Side entrance with handicapped accessible doors.  The gift shop is just on the right as you enter.
Can't you just see a horse drawn carriage rolling through these big doors?
The neglected carriage house almost met the same fate.  The Hearst Corporation had acquired the property and was using the building to store newsprint used in printing the now defunct San Antonio Light newspaper.  They needed to get rid of the building and offered it to the San Antonio Museum Association who turned it down.  The Hearst Corporation then turned to the Botanical Garden with  an offer of the carriage house, but the 7,675 square foot building had to be removed from the property in three months.

With support from the San Antonio Conservation Society funding was arranged on December 31, 1987 and the carriage house was ready for a move.  Each block was carefully cleaned and marked after being disassembled from the structure; following a careful move to its new location it was painstakingly reassembled, one stone at a time. 

As with many preservation projects the progress was slow.  Lack of funds had caused the project to come to a standstill until a couple who had observed the lack of progress from the windows of their nearby high rise apartment questioned why there was no work being done on the building.  Upon learning that there were no funds to continue the work this lovely couple wrote a check that enabled the carriage house to be completely renovated and put into use in 1995.

Today, the stalls are quaint seating areas for a nice little bistro type lunch restaurant, but sometimes I almost hear the big carriage horses stomping their hooves impatiently while waiting to be fed!

Entrance into the Bistro
Salvaged wood was used to construct the shelves and cabinets in the gift shop, located in the carriage storage area.  The stair case in the picture above leads to offices and a meeting/event room.
Just inside the front doors another staircase leads to the upper floor rooms.
The doors were re-milled and iron work was repaired and replaced.  Air conditioning and a sprinkler system brought the building up to city codes; the floors were treated and reinforced to increase fire resistance and support the heavy foot traffic. The building is completely handicap accessible, making entry into the gardens convenient for all visitors.
The Botanical Garden with its ever changing displays is the perfect setting for the Sullivan Carriage House to showcase its unique beauty.
Thanks to dedicated preservationists and generous donations the Carriage House is still nestled in the cityscape of San Antonio and will be admired and enjoyed by the generations to come.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Texas & Pacific Hospital

Last summer I took one of my dogs to a dog show in Longview, Texas.  He had a mid-day show time so we had Saturday morning free. I made a trip over to Marshall Pottery and found an intriguing old building on the way (imagine that!).  The following is the post I put on the Small Simple Things blog when I got home.  Yes, this may be a re-run but I thought it worth repeating here.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

When Bentley and I were on our way to Marshall Pottery I spotted an old building as we were going into Marshall.  On our way back I circled around the block to get a better look and some pictures.  There really wasn't much place to park and it was clearly posted "no trespassing" so I had to take what I could get picture wise.  There were no signs or anything, really to identify the building.

It appeared to be a school.  There was a building to the side that was connected by a covered walkway on a lower level and an enclosed walkway on the upper level.  What puzzled me was that this side building had what appeared to be a carport that was under part of the back side of the building.  The area was big enough that several vehicles could have easily parked under the carport.  It seemed odd for a school but I thought maybe it was a Catholic school and that was where the nuns or priests lived.

Here's a full view from across the street, obviously this building has been abamdonded for a while.

Here's the view from the back,  you can see the covered walkway.
When I started searching on the internet for this building I first thought it was one of the old high school buildings but I couldn't get the address to line up with the historical information.  I looked at it on Google satellite and could see a circular drive in front of the building, very interesting.  And, this building is adjacent to some of the current day school buildings.

Some more searching and I had the correct identification.  This is the T & P Hospital and it served all employees of the Texas & Pacific Railroad.

 T & P Stations & Structures - Marshall, TX - Company Hospital
 This isn't a very good picture, it actually came from a post card on the T&P Railway site, but it gives an idea of the size of the hospital and a (somewhat) before picture.  Knowing that it was hospital explains the building to the side; that was the emergency room where the ambulances or emergency transports could pull under the carport covering.

As usual I found myself picturing this building as it was when new and in use, although I had envisioned students coming and going and not patients and ambulances.   There was a roof fire about a year ago and the owner commented that he would love to sell the building.  The article in the Marshall paper stated that the building was inspected after the fire and was deteriorating.  It also has asbestos so it will probably continue to decline until it is torn down and a little piece of history is lost.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Bastrop Christian Church

This door leads into Bastrop Christian Church in Bastrop, Texas.  When I first saw the church from a distance I immediately thought of the churches and buildings of New England.  Imagine my surprise when the plaque by the door described this building as being in a New England Victorian style!

The church was founded sometime before 1857. Members met in the courthouse until a rock church building was built on this site in 1867.  The New England Victorian building was completed in 1895. 
Bastrop was established in 1832 when Stephen F. Austin located 100 families in this area.  In 1834 the name was changed to Mina.  The town was incorporated under the laws of Texas on December 18, 1837, and the name changed back to Bastrop. 
The building on the right is their education building.  It was built just a few years ago, but is such a sensitive addition it looks like it was built at the same time as the church.
This is the peaceful courtyard between the two buildings. 
The wind vane also reminded me of New England!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Old State House

This door leads into the building known today as the Old State House in Boston, Massachusetts.  This Georgian style structure was built in 1713 to house the government offices of the Massachusetts Bay Colony.  To commemorate the Old State House's 300th birthday The Bostonian Society is hosting a week long celebration with many events and activities, including several that pertain to historic preservation. 

Today this small building sits proudly in the middle of modern high-rise buildings with cars circling around it and a subway rumbling underneath!  In the 1700's this was the center of  Boston's civic life.  Within its walls the tyranny of the crown was proclaimed and the desire for freedom came to life.  The first public reading of the Declaration of Independence in Massachusetts was done from this balcony; two hundred years later Queen Elizabeth would stand on this balcony and wave to the crowds below during a visit to the United States!

On March 5, 1770 five colonists were killed outside the Old State House by British Regulars in what became known as the Boston Massacre.  The British soldiers had been sent to Boston in October 1768 for the purpose of enforcing the heavy taxes demanded of the colonies and to ensure loyalty to the King.

The building would serve as the Massachusetts Commonwealth State House until the new State House was completed in 1798.   In the following years it would be used for a variety of purposes and would be altered to accommodate the needs of the various tenants.  From 1830 to 1841 the building was used as Boston City's Hall.  By 1879 the building was falling into a terrible state of disrepair and demolition was looming.  A group of concerned citizens formed the Bostonian Society and in 1881 turned the building into the Old State House Museum.  This group still maintains the building today while the building is owned by the City of Boston.

There have been numerous restoration projects as this old building requires constant upkeep and stabilization.  Old State House History details the building's history and has a timeline of events. The subway was tunneled under the building in 1905; the building rumbles with the passing of each train.

The Museum has many artifacts and exhibits detailing events of the American Revolution.  Although Samuel Adams or John Hancock never walked on the modern floors or gazed on the restored walls, there is a sense of history in the rooms and the presence of those Patriots seems to linger.  I felt a renewed sense of appreciation for those men and their commitment to the cause of independence.

To commemorate its 300th anniversary, the Bostonian Society invites everyone to join in a week of events and activities for all ages.
“Whether you’re a longtime Bostonian or a first-time visitor to the city, the symbolism of this building speaks to the steadfast human spirit in all of us,” says Bostonian Society President Brian W. J. LeMay. “After the recent events in Boston, we hope participating in this milestone anniversary provides everyone some level of restored peace and resilience.”