Patricia Temples Photography

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Archive for the tag “history”

Trees and their Stories

I recently decided to start another project for an exhibit I will hang in the fall.  Trees came to mind, because I photograph them often, and some of them have great stories.  So, I am going to give you a preview of my plan.

The first tree that came to mind is one I photographed a number of years ago.  The shot was taken at sunset, facing the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains.  Yes, the tree was dead.  But it had a history that it could have told if it had been alive.  I had to rely on the memories of local folks who know its significance.

Parrott Farm Schoolhouse Field

It is located on what is known in Greene County as the Parrott Farm.  At the site of the tree was a one-room schoolhouse where the Parrott children and others from nearby homes were educated in the early 1900s.  The locals refer to this as the Schoolhouse Field.  Two months after I made this image, a large storm blew it down.  Here is what remained.

Parrott Farm Schoolhouse Field after

Not far from this location is Westover United Methodist Church on land which was donated by the Parrott/Early families who owned the farm.  In 1913, the first wedding took place in that newly created church.  After the ceremony the bride took a sprig of hemlock out of her bouquet and planted it in the ground behind the church.  This Old Hemlock grew and remains on the property.

Westover view 3

Westover view 1

Another notable tree was new to me this past year. On a property now owned by Spring Hill Church, which is in Albemarle County, near the Greene County line, there was a tree that grew from a number of shoots, forming an interesing multi-trunked base. It was located near a resting place of the former owners of the farm, now donated to the church.

Not long after I made this image, a microburst, as described by nearby residents, split this tree in half. You can see the multiple trunks that created one tree, but which also led to instability in the storm. It was a big loss to the folks of this church who use this property for spiritual and recreational activities.

More on trees at another time. I wish I knew all of their stories.

Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum

Recently I had an invitation to accompany a friend to the Trans-Alllegheny Lunatic Asylum in Weston, West Virginia.  Also known as the Weston State Hospital, it was built between 1858 and 1881 as a refuge for the mentally ill and criminally insane.  It was originally constructed to house 250 people, but overcrowding and demand led to the construction of additional buildings. It reached its peak population of 2600 in the 1950s.  It closed in 1994 due to changes in the philosophy of how mentally ill people should be treated and because of the physical deterioration of the buildings.

It had to have been a beautiful facility in its heyday.  The architecture is exquisite and the woodwork, molding and colors throughout give you a glimpse of a design that was to provide a peaceful and therapeutic environment.  Today it is easy to feel sad about how it looks, but if you imagine healing the peeling paint, putting fresh curtains on the windows and furnishings in the spaces, it is possible to visualize a pleasant environment.

Let’s take a photographic journey through TALA.


The largest hand-cut stone masonry building in North America.


The second largest hand-cut stone building in the world, next to the Kremlin.

The second floor has been maintained with many of the original furnishings from the late 19th, early 20th century.

Second floor room-3

Hallway on the second floor of the main building.

Second floor room 2

Parlor on the second floor of the main building.

There was a Community Room where church services and dances were held.  The Weston community high school also held its prom in this room.  There was once crown molding, windows treatments, chandeliers in this space.  It’s beautiful even now.

Community Room

Patient areas in the facility are the ones with the greatest amount of deterioration. Paint is peeling, plaster has fallen, there is rust on metal surfaces.  Most of the windows had bars to secure the patients from harm. The hallways and the rooms were painted bright and beautiful colors:  blue, green, yellow, pink.

Pink meeting room

This is a common area on one of the residential halls. I love the shape of the space, and the light that comes through those windows. In one similar space there was a table with a chess board in the center of the room.

Hallway in blue

A residential hallway, third or fourth floor of the main building.

Bathtub Toilets and sinks

The hospital was a community in itself.  Whatever was needed was available on the property.  Hair salons, medical care, entertainment, gardens, classrooms for instruction in basics for independent living.

Classroom Hair salon Greene hospital room

Patient rooms were sometimes for single individuals, sometimes for as many as four.

This room had four closets, so it is assumed that four people shared this space.

This room had four closets, so it is assumed that four people shared this space.

Window and Radiator

Staff and others who know this building well say it is haunted.  The TV show Ghost Hunters featured this facility in a recent episode. This room is called Lily’s Room. Lily was a child born to patients of the hospital, which happened occasionally.  Many of those children were adopted out of TALA, but Lily stayed there at the request of the nurses, who particularly loved this little girl.  She died at the age of 10 of an illness.  It is believed that her spirit is still in this place, and in this room, so toys are kept there for her.  It is probably also part of the Ghost Tour that TALA conducts at night.

Lily's Room

A few last images.

Cell in Forensics Bldg

A cell in the Forensics Building which housed the criminally insane. These were areas for solitary confinement.

Paintball door

Looks like they may have played paintball on this door.

Window to the outside

The view to the outside from a hallway.


The Library of Congress

I have had two exciting trips to D.C. to visit the Library of Congress, the first in February and the second last week, in May. A friend of mine is a docent there and she agreed to lead two sets of my friends on a tour. Both trips were so special. I am writing this blog because I believe that the Library of Congress may be the single most important public building in the U.S. I am going to share some history about this building to make this point. Most of the information that follows comes from the website for the LOC, and occasionally I will insert my thoughts or those of my docent friend.

The Library of Congress was established by an act of Congress in 1800, and was described as a “reference library for Congress only.” The initial appropriation of $5000 established the library and it was housed in the new Capitol from 1800 to 1814. In August 1814, invading British troops set fire to the Capitol and burned or pillaged the contents of the library.

After the fire and loss of the library, President Thomas Jefferson offered his personal library as a replacement. He had spent 50 years accumulating books, “putting by everything which related to America,” and his collection was considered to be one of the finest in the U.S. In January 1815, Congress appropriated $23,950 for Jefferson’s 6,487 books. Our docent told us that Jefferson suffered depression for a period of time after his collection went to the library, because his accumulation of books was so very important to him.

The Library of Congress had difficult times in the 1850s. On Christmas Eve, 1851, a fire destroyed two-thirds of its 55,000 volumes, including two-thirds of Jefferson’s library. When the restoration of the Library room in the Capitol building was done, fireproof materials were used throughout and it reopened in 1853.

In 1886, after many proposals and much controversy, Congress authorized the construction of a new library building, and its doors were opened to the public on November 1, 1897. The construction of the new Library was executed entirely by American labor and American artists. It became a showcase of American skill and talent. It is one of the most beautiful buildings I have ever seen. The Library of Congress is the largest library in the world with more than 160 million items, including books and other print material, recordings, photographs, maps, sheet music and manuscripts. Staff receives 15,000 items each working day and adds approximately 12,000 items to the collections daily. LOC is the home of the U.S. Copyright Office, and many of the collections are received through that registration process. Contrary to what I expected there, a visitor does not see books and more books. They are not housed within public view and access is restricted to official passes. However, it is possible to get passes, or to have books sent to your local library from the LOC, with the exception of rare books. Enjoy my images of the spectacular interior of the Jefferson Building. Notice the marble, the mosaics, the statues, the moldings. Everything in the building has meaning. Then put a trip to the Library of Congress on your bucket list.

Dome Interior

Jefferon Room at LOC

The Jefferson Room is one area where you see books. Some are originals from Jefferson’s library, some are replacements since the fire, and some are empty boxes waiting for a replacement to be found. They are protected by glass.

Reading room

The reading room is accessible by passes. Visitors can view the room from an area above that enclosed in glass. It is such a spectacular space.

Mosaic Floor

Small pieces of marble tile create the mosaic floor.

Blue Ridge School in Greene County

One of my photography destinations has been the Blue Ridge School in Dyke, Virginia. Blue Ridge is an all-boys, all-boarding school for college-bound boys, grades 9-12.  There are about 170 students in attendance there.  It is a beautiful campus with old stone buildings, a beautiful lake and wonderful interior architecture.  I have been fortunate to be invited to have a show of my photography on the campus from October 11-19, and here are a few of the images I will be displaying.  An opening reception on Parents’ Weekend, October 11 from 3-5 pm will give me an opportunity to meet some parents and students in the beautiful Battle House.

Chapel Refllections

View of the Lake

View of the Lake

Fall is Coming

Maples along the Fence

Outdoor Classroom

Fall has Arrived


White Chairs

Chapel Interior

Gibson Memorial Chapel Interior

Central Academy in Patrick County

I recently learned of a Facebook page called “Abandoned in Virginia” and with some excitement I went to the page and discovered wonderful images of days gone by.  I had a thought about a month ago that I needed to narrow my focus in my photography.  At least that’s what a lot of the pros say.  Find your passion and specialize.  I have never done that because I find too many subjects of a variety of themes that draw me in depending upon my mood, or even where I might be on a given day.  So, as I went to my photography catalog and began looking for shots showing abandonment, I began to feel rejuvenated about my photography.  A trip back to my hometown a few days later gave me perfect opportunities.  Here are a few images of a place I didn’t know existed in the county where I spent the first seventeen years of my life.  This is Central Academy, a school operated by the Presbyterian Church from 1910-1932.  It was a boarding school with a main adminstration building, where classes were held, and  boys’ and girls’ dormitories.  It became a county elementary school until the mid-1950s and some of my friends recall their parents and siblings talking about attending school there. One friend reported that it must have been a good school because her parents studied Latin there, were on the debate team, and had told her the school had a marching band! Today it is a privately owned property. One dormitory has been restored and it is their residence.  The other is vacant.  The main building with classrooms burned in the late 1930s, and all that remains are four pillars under some huge pine trees. Thanks to my friends from the area for providing me with this information. Here are the photos from the property.

Academy Ivy Central Academy Dormitory Dormitory with pillars in background Pillars and Pine trees Grove of trees Remains of the admin building

The Battle of Jacks Shop

Local historian, writer and researcher Harold Woodward, Jr. of Madison County, uncovered the story of the Battle of Jacks Shop, which took place on September 22, 1863 in Madison County, VA.  Yesterday in Madison there was a Sesquicentennial Commemoration of the battle, which included reenactors from the local area and around Virginia.  There were also many displays with people in period costume who described their wares.  The Pallas Athena, Ladies Aid Society, had a fantastic display of personal articles that were made available to soldiers on the battlefield, care packages of today.  Here are a few of the photographs I took at the campsite, at the cavalry demonstrations and of the displays.

Campsite Around the camp fire Boy on a horse Charging Cavalry Children at Cannon General Lee Lewis Gibson Susan Davidson Telling your daughter goodbye Woman

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