Historic Structures

Laurel Valley Sugar Plantation, Thibodaux Louisiana

Laurel Valley was one of many plantations established as the sugar cane culture expanded in Louisiana. Situated on the eastern bank of Bayou Lafourche, about two miles south of Thibodaux, in Lafourche Parish, the plantation came under the cultivation of sugar cane around 1832. Up to this time the lands nearest the bayou had been used as a family farm by petits habitants from Nova Scotia. But with the introduction of sugar cane, Laurel Valley's owners began to buy additional acreage and erect buildings to support the manufacture of sugar. Today there are more than seventy-two structures on the plantation, establishing it as the largest, ninteenth century sugar cane plantation intact in the United States. Etienne de Bore has been called the Savior of Louisiana. In 1794, after insects had destroyed his indigo crop, and falling prices his profits, he decided to risk what funds remained on the manufacture of sugar. He planted seed cane, directed forty slaves in the construction of a mill, irrigated his fields when dry, and hired and experienced sugar maker. He spent $4,000 that year, but in the fall De Bore's cane syrup granulated, enabling him to make a $5,000 profit from sales. The risks of this venture were great, for other attempts had failed. Louisiana planters had been trying to manufacture sugar since 1751, when a group of Jesuits from Santo Domingo had brought a package of seed cane into the French colony at New Orleans. But each time killing frosts or the mistakes of inexperienced laborers frustrated their efforts. In the aftermath of De Bore's experiments, however, many Louisiana planters began to cultivate sugar cane.

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Pennsylvania Railroad Station, Johnstown Pennsylvania

The history of Johnstown became intertwined with that of the Pennsylvania Railroad in 1851, when the main line was extended from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh. An important link in the main line, Johnstown was a bustling freight and passenger station. The city was much more than a stop on the railroad, however; beginning in the late 1850s the Cambria Iron Company supplied steel to the Pennsylvania Railroad. As the railroad grew, so did Johnstown. Cambria Iron's steel rails snaked far out into the nation, connecting Johnstown and cities beyond. The present building is the second Pennsylvania Railroad passenger station to have been erected in Johnstown. The earlier station was at the corner of Iron and Station Streets, and by 1914 it was outdated. The old Pennsylvania station was a disgrace to progressive, forward thinking Johnstown, explained Judge Francis J. O'Connor in his speech at the dedication ceremony: “The old edifice meant one thing to Johnstown--a serious handicap. The public-spirited citizens of Johnstown have long been laboring to convince the outside world that Johnstown is one of the most progressive cities in the United States, that here are the largest independent steel works in the world, that the city is composed of hardworking, progressive citizens. The effect of these great efforts of Johnstown citizens was shattered by the old station. The traveler on passing trains could judge Johnstown only by the part he could best see going through.”

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Carters Grove Mansion, Williamsburg Virginia

Carter's Grove mansion was commenced in 1751 and completed in 1753, if the evidence of Carter Burwell's account book is reliable. The first dated payment in the book (which is now owned by his descendant, Mr. George Burwell, of Millwood, Virginia) is June 14, 1751, though three small items are mentioned before it. The last item in the book is dated December 8, 1753. Unfortunately the accounts are not very explicit, and, aside from enumerating the names of craftsmen and others, merely list a few materials which were purchased for the structure. These latter include &69.0.0 for Mr. Page - perhaps Mann Page of Rosewell in Gloucester County, as a further entry shows an item of L6.0.0 paid two bricklayers from Gloucester. The most significant payment is &115 to David Minitree for building me a brick House according to Agreement and a supplementary gift of L25. A further account disproves the now generally accepted story that Minitree was brought from England for the purpose of building the mansion. This is that of Hichard Bayliss. Dated 1752, this occurs below Minitree's account on the same page. The division between the two accounts was evidently not noted and the entry To Cash paid to Captain Matthew Johnson for the Passage of yourself and Family L23.13.9 was ascribed to Minitree. The accounts make it perfectly clear, however, that Baylies as transported and not Minitree. Unfortunately nothing is known of the source of the design for Carter's Grove. Minitree may or may not have been the designer, although he was certainly the builder. The exterior of the house shows its kinship with the architecture of the region, while the interior is much finer and savors more of the work at Kingston-on-Thames near London and in London itself, This is no doubt attributable to Bayliss, who may have designed and worked the interior trim.

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Fleishhacker Pool and Bath House, San Francisco California

The world's largest swimming pool of its time opened in San Francisco in 1925. Fleishhacker Pool, located at Sloat Boulevard and the Great Highway, may still hold its superlative title at a length of 1000 feet, width of 150 feet at the midsection, a depth of 5 to 14 feet, and a capacity of 6,000,000 gallons of salt water. It was named in recognition of the 1920's President of the Park Commission of San Francisco whose many donations to the recreational facilities of the city included the development of the pool and adjoining Herbert Fleishhacker Playfield. With the notable exception of Golden Gate Park, the development of public parks and recreational facilities in San Francisco did not begin in earnest until after the turn of the century, and saw its greatest period of growth in the 1920's and. 1930's. The lack of public facilities before that time was partly taken up by private amusement parks such as Woodward's gardens, but there had also been less demand for such facilities before when the general public did not have so much leisure time, when the more physical nature of work left people too tired for additional exercise, and when the accessibility of undeveloped open space made publicly opened parks unnecessary. By the 1920's, a more developed park system was long overdue, however, and in the twenty years to 1940, Aquatic Park, Marina Green, the Fleishhacker Pool, Playfield and Zoo, Stern Grove, Phelan Beach, the Palace of the Legion of Honor,. Kezar Stadium, Harding Golf Course, Mt. Olympus and Mt. Davidson were all acquired by the City. In addition, the St. Francis Yacht Club and Playland at the Beach opened under private initiative.

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Houston Astrodome, Houston Texas

Originally called the Harris County Domed Stadium, the Astrodome was completed in 1964. Conceived as the home of the Houston Colts and the Houston Oilers, it was termed by many as the Eighth Wonder of the World. It was the first time that a stadium was built for both baseball and football that was totally enclosed and fully air-conditioned. The building covers 9.14 acres of land. Circular in shape, the outer diameter of the Astrodome is 710', and the clear span of the dome roof is 642'. Houston's baseball and football teams no longer use the Astrodome. The Astros now play at Minute Maid Park, and the Houston Texans play at Reliant Stadium. In the 1960s, many businessmen pondered over the possibility of bringing a national baseball team to Houston, Texas. However, the challenges in Houston appeared to be insurmountable, not from the point of view of patronage and fan support for the game, but from the vagaries of the Houston weather coupled with heat, humidity, and mosquitoes that would make either playing or watching ballgames an unpleasant experience. However, one businessman dared to dream about a fully air-conditioned stadium, which had never been done before. This man was Roy M. Hofheinz (1912- 1982), a Houston politician and entrepreneur. He had the distinction of being the Harris County judge from 1936 to 1944, and then mayor of Houston from 1953 to 1955. After serving as the Harris County judge, he became known as Judge Roy Hofheinz for the rest of his life.

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Pittsburgh Steel Company Monessen Works, Monessen Pennsylvania

This large steel works is located at a bend in the Monongahela River, about forty miles by river from Pittsburgh. The works encompasses nearly 300 acres and extends more than two miles along the riverfront in Monessen. It includes fifty-six Koppers underjet-type by-product coke ovens, three blast furnaces, a basic-oxygen process shop, a five-strand bloom caster, a universal rail and structural rolling mill, shop facilities, and offices. Among the defunct operations are the blooming, billet, and bar mills, the rod mills, and the wire mills. The older buildings appear to be at the upstream end of the works and include a number of large one story brick buildings with interior steel frames, gable roofs, and monitors. The most architecturally ornate building is the three-and-one-half story office with arched windows, brick walls, and hipped roof. Two of the blast furnaces date from 1916, though they have probably been refurbished at least once since the time of their construction. The by-product coke plant, located downstream from the office, was constructed in the 1940s. The basic-oxygen-process shop contains two basic oxygen vessels and was built in the 1970s. Recent construction includes the universal rail and structural mill, erected through a grant from the Economic Redevelopment Agency in 1981, and the five-strand continuous bloom caster, built in 1983. These facilities are housed in large one-story steel frame buildings clad with corrugated metal.

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The Willard Hotel, Washington DC

Both the site and the present building have a long history of entertaining Presidents, statesmen and other important people. In 1816 John Tayloe built six three-story buildings at the corner of Pennsylvania Avenue and 14th Street to be used as private residences. As early as 1818, however, at least one of them was leased as a hotel. For the next twenty-nine years the buildings housed a number of hotel establishments. During this time the building that became the original hotel was built. In 1847 Henry A. and Edwin D. Willard came to Washington to lease what was by then the 40 room old CITY HOTEL from the owner Benjamin 0. Tayloe. At this time the name was changed to the Willard Hotel. Two years later Edwin left and was replaced by brother Joseph C. Willard. Henry and Joseph continued to lease the property until 1853, when they purchased it from the Tayloe family and extended the building up 14th Street. In 1858, with the purchase of the property at 14th and F Streets and the further extension of the building, the Willard Hotel now had 100 rooms. Management problems arose, however, and in 1883, Joseph bought his brother Henry's interest in the business. Located only a block from the White House the Willard was host to a variety of people. When the Japanese Treaty Embassy made its first visit to the UnitedStates in 1860 it stayed at the Willard. In.1861, the last Peace Conference prior to the outbreak of the Civil War was held at the Willard. Julia Ward Howe, a guest in 1861, wrote the Battle Hymn of the Republic while staying there.

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BF Keith Memorial Theater – Opera House, Boston Massachusetts

Benjamin Franklin Keith (January 26, 1846 - March 26, 1914) was born at Hillsborough, New Hampshire, the youngest of eight children born to Samuel C. and Rhoda Keith. At the age of seven he began to work on a western Massachusetts farm, remaining there for 11 years and attending the district school and village academy during the winter months. When he was 17, Keith was greatly attracted by a country circus which he had visited, and shortly thereafter he left for New York, where he found employment with Bunnell's Museum. He later worked for P. T. Barrium and with Adam Forepaugh's Circus, remaining in the circus business as employer and proprietor until the early 1880s. During that time he added to his theatrical experience fy taking small shows on the road, thrice bankrupting himself in the process. Keith's career as a vaudeville entrepreneur began in Boston. In January 1883 he opened the Gaiety Museum in partnership with Colonel William Austin in a room only 15' x 35' that tapered to 6' at the rear. Those premises were immediately south of the Adams House Hotel adjoining the south side of the present B. F. Keith Memorial Theatre, now renamed the Opera House. The partnership with Austin, soon dissolved, and the enterprise became Keith and Batcheller's Mammoth Museum with George H. Batcheller as Keith's new partner. The partners soon added an upstairs lecture hall with 123 seats, and it was there, above the hall of curios, that continuous performance vaudeville first began. In 1884 Batcheller left, and Edwin F. Albee, an old friend of Keith, joined to form a partnership in 1885 that lasted until the latter's death in 1914.

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