The Abbey in Cape May

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Headed to Cape May for a day to shoot the many Victorian homes that make the town such a popular destination year round.Even though there was no snow to be found,the town was still dressed in its Christmas best and was very neat to see. This place is located right in the downtown and is referred to as “The Abbey” and If Senator John McCreary were somehow to return to Cape May today, he wouldn’t have much trouble recognizing his summer residence. Standing proudly at the corner of Gurney Street and Columbia Avenue. A Scottish immigrant who made his fortune in coal, McCreary was one of many wealthy Philadelphians who chose to summer in Cape May. With the arrival of the railroad in 1863, Cape May became a popular resort for the upper classes. These visitors did not, however, stay in the huge hotels that Cape May was famous for at the time. Instead, they built huge wooden homes, “cottages” and “villas” where one family could retreat in privacy. I photographed the home from across the street and included an arrangement with a bow that was situated on a pillar at a church. I saw on the net that the average rental price at this home for a week in peak summer is $12,500, so I most likely will not be seeing the inside anytime soon. In contrast,I slept overnight in my truck there and was as cozy as most people in the fancy houses right next to me and I shot this at daybreak while everyone else was still sleeping.

Giving Thanks

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This set of images were taken in the small town of Lititz,Pa in the area known as the Moravian Church Square. It is a gorgeous section of town that includes numerous old buildings and is  right along the main street. This year I spotted a dazzling yellow Ginko tree on a friday night and took a shot or two before it got dark.I called a friend to tell him he might want to check it out,and he did just that on the next day.I called him to ask if he got anything and he said all of the leaves were off,to which I laughed and said there is no way all the leaves fell off overnight. He insisted it was true so on Sunday morning I headed over at sunrise to see,and lo and behold  he was telling the truth. I was busy getting more photos in the pre-dawn light when the caretaker strolled by and said he was lighting the church and hoped that would not be a problem,to which I said go for it. The added illumination inside took the stunning scene to a whole other level in my opinion,and I was very thankful not only for the beauty before me but the ability to appreciate it and capture it. I joked with the care taker about the leaves not being cleaned up because he is a very efficient worker and keeps the property well maintained and he said the parishioners love to walk down the golden path as they arrive for Sunday worship so he leaves them lay an extra day.

A mind boggling display.

 

 

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If you ever get the chance to visit the Mercer Museum in Doylestown,Pa,take it because it will blow your mind.This place is a time capsule featuring items from past times that were saved and displayed by a man on a mission who had a great vision to save history for future generations.It is several stories of thousands of items one may never see anywhere else.Shown in this photo on the lower left is an 1800 fire engine pumper that is just one small part of the collection and hangs by huge chains from the second story concrete walls. I had to hand hold everything,and bracing your camera for 1 second exposures can be a bit challenging.

Henry Mercer was a gentleman anthropologist. On a cruise up the Ruhr in early adulthood, Mercer was impressed by the eclipse of artisanal culture by industrial production, and resolved himself to preserving artifacts of pre-industrial life. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Mercer collected pre-industrial tools and other implements of the past. He believed that the story of human progress and accomplishments was told by the tools and objects that people used and saw these time-honored crafts slowly disappearing from memory.

Mercer personally designed plans for a museum to house his collection, six stories tall and cast of poured-in-place concrete. Mercer’s museum was completed in 1916. In addition to tools, it displays furnishings of early Americana, carriages, stove plates, a gallows, antique fire engines, a whaleboat, and the Lenape Stone. The Spruance Library, which houses the Bucks County Historical Society’s archive of historical research materials, is located on its third floor.

 

Fonthill Castle

 

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This place is known as Fonthill castle and is located in Doylestown ,Pa.I photographed this amazing location at sunrise recently.Built between 1908-1912, Fonthill was the home of Henry Chapman Mercer (1856-1930). Archaeologist, anthropologist, ceramist, scholar and antiquarian, Mercer built Fonthill both as his home and as a showplace for his collection of tiles and prints. The first of three Mercer buildings in Doylestown, Fonthill served as a showplace for Mercer’s famed Moravian tiles that were produced during the American Arts & Crafts Movement. Designed by Mercer, the building is an eclectic mix of Medieval, Gothic, and Byzantine architectural styles, and is significant as an early example of poured reinforced concrete. It almost felt like I was visiting Europe when I was here.

Majestic Ambler Theatre

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I photographed the restored Ambler movie theatre while visiting Ambler last week.I used my nitecor flashlight to reveal the rich color and detail of the place.The Ambler Theater was opened by its owner Warner Bros. on December 31, 1928, with the movie “Our Dancing Daughters” starring Joan Crawford. An exuberant Spanish Colonial style architecture was employed to create a magical facade with Terra cotta, spacious lobbies (entry lobby, main lobby, vestibule lobby, then foyer), an ornate auditorium with 1,228 seats, and a Gottfried pipe organ (which is long gone). The builder, Phillip Harrison, previously built the Seville (now Bryn Mawr) and Lansdowne theatres, which may explain the Spanish Colonial similarities. Prior movies in Ambler had been shown in an opera house, a second story Civil War era theatre.

Due to the competition from TV and the multiplexes, the Ambler was no longer viable to continue as a for profit theatre with mainstream movies and ceased showing 35mm films about 1969 to 1970. By this time the auditorium’s side walls and front part of the ceiling were draped over. From the 1970’s until 1997 the Ambler was operated as a Christian cinema, showing films in 16mm including The Robe. The Ambler closed again, waiting re-use. The Christian group sold the theatre in 2001 to businessmen, who in turn sold the theatre to the nonprofit: Ambler Theater, Inc.

The non-profit organization devoted two million dollars to renovations. Paint colors were chosen to match the original colors. No original carpet was found, so carpet was replicated from photographs with the appropriate colors selected. As the original ticket booth was long gone, a cheap modern ticket booth was removed and replaced with a retro style ticket booth. The ornate new ticket booth took its inspiration from the auditorium’s organ lofts.

Built in the former rear of the orchestra seating area are two ‘black-box stadium seated auditoriums, equipped with digital surround sound. One auditorium has 150 seats, the other has 110 seats. The Ambler reopened February 28, 2003, with those two auditoriums showing the movies Nicholas Nickleby and Real Women Have Curves.

As the original 30 foot towering vertical neon sign had been demolished in the late 1960’s, an exact replica was constructed by Bartush Signs and funded in part by a Keystone Grant from the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission. The neon tower was installed in September, 2005 and officially lit on October 21, 2005.

Renovation of the original front section of the auditorium began March, 2007. It reopened October 5, 2007 with the film Into the Wild. The original proscenium arch opening hosts the large movie screen (30 feet wide for ‘scope films), ornate decoration on the side walls, and organ lofts. This auditorium with stadium seating for 280 people has a ceiling with what looks like wood beams, but in reality they are made of plaster.

Recent renovations have restored the marquee to its original 1928 majesty complete with neon trim and chaser lights. Additional fundraising is being undertaken for more renovations, including restoration of the facade.

Asbestos Built This Place

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This is an interior view of the Lindenwold castle located in Ambler,Pa.I took a few days off to seek out some photo subjects and stopped at the castle to see if I could snap some images.At first a friendly staff member escorted me to shoot yesterdays image outside but when we came back to the castle,she said I could photograph the upstairs by myself if I wanted.I was surprised by the offer and quickly jumped on the chance. The place was amazing and I could only imagine the elite figures from times past that gathered here to socialize. Off to the left is what she told me was called the blue room,which contrasted with the rich wood throughout this room. Dr Matteson’s fortune was made primarily by his work with asbestos.

The Gazebo

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This scene is part of the estate of the late Dr. Richard Vanselous Mattison. Some people loved him, more hated him, but everyone agrees his partnership with Henry G. Keasbey made Ambler what it is today. Richard V. Mattison was the man who put Ambler on the map. Originally, he opened up a small pharmaceutical laboratory in Philadelphia, then moved it to Ambler. Mattison experimented with the insulating properties of asbestos and opened up a plant in Ambler. By 1914, Keasbey and Mattison had become the largest supplier and manufacturer of asbestos products. Located down the street from the Ambler train station was the Century Asbestos Shingle Factory, one of Amblers most important factories. Keasbey and Mattison produced a wide range of products, from headache and stomach relief products to asbestos insulation products. They shipped their products all over the country. At one point their slogan was “Lest we forget-the BEST in asBESTos.”
Mattison owned a 400 acre estate that he remolded after the Windsor Castle in England. His estate was known as Lindenwold and included a lake, gardens, gatehouses, and elaborate stone walls. Keabey and Mattison’s top executives lived in elaborate stone houses on what was known as Lindenwold Terrace. Mattison was also responsible for building homes for his other employees and still stand today on Mattison Avenue.
To honor the memory of his daughter, Esther Victoria, who suddenly died at the age of four, Mattison built Trinity Memorial Episcopal Church. The church was consumed in a tragic fire in 1986, but the congregation promised to restore it.
In addition to bringing a new culture to Ambler, Mattison pushed for the incorporation of the town. He introduced street lighting, built Ambler’s first water system, opera house, and participated in town matters. shown is a stone wall with stone statues and the picturesque gazebo located along the lake. I got special permission to enter the property and shoot a few photos.