Categories
Mysterious America

Avon Theater

One of Decatur, Illinois’ many historic theaters, the Avon Theater opened in 1916 and predominantly catered to the new motion picture craze. Its interior was the largest and most elaborately decorated in Decatur. Renovations and a brief closure in the 1950s removed most of its glamour, however, and by 1986 it was abandoned. Luckily, in the mid-1990s, a group of entrepreneurs purchased the theater and again opened it for business.

After its re-opening, the staff began to experience strange events that included hearing laughter, footsteps, and applause after hours. Items would also appear and disappear. Staff members have also seen the apparition of Gus Constan, who owned the Avon during the 1960s. Theater patrons have also described feeling as though they were pushed or had bumped into something unseen.

Categories
Photography Roadside America

Des Plaines Theater

The Des Plaines Theatre, 1476 Miner Street (U.S. Route 14) in Des Plaines, Illinois, opened in 1926 with this beautiful light bulb-lined marquee, just down the street from the Sugar Bowl. In 2019, Onesti Entertainment took over management of the theater and began restoration. As my longtime readers know, I grew up in Des Plaines. I remember when this theater played movies for 50 cents on Tuesday (I must have watched Jurassic Park there a half-dozen times), and I saw my first live concert there. I’m glad it’s finally getting restored after being closed for years.

Categories
Photography

Stories in Stone: Sophia B. Stetson

Monument to Sophia B. Osborn Stetson (1819-1894), wife of Alpheus Micah Stetson (1820-1904), and their family in Forest Hills Cemetery, at 95 Forest Hills Avenue in Boston, Massachusetts. Alpheus M. Stetson was a lumber and coal merchant. Sophia and Alpheus married in 1842. Designed by landscape architect Henry A. S. Dearborn and opened in 1848, Forest Hills Cemetery is a historic rural cemetery.

Categories
Historic America Photography

Farnsworth’s Charge

Bas relief on the monument to Maj. William Wells at Gettysburg National Military Park. On the afternoon of July 3, 1863, after the final Confederate attack had been repulsed, Union cavalry commander Brig. Gen. Hugh Judson Kilpatrick ordered Brig. Gen. Elon John Farnsworth to charge the Confederate’s right flank. The terrain was rocky and uneven, and Farnsworth protested the order. Never-the-less, he obeyed, and accompanied the 1st Vermont Cavalry, commanded by Maj. William Wells. Farnsworth had two horses shot out from under him before he was killed–shot five times. Wells survived, earning the Medal of Honor.

Farnsworth’s Charge
Categories
Commentary

A Nation of Wimps

In a harsh world we can either become tolerant by not shying away from pain and disappointment, or we can shelter ourselves and be unable to cope when those challenges rear their ugly head.

In a political cartoon for the Detroit Free Press entitled “Traveling Across America,” artist Mike Thompson juxtaposed two women: a pioneer from 1857 and a businesswoman from 2007. The pioneer declares, “the trip is grueling and filled with hardship.” The businesswoman replies, “I hear ya!  My flight was packed and 20 minutes late!”

In 1905, Art Young was far more critical of his contemporaries when he illustrated a cartoon for Life magazine entitled “World of Creepers.”  It depicts a sea of men in sport coats crawling along the ground under a dark cloud.  The word “fear” hovers just above the horizon.

These two political cartoons express concern that we are (or were) becoming a culture of complainers, snivelers, and grovelers; mere shadows of our immigrant and frontier ancestors who attempted to prosper despite enduring constant hardships.

Categories
Photography

Stories in Stone: Mark Howard

English-born Mark Howard (1817–1887) was president of the National Fire Insurance Company and helped organize the Republican Party in Connecticut. His family and he are interred in the Howard Pyramid Mausoleum in Cedar Hill Cemetery, 453 Fairfield Avenue in Hartford, Connecticut. The Egyptian-revival mausoleum is 20 feet tall and made from pink granite.

Photo by Michael Kleen
Categories
Historic America Photography

Redcoats at Sacket’s Harbor

Reenactors dressed as British soldiers fire a volley during an event commemorating the Second Battle of Sacket’s Harbor, fought on May 29, 1813. Sackets Harbor Battlefield State Historic Site is located in northwestern New York on Black Harbor Bay, Lake Ontario, in the town of Sackets Harbor.