Categories
Photography

Contemplation of Justice

Statue outside the U.S. Supreme Court, 1 First Street NE in Washington, DC. ‘Contemplation of Justice’ by sculptor James Earle Fraser depicts a female figure in meditation while holding a book of law in one hand and a figure of Justice in the other. Fraser also sculpted the Frederic A. and Florence Sheffield Boardman Keep memorial at St. Paul’s Rock Creek Cemetery, among other famous works.

Categories
Mysterious America Photography

Belle Isle Power Plant

Belle Isle, in the James River in downtown Richmond, Virginia, opened as a public park in 1973. During the American Civil War, it was a prison camp for Union POWs. Disease, starvation, and exposure took a toll, and as many as 1,000 prisoners died on the island. In the twentieth century, the Virginia Electric Power Company operated a hydroelectric power plant on Belle Isle. The ruins of the power plant and the nail factory can still be seen to this day. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1995.

Categories
Photography

Vice and Crime

Detail of a bas relief sculpture representing Vice and Crime at the U.S. Supreme Court, 1 First Street NE in Washington, DC.

Categories
Historic America

Aldie Battlefield in Loudoun County, Virginia

This little-known Civil War cavalry battle in northern Virginia played a key role in the Gettysburg Campaign’s opening phase.

The Battle of Aldie was fought on June 17, 1863 between Union cavalry commanded by Brig. Gen. Hugh Judson Kilpatrick and Confederate cavalry commanded by Col. Thomas T. Munford in Loudoun County, Virginia during the American Civil War. An inconclusive prelude to the Battle of Middleburg, the Battle of Aldie was part of the Gettysburg Campaign and resulted in approximately 424 casualties.

On June 1, 1863, Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia slipped away from the Union Army of the Potomac, commanded by Maj. Gen. Joseph Hooker, and headed north to invade Pennsylvania. Lee entrusted his cavalry commander, Maj. Gen. J.E.B. Stuart, to screen his army’s movement from the enemy. Stuart’s cavalry fanned out across the Loudoun Valley in northern Virginia.

Categories
Photography

Fairness

Detail of a bas relief sculpture representing Justice or Fairness at the U.S. Supreme Court, 1 First Street NE in Washington, DC.

Categories
Historic America

Thoroughfare Gap Battlefield in Prince William County, Virginia

Hike nature trails and visit the ruins of a Colonial-Era mill at this historic battlefield in the Bull Run Mountains.

Click to expand photos

The Battle of Thoroughfare Gap (Chapman’s Mill) was fought on August 28, 1862 between Union forces commanded by Brig. Gen. James B. Ricketts and Col. Percy Wyndham and Confederate forces commanded by Maj. Gen. James Longstreet in Fauquier and Prince William Counties, Virginia during the American Civil War. The battle was a Confederate victory, allowing two wings of the Confederate army to unite and win the Second Battle of Bull Run over the following three days. It resulted in 100 total casualties.

In late August 1862, Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia squared off against Union Maj. Gen. John Pope’s Army of Virginia 40 miles from Washington, DC. Lee outmaneuvered Pope, sending Maj. Gen. Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson’s wing around Pope’s flank to destroy his supply depot at Manassas Junction. Confederate Maj. Gen. James Longstreet followed with the rest of the army. To reach Jackson, Longstreet had to pass through Thoroughfare Gap in the Bull Run Mountains.

To delay Longstreet and his 28,000-man force, Pope sent one brigade commanded by Brig. Gen. James B. Ricketts and a regiment of cavalry commanded by Col. Percy Wyndham, a British adventurer who volunteered to fight with the Union Army. Their force totaled approximately 5,000 men. On August 28, Wyndham was guarding the pass when Longstreet’s men began to march through. The cavalry retreated and sent for help, but Ricketts’ small brigade was severely outnumbered. By the time Ricketts arrived with reinforcements, Longstreet’s lead units held the high ground and easily fended off several Union attacks.

Categories
Mysterious America

Twin Haunted Mansions of Marian University

Since acquiring the Allison and Wheeler-Stokely mansions, rumors persist at this Catholic university that both former estates have an active spiritual life, and not of the religious variety.

Marian University in Indianapolis, Indiana was established in 1851 by the Sisters of St. Francis as St. Francis Normal in Oldenburg, Indiana. In 1936, it merged with Immaculate Conception Junior College to become Marian College. The Sisters of St. Francis purchased Riverdale, the former James A. Allison estate in Indianapolis, and moved in. Marian College officially opened on September 15, 1937. Its name changed to Marian University in 2009. Since occupying the Allison Mansion, and in 1963, the Wheeler-Stokely Mansion, rumors persist that both former estates have an active spiritual life, and not of the religious variety.

Built for automotive mogul James Asbury Allison (1872-1928) between 1911 and 1914, this Art & Crafts Country-style mansion quickly gained a reputation as a “house of wonders”. It was revolutionary at the time for integrating the latest advancements, including intercoms, automatic lighted closets, an indoor swimming pool, and even an electric elevator. Allison co-founded the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, co-founded the Prest-O-Lite Company, and founded the Allison Engineering Company.

Architect Herbert Bass designed the mansion’s exterior, but Allison fired him before completion and hired Philadelphia architect William Price (1861-1916) to design the interior.

The Sisters of St. Francis of Oldenberg purchased Allison’s estate at 3200 Cold Spring Road in 1936 and moved their school there, renaming it Marian College. It served as their main administration building, library, and living quarters for decades. Allison had previously worked with the Sisters of St. Francis to open a hospital in Miami Beach, Florida. After his death in 1928, rumors spread that his ethereal form remained at his beloved Indianapolis estate, which he called “Riverdale”.