Historic Structures

Wheeling Suspension Bridge, Wheeling West Virginia

Connecting West Virginia with Ohio, the Wheeling Suspension Bridge stands as a symbol of technological progress in the midst of the industrial revolution. It is the crowning achievement of a brilliant man whose reputation was late in emerging from the shadows of obscurity - Charles Ellet, Jr. The decision to build the bridge occurred in the context of a rivalry between Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and Wheeling, West Virginia, in the days when Wheeling was still making a bid to become one of the transportation and industrial centers of the West. The ensuing arguement over its construction at Wheeling concluded with a landmark decision by the U.S. Supreme Court. On June 21, 1969, the American Society of Civil Engineers designated the bridge a National Engineering Landmark, and on July 4, 1976 the National Park Service designated it a National Historic Landmark. It has been described as the oldest vehicular suspension bridge still in operation. With a span in excess of 1,000, it was the longest suspension bridge in the world at the time of its erection, surpassing the Fribourg, Switzerland, Gran Pont Bridge (completed in 1834) by 114 feet. The Wheeling Suspension Bridge was the first bridge to effect a crossing of the Ohio River, one of the world's Busiest rivers. Its dramatic destruction by wind in 1854 provided engineers with the best object lesson in the aerodynamics of bridges until the collapse of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge in 1940.

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Railroad Machine Shop and Foundry, Grafton West Virginia

The Grafton Machine Shop walls are of rubble masonry construction two feet thick and were built of local sandstone from a nearby quarry. Overall, the structure measures 256 feet by 50 feet six inches (exterior dimensions) and is divided into three main sections. A central pavilion of two stories, (54 feet 9 inches x 59 feet 11 inches, external dimensions) five bays wide, projects slightly from both longitudinal walls. In typical Georgian fashion, its gable-end extends above the eaves to provide relief from the overall linearity of the structure. The upper floor of this section was used recently as office space and it is likely that that was its original function as well. An interior staircase - originally provided access to the offices, but this was later removed and replaced by an outside staircase added to the rear of the building. The organization of the interior space at the ground level was typical of foundry and machine shop practice of the period and was designed to permit convenient movement through the stages of the process itself. The eastern portion of the building now serves as a welding shop and was probably the location of the original foundry. Nothing remains of the original machinery, and a concrete floor covers all traces of the original organization. Two small blacksmith's forges, a boom crane, a large pair of shears and the base of an old steam hammer are the only remnants of a later stage of development. Since the foundry originally produced castings, it probably contained at least one reverberatory furnace or a cupola furnace (perhaps both). The furnace was probably housed in the small wing (16 feet x 21 feet 4 inches in diameter) projecting from the rear of the foundry. The interior of this space is open to the roof joists and there is no indication of its having been subdivided in height. It was here in the foundry that all repairs and new heavy-metal construction began. Since Grafton was later a major repair center, this work would have included boiler work, wheel and axle forging, and the manufacture of other large parts. Once components were cast or forged, they would have been taken to the machine shop for finishing. The machine shop occupied the remaining ground floor space of the building and is separated from the foundry by a heavy masonry wall. The machine shop contained the lathes, shapers, screw-cutters, planers and grinders necessary for finishing work. The heavy-timber frame which supported a system of line-belts and shafts for power transmission still remains, supported by metal columns 6 inches in diameter. The columns are probably later in date and the frame itself is independent of the roof trusses. Nothing remains to indicate the location of the original power source for this system, but an old photo shows that by 1876 a steam engine was located in a shed adjacent to the rear of the main building.

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Missouri Pacific Railway Depot, Wisner Louisiana

Economic development and a link to the outside world were the two main notions rural people associated with the railway at the end of the nineteenth century. Poor roads and the lack of navigable waterways had kept many small farmers, particularly in the ante-helium south, from reaching their full economic potential. This was especially the case in Louisiana where vast tracts of timber remained uncut and crops were primarily produced for local use. After the Civil War, however, the railroad made its way through the Louisiana countryside. Between about 1880 and 1910, some five thousand miles of mainline track were laid, opening sparsely populated areas to settlement. Small communities now had hope that if the railway came to their town, they would have economic prosperity and not just merely survival. This was likely the case for the present town of Wisner, Franklin Parish, Louisiana. The area embracing the railway at Wisner was first settled in about 1830 by a man named William Blunt. He purchased roughly 3,900 acres which became known as the Hope Estate Plantation. The land in time passed to heirs residing in Maryland who controlled the property via a local business manager. Unfortunately for Blunts' descendants, mismanagement resulted in the property's acquisition in 1876 by a New Orleans creditor. The Hope Estate Plantation eventually became known as Bryan City after it was sold at sheriffs sale in 1877 to a Mr. Bryan.

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Henry Marvin Yerington House, Carson City Nevada

Henry Marvin Yerington was born in Colburne, Ontario, Canada on September 5th 1829. In 1858 he married Susan Mary Hume, and in 1863 with his wife and two sons came to Carson City. At this time Yerington was- associated primarily with milling operations. He is listed in the 1868-69 Directory as Yerington, H.M., millman. He constructed the first flume for sending timber down from Lake Tahoe to the Carson Valley. By 1868 he was associated with the Virginia and Truckee Railroad, which was organized in March of that year, and drove the first and the last spikes for the V. and T, tracks from Virginia City to Carson City. In 1872, he was appointed General Superintendent of the V. & T. There were three sons and a daughter of this first marriage. The first Mrs. Yerington died in May 1874, and in 1887 Mr. Yerington married Clara Bender. There was one child, Henry Herbert, of this marriage. In 1876 Yerington became Vicepresident, as well as continuing to be General Superintendent, of the railroad. He was also largely responsible for the Carson and Colorado Railroad, which was completed in 1882 and sold to The Southern Pacific Company in 1900.

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Abraham Curry House, Carson City Nevada

This house vas built and lived in by the founder of Carson City, who was also the first Superintendent of the U.S. Mint at Carson. The house resembles much earlier prototypes and is largely in its original state. Abraham, Abram, or Abe, Curry was born in Ithaca, New York in 1815. Little is known of his early career, but by 1858 he was in Western Utah. In company with three other men, he came to Genoa in that year from California, intending to establish a general store there. Finding the price of land in Genoa too high, the four men - A. Curry, B.F. Green, Frank M. Procotr and J.J. Musser - rode a few miles north to Eagle Valley, then owned by John Mankin, who operated the Eagle Ranch. They asked Mankin the price, which was the same as a small lot in Genoa, and bought it from him for even less than his first asking.

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United States Post Office, Carson City Nevada

On January 5S 1885, the United States Senate passed a bill appropriating $100,000 for a public building in Carson City. Nevada Senators Stewart and Nye were largely responsible for the appropriation, and on page 278 of his Reminiscences, Stewart notes that he prevented the conversion of the Mint into a public building and secured mandatory legislation with an appropriation for the construction of the present Government Building at the capital. Several citizens of Carson City were then appointed as a commission to select an- appropriate site for the building. A protracted search, ensued, during which, time the not too distant city of Reno offered a Block appraised at $30,000 if the Building would be located there. Some three years after the original appropriation, work vas begun. Upon completion, the building was occupied by the Post Office, land office, United States Courts, and the Weather Bureau. In all, sixteen rooms were assigned to various agencies. As might be expected, the occupant most involved with affairs of a historic nature was the United States Court. Perhaps the most noted events the building witnessed were the trials relating to shortages in the refinery at the United States Mint: U.S. vs. Heney, James, December 1895, U.S. vs. Jones, John T., May I896, and U.S. vs. Piper, Henry,, March, 1896. The details of the trials are dealt with in the book Mint Mark CC. Suffice it to say here that the trials were conducted in the U.S. Federal Court presided over by Judge Thomas P. Hawley, and that all three men, former Mint employees, were found guilty. In all, some $75,000 had been taken from the Mint vaults.

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Blenheim Hotel, Atlantic City New Jersey

Four years after the Marlborough was completed, the Children's Seashore Home property across Ohio Avenue came up for sale. Popular tales recount that the owners offered the land to Josiah White and, when he was not interested, suggested that an amusement company would be glad to take the property. At that point, of course, White reappraised the situation and bought the property. In fact, the Marlborough Annex Company acquired the land, and in the summer, William Price, working as Price and McLanahan, Architects, was asked to make the plans for a new building. In the four years since the completion of the Marlborough, a number of significant events had occurred that shaped the new building. First, was the success of the Marl borough, demonstrating that the public's appetite for luxury was not diminished, and forcing White to demand a mode of construction that would have minimum impact on his clientele. Second, in 1902, a portion of Atlantic City was destroyed by a fire that wrecked White's own Luray Hotel and many others east of Kentucky Avenue. The danger of fire had been a serious concern of the resort industry for half a century, with three memorable fires in nearby Cape May to serve as reminder to the public. It could be anticipated that the new hotel would be of fireproof construction. The choice between steel and the new technology of reinforced concrete was resolved for the Blenheim by the danger of a steel strike in the Fall of 1905, and by Price's experience with reinforced concrete in the Jacob Reed's Sons' store of 1903-04 in Philadelphia. There, Price had demonstrated the material's appropriateness for public buildings—instead of restricting it to industrial design—and had found it to be a relatively quiet mode of construction, certainly less noisy than the riveted steel of contemporary practice.

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Marlborough Hotel, Atlantic City New Jersey

In 1900, nearly a half century after the Dennis was established, Josiah White, owner of the Luray Hotel and a Quaker, acquired the property of the school and the Convent of the Sacred Heart for a new hotel. That year, he retained Philadelphia Quaker William L. Price (1861 - 1916), previously designer of additions to the Luray as well as architect of the new dining room for White's cousin Daniel White's neighboring Traymore Hotel. Price had already established a reputation as a hotel architect with the chateau style Kennilworth Inn of 1890 at Asheville, North Carolina, which received much attention in the architectural press. During the last decade of the nineteenth century, Price's various firms provided plans for the additions to several Atlantic City hotels as well as another in Asbury Park, New Jersey in 1897. Price's decision to design a shingled chateau style hotel on the beach may seem something of an anomaly, particularly in light of his theories about the Kennilworth Inn, whose similar style was influenced by the mountainous site. The obvious conclusion is that the hotel's style was determined more by the now conventionalized use of the chateau style, which had spread from the Kennilworth to the 1892 wing of the Dennis, and beyond to Bruce Price's great Chateau Frontenac in Quebec. Moreover, the style had a significant advantage for the hotel's operation, for the variety of spaces and porches, and the hierarchy of spaces rising up into the great roof all made for a visual representation of status, emphasizing the social eminence of the guest as clearly as the various classes of accommodation on an ocean liner.

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Dennis Hotel, Atlantic City New Jersey

Of the three hotels the Dennis is the oldest by virtue of its succession to the buildings constructed on the property acquired by William Dennis just prior to the outbreak of the Civil War. After the war ended, the cottage was acquired by Joseph H. Borton, who extended it along Michigan Avenue. Although nothing of the original cottage survives, the early building had long lasting effects on the eventual hotel, determining by the location of its public rooms, the future development of the site. That first hotel was pictured in an engraving in Heston's Handbook of Atlantic City, 1892. It showed a threestory, L-shaped, frame structure with porches surrounding the Michigan Avenue front. The ell extended across the property and fronted on the lawn. The porches caused the volume of the hotel to be set back from the street, with the consequence that the later porchless Michigan Avenue extension did not line up with the earlier parts. A part of this 1870's building still remained in 1978, attached to the hotel by a short spur wing, its set back'from the demolished porches. Although the chamber partitions had been removed when the rear wing was converted to storage spaces leaving only the corridor walls and the original doorways, enough survives to give a sense of the accommodations. Rooms were a generous fifteen feet deep, but varied in width from seven to fifteen feet, in accordance with late nineteenth century standards. The contemporary Congress Hotel in Cape May, New Jersey, for example, had bedrooms that averaged nine by twelve feet, a far cry from current casino hotel requirements. Finishes were simple — sawed pine floors, plaster walls and ceilings, accented by broad, deeply shaped moldings around doors and windows.

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