Wednesday, December 26, 2012

The Stanley Steamer

" Full steam ahead! "

It was during the turn-of-the-century that the Stanley Motor Carriage Company first revved its engines and revolutionized mass transport by providing a reliable and affordable means of sputtering about for the public. The internal-combustion engine had been laden with mechanical difficulties since its birth in 1860 and would not be a practical means of transport until the mid 1910s, mainly due the difficulty the average Joe ( and Jane ) had in crank-starting it. 

In 1897, twin brothers Freelan Oscar and Francis Edgar Stanley developed the steam automobile into a commercially feasible business venture where others had failed. ( Although in England steam automobiles were in..well, full early as the 1870s. )

In 1895 the twins had retired after making a fortune developing the airbrush and a dry photographic plate coating process but being true inventors at heart they had always loved tinkering with the new and unusual. Their latest invention was a light and yet powerful steam vehicle built solely for their own use, but within a year they had received over 200 orders for custom built steam cars and an unexpected business had blossomed. 

The 1904 Stanley Steamer 

In the short span of a few years the Stanley Steamer became the premier steam car to own and quickly gained popularity among the wealthy. They remained the most popular automobile in America up until the mid 1910s when the introduction of the electric starter made the internal combustion engines a snap to start and Henry Ford's assembly-line built Model T's priced them out of the only 1/4 the price of a Stanley.  

The 1910 Stanley Steamer

During 25 years of production over 11,000 automobiles were produced by the Stanley Motor Carriage Company in 86 different models...a 7 passenger Touring, a 4 passenger Brougham, a 2 passenger Roadster among many others. 

The Stanley steam cars were affectionately known as "The Flying Teapots" for they were an efficient, economical and extremely fast mode of transportation capably of many feats too. In 1906 a Stanley Steamer set the record for the fastest mile in an automobile at 28.2 seconds ( 127 mph ) and it was not until 2009 that the speed record for steam-powered automobiles was a jet engine.

A 1903 Stanley Steamer at Daytona Beach

In 1899 Freeland O. Stanley and his wife Flora drove their Stanley-designed Locomobile up the 7.6 mile 4,725 foot vertical rise Mount Washington carriage road in two hours and 10 of the time it would take with a traditional horse-drawn stage. 

A 1912 Stanley Steamer Touring Car

Today there are still hundreds of little Stanley steamers in existence around the world, some of them fetching prices of up to $285,000. 

Monday, December 10, 2012

Letting Go to Keep All

"Ye shall serve the Lord your God, and He shall bless they bread and water."

Ex. xxiii 25

What I possess, or what I crave, 
  Brings no content, great God, to me, 
If what I would, or what i have, 
Be not possest, and blest, in Thee;
What I enjoy, O make it mine, 
In making me that have it, Thine. 

Offer up to God all pure affections, desires, regrets, and all the bonds which link us to home, kindred, and friends, together with all our works, purposes, and labors. These things, which are not only lawful, but sacred, become then the matter of thanksgiving and oblation. Memories, plans for the future, wishes, intentions; works just begun, half done, all but completed; emotions, sympathies, affections, - all these things throng tumultuously and dangerously in the heart and will. The only way to master them is to offer them up to Him, as once ours, under Him, always His by right. 

H. E. Manning

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Walt Disney's The Scarecrow of Romney Marsh

"On the southern coast of England, there's a legend people tell of days long ago when the great Scarecrow would ride from the jaws of hell...and laugh with a fiendish yell" 

In 1964, "Dr.Syn: The Scarecrow of Romney Marsh" debuted on The Wonderful World of Color and kiddies all across America and Britain were glued to their television sets to watch the burlap masked avenger of justice ride through Romney Marsh in the dark of night cackling like a banshee. 

The haunting Scarecrow was a folk-hero to the villagers of the sleepy hamlet. They were being grossly overtaxed by King George III and the menfolk were being shanghaied into naval service by press-gangs until whoosh! out of the night rode a savior - a smuggler in fact - named Scarecrow. Robbing from caravans and merchant ships laden with gold en route to the King, the Scarecrow and his henchmen mercilessly pillared their booty to distribute to the poor folk of the parish of Romney Marsh. 

Only his closet associates Hellspite and The Curlew knew that Scarecrow was in fact Dr. Christopher Syn ( Patrick McGoohan ), the vicar of the local parish. 

Unlike Walt Disney's other television series which spanned across twenty or more 1/2 hour episodes, The Scarecrow of Romney Marsh was structured more like a mini-series and aired in three 1 hour parts. On December 1963 "Dr. Syn, Alias the Scarecrow" a 98 minute feature film version was released in theaters across the pond and here in the States in 1975 ( yes, there was a 12 year delay ). 

Doctor Syn was originally conceived by Russell Thorndike who wrote the novel on the renegade priest turned pirate in 1915 in a book titled "Dr. Syn: A Tale of Romney Marsh". His character is murdered at the end of this novel but he was resurrected from the dead in 1935 and made the dark hero of in another six books. It was the 1960 novel "Christopher Syn" written by American author William Buchanan that caught the eye of Walt Disney who instantly saw its story potential and cleaned it up a bit for his use on his Wonderful World of Color program.

Sparing no expense he sent director James Neilson, a camera crew and a top-notch English cast including George Cole, Tony Britton, Kay Walsh, Michael Hordern and Geoffrey Keen to film on location at Romney Marsh, located in the southeast of England in the county of Kent.

For years "The Scarecrow of Romney Marsh" has been a very difficult program to come by but recently Walt Disney Studios released a magnificently restored collector's edition to the public apart of the Walt Disney Treasures collection. Chock full of special extras such as a featurette about Dr.syn's origins, an introduction by Leonard Maltin, and the making of the television series, it is a wonderful addition to any collection but it's extortionate price it's a DVD not many can afford. 

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The Age of Not Believing

When you rush around in hopeless circles, 
Searching ev'rywhere for someplace true, 
You're at the age of not believing, 
When all the "make believe" is through. 

When you set aside your childhood heroes, 
And your dreams are lost upon a shelf, 
You're at the age of not believing, 
And worst of all, you doubt yourself. 

You're a castaway where no one hears you, 
On a barren isle in a lonely sea, 
Where did all the happy endings go? 
Where can all the good times be? 

You must face the age of not believing, 
Doubting ev'rything you ever knew, 
Until at last you start believing, 
there's something wonderful...
Truly wonderful in you. 

These lyrics were written by the wonderful song-writing team of Robert and Richard Sherman for the 1971 Walt Disney production "Bedknobs and Broomsticks". It was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Song and although it did not win ( "Theme from Shaft" won ) it remains one of the highlights of the movie and just as noteworthy a song over 40 years later, for it puts into words feelings we all have had at one time or another in our life. 

When "Mary Poppins" was in production in 1963 there were doubts that author P.L. Travers would give the studio clearance to finish the project and so as a back-up plan Walt Disney had his staff working on an adaption of another well-known English children's book classic "The Magic Bedknob" by Mary Norton. This project got placed on the back-burner while Mary Poppins pushed ahead, but after Walt's death "Bedknobs and Broomsticks" was put back in the spotlight again in 1969. 

"The Age of Not Believing" was a somewhat self-introspective song for the Sherman Brothers for they were going through a period when they began to doubt their ability to continue their song-writing success without Walt's guidance. The lyrics of the song perfectly capture a feeling we have all experienced in life....doubting one's self and one's abilities. 

When Angela Lansbury is singing this lovely tune it is aimed at Charlie, the 14 year old cockney boy, who is very self-assured and doesn't believe in magical things like flying beds. At the same time though, this song can be applied to all of us at any age in life. We all go through rough periods where the sun is hiding behind the clouds and we can't see the light at the end of the tunnel. We wonder "where did all the happy endings go? where can all the good times be?" 

In "Bedknobs and Broomsticks" we even see Miss Eglantine Price ( Angela Lansbury ) pausing for a moment to reflect on her doubts and her ambitions when she felt she had failed England by not creating the Substitutiary Locomotion spell in time for the war effort. 

The Sherman Brothers went on to create many more beautiful songs after this era in their life, proving that they overcame their "age of not believing".....just as we all do sooner or later. All we need is a little bit of faith. 

Sunday, October 14, 2012

The World of Doctor Dolittle

" This is the world of Doctor Dolittle...the wonderful world of Doctor Dolittle. Where crocodiles talk, and elephants sing and animals do most any old thing. Where polar bears wear top hats, and leopards with spots wear spats. "  

In 1967, 20th Century Fox released Richard Fleischer's epic musical "Doctor Dolittle" starring Rex Harrison as the inimitable animal doctor who travels the world to find the Giant Pink Sea Snail. Samantha Eggar, Anthony Newley and William Dix join our animal-talking doctor on his voyage of discovery, while the renowned music composer Leslie Brucisse weaved melodic melodies throughout the film. 

Although Doctor Dolittle grossed over $9 million dollars at the box-office, it was technically a financial fiasco since it cost over $18 million to produce ( yikes! )... most of this cost was spent in bad location decisions and care for the animals. One of the most costliest mistakes was in trying to send a crew of animals to England in the first place....quarantine procedures made this impossible and so they had to scout for animals in England instead. 

The "world" of Doctor Dolittle consisted mainly of Puddleby-on-the-Marsh, an idyllic stone front English village and Sea-star Island, the resting place for the elusive giant sea snail. Unlike most Walt Disney films of the time that utilized stunning painted matte bakdrops by Peter Ellenshaw, Doctor Dollittle was actually filmed on lcoation. 

The village of Castle Combe, located in southwestern England was transformed into the town of Puddleby-on-the-Marsh, complete with fisherman skiffs and the picturesque church tower. They took so long filming in Castle Combe that even the residents were relived when they left. They wanted all the villager's aerials to be taken down from their roofs ( for authenticity's sake )....what a bore being without TV!


Sea-star island on the other hand is quite a difficult island to drifts along with the prevailing currents. In reality though it was Saint Lucia, the tropical paradise located in the heart of the Caribbean. Most of the island scenes were filmed at Marigot Bay, where today you can still find the Pink Snail Champagne Bar at the Marigot Bay Hotel in honor of the film's location shooting. 

At the time, many of the residents of the tiny oasis weren't all that proud of the snail....they were sick due to a G.I epidemic caused by the freshwater snails and were so mad that they even threw rocks at the giant sea-snail prop. Poor snail! Good thing he had his shell on snug and tight. 

One of my favorite "locations" in Doctor Dolittle was not really a location at was The Flounder, the doctor's striped-sailed full-rigged wooden sailing ship. Decked out in flamboyant fashion not unlike his Puddleby home, it was complete with a kitchen, dining room, library, window garden and all his scientific equipment. 

When we watch Doctor Dolittle we are transported to a world of "fantasy, a world we long to see" realm of Victorian whimsy. Even though I can not talk to animals, it would be nice to join the Doctor in his world. 

Friday, September 7, 2012

The Baron TV Series

This is John Mannering aka The Baron - a dashing American antiques dealer with shops in London, Paris and Boston. A debonair man-of-the-world with smoldering blue eyes, an impeccable wardrobe, and lots of money...always a drawing feature.

When a jewel-encrusted Fabr├Ęge carriage sculpture gets stolen from his London shop and smuggled across to Europe, he calls on the police for help, but the police are unable to help him. The thief happens to work for an embassy and acts as courier for a European nation, and as such is under protection of "diplomatic immunity". This hasn't been the first art theft though, and the police are anxious to put a stop to them and recover the stolen goods. Now where could the police find a man who'd be willing to track down these villains at his own risk, denying any relation to the government? Why, John Mannering of course!! The famous antiques dealer is probably just as anxious as the police to recover his stolen property and see that these criminals are behind bars.

Mr. Templeton-Green ( Colin Gordon ), a representative of the British Secret Service ( our Bond-type boss,"M" ) approaches him with this delicate subject and is pleased to find out that the Baron is tickled pink with the idea.

And so our hero begins his first mission - find out who is behind these thefts, put a stop to them, and recover the stolen merchandise. Equipped with a rather simple selection of SS spy tools, a ticket on the first plane out of London and the name of a contact to meet, the Baron sets forth.

This premier episode of The Baron is rather unusual in that he is "assigned" his mission. The subsequent adventures he tends to just stumble upon......

"Wait! Wait! Wait!, " says you, " Premier episode? I thought this was a movie you were describing. What are you talking about here? "

Good point! says I. A brief introduction shall be layed at your feet, but first let me finish the sentence...

.....stumble upon, rather like the Saint. 

The Baron was a television series that ran for one season ( 1966-1967 ) and featured Steve Forrest as the lead character, John Mannering, a wealthy Texas cattle baron turned international antiques dealer. ITC, one of Britain's leading television companies and developer of such hits series as Danger Man, The Thunderbirds, and The Saint, produced The Baron. This series was different from their prior ones, because it featured an American in the lead, and it was filmed in color! ( Making it the first British drama series to do so. )

Filmed in and around London, it featured action-packed tales of intrique, murder, and other notorious tv crimes....not always revolving around the art world though. Most of the villianous opponents spring from the high-society realm of the big city, but he occasionally ventures to more exotic locales like South America, Yugoslavia, Switzerland, and Paris ( only through film clips mind you. The show didn't have that big a budget ) to fight crime. Our man Mannering tends to "just happen" to be there when his help is needed, or as is often the case, acquaintances look him up and ask for his assistance in dealing with their troubles. In many of the episodes he is contacted by Mr.Templeton-Green to assist in a government matter - on the sly of course.

If you are unfamiliar with this series ( as I was ) then its a good idea to watch the first episode before you start on the others. It clears things up a bit. The Baron teams up with Cordelia Winfield ( Susan Lloyd, "The Impress File" ) on many of his adventures and sometimes with his assistant David Marlowe (Paul Feriss ), both of whom provide ample support for Mannering in solving his capers. The show also featured top talent like Bernard Lee, Edward Woodward, Lois Maxwell, Sylvia Syms, Yvonne Furneaux, and Jeremy Brett as well as the usual round of British tv character actors.

I wouldn't say the series was as entertaining as The Avengers or The Prisoner, but the episodes are easy to follow and include lots of action, and Steve Forrest's portrayal of The Baron is very engaging. He gives the character a certain American air - like preferring good ol' fisticuffs to automatic weapons when fighting the bad guys - while retaining that English elegance that makes other tv heros, such as John Steed and the Saint, so appealing. Driving around in his sporty silver Jensen CV8 Mark II ( equipped with a car phone ), and travelling to international locales for secret spy work, makes one think of him as a rather small-screen James Bond. But don't expect him to be as flirtatious with the women...the Baron is a tough guy. 

Unfortunately, the show only lasted one season, which was released on DVD a few years ago. I can't help thinking the show could of been a tiny bit better but I haven't figured out just how. The acting talent is there, the plots are good, the scenery nice ( if you like drabby fall weather in the U.K ), so what's missing? I don't know. It doesn't really matter though, its good enough ..... and compared to some of the stuff that's playing on tv these days, its very entertaining.

Friday, August 31, 2012

The Willys-Overland Station Wagon

During the mid-1940s one of the most talented industrial designers was harkened by Willys-Overland Motors to design the newest model in their fleet of utilitarian vehicles planned for the everyday working consumer. His name was Brooks Stevens and the automobile he designed was the Willys Jeep Station Wagon. 

The Toledo-based manufacturing firm of Willys-Overland created the "Jeep" in 1941 - the first off-road four-wheel drive vehicle designed for the rough and tough day-to-day driving by American soldiers in every branch of the service during World War II. Originally known as the Bantam BRC-40 reconnaissance car it got it's nickname "jeep" by soldiers who dubbed it after Eugene the Jeep, Popeye the sailor man's jungle pet, who was "small, able to move between dimensions and could solve seemingly impossible problems". 

Willys-Overland Motors, teamed with Ford, churned out over 600,00 Bantams and when the war was over many of the young men, having been accustomed ( and impressed ) with its heavy-duty performance purchased their own "jeeps" for work use back in the States. 

It was in 1945 however that Willys-Overland hired Brooks Stevens, one of the most talented industrial designers of the 1940s, to design a station wagon that they could market to the mass....a vehicle for families that was both safe, sturdy, and reliable. A work-horse for the public. 

In the summer of 1946, fresh from the factory rolled out the all-new Willys-Overland Jeep Station Wagon "463". It was built with an all-steel body ( some had wood side-panel fronts to give them more of a "rustic" appearance ), a small four-cylinder engine and a very eye-appealing design. 

In 1948, the 663 model came out powered by a Lightning straight-six engine and the following year saw the first four-wheel drive model designed. The Willys-Overland was fast becoming one of the world's first popular sports utility vehicles. 

In 1950, the 473 got a new engine, the F-134 Hurricane, and a delivery van was added to the collection. While the station wagon continued to made up until 1965, it was finally dropped due to the introduction of the superior Jeep Wagoneer. 

One of the later year models had a starring role in Stanley Donen's 1963 comedy epic "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World" where it was driven by 'Colonel Hawthorne' ( English comic Terry-Thomas ) en route to the Big W at Santa Rosita Park. 

Steven's design was wonderful - not only did the station wagon look great on a farm, or a beach, or in the Claifornia desert..but even at the entrance to a stately manor it held its own and "belonged". Today it is relatively easy to come across a station wagon, but with its all-metal body, good luck finding one that isn't rusted through! 

Monday, August 6, 2012

Whittier Words of Wisdom

" Yet Love will dream and Faith will trust
Since He who knows our need is just,
That somehow, somewhere, meet we must.
Alas for him who never sees
The Stars shine through his cypress trees;
Who hath not learned in hours of faith,
The truth to flesh and sense unknown,
That life is ever Lord of Death,
And Love can never lose its own. "

                                                J.G. Whittier

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Captain Nemo's Submarine - The Nautilus

Ahoy Mateys!

Captain Nemo's underwater mechanical marvel, The Nautilus, as featured in Walt Disney's "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea", is our featured interior this week because it is a wonderous example of Jules Verne inspired "Steampunk" set design.

"20,000 Leagues Under the Sea" was released in 1954 and was a bonanza at the box-office. It won an Academy Award for its stunning special effects ( including all those underwater diving sequences ) and for its Color Art Direction. Which as you can see below, it justly deserved.

John Meehan, the art director for this film had won 3 Academy Awards in his career for such beautiful films as Sunset Boulavard, and The Heiress. During the late 1950s he turned to television set design and worked on Alfred Hitchcock Presents, The Millionaire, Soldiers of Fortune and Leave It To Beaver.

Working alongside with him on "20,000 Leagues" was Emile Kuri, a very well known set decorator of numerous Walt Disney features. This was the beginning of his long association with the studio, but prior to this film he had worked as set decorator on many, many fine pictures : It's A Wonderful Life, I Remember Mama, A Place in the Sun, Fancy Pants, A Place in the Sun, War of the Worlds, Carrie, Shane, etc, etc.

Emile Kuri will be featured in a blog entirely devoted to him, right now let's begin our grand tour of the Nautilus....

The Structure of the Nautilus

The Nautilus had three different levels : the first containing the workings of the ship ( the ballasts, pump room, and power supply ) as well as the Outfitting Room and Diving Chamber. This is where Captain Nemo and his blue crew would prepare themselves for sojourns beyond the Nautilus, such as underwater hunting expeditions, outer hull repairs, and those not-too-uncommon burials at sea.

The middle level contained the Galley, where delictable delights such a Seaweed Salad were prepared for Nemo and his guests, as well as the Passenger Cabins. For common "seaman" this was nothing more than a bunk and washstand in a room enclosed with pipes, but for more distinguished guests ( such as the Professor ) it was quite decorative with a wood carved bed, mahoghany desk, and even pictures on the wall. Ooohh.

The Main Dining Room
Above was the main level where the arsenel ( complete with underwater spear guns ), chart room, salon, and Captain Nemo's cabin were placed. The Salon was the plush living room/dining room of the Nautilus. It was decorated in the traditional style of the Victorian era - ornamental rugs, rich red velour sofa seats and drapes, miniature statuettes and water fountains, and in place of the common upright piano, a mighty organ graced the room.

In the center of the salon was a display case which might of included specimens from some of Captain Nemo's hunting expeditions. And beyond this was the grand feature of the salon - the circular viewing window. Although Nemo had works of art scattered throughout the Nautilus this viewing window showed the most beautiful picture of all : the wonderous world of the deep.

The Captain's Quarters

But even though the Nautilus was a beautiful submarine throughout ( albeit a bit overly iron ) the BEST decorated room of all was Captain Nemo's very own quarters. After all, it was his ship so why not have the best suite?

This lovely room was cheerful and yet quite masculine in style. Nemo slept on a traditional sea captain's bed which was a single bed atop numerous drawers ( something we all should use ). He had a magnificently ornate writing desk, a globe of the world at hand, and a map of his world - the underwater world - hanging opposite his desk.

Captain Nemo's Room
If one was to step into this room one would never even think they were at sea. On days when Nemo would be feeling remorse and regret for the life he chose he could sit in his cabin and be transported once again to his home in England when he enjoyed peace and contentment, prior to his wife and children's accident.

James Mason and Paul Lukas
And finally, to conclude our tour of the Nautilus is the wheel house ( shown in the topmost photo ). No ship would be complete without a wheelhouse, the only place where a captain feels truly in command and can overlook his domain.

For the making of  "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea" several different sized models of the Nautilus were made. A full-scale replica was built for the filming of the interior sequences. Shortly after the film was released, a 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea attraction opened at Disneyland. Visitors could see the largest of models on display, read about Nemo's important scientific research he was conducting, walk thru a replica of the sets used in the film, and awe at the giant squid about to attack your sub....all for only 10 cents.

Disneyland's 20,000 Exhibition
The exhibit existed from 1955-1966 and was a pleasant addition to the Submarine Voyage ride at Disneyland, where you could journey through Nemo's deep blue sea too in miniature versions of the Nautilus just like he did. Unfortunately that ride ( and the one that was built in Walt Disney World ) have both been closed down, due to a lack of modern Victorian voyagers.

The Main Salon, from the 20,000 Leagues Exhibit
The original organ used for the film can still be seen though, at the Haunted Mansion ride at Disneyland. Duplicates exist at the Walt Disney Worlds of  Orlando, Paris and Toyko ( where by golly, Nautilus rides are still popular ).

The mighty organ that played those eeeeerie tunes

Six years after "Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea" premiered another version of The Nautilus was designed for Ray Harryhausen's adventure extravaganza "Mysterious Island" starring Gary Merrill, Joan Greenwood, and Michael Callan and Herbert Lom as our mysterious Captain Nemo. This one designed by art director Bill Andrews. The design of the ship was obviously copied off of 20,000 Leagues because the main lounges are very similiar in style. The "working" part of the ship was different though and included an aquarium where Nemo demonstrated a method of how the stranded passengers could rescue a sunken pirate ship and return to civilization.

Herbert Lom, as Captain Nemo in "Mysterious Island"
Numerous versions of Jules Verne's adventures featuring Captain Nemo have been brought to film, some as early as 1910. And each one of them had a unique stylization of the Nautilus, but I think Walt Disney's was the best because it captured perfectly the vision a Victorian would have of the Future in design. What's known today as "Steampunk" ( another topic we'll cover later mateys ).

The Outfitting Room of the Nautilus as seen in
Mysterious Island (1929 ) with Lionel Barrymore

** Note** : This was just a reprint of a post that I wrote back in January for my "Drafting a Design" blog. I've been too pooped to post lately..but I'll come up with something fresh soon.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Silverbanks Pictures is Launched!

Weeee!! It's finally here! It's finally started! 

"What's finally started?" says you. 
" Silverbanks Pictures!" says I. 

Okay, let me start from the beginning. Way way back in March, my sister and I decided to - and wanting to start a business that we would enjoy doing and as well as one that would give us the opportunity ( and I must say, the pleasure ) of staying home, we hit upon the idea of being movie photo dealers. 
One of the many original stills we'll be selling in the near future.
We purchased several hundred stills and 8x10 reproductions, and now after 3 long months  we've finally launched our "official" website....

Here's a peek-a-boo at the site : 

It's not really looking the way we want it to just yet, and we haven't posted many stills in our store ( okay, we haven't posted ANY yet ) but we're happy for now. Check out our eBay store HERE to see more of our merchandise. It's really more of a blog than a e-commerce store, and hopefully it will remain that way. Later on, we'll be adding more whistles and bells and downloadable freebies. I just couldn't wait to get the word "out there"..floating about in cyberspace, so I'm doing my barking bit early. 

Monday, June 18, 2012

An Armchair Traveler's Favorite Quote

Imagination is as good as many voyages - and how much cheaper.  

                                                                                       - George Curtis

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Kingwood Gardens

We haven't gone on a tour of the Great North ( northern Ohio, that is ) in quite a while so today's blog mateys is going to be about Kingwood Manor. One of my favorite public gardens. This  beautiful French Normandy styled estate is situated among 47 acres of lovely, lush gardens, right smack in the heart of Mansfield, Ohio...about 70 miles north of Columbus. 

Kingwood Manor was built in 1926 for Mr. and Mrs. Charles Kelley King who made his fortune working in Mansfield with the Ohio Brass Company. He started as one of their first electrical engineers in 1926, and later led the company into new ventures ( such as manufacturing electrical fittings for trolleys ) until he eventually became President of the Ohio Brass Company. 

The estate was designed by prominent Cleveland architect Charles Mack, who made quite a name for himself creating beautiful homes in Shaker Heights and Lakewood. Later on, he moved to Palm Beach, Florida and made his stamp on the architecture of that lovely city as well.

A year after his wife passed away in 1952, Mr. Charles King dedicated Kingwood Manor as a public garden.

Dedication Ceremony, 1953
Much of the house remains unchanged from the late 1920s. It is open to the public for tours ( at $1 per person ) and contains, in one of its upstairs rooms, the horticultural library of Mr. King.

Today Kingwood Center continues to thrive as a educational and cultural center with special emphasis on ornamental horticulture and gardening. It is open to the public from April 14 through October 14. The gardens are FREE and there is a $5 ( per car ) parking fee. 

Take a drive out there and enjoy this beautiful landmark!

Located at 900 Park Avenue West, Mansfield, Ohio.