A campus commitment to stone

My Arth 101 students did a homework assignment right before the break about one of our campus commonalities — repetitions of gable-shapes from building to building across a century. Our dominant material is a brick some of the campus sources call Oxford Red. Virginia Tech started with stone quarried on campus, but have always stayed in the region. It’s one way to create a coherent campus.

In 1899, masons hired by Tech first cut “our native stone,” as it was called then, from quarries adjacent to the campus. From it builders constructed what is now known as the Performing Arts Building.
After the turn of the century, administrators hoped to raise the profile of the fledgling college using limestone and collegiate Gothic architecture found at great European universities.
In this way, Virginia Agricultural and Mechanical College would raise structures “worthy to shelter a great educational institution,” President Joseph Eggleston said in 1914.

It probably started off being cheaper (since it cut down on transportation costs, which are always enormous). Nowadays their commitment costs them about $1 million for every building with a stone skin.

Preserving a bridge at Letchworth

Letchworth State Park
Not far west of Geneva the Genesee River flows through a spectacular gorge now called Letchworth State Park. One of the standard sights of the park is an active railroad bridge. Norfolk Southern wants to build a modern bridge and take it down, not preserve it as a pedestrian bridge. They’re budgeting $1 million to take it down. The preservationists think it might cost $1-2 to preserve it. The views of the bridge are spectacular (that’s not my picture, by the way – I’ve only been once and can’t find my pictures!). Some folks, as the article tells us, are crazy enough to dodge trains and walk out ON the bridge. I went to Flickr to see if I could find any of those views, but my cursory search didn’t turn up any.
I have to say I was a skeptic about the Walnut Street Bridge in Chattanooga, but that’s been a wonderful thing. On the other hand, the Walnut Street Bridge is in the middle of town, and this is off in the country. There’s no way enough individual donors in Upstate New York will raise money for the restoration, and the state certainly can’t afford it. It will be a very great pity to see this bridge go.
I was interested by the aesthetic reaction of some of the people at the preservation meeting. When shown renderings of the current bridge with the new concrete bridge 75 feet away they thought it just wouldn’t feel right to have the old bridge remain.
Terrifying last sentence: “The current bridge was built in 53 days, 10 years after the Civil War ended.” 53 days? Yikes!
What do you think, Bruce?

I’m happy to be in Upstate New York for the winter . . .

. . . especially when I contemplate having to carry gold to get through Spring 2012 in Rome: British embassies in the eurozone have been told to draw up plans to help British expats through the collapse of the single currency, amid new fears for Italy and Spain.
You know, I haven’t taken so much as a travelers check with me to Europe in the last decade. Maybe the old days of running into people you know while standing in line at the American Express office near the Spanish Steps is about to return?

Revelations of right-sidedness

I own a right-handed coffee maker.
You see, I’m having a little flare up of my old repetitive stress problem. This often happens toward the end of a semester when I’ve been on the computer far too much and taken too little time to do other things. I popped some ibuprofen, got a cold-wrap out of the freezer, and am using my right hand as little as possible.
But I had to pour water into the coffee maker.
I live alone, so I never fill the reservoir unless I have guests. On weekends I usually make more coffee than on weekdays, so I have to pour more than usual. For both reasons I need to be able to watch the water-level indicator while I’m pouring in water. The indicator is on the right side of the coffee maker – and is so subtly colored that I ended up turning the whole machine around so the carafe faced the wall so I could pour left-handed and see the water level.
My heart goes out to you, sinister friends (Fr. B first on the list). We rightists do underestimate the accident of our biological privilege!

Bronze Age Hoard

A really good example of a metal detectorist going to the Finds Liaison Officer with one piece but leaving the hoard in the ground for archeologists to work on! 2 photos and video at the link.
The hoard will go on local display for about a week. Neat!


The next nine days represent a chance for anyone whose pulse is quickened by amazing archaeology to see the finds before all the inquisitions and fundraising drives to keep it in the area begin.
“Basically it was going to be sitting in the museum anyway while we wait to take it to the British Museum. It could sit in store or go on display,” explains Green pragmatically.
“If we don’t put it out now then no-one’s going to get to see it until probably the middle of next year.
“Personally, as an outsider, I find it quite frustrating that you hear about these hoards but you don’t get a chance to see them before they go off to the experts. This is a chance to actually see the objects while the process is happening.”