You may not find this terribly rewarding unless you're included here, so this is a good time for casual and random browsers to turn back before they get too caught up in the sweep and majesty of the proceedings and can't let go.
Strolling about town, camera in hand -- for pretty photos and some mild exercise
Reacquainting ourselves after a long summer away. We've recently returned 'home' (that still sounds a little unfamiliar) to Staunton after a nearly four months' sojourn in the Wisconsin Northwoods, and we're reassured to find it as beautiful a downtown, for the most part, as we ever did.
We're out at a fairly early hour, 17 October 2021, to revisit some of our favorites -- like this view of the venerable Masonic building up the alley next to the Pufferbellies toy store.
And this view of the high street, Beverley St., from the Clocktower looking east towards the Gospel Hill historic district -- on non-winter weekends, the town fathers bollard off four blocks of Beverley for restaurants to spill out onto the streets. There are a lot of them, but many are not yet set up this early for the anticipated hordes.
A bank on N. Central and W. Frederick, with what has always struck us as a security post with 360° sniper positions.
During this summer, our newish town council cancelled the curbside recycling pickups, for cost reasons, but no worries! they've established the town's own recycling centre right here in a parking lot of the Gypsy Hill Park.
It's a little . . . unprepossessing, to be honest. It's been getting good marks from our neighbors, though.
It is reassuring to see that, if the radical commie Democrats ever come after us to take away our Second Amendment bumper stickers and Marxist Big Bird puppets, the local government's got our backs.
These things may look a little out of place in a peaceful setting, but when the time comes they could prove to be very useful.
It's the next day, 18 October, and the trees are finally beginning to turn colors at last.
That's the Michael B. Tusing Gallery on N. Market St., next to the Temple House of Israel downhill and Mary Baldwin University up to the left. Former Pres. Woodrow Wilson's presidential library is just 130m up the hill behind.
The Golden Tub Bath Shop on E. Beverley
Looking farther west along Beverley, including the Laughing Bird Pho Vietnamese restaurant (bluish shopfront), which unfortunately has just closed in November 2021 so that one of the owners can return to graduate school.
This venerable building on N. Augusta St. is presently a laundry and dry cleaning service.
That majestic turreted building and grounds is just two blocks over on N. Lewis St., and always looks a bit mysterious; in fact, it's a single family residence first built in 1863.
Back on N. Augusta, this elegant well-chimneyed litte house is two doors down from the Ebenezer Baptist Church and across the street from the DuPont Credit Union.
401 N. Augusta, between the above building and the Augusta St. United Methodist Church (1876, remodeled in 1911 by T. J. Collins) up on the right
Station 1 on N. Augusta, the main station of Staunton's Fire Department, also hosts a small museum that's 'home to Jumbo, the oldest motorized fire engine in Virginia and the only remaining 1911 Robinson fire engine'.
Across the street, this is an interesting old building at 505 N. Augusta, with aged, disused signs on the sides for 'Ronen Clock Shop', and on the left, the Mount Zion Baptist Church, 1911, by the legendary T. J. Collins, the mainspring of Staunton's architectural wonders in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
Staunton's excellent Public Library resides on the corner of Churchville Ave. and N. Augusta St., and is said to be in what was once the Thomas Jefferson Elementary School, dating from 1916.
A reminder on the street corner that this is a library -- it's a brilliant iron sculpture by Willy Ferguson (1949-2016), who also created the huge, iconic watering can and flowerpots at the southeastern entrance to the downtown.
Here follow a few shots from the next day, 19 October 2021, on a little toddle up the Reservoir Hill, just 700m from our place, overlooking Gypsy Hill Park down the far side. We're at the top of Alleghany Ave.
In our view, this has a pleasing storybook or fairy tale cottage look to it.
The tree that commandeered the neighborhood
This is called the Reservoir Hill Park, perhaps 100m higher than the downtown, a grassy slightly-rounded top on it and a serious communications tower.
As well as this enigmatic structure, with no doors on it, but something on top. A guess might be that in olden days there really was a cistern built here for distributing water under pressure down the hill into town, and that that goofy-looking thing might be the air-vent to allow water to flow out. (We've just been rumorfied, though, that there was an open pond here, in use into the 1960s or '70s, for the fire department just down the hill.)
That's the Betsy Bell hill with a convenient hiking path to a lookout at the top, whence on our shorter walks we can gaze out over the Walmart Supercentre, Lowe Home Improvement store, and Chick-fil-A.
We're descending the Reservoir Hill southward down N. Jefferson St.
A mysterious little two-window tower at the top of the house, 20 N. Jefferson St.
Briefly along W. Frederick St. between N. Jefferson and N. Madison
A cosy alcove along the Madison St. side of the First Baptist Church
A classic portentous corner tower, on the corner of N. Madison and W. Beverley
An aging flag that has just given up
The Grace Covenant Church on W. Beverley Street . . .
. . . confident that the Good Lord has a plan for each of us. But keeping a little armed security on the premises [ or 'premesis'] still seems like a good idea.
305 W. Beverley, classic Staunton polygonal tower and veranda
The length of Beverley St., the main drag, from near the front of the old Trinity Church, and just on the left . . .
. . . there is this fine looking edifice presently occupied by a variety of artistically oriented studios and school, 217 W. Beverley facing the old Trinity Episcopal Church. It was Staunton's first permanent public school, the 'Stonewall Jackson School', ca. 1887 and remodeled by T. J. Collins in 1913. ['President-elect Woodrow Wilson stood here to watch a parade in his honor in 1912.']
That's our mail pickup in the Old Y lobby, featuring a new painting since we've been away.
It's by June Jordan, who lives just upstairs in the Old Y, and whose pictures, mostly of Staunton views, many as seen from here in the building, are exhibited all over.
This one, just up the stairs from our floor, is one of my favorites.
One thing that Staunton, for all its charms, is badly deficient in is public outdoor benches -- there are a few in a couple of parks, odds and ends here and there, but there are vast unused greenswards around all the empty bank carparks splashed in a sorrowful row along 300 metres of N. Central Ave. But this spot is a favorite: it's at the top of a small hill in the upper part of the Mary Baldwin University campus (the flag is halfmasted for Colin Powell), and they seem not to mind at all when outsiders crash the party with a restful book.
The buildings up here date from the Staunton Military Academy (1884-1976), the facilities of which were purchased by Mary Baldwin, which explains the nostalgic anti-aircraft souvenir in the photo above.
2021 Election Special
Since the recent elections there have been binfuls of speculation about how the Democrats came to be hammered by the local Rightists in Virginia. Amongst many other reasons, this sort of thing may have had something to do with it --
One has received this poster-size notice in the post (no envelope) from the Democratic Party of Virginia, remonstrating with us for falling behind in our voting scorecard and warning that we will be checked up on after this election. Two of our near neighbors in our building have been graced with an A+, but we have only come in at C+. With all due respect on matters of campaign hamfisted incompetence, we can note the irony that we have in fact voted in every election since arriving in the USA, and that we had early-voted at the City Hall three hours before receiving this in the mail. Way to go, Dems.
What's next, then? Another Staunton walkabout, this time mostly in the historic Wharf District