An Historic Edge

The edge of the roof on St John’s Anglican Church, Lunenburg, Nova Scotia. 

Some of you may remember that this lovely lady suffered a devastating fire onHallowe’en  night, 2001. This site has been a place of worship ever since the Town of Lunenburg was settled in 1753.  It would have been an easy decision to tear down what remained, and build a spanking new church in its place. So, it is a great credit to the community (of the church, the town, the province and the country) that the decision was taken to do the right thing – not the easy thing. Instead, a massive and completely sympathetic restoration  was undertaken and completed in 2005.  

And here she stands. Lovely on a foggy September evening. 

Academic Reflection

“There are two ways of spreading light: to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it” – Edith Wharton

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One of the beautiful buildings surrounding Harvard Yard is reflected in a window of the Harvard Memorial Church.  The church stands at one end of the Yard, opposite the Widener Library – to dramatic effect.

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Photos were taken in 2014 as I wandered the grounds. I felt smarter just standing there!  And looking at these photos makes me feel it’s time for another visit.

WPC – Mirror

An Admirable Restoration Project

Okay.  So I admit we didn’t do all the research we probably should have done before heading off on a short holiday in Curacao a couple of weeks ago.  And, yes, we regret that lack of research. No doubt, we’d have seen some things, or taken in some events that would have even further enhanced our visit.

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Instead we just arrived on the island and followed our noses as tourists.  And that has some value, too.    One unexpected, unresearched surprise happened while we were wondering around the Otrobanda quarter of Willemsted.  We turned a corner and discovered the Kura Hulanda Museum complex.

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This complex is an exquisitely resorted group of 15 buildings and their accompanying streets, alleys and public squares.  It now houses a “village spa and hotel” (complete with the casino which almost seems to be a required feature in the major hotels of Curacao), coffee shops, restaurants, and a significant museum.

IMG_5131The credit for this interesting development goes Dutch businessman, Jacob Gelt Dekker.  If I have the story right, he acquired an abandoned, old building and set to renovating/restoring it.  In the process, he discovered it’s connection to the early Caribbean slave trade. It was the site of a former slave yard and merchant’s home. He was so moved, that he changed his plans and made turned the building into a museum: which now houses the largest African collection in the Caribbean. Unfortunately for us, the museum had closed just 5 minutes (!!!) before we discovered it. This is where a little prior research would have served us well.

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After just 10 months of construction, the museum opened in April 1999. He then worked to acquire the surrounding buildings to create the complex which now span more than 16,000 square feet of neighbourhood. The name Kura Hulanda translates from Papiamentu (the local dialect) to mean Dutch Courtyard.

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It was absolutely delightful to walk through the lanes and discover museum displays, murals and admire the beautiful architecture and imagine life in this area back during the colonial days of Curacao.  That said, I daresay what we experienced was a cleaner, even brighter version of the original.

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The mission of the Museum Kura Hulanda is to acquire and exhibit collections related to the cultural identity of the people of Curacao, the Caribbean and the Atlantic Rim. I was impressed by this excellent example of urban restoration which perfectly marries form with function. What a way to preserve built heritage! Admirable!!

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WPC – Admiration

 

A Door in Pietermaai

  Cross this threshold to enter a law office.  It’s one of many popping up in the Pietermaai District of Willemstad, Curaçao.  

  

This neighbourhood is in transition. Beautifully restored buildings, like this one, stand side by side with badly neglected derilict structures.  

Small shops, bars, restaurants & boutique hotels have found their home in Pietermaai.  And, so have loads and loads of law offices and financial institutions. 
This one caught my eye.  

It always makes me happy to see grand, old, beautiful buildings restored. Stay tuned for more postings on our visit to Curaçao. 

In the meantime, if you like doors, check out Norm’s Thursday Doors.

Weathered Door

An uncharacteristically warm early Spring day calls us outside like nothing else.  On this day I met with a friend for a nice long walk in Feltzen South – a charming hamlet in Lunenburg Bay.

When I stopped to take this photo, my friend commented, “I wonder if that door will even open anymore?” We didn’t try to find out.  I suspect that if we had, we’d have had a bit of trouble getting it to close again.  And in a weathered building like this, it might be best to keep the stories inside.

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I’m a huge fan of board and batten siding.

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This is linked with Norm’s Thursday Doors….

A Book Walk

My past few posts reflect some of my travel experiences, so let’s bring it a little closer to home.  Come with me for a walk through the (relatively) brand spanking new Halifax Central Library – Opened December 2014.


In a city settled in 1749, and which celebrates it’s history, change does not come easy.

So, when it became apparent that the existing library building no longer met the city’s needs, a series of public meetings and consultations followed by proposed designs and more public meetings, wringing of hands and fretting ensued.  In the end though, we have this stunning piece of architecture in the heart of our old city.


Designed to resemble a stack of books, the outstanding feature is the 5th floor cantilever over the entrance plaza.



Inside, many public and private spaces are created around the central atrium and its criss-crossing staircases.

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The roof-top terrace offers a broad view of the Halifax Harbour, the historic South End and the Downtown (CBD).  Inside, all that glass provides an appealing interaction between the urban neighbourhood and the cosy spaces within. There are small meeting pods, living room-like spaces, an auditorium, community rooms, an enormous children’s  section, banks of computer games as well as…….lots and lots of books!!


And coffee!  Gotta have coffee!


The reference section keeps safe and available the documents which record the history, of which we are so proud.

There are information “booths” on all floors…..


…. And the sparkling main circulation desk is backed by an interesting art installation.  Each of those wee pieces of art on the wall behind the desk is an individual painting.  And each is exactly the size of the card that librarians keep in the pocket of a library book.  Lovely, don’t you think?


The Central Library has been an architectural success, garnering many awards, including the “World Building of the Year Award in the Civic and Community Category”  in 2015 at the World Architcture Festival in Singapore.  But even better than that, with 6,000 visitors per day in a city of 414,000 souls (298,000 in the urban core) Haligonians and visitors alike have embraced this place – making truely the “city’s living room”, just as the designers proposed.

Thanks for walking with me.  Now I’d better get reading before my books are due back…….

These photos were taken with my iPhone just last month (Feb. 2016).