Sunday, June 30, 2013

Mount Gilead

The church of the week is Mt. Gilead Baptist Church on Dowd Street in Durham.  It was built in the nineteen-aughts, I believe, but that's all I know.  It has great hinges on its fabulous arched door!  Not in the picture, a great cast-iron bell.

Weekend Ramblings

Lately C and I have felt the urge to go explore our state on Saturdays.  Maybe it's because the weeks themselves have been so busy, we feel the need to escape on Saturday and go see something different.  This weekend we went to Hillsborough.  The county seat of North Carolina, it is a place full of history, but it also holds sentimentality for us because it was where we applied for our marriage license and celebrated our upcoming marriage in 2010.  And, since it is just a hop and a skip away from Durham, it's an easy place for us to go explore.  This Saturday we visited two walking trails in Hillsborough.  The first was "the Poet's Walk" around the grounds of Ayr Mount, an 18th century home that is now open as a sort of museum with guided tours.  We didn't go inside, but walked the Poet's Walk, a delightful meander through fields, woods, around a pond, and up and down gentle hills.  We glimpsed the Eno, full from recent rains, visited an old family cemetery, and marveled at the wildlife.  There were many butterflies, caterpillars, centipedes, birds, fish, and frogs.  Even some buzzards.  I'd like to go back and paint--there were some very picturesque vistas.  It would have been so lovely to live at Ayr Mount!

The next place we visited in Hillsborough was the old Occoneechee Speedway.  Once a busy auto racetrack, now a woodland walking trail, it was a little spooky.  The oval track is a mile, a nice walk, but there are other pathways into the woods where you can explore.  We glimpsed more of the Eno River, and looked around for signs of the old racetrack.  You can still see some of the guard rails, some wire fencing, and the cement bleachers, along with a lone light post that seems to be dropping brackets from time to time (I made sure not to stand under it!)  The ticket booth is shot up with bullet holes and the concession stand is a haven for wasps, but the flag stand has been recreated and advertises the history of the place, as well as its affiliation with Pepsi.

As we were walking through the woods, on what turned out not to be a trail (we were a little lost at that point!) we heard a loud hissing noise and suddenly C motioned for me to stop.  I froze, and he gestured to the tree in front of him.  There was a huge barred owl.  It hissed again, and we heard an answering hiss from a nearby tree.  There were two owls!  I couldn't see the other one, but the one near us was very near.  It was so neat to see it, although I know we were making it a little nervous.  We tried to stay still and silent, but in a few minutes a couple with a dog came along on the trail and the owl flew silently to a safer spot in a nearby tree, then turned around to continue watching us with its dark eyes.  

Sunday, June 23, 2013


The Durham church of the week is pretty typical of the classical revival style churches you see everywhere.  Built in the late 1930s, I think, it probably would not have looked much different if it was built a century or two earlier.  Maybe not.  I've determined to brush up on my architecture knowledge, so hopefully I will start having some useful and/or interesting things to say about the churches I highlight here.  For starters, here's a gem: those white stone blocks on the front edge corners of the building are called quoins and the pieces of wood that you can see on the inside edge and underneath the triangular pediment are called dentils (because they look like teeth, I guess.)  This beauty is in a neighborhood of Durham called Braggtown, and the church is thus called Braggtown Baptist Church.  I couldn't get a good picture of it, but there was a rose garden on the front lawn in the shape of a giant cross.  However, I have not yet found any information about how Braggtown got it's name.

It is located near the historic Stagville Plantation, once the largest plantation in North Carolina, which C and I visited yesterday.  There, you can tour the plantation house (not at all Gone With the Wind fancy), some of the slave quarters which are still standing, and a barn that was once the largest building in North Carolina, built entirely without nails.  It was amazing and humbling to think that about 900 slaves used to live on and work the fields that are now mostly woods as far as the eye can see, all for the benefit of one family. 

There are a lot of other very interesting historical sites here in North Carolina that I hope C and I can take the time to go and see when we have time to on weekends.  I am going to try and blog about those visits as often as they happen, as well as continue to post churches on Sundays, reviews of the books I read, garden highlights, as well as craft and art projects that I do.  Having the themes of travel, churches, books, garden, and arts will hopefully inspire me to blog more and also be my journal of sorts, since I neglect to write anything down otherwise.  We shall see how I do!

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Sweet Daddy in the House of Prayer

I noticed this week's church the first time I saw it because it was so striking.

In fact, my picture does not really do it's colorfulness justice.  I really need a better camera... (the sky was blue that day! sigh...) The cross-shaped windows are made of the glass bricks that are so ubiquitous in Durham architecture, and there is a primary color theme that includes red glass in the front doors and blue glass in the two side doors, as well as red glass in the octagon windows.  All this with the giant white lions make for an unusual Durham church building.  Then when I saw the name of it, I immediately remembered this church in Harlem.

Turns out this denomination has about 145 churches across the US.  The other fun fact is that they call their worldwide leader "Sweet Daddy."  There have been four or five Sweet Daddys since the church was founded in the early 20th century.  And from the looks of it, the buildings are often very colorful and uniquely decorated.  My casual research did not give me any insight into the winged angels/people on the outside of some of the church buildings, but several of them, including the Harlem building, have them.  I'm guessing it has something to do with doctrine put forth by the founder of the church.

Well, I do believe in the power of prayer, and that all people should pray.  Have a great week!