The photographic explorations of a former film student.

Posts tagged “history

Eden Springs and the House of David

When I was young, my Dad’s mother would frequently mention visiting a place called the House of David as a child. My Aunt and Uncle spent the most time with her in her final years and investigated the history. Basically, there was a cult in the area that ran sort of an amusement park. They had small trains you could ride, ice cream, a greenhouse, a zoo, bands (yes, jazz), and you could also get your picture taken. My immigrant great-grandparents took their kids to this park for fun about 100 years ago.

We were all in the area in July of 2021 for a family reunion. My Aunt and Uncle drove out to the remains of the park with my sister and I. Despite its largely derelict and abandon state, the park is open to the public – mostly as Eden Springs campground. It was misting a light rain, but we were able to spend some time exploring the area.

The men of the House of David were known for their long hair and beards. We only saw one long haired life form out mousing around. Probably dual rolls in pest control and greeting.

My sister petting the long haired cat who greeted us.

There is a slow movement by a non-profit group to restore the park. Many of the buildings are literally falling apart. Some are all fixed up and quite lovely.

A run down building next to a fixed up one with kept gardens.

The train station is functional, and the small trains now run occasionally.

My relatives by the train station – faces obscured for privacy. You’ll just have to believe me when I tell you they’re great.
Detail of a station window showing different colors and patterns of glass.

It appears not all of the original train track is presently in use.

Rundown section of train track covered in vines – and possibly Christmas lights?

We also saw this old, abandoned electrical tower.

A stone wall and staircase led downhill to the remnants of a large cement pad where they used to hold dances. Research indicates they had a regular Polka night. Grandma loved Polka. She probably danced there.

If you’re curious about the House of David and the history of the place, you can visit their website:

https://www.israelitehouseofdavid.com/

The campground also has a website:

http://www.edenspringsparkandcampground.com/


The Aged and Beautiful Yerkes Observatory

Last month, the local photo club decided to visit Yerkes Observatory. It is connected with the University of Chicago, but located in a small town in Wisconsin. Built in 1895, it houses what was the largest telescope of the time. Many astrophysicists studied there over the years. Albert Einstein even visited in the early 1920s. You can read more about the observatory here: http://astro.uchicago.edu/yerkes/

We began with an educational tour and a look at the telescope itself. Not the best conditions for photography, but I had to get a few shots.

The floor in the telescope area moves up and down. During the tour, we were sitting on the edges of the building, which remain stationary. Our guide announced that he would go over to the desk and raise the center floor while whistling the theme from Star Trek. He was rather good at it. Here is the somewhat Original Series looking control desk.

ControlDesk

After lunch, Dad and I stuck around for exterior photographs. This is the largest dome anong with the entryway to the building.

EntryAndLgDome

On the other end, there are two smaller domes and more ornate carvings.

CornerDetail

Dad wanted to stick around and see if the sun would come out. While waiting, I photographed some of the carving on the entryway pillars. The Satyr is a caricature of Mr. Yerkes. According to the tour guide, he was one of the not so well-loved wealthy industrialists of his time. He built the observatory to improve his image with the public, which is why it is such a grand building.

YerkesSatyr

The architect was a bit eccentric. No one knows what all the caricatures and symbols on the building mean because he had his son burn his papers upon his death. He also made fun of Rockefeller. Originally, there was a bee stinging Rockefeller’s nose, but he visited the observatory, and the powers that be thought they should have all the bees chiseled off the columns before he arrived.

Rockefeller

Moons, stars, and the man in the moon also grace the pillars.

ManInMoon

Wandering around the building, I noticed that the side doors were not as well-kept as the fronts – not at all. This did not surprise me, as I imaging keeping up a grand old building of that size is a challenge. The peeling paint and old door knob had a nice rustic quality about them, so I thought they’d make an interesting shot.

SideDoorknob

Finally, Dad got what he was waiting for. The sun came out.

EntrySunnyDomeLS

Next Time: Flowers or Old Camera

Spring is coming slowly. If it doesn’t come fast enough, I’ve purchased an old Kodak folding Autograph and an Argus I’d like to do posts on sometime.