Andrew Wyeth’s grave in Cushing, Maine
farm stand, Eliot Maine
The sprawling Mission Inn in Riverside, California was the dream of eccentric art collector Frank Miller. For over thirty years he salvaged and copied European architectural elements of questionable compatibility to create a complex unlike any other, although it’s often compared to a scaled down Hearst Castle.
Around 1915 Miller began creating a network of catacombs beneath the building to provide a comfortably cool space for guests to stroll and view artwork. The main passageway was designed to represent the Camino Real, the route linking the twenty one Mission settlements in early California. Oil paintings of each Mission by Henry Chapman Ford were displayed in niches along its walls.
After passing tableaus of biblical scenes, visitors reached the centerpiece of the catacombs, a waxworks display of Pope Benedict XV and members of his Papal Court. It was originally created for San Francisco’s 1915 Panama Pacific International Exhibition and came into Miller’s collection shortly thereafter. Apart from the rods that supported the figures in the semicircular room where they were staged, no trace of the delicate figures remains.
When new owners undertook the ambitious project of saving the crumbling Inn in the 1980s, they found countless bizarre treasures. A room off of the catacombs contained forty pianos, including an extremely rare 1876 Steinway built to commemorate the centennial. The piano had gone missing in Missouri in the 1920s, and how it came to Riverside remains a mystery. It has been restored and can be seen in the main lobby of the Inn.
It is generally believed that the catacombs once continued beyond the footprint of the building, though just how far is the subject of much local lore. Some dubious accounts claim there was once a passageway to Mount Rubidoux more than two miles away.
For safety reasons, the catacombs are now closed to the public.
Galisteo, New Mexico
I’m still researching this one, so please jump in if you’re familiar with the story.
The Pulitzer fountain, dedicated in 1916 on the south side of Grand Army Plaza in New York City, is the result of a $50,00 gift from Joseph Pulitzer. It was created by Austrian born sculptor Karl Bitter.
The day his clay model was finished, Bitter was killed leaving the Metropolitan Opera House, struck by a car that jumped the curb. The final sculpture was finished by his assistant. It’s not known whether Bitter was aware that Pulitzer actually conceived the project as a sublime insult.
Railroad and shipping heir William H. Vanderbilt had built an opulent French renaissance style mansion between 58th and 59th streets in 1880, the grandest house in the city, which was inherited in 1914 by Cornelius Vanderbilt III. In the social order of the Gilded Age, Pulitzer and the younger Vanderbilt were fierce rivals, and Pulitzer was among those who considered the overblown chateau a vulgarity.
Bitter’s sculpture of Pomona, the goddess of abundance, was carefully positioned to give the Vanderbilts an inescapable view of her oversized posterior.
The first library in California, Mission Carmel, 1771
This is the section of Brooklyn’s Prospect Park known as the Vale of Cashmere. As I was taking these my camera kept detecting faces and switching itself to portrait mode. Later I found this…
Diana Kirkpatrick is a painter who is becoming equally well known for the haunted house she has created in her barn for the past dozen or so Halloweens.
I wish I had a better link, but you’ll just have to trust me. Or you can head for Portsmouth and ask anyone.