Monday, July 30, 2007

Cherokee North Carolina Photos 2006.07.01

I took these photos over a year ago - went to Cherokee North Carolina for a Native American Powwow. Cherokee is a beautiful place - a mix of 50's nostalgia and 90's casino. At one time the town was on a commonly traveled state road, since replaced by Interstate Highways. Because of this, the town is in a state of suspended animation - basically many small motels were built in the 50's and 60's to house travellers coming across the Appalachian Mountains. Once the Interstates were built the travel slowed to the point where the town was still self-sustaining, but did not prosper to the point where new buildings replaced old. Thus many of the themed motels are still standing virtually untouched.

The windy roads through the mountains attract many travellers on motor bikes and classic car clubs. There aren't many places like this left in the US - I hope Cherokee remains pristine (even with the influence of the nearby Indian Casino). A great blend of mid-century modern and classic googie, I look forward to the next visit.

-- John

Sunday, July 29, 2007

A Drive through Amberwood 2006.10.09

Arrowhead Exterior

Very often during DOCOMOMO meetings the Amberwood neighborhood becomes a hot topic of conversation. Amberwood is an unusual neighborhood for many reasons - besides being in a very desirable school district (off of Lavista Road and Briarcliff/Briarlake), the neighborhood features many modern-influenced ranch homes, and also lays "claim to fame" of hosting several Robert Green properties - for those of you who haven't heard of him, Robert Green was a Wright Fellow (who lived and practiced architecture in Atlanta) and actually took part in one of the last classes actually taught by FLW himself. As such, Robert Green uses the same "organic architecture" sported by other Wright Fellowship members and these details are evident in his architectural designs. Amberwood has the distinction of hosting one of Green's most famous structures, Arrowhead. I refrained from taking images of Arrowhead, but do have some from my files, which is where the opening photo is from (at the time Arrowhead was covered by a huge smurf-blue tarp). Note that I took these images 2006.10.09.

The entrance was also designed by Robert Green, but I'm not sure how close the current state is to the original design - I'm sure that the sign at least is different - I also imagine different plantings:

Continuing through the neighborhood, the main street is Castleway Lane. There are several homes of interest on this street:
2081 Castleway Ln: 2068 Castleway Ln:
2060 Castleway Ln:
2001 Castleway Ln - (Attributed to Robert Green): 1991 Castleway Ln:

There were many others but the lighting at the time wasn't the best so I left them out of this initial post.
On Amberwood Lane:
2058 Amberwood Ln:
The back of the neighborhood links to several streets and neighborhoods - many of the streets are named after auto manufacturers - driving through them I found the following:

2585 Gran Prix Ct

2517 Mercedes Rd
2161 Starfire Rd
2135 Starfire Rd
2002 Starfire Rd
1944 Starfire Rd

I'll continue with more images soon.
-- John

Friday, July 13, 2007

Montgomery Central High School

Continuing my exploration of Modernism in Tennessee, I present Montgomery Central High School!

First a little background - I did not know about this wonderful modernist construction before stumbling upon it while returning to Clarksville from Memphis - my brothers step-daughter married in Memphis last fall (2006) and it was while driving back to Clarksville to visit with my mother that this amazing set of buildings appeared - it was one of those near-mystical experiences. For some reason we decided to go a back road instead of driving all interstate (the state roads would swing us west of Nashville and almost due north to Clarksville). The drive was rather uneventful - overcast with little traffic and most public buildings were closed due to it being a weekend. It was rather amazing to suddenly see the school below - we basically turned a corner and there it was!

Like giant manta rays leaping from the water, or even better, Martian tripods ala "War of the Worlds" - the construction is quite breathtaking. Swinging around the back are some wonderful mushroom posts reminiscent of "Earth vs. the Flying Saucers." The entire original structure is truly spectacular.
This was built around the same time as the public schools in Clarksville - Clarksville High School has round structures with dome tops, New Providence Jr. High School has hexagonal pods interconnected, also Springfield High School is supposed to look similar to Montgomery Central only it's not constructed above water - I'll try to get images the next time I'm in the area.

-- John

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Clarksville Tennessee MCM and Googie

Clarksville Tennessee MCM and Googie

I split this part of my narrative out because it is a bit more personal - I grew up in Clarksville from the time I was in grade school though 2 years of college (I attended Austin Peay as a Computer Science major). I was able to experience a lot of change in the city through the 60's, 70's and 80's. We first moved to Clarksville in 1968 (I was 5) - Clarksville is primarily a military support town, being the closest city to Fort Campbell Kentucky - many of the businesses and the primary economy centers around supporting the army troops stationed at Fort Campbell. We ended up there while my father completed his military service and retired (he was a 21 year man). Because of the town's dependence on the military, the economy has fluctuated with our governments war (aka "peacekeeping") efforts. Through the Vietnam era, Clarksville prospered - thus quite a bit of construction occurred during the 60's - prime time for MCM and Googie. Another aspect more related to architecture in general for Clarksville, is the cheap and abundant access to brick and concrete - much of it being processed locally (Clarksville is riddled with limestone - not good for an unprocessed building material, but great for the creating of brick and the like). Between Clarksville proper and the northern end (where most of the military ended up - closer to the base), there is a strip that catered to the military - mostly cheap motels and the like - there were many Googie and MCM buildings here - many of the buildings of my childhood are still standing. Here are a few I thought might be of interest:

First American Bank of Tennessee:
This building originally held a bank (First American Bank of Tennessee if my memory hasn't failed me) - it was one of the first banks in Clarksville that featured drive-through service. The roofline forms a 4-sided diamond pattern to the rectangular building, with points jutting to the front, back and sides. The side "wings" formed the drive-through section to the left and a covered entry to the right. In now houses a motorcycle retail business.

The Mart:
Slightly further North of the bank, is "The Mart" - one of my favorite shopping strip malls (it housed a "Houchen's" store that had a great model and toy selection) - the sign is still standing (even though much of the neon is gone):

Vacation Motor Hotel and Cumberland Motel:
South of the bank are two "Motor Inns" - The Vacation Motor Hotel and the Cumberland

[Update 2007.10.28]: Since I took this image the Cumberland Motel has fallen victim to a bulldozer - seems there's some perceived "need" for additional retail space in New Providence (what the area is called). From the general disrepair, I'd say there was little hope for any restoration, but it's still a shame to see another 50's roadside remnant bite the dust).

Morgan Building Supply:
Traveling further South, you'll come across the Morgan Building Supply offices (they made concrete and concrete formed blocks, etc):

APSU Student Housing:
Finally, there are a group of APSU (Austin Peay State University) Student Housing buildings that I thought were interesting:

I hope to take more pics, including some interesting MCM homes in the future.

-- Best, John

John Eaton (Originally published 2005.03.27 in the thread: "Clarksville Tennessee MCM and Googie" on the Lotta Living forums) .