Randolph County Courthouse

This is the Randolph County Courthouse in Elkins, West Virginia. That tower is 150 feet high and is an impressive sight to behold.

Here’s another view.

This building and an adjacent county jail were built between 1902 and 1904. It is a prominent anchor in the town and one of my favorite courthouses that I’ve seen in person. It’s also just down the street from that gorgeous church I told you about yesterday. Click here if you missed it!

Durango

Of all the places we visited in Colorado this summer, Durango is the one I truly hated to leave.

The climate was pleasant and the town is the rare combination of charming AND prepared for guests. There’s a ton of opportunity to get outside and plenty of places to be entertained and engaged.

This southwest Colorado town was founded in 1880. It has a rich railroad history and is near Mesa Verde National Park which I enjoyed immensely (aside from the snake).

The Animas River cuts through town and there’s a River Walk that gives you a beautiful place to view the water while getting some exercise.

The historic downtown district has a host of restaurants and cute shops including some great used bookstores. We had a few delicious meals here too.

My friend was especially thrilled to find that the local humane society runs a thrift store. It was a nice one too, arranged more like a boutique than a traditional thrift store which always seem a little too messy.

This area is blessed with charm, beauty and so much opportunity for exploration I regretted not scheduling more time to enjoy it.

I’m already plotting a return trip next year. This time, I’ll be with two friends and I’m hoping to find a good Airbnb in Durango to use as home base while we adventure.

Isn’t it wonderful having a place to look forward to exploring?

Who Could Blame Me?

When the color of the car complements the sky so well, there’s really no choice but to slam on the breaks and pull out the trusty cell phone for a picture. Who could blame me? Look how nicely the lines and colors of the buildings contrast with this car.

This classic Dodge was in charming downtown Chillicothe, Ohio on Sunday morning after my hike. That building is Fifty West Brewing Company, a popular hangout in a neighborhood that’s experiencing an impressive renaissance. Whether you’re looking for a day trip or a long weekend, there’s plenty to do in the Chillicothe area to keep you entertained.

Biltmore Estate

In 1889, George Vanderbilt began construction on his summer house at Asheville, North Carolina. He called the 175,000 square foot home his “little mountain escape.”

By the time it was completed in 1895, over 1,000 workers plus about 60 stonemasons had labored on the Gilded Age mansion.

Look at that detail.

It remains today the largest private residence in America. Most private residences don’t have a front door flanked by life sized stone lions. I’m obsessed with these lions.

Tomorrow I will show you some inside photos. Did you catch yesterday’s story about the grounds? Click here to read it.

Revisiting Wesley Chapel

One of my favorite stories I have told here involves Wesley Chapel, an abandoned church just 30 minutes up the road. I hope you’ll revisit that story here.

Meanwhile, I stopped by the other night just to check on the old place and to further mourn its deterioration. Here are some pictures.

Things have worsened a lot since my first visit.

The windows had all been been boarded up but someone has removed some barriers so you can see inside from a few angles.

The piano remains, likely because it was too heavy to carry and impossible to even give away.

Can’t you hear it? I’m imaging an elderly woman named Mabel who pounded those keys with vigor as the congregation sang “Shall we gather at the river.”

This next image will haunt my dreams.

I don’t know why it bothers me so much but I find the sight of that lone chair in an empty and forgotten church entryway incredibly troubling.

The steeple still reaches Heavenward but it looks worse for the wear.

Here’s a closer look at the cross on the other side of the steeple.

Part of me wishes I could stop going there and part of me doesn’t want to try. Meanwhile, go read that first story if you don’t mind. Here’s that link again.

Barbour County Courthouse

Welcome to the Barbour County Courthouse in Phillipi, West Virginia. They call this architectural style Richardsonian Romanesque. This was a new one for me so I had to look it up. It uses 11th and 12th century southern French, Spanish and Italian Romanesque characteristics.

It was built at the turn of the twentieth century and prominently occupies the center of town. This courthouse looks heavy and imposing, like a fortress, and it is impressive. The brownstone was quarried near Hummelstown, Pennsylvania and was shipped here by railroad. I can’t fathom how much effort was involved to do this in 1903.

My trips to Phillipi have been limited to weekends so I haven’t been inside but I’m kind of dying to do that. They performed a restoration project back in 1995 and evidently did a nice job repairing the stained glass interior dome.

Phillipi is a neat town in a beautiful area and it’s home to my favorite covered bridge in the world. Read about that one here.

If you’re ever in the vicinity, check out Phillipi and take the scenic drive down to quaint Thomas and scenic Blackwater Falls. It’s worth the trip!