Of Tricentennials and Tetrons


Three unrelated events had the effect of catapulting me back 41 years. Several months ago I bought a Rubik’s Cube as part of a musical experiment. Two separate Facebook friends posted links to songs from South Carolina’s Tricentennial, and this week I met with my friend Tim Taylor about setting up a geocaching trail around the Roper Mountain Science Center. Those three events together created a time warp, and sent me in search of information about Greenville’s ill-fated Piedmont Exposition Park, and the geodesic cube designed by Buckminster Fuller that was supposed to sit atop Roper Mountain.

It was the 1969-1970 school year, and I was in Mrs. Medlock’s third grade class at Gray Court-Owings School. In third grade the social studies curriculum is all about South Carolina, so the timing with the state’s tricentennial was perfect. We all sang that we were good Sandlappers, and we learned about the various sections of the of the state, from the coastal plains to the Piedmont. Continue reading “Of Tricentennials and Tetrons”

Old School Charm

Old Shiloh School Textured

Perhaps it’s that I’m the son of a school principal, and had run of the various schools that I attended growing up. Perhaps it was the many reunions and covered dish suppers our family attended in various country community centers. Perhaps it was even because I spent college summers working maintenance – painting and waxing all of the schools in our district. It might, in some small part, have something to do with my own long career as an educator. Whatever the reason, I’ve always had a fascination with school architecture. Just about any school can be interesting, but what catches my attention most are the old wooden framed country schools.

Driving through the country these are easy to spot. The architecture is distinctive. The buildings tend to be squarish with hipped roofs. If it’s got an old bell tower, all the better.

Wheeland SchoolFish SchoolGowensville School HDR

Well, OK, they don’t all have to be white frame. There are some cool old brick schools, too.

Recently I was doing some research on the South Carolina State Archives website. There is a marvelous collection of photographs of old schools taken between 1935-1950 for insurance purposes.

Browsing this collection got me thinking about these old schools. They are great subjects for photography, and an excellent symbol of a bygone time. I wanted to see if I could find more of these old schools, and that meant making a list of potential targets using Google Earth. Continue reading “Old School Charm”

Initialed Chimneys


The above photo is of a house near my office. It’s a bit blurry because I shot quickly as I was driving past. What caught my attention was the prominent initial “F” worked into the chimney masonry. In a post-mortgage fallout, post-“Flip this House” era, the idea of marking one’s house so indelibly seems quaint, almost laughable.

This is a very permanent mark. In many cases tan colored bricks are built into the chimney structure. Just about the only way to remove the initial is to tear down and rebuilt the chimney. Painting over it only partially obscures the letter, as the bricks that make up the initial are often of a different shape or orientation, so you can still see the outline. Continue reading “Initialed Chimneys”

Visiting Sparkleberry

It’s only 25 miles away, but it might as well be in another state. Never mind that I work in the county that bears its name, but to me Spartanburg is a foreign land. That feeling was hammered home this week as I’ve been attending rehearsals with the Spartanburg Festival Chorus for a performance of … Continue reading Visiting Sparkleberry