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Wednesday, September 1, 2010

DYNAMIC ARCHITECTURE OF AN OHIO RIVER TOWN

OLD ROW HOUSES ALONG MARKET STREET
MAYSVILLE, KENTUCKY 


Maysville, Mason County, Kentucky, is a small town with a  large area of housing and commercial buildings that need to be seen to be appreciated. It is an old river town, along the Ohio River,  that had its beginning in the late 1700s.

Here is a town in situ (buildings not moved) that has remained viable for the folks that live in the area. There is a movement to upgrade sympathetically -- keeping the structure in line with its original design. 

I recently talked with Sara Swope from the Maysville Chamber of Commerce and Lynn David from the Kentucky Gateway Museum Center to ascertain the architectural history of their town. They were both very informative about the mindset of the folks that live there. They both said that the town had families going back several generations and were not anxious to change the architecture of the town. Many natives of the area owned the buildings and felt they should remain as they are.. With such citizens their buildings have become their architectural legacy to Kentucky. 


2ND STREET -- STREETSCAPE --  MAYSVILLE KENTUCKY
My trip to Maysville was a jaw-dropping experience. As I rode into town I was met by a commercial downtown that seems to have every historic type of style imaginable.. Known locally as Old Town, it reflected its economic pattern  by the types of buildings standing -- they were built from 1784 through the late 1800s. If you are a folklife or historic preservation student or layperson of architecture this is where you should visit, to not only see the structures but the connections that they have to the land and the social setting of the town, This is a real working and living town not a planned museum complex. 

OLD OPERA HOUSE -- 2ND STREET --  MAYSVILLE, KENTUCKY
Unfortunately, my time was very limited in the town. I had my camera with me however, some turned out dark as the sun was going down. Given the wrong conditions for taking streetscapes, I still pointed the camera and clicked. I wanted to at least give you a small window of some of Maysville's streetscapes. I plan to revisit this place often as it holds threads to our present life -- such as art history, architectural history, settlement patterns, economies, and a cultural matrix of other realities. 

A couple thoughts stood out in my mind as I glanced at the buildings. First and foremost was that the town essentially resembled a time warp. not economically but through their buildings. If I were designing a mid- 1800s movie location, I would say that this town would be the perfect set.

EARLY 1930s SHERWIN WILLIAMS SIGN, 2ND STREET
Above is an Italianate building that housed the Hendrickson Paint Company beginning in 1908  through 2004. The Sherwin Williams sign was installed on its facade in the early 1930s. Its retail business was paint, wallpaper and home furnishing. This is just one of the many examples of the historic and cultural  elements of the town.

2ND STREET -- STREETSCAPE
MAYSVILLE, KENTUCKY

More of  2nd Street. This street section appears to hold earlier buildings than the photo -- second one down from the top -- of this post.  Of course my fast glimpse of the town didn't allow time for close examination.

Ms Swope and Ms David provided quite a bit of detail of the Maysville area. Their generoisity and time was greatly appreciated. 

Now when I visit Maysville again (and again) I will allow plenty of time to take in the town.

10 comments:

  1. Wow! Kudos to the folks who had the sense to hang on to their heritage. what a lovely town!

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  2. Vicki --I agree -- the town folks are on the right track. Thanks for the comment -- barbara

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  3. This is fantastic!
    We need to see more of these towns which have preserved their history, heritage and culture in good old bricks and mortar for everyone to see and appreciate.

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  4. Jayne -- Your comment is a good way of putting it. So many of our beautiful towns have had bulldozers tell their story -- one of redevelopment. Not only does the heritage go out the window but fantastic building materials hit the landfills. -- barbara

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  5. And how beautifully maintained! I love the row houses! What a "back to the future" trip! Thank you so much, Barbara!

    Elora

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  6. Elora -- I like the term you used, "back to the future." That does seem to decribe this town. -- Thanks -- barbara

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  7. It looks like a very comfortable community to live in. I like those row houses, and the opera!

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  8. barefootheart -- Yes, that is an old neon opera sign hanging off the facade -- the row houses are now the Moon River Bed and Breakfast -- beautiful example of reuse. -- barbara

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  9. Small town USA as we think it exists, and mostly doesn't. Should I ever be in Maysville that B&B would be the ideal place to stay. Good pictures, whatever your light problems were.

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  10. June -- commercial buildings hold the memories of a town. To me, it seems that the memories are good ones as the citizens have nurtured their old structures with care. Thanks for the comment -- barbara

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