Tag Archives: architecture

photo of Tour of the Miniature Dutch Village with Doug Heerema

Back in Time – Visiting the Pella Historical Village

Teardrop log: June 19, 2017

Located just across the street from the Royal Amsterdam Hotelon the Molengracht Plaza where we have been staying, is the Pella Historical Village. It offers a look at how early Pella pioneers lived after they left Holland in the 1840’s.

On the grounds, we found the Sod House, a replica of the housing during Pella’s early years. We learned how wooden shoes were made at the Werkplaats. Among the buildings, is the boyhood home of Wyatt Earp, one of the most famous or infamous characters of the Old West, still standing in the historical village.

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Doug Heerema, our tour guide took us through the enchanting Miniature Dutch Village. It was begun by George Heernan in 1938, as a work study project for students in Pella’s schools and Central College, as part of the Works Progress Administration (WPA). Many of the original structures were created at 1/24 scale and restored in 1978. New buildings have been added. The village is populated with dolls that reflect authentic daily life in a Dutch village. All four seasons are portrayed with a boy flying a kite, flower sellers, farmers gathering hay and ice skaters on frozen canals.

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Having been in the museum business, I always check out the gift shop when we visit a museum. This one was amazing! One source observed that it had every type of Dutch gift you could want from dishes to wooden shoes. I bought a bag of flour produced at the mill and a Pella cookbook to go with it.

We enjoyed exploring historic Pella. There was not enough time so see everything on the list. We will definitely put this magic place in the list for future trips on the Teardrop Trail!

photo of the Pella Cookbook and Windmill Flour

Pella Cookbook and Windmill Flour

photo of The Vermeer Mill and Historical Village

The Vermeer Mill — A Dutch Windmill Tour

Teardrop Trail Log: June 19, 2017

The star of Pella is the Vermeer Mill — it’s certainly the first thing you notice when you drive into town. Having arrived Saturday evening we were intrigued but could only admire it from the outside. It wasn’t open for tours until Monday morning.

photo In the Historical Village

In the Historic Village

One enters the windmill through the Pella Historical Village gift shop. The tours start at regular intervals for whoever is there. We were shown a short film and presentation by Doug Heerema, one of the mill guides. He then showed us another floor of the museum where an astonishing miniature village is located — but more on this in a later post. Riding an elevator to the fifth floor, we were introduced to Jim Brandl, the “molenaar” or miller for a tour of the Vermeer Mill.

The mill is connected to the museum by a wooden bridge, and on it, you find a panoramic view of Pella. Ahead is an enormous ship’s wheel — used to turn the mill structure to direct it into the wind. It was a clear, fine day with a light breeze, and the miller made a few adjustments. The massive cloth-covered sails began turning as we walked around the platform. Moveable barriers prevent absent-minded tourists from walking into the sails which swing by with impressive speed.

Inside, we found a profusion of massive wooden beams supporting the roof of the mill, which rises two more floors above. Equally massive wooden gears turn a large, wooden shaft which turns the mill stones at about eye level. Grain from a hopper is shaken into the center of the top stone and flour falls from a chute to a waiting bag below. A beautiful modern example of an 1850’s “koren molen” (grain mill) that still works today.

Built by the Verbij Hoogmade BV company in the Netherlands and re-assembled in Pella in 2002, the Vermeer Mill stands on a 40-foot-high brick base to reach a height of 124 feet at the tip of the tallest sail. Made of 16 different wood species from 6 countries, the mill supports two, five-foot in diameter, 3500-pound mill stones. 500 pounds of flour can be ground in one hour with a brisk wind. With woods like Purpleheart, Ironwood, Acidwood, Oak, Scots Elm, Teak, Lignumvitae and the exquisite joinery needed to build with them, this is a feast for anyone interested in fine woodworking.

The third floor is a small museum showing Dutch mill technology. Scale models show the mill’s inner workings, while a series of framed prints show the many variations of mill developed for specialized uses.

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The second floor is a recreation of the molenaar’s living arrangements. Compact but comfortable, it is the ultimate in thrift and short commute. This way, he was always nearby in case of bad weather to turn the mill cap into the wind. The “bed stede” or bed is interesting. The doors could be closed for warmth, but it was shorter than we’re used to, as people in the 1850’s believed it was unhealthy to sleep lying flat.

photo of The Molenaar's Home

The Molenaar’s Home

photo of Public Square Park

Exploring Pella

Teardrop Trail Log: June 18, 2017

On Monday, after breakfast at the hotel, we strolled down Franklin Street and explored the Dutch heritage of the village. We started by walking around the Public Square Park, looking at all the shops, businesses, gardens and parks. There were many famed, significant buildings including the Scholte house, built by Pella’s founder in 1847, now a museum.

After exploring we were ready for lunch. The Windmill Café (709 Franklin) a bustling but friendly place just off Public Square Park.

photo of the interior of the Smokey Row Coffee Shop

Smokey Row Coffee Shop

Jim goes in search of his customary mocha every afternoon and today was no exception. As we proceeded up Franklin street, we found the Smokey Row Coffee Shop. A Mocha success! We passed the Klokkenspel.

photo of The Klokkenspel

The Klokkenspel

This carillon was created for Pella with 147 bell chimes and eight animated, mechanical characters from Pella’s history that perform daily. It is one of a handful animated musical clocks in the United States, and can be viewed from both Franklin Street and on the courtyard side.

That evening we dined at George’s Pizza and Steak House, located in an historic building just across from the Klokkenspel. A tasty way to end the day’s Pella adventure!

photo of the Klokkenspel Courtyard

Klokkenspel Courtyard

photo of the Royal Amsterdam Hotel in Pella

Arriving in Pella

Teardrop Trail Log: June 17, 2017

We like to see the sights around the state where the Red Power Roundup takes place. In April as we were planning our trip to Iowa, I put out a request to members of a number of tear drop trailer pages on Facebook asking for suggestions of what we should see while visiting Iowa. I was amazed at the number of responses from the members of the Heartland Tearjerkers.

Love the trailer community. We were even invited to join a small trailer gathering at Rock Creek State Park, east of Des Moines. Suggestions ranged from the Bridges of Madison County to Pella, Iowa.

photo of the Vermeer Windmill and Historic Village

Vermeer Windmill and Historic Village

Most people know the town for the windows that are manufactured nearby and the annual tulip festival. Pella was founded by the Dutch who settled in the rich farmland of Iowa in 1874 and founded the quaint village. Persecuted for being dissenters from the state Reformed church, they named their new home Pella, taken from a biblical city of refuge.The village offers old world charm, awesome scenery, great shopping and excellent Dutch bakeries!

We arrived on Sunday June 17, and checked into the Royal Amsterdam Hotel located on The Molengracht, which means “mill canal,” built to replicate a Dutch-style canal in the historic downtown area. That evening, we had a wonderful dinner at Monarchs Restaurant in the hotel. I had a fabulous butternut squash ravioli and Jim had lasagna. We shared a delicious chocolate cake.

photo of chocolate cake

It was as good as it looke!

photo of Wisconsin Capitol and Fountain

Exploring Madison

Teardrop trail Log: June 19, 2016

photo of the Capitol majestic dome

the majestic dome

We departed the Old Fashioned after the wonderful Wisconsin lunch – on to explore the city. Jim’s career in higher education information and instructional technology had taken him to Madison for conferences in the past. He would be my tour guide to this beautiful city.  Our first stop would be to experience the beauty and grandeur of the Wisconsin Capitol, where the corner stone was laid in 1837.

photo of the Classic interior of the Capitol

Classic Capitol Interior

The building was erected on the highest point of the isthmus of Lake Mendota and Monona. The dome was modeled after the dome of the United States Capitol and is topped by Daniel Chester French’s elegant gilded bronze statue, “Wisconsin.” The walls were decorated with colorful murals, stone from around the world, hand-carved furniture and exquisite gold mosaics. From the observation deck, we enjoyed breathtaking views of the city.

photo of Student Union on Lake Mendota

Student Union on Lake Mendota

We then proceeded down “The Drag” (State Street) to the University of Wisconsin – Madison also located on the isthmus. We walked along the landscaped campus that has the familiar feel of academia until we reached the Memorial Student Union, considered one of the most scenic student unions in the country.

photo of Most of Madison enjoying The Terrace

Most of Madison enjoying The Terrace

We entered the building and walked past the Rathskeller, a German pub adjacent to the lake terrace overlooking the shore of Lake Mendota. The Terrace was crowded, filled with both students and members of the public enjoying the picture-perfect sunny day, socializing, gazing at the lake and the sailboats. Picture perfect. Hard to image how this idyllic view would look in January, something Jim and I continued to discuss as we toured the state.

On the way back to the car, we indulged in some window shopping walking up State Street.  From indie book stores to the incredible range of locally-owned specialty stores and boutiques filled with treasures, we were treated to a fun-filled afternoon. Lo and behold, we spotted the familiar green logo – Starbucks and it was Mocha time.

photo of Windsurfing on Lake Mendota

Windsurfing on Lake Mendota

photo of The Pool at Balmorhea

Balmorhea, A Cool Oasis in the High Desert

Teardrop Trail Log: March 28, 2016

We headed north from Fort Davis to Balmorhea State Park. The park’s name comes from four men’s surnames: E.D. Balcom, H.R. Morrow, Joe Rhea and John Rhea – Bal-mor-hea. They formed an irrigation company in the early 20th century.

The park is located on the San Solomon Springs. In 1849, the springs were known as Mescalero Springs for the Mescalero Apache who watered their horses here. The 1.75-acre pool with 3.5-million gallons of crystal-clear freshwater was built around the springs, one of the largest artesian, spring-fed pools in the world. It’s now considered one of the best swimming holes in Texas. The water is 72 to 76 degrees year-round and the constant flow of water means no chlorination is required.

photo of Spanish Revival Archecture

Spanish Revival Architecture

The Civilian Conservation Corps built the pool during FDR’s New Deal between 1936 and 1941. In addition to the pool, they built barracks, a concession building, two bath houses and San Solomon Courts using local limestone. They also made adobe bricks for the construction.

photo of Our campsite

Our campsite

I’d spoken with several folks from the park while we traveled and it was nice to put names and faces with the voices. They were very welcoming. The campground is a small jewel with only 34 sites. We backed the Ambassador into our site and began to settle into the magic that is Balmorhea. We took a stroll around the pool. There’s a high diving board and the shallow end has a concrete floor. We forgot to bring bathing suits on this trip so we will be coming back to Balmorhea.

photo of a Camp Inn Teardrop

Camp Inn Teardrop

The next day we headed off to the McDonald Observatory, another must-do on anyone’s West Texas visit. Our return to Balmorhea was like coming home. It’s always fun to check out the other campers and trailers in the campground. There was another teardrop, a Camp Inn.  We also caught up with another couple we’d met in the campground outside Big Bend. We noticed their distinctive Scamp trailer with its unusual aerodynamic design near the showers. On our last day, Moth Man and his wife, the couple we met in Seminole Canyon, stopped by to Balmorhea for a short visit. We have made many good friends on the Teardrop Trail.

photo of sunset over Balmorhea campground

The magic …

photo of Presidio County Courthouse, Marfa, Texas

Marfa Texas — Architecture

Teardrop Trail Log: March 27, 2016

We had been camping for three nights in Study Butte, and decided to treat ourselves to a real bed and a shower. After checking into the hotel in Marfa, we turned our attention to the immediate problem: it was Easter Sunday; would anything be open for dinner? I also wanted a mocha if we could find one. It turned out that Jett’s Grill in the Hotel Paisano was open and accepting reservations. The prospect of a special dinner beckoned. We just had an hour or two to kill. After unhitching the Ambassador, we headed for the center of Marfa.

We found not one, but two coffeeshops in town, and we stopped at the first one: Frama. Mocha in hand, we decided to walk the area around the courthouse. The streets are very wide and flat and lay on a grid. In contrast to the other West Texas towns we had encountered so far, Marfa seemed very prosperous. There were many buildings that had been well restored, and more than a few that had been restored and modified to suite more modern purposes.

The Presidio County Courthouse, built in the Second Empire style at a cost of $60,000 in1886, is a stunning example of Texas public architecture. Directly across the street like so many other county seats, was the jail. Nearby were several churches — all beautifully maintained. St Paul’s Episcopal especially appealed to me with it’s river rock façade. Across the street was a small bungalow that had been completely renovated in a spare, mid-century modern style. It even had a Jesus Morales sculpture in the front yard. Marfa is clearly an artful place with the resources to show it.

On the other side of the courthouse, Highland Street stretched south into the distance. This is the main street of Marfa, and is lined with buildings that echo the town’s past. The Opera House, National Bank and Glascock buildings are but three examples. Most interesting to me however was the Hotel Paisano. Built in 1930 in the Spanish Revival style, and anticipating the oil boom that never came, it hosted area cattle ranchers who came to Marfa to buy and sell their herds. In June of 1955 however, Warner Bros. came to film the movie Giant. As the production’s headquarters, the Hotel Paisano hosted Elizabeth Taylor, Rock Hudson and James Dean and 150 other cast and crew.

What a surprising town to discover in West Texas. After just a cruel tease, we’ll have to go back.

Photo of Highland Street view of the Courthouse

Highland Street view of the Courthouse

Photo of Alvino House, Castolon, Texas

Adobe Architecture in the Big Bend

Teardrop Trail Log: March 26, 2016

In Castolon, we encountered the Alvino House, named for Alvino Ybarra who lived there with his family from 1918 to 1957. It was originally built in 1901 by Cipriano Hernandez, who irrigated the bottomland to grow melons, pumpkins, squash and beans. To make extra income, he operated a store out of the house and tended the steam-powered cotton gin.  It is the oldest adobe structure in the park, and represents the everyday life of families who lived and farmed along the Rio Grande.

photo of Detail of Front Entrance

South Entrance

photo of Detail of Front Entrance

Detail of South Entrance

Photo of Window Detail

East Window Detail

photo of Interior Hallway

Interior Hallway from West Window

Photo of Interior Room

Interior Room from North Window

photo of Detail of Roof

Detail of Roof

Photo of Detail of Hatch

Detail of Hatch on East Side

photo of Courtyard Entrance

Courtyard Entrance on North Side

Photo of Courtyard Detail

Courtyard Detail

Photo of Santa Elena Canyon visible in the distance

Santa Elena Canyon is visible in the distance