The Ancient Spanish Monastery, officially St. Bernard de Clairvaux Church, was originally built in the Spanish town of Sacramenia in Segovia in the 12th century and named Santa María la Real. It was closed some time between 1836 and 1840 during the reign of Isabella II of Spain and as a result of the Ecclesiastical Confiscations of Mendizábal. William Randolph Hearst purchased the structure in 1925 and was subsequently dismantled and shipped to the United States. However, as a result of an outbreak of hoof and mouth disease in Segovia, the 11,000 crates containing the historic monastery building were quarantined in New York. Though he planned to relocate it to his Hearst Castle in San Simeon, because of Hearst’s financial difficulties, the building remained in storage in New York. Raymond Moss and William Edgemon purchased the building in 1952, a year after Hearst died. The building was re-assembled on a plant nursery north of Miami.
The building that today serves as the Smyrna Welcome Center was once a famous restaurant serving up Southern-themed fare. Isoline Campbell MacKenna opened Aunt Fanny’s Cabin in 1941, turning an 1890s-era cabin into a country store selling food made using the recipes of Fanny Williams, her family’s retired cook. The restaurant, originally located a few miles away from its current location operated until 1994.
The Chattanooga Choo Choo dates to 1909 when it saw the departure of its first passenger train. The Choo Choo served as a functioning train station until Aug. 11, 1970, when the last passenger train departed. The station has since found a new life as a hotel, and guests can stay in either a standard room or in a refurbished rail car. There are plenty of places at the Choo Choo to eat and shop, and a 1924 New Orleans trolley whisks visitors around the hotel’s grounds.
The Clermont Citrus Tower first opened to visitors in 1956. It took 13 months, roughly $300,000, five million pounds of concrete and 149,000 pounds of reinforced steel to build the tower. Counting its antenna, the tower reaches over 500 feet above sea level, making it the highest observation point in the Sunshine State. At one point, more than 500,000 people visited the tower every year. However, the 1964 extension of the Florida Turnpike provided a waste route for motorists and the tower’s popular among travelers began to wane. Then, that roadside oddity called Walt Disney World opened. The rest, as they say, is history.
Concord Woolen Mills dates to 1847 when Robert Daniell and Martin Ruff opened the mill. The mill was destroyed on July 4, 1864, by Union Gen. William T. Sherman’s troops. The two men rebuilt the mill, which reopened in 1868. By 1870, the mill had 16 workers, making it the largest employer in the area. The two men sold the mill in 1872. The mill went out of business in 1916, and the ruins are located along what is today the Heritage Park Trail and Silver Comet Trail.
Cooper’s Iron Works is the last remaining remnant of the 19th century town of Etowah. Jacob Stroup established the works in the 1830s, and Mark Anthony Cooper purchased the ironworks in the 1840s. In 1863, cooper sold the iron works to the Confederate States of America in 1863, and federal soldiers on May 22, 1864, destroyed the ironworks and mill, bringing about an end to the city’s livelihood. Following the Civil War, the town never again returned to its antebellum prominence. A smokestack is all that remains of the ironworks.
The Crime and Punishment Museum in Ashbury, Ga., opened in August 2003 in a bucolic community of about 4,100 located along Interstate 75. The building — known to many as “Castle Turner” — served as the county jail from about 1907 until 1993. Miles Cribb was the only inmate hanged inside the jail. Today, visitors to the museum can see the trap door that dropped, sending the condemned Cribb to his death. They can also gaze upon the blood-stained collar he was wearing at the time he was executed and see a replica of an electric chair, affectionately nicknamed “Old Sparky.”
The Empire State Building is arguably the most iconic representation of Gotham City. The 102-story-tall skyscraper was built in 1930-31 and opened on May 1, 1931. It was the tallest man-made structure in the world until 1954 and today is the second-tallest skyscraper in New York and the fifth-tallest completed in the country. The view from the observation deck is awesome, to say the least.
There are some places that are truly unparalleled, whether it’s the atmosphere, the history or the general experience. While New York City as a whole falls into that category, Grand Central Terminal does as well. The New York Central built the grand terminal, which opened in 1913. An estimated 21.6 million people visit the terminal annually, making it the sixth most visited tourist attraction in the world, according to Travel + Leisure magazine. Even if travel plans in New York don’t call for an entry into or departure from Grand Central, a visit to the Terminal is well worth the sidetrack, no matter how far out of the way it might be.
The Grapevine Calaboose, which derived its name from “calabozo,” the Spanish word for dungeon, was built as the town’s first jail in 1914. The Grapevine City Council authorized its construction in 1909. It was originally located elsewhere in town (on Barton Street) and moved to Heritage Park in 1976 and its current location in 1994. The jail apparently house associates of the Barrow Gang. It remained in use until the early 1950s.
Hearst named his mansion La Cuesta Enchantada (or The Enchanted Hill), but it is commonly referred to as Hearst Castle. The Casa Grande that stands atop the hillside, the symbol of the mansion, features two towers were inspired by the Cathedral of Santa Maria la Mayor in Ronda, Spain. The Castle is filled with Hearst’s collection of treasures from around the world, ranging from medieval tapestries to Renaissance furniture to 19th century sculptures. But, perhaps the most intriguing element of the mansion is Neptune Pool , which features the façade of an ancient Roman temple as its centerpiece.
Mission San Xavier del Bac was built between 1783-1797 in what was then New Spain. San Xavier Mission was established in 1692 by Father Eusebio Francisco Kino, founder of the chain of Spanish missions in the Sonoran Desert. A Jesuit of Italian descent, he often visited and preached in the area, then the Pimería Alta colonial territory of the Viceroyalty of New Spain. The mission is an absolutely magnificent example of Spanish Colonial architecture.
Thomas Ryman was a riverboat captain when he went to see popular revivalist Samuel Porter Jones address a crowd in Nashville. With plans to heckle Jones, Ryman instead emerged a changed man and decided to build a tabernacle where Jones could speak to large crowds. In the ensuing years, dozens of famed musicians, politicians and performers have appeared on the auditorium’s stage – from President Teddy Roosevelt to Harry Houdini to Charlie Chaplin. But, the “Mother Church of Country Music” is perhaps best known for its three-decade run as the host of the Grand Ole Opry. While the auditorium – located in the heart of downtown Nashville – eventually fell into a state of disrepair, this National Historic Landmark has been revitalized and transformed into one of the most famous music venues. The Ryman still regularly hosts concerts and is open during the day as a museum.
A stone cabin on this site is said to be stone blockhouse of the Valentine Sevier Station. On Nov. 11, 1794, Native Americans attacked the outpost, killing six; a seventh was scalped, but recovered. Valentine Sevier was a brother of Tennessee’s first governor, John Sevier.
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By the 1930s, when Frank Lloyd Wright and the Taliesin Fellowship began trekking west for the winter, Wright was an established architect. Taliesin West served as the winter home and school for Wright from 1937 until his death in 1959 at the age of 91. The complex drew its name from Taliesin, in Spring Green, Wisc., which served as a summer home for Wright.
The Tennessee State Capitol, home of the Tennessee legislature and the governor’s office, is a National Historic Landmark. Designed by architect William Strickland, it is one of Nashville’s most prominent examples of Greek Revival architecture. It is one of only twelve state capitols (along with those of Alaska, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Louisiana, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, and Virginia) that does not have a dome.
Andrew Jackson built the original Hermitage in 1804, more than a decade before the Battle of New Orleans during the War of 1812 and more than 20 years before he was elected the nation’s seventh president. The current mansion was built between 1819 and 1821 and later underwent major renovations in 1831 and after an 1834 fire heavily damaged much of the house. The current Greek revival look of the house dates to 1835. Jackson — nicknamed “Old Hickory” — retired from public life in 1837, and he lived in The Hermitage until his death in 1845. Jackson and his wife, Rachel, who preceded him in death, are buried on the grounds.
The Old Rock Gaol in downtown Greensboro was built about 1807 after the Superior Court of Greene County recommended a substantial jail be built. The jail, patterned after European bastilles, was built with using granite from a local quarry. With walls that are two feet thick, the jail has the distinction of being the oldest standing masonry jail in Georgia. The jail was used until 1895. Open by appointment, visitors can see where executions by hanging took place. Hangings were legal in Georgia from 1735 to 1924.
The Vandalia State House is the fourth statehouse of Illinois and is the oldest surviving capitol building in the state. The structure served as the capital from 1836 until 1839, when it moved to Springfield. The two-story painted brick structure later served as a courthouse and was converted into a state monument in 1933.