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Nice Almost-Surprise, Japanese Style, Pulled Over, Ruins

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

Earlier this year, Av had a function in Tuscaloosa, so we made it a nice weekend and spent some time in the area -- of course took the boys to campus so they could have their pictures made with the statues outside the stadium:
Boys at Bryant-Denny

...had lunch at what has to be my new favorite restaurant there -- Shiraz International Grill:
Shiraz International Grill, Tuscaloosa AL

...and tried Priceline for the first time.  We had a couple of ideas as to where to stay, but I opened the Priceline app to see what they had as options, and they had one of those 'secret' deals where they tell you what general location the hotel is, how many stars it has, etc but not exactly which hotel it is (until you book it) in exchange for a super-good rate.  I could tell from the details it gave that there was only one property it could possibly be -- the Yellowhammer Inn and Conference Center.  The most surprising part was that the room was only $39!  How could this be?  I consulted with Av and sure that we had guessed the only place it could possibly be, we got it right and booked into a room at the Yellowhammer that I think otherwise was going for about $120 that evening.
Yellowhammer Inn, Tuscaloosa AL

Yellowhammer Inn, Tuscaloosa AL

Yellowhammer Inn, Tuscaloosa AL

The grounds are beautiful and you can take a fantastic walk around the neighborhood, even to Lake Tuscaloosa.  This was the view from our window:
Yellowhammer Inn, Tuscaloosa AL

The next morning, we got up to visit the Westervelt campus, because there's this connection between the neighborhood, hotel property and Warner / Westervelt (you may remember some of the drama with the Warner Westervelt Museum of American Art a couple of years ago, where employees came in to find works of art missing, as they had been taken to an auction house).  There's a love of Japanese architecture that they share, and here at the Westervelt campus...:
Westervelt Company, Tuscaloosa AL

Westervelt Company, Tuscaloosa AL

Westervelt Company, Tuscaloosa AL
What's really to see here are their Japanese-inspired gardens.

Before leaving for home, we needed to go back to the campus at Alabama for something, and I told Av that we should drive by Bryce Hospital since it is right there, and although I had been to campus a million times I'd never really seen it.  I wanted to get some pictures of it, because I knew the architect was Samuel Sloan who among others designed Longwood in Natchez:
Photograph in the public domain, courtesy Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, MS-1-1

and Rosemont in Columbus MS:
Photograph in the public domain, courtesy Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, MISS,44-COLUM,2-1

So we drove up -- 'new' Bryce is actually the older one, and 'old' Bryce is the newer one, but you can definitely see which is in better condition.
Bryce Hospital, Tuscaloosa AL

Bryce Hospital, Tuscaloosa AL

Bryce has its own security, so when we drove by this building (this one not designed by Sloan) below, we were pulled over. The very nice gentleman asked what we were up to, and when I explained that I was interested in architecture and just wanted to take some pictures from the car, that I thought it was okay since we were on campus, he explained that the university hasn't yet taken over so it's still technically private property.  Oops.  He was still really nice though.
Bryce Hospital, Tuscaloosa AL

Another reason why they are so careful about people on the property is that they occasionally have people go inside and vandalize.  People who have gone in with a camera I think do it because of this, this, this, and this.
Bryce Hospital, Tuscaloosa AL

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If you have an interest in urban decay, The Ruins of Detroit is an incredible book; some pics can be seen here.  I'm thinking of Detroit especially this week because I heard about the city looking into selling off pieces or the collection from the Detroit Institute of Arts, which Bloomberg Businessweek estimated at $15 billion (they have an oil painting by Pieter Bruegel the Elder that has been valued in media reports $100-150MM alone. They also have important works by Rothko, Cezanne, van Gogh, Seurat, Warhol and Matisse) in order to help pay the city's debt.  From the Detroit Free Press:

"It is an existential drama of a kind that no city has ever faced," reporters John Gallagher and Mark Stryker wrote, "a combination of a high-stakes poker game and morality play in front of a worldwide audience."

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