Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Holy Resurrection!

From Mick Melvin:

While traveling on Route 84 to visit my then fiancé (now wife), I spotted a cross high up on a hill going through Waterbury, CT. That was about eight years ago, and I have been fascinated by it ever since.

I asked my fiancé about it and she told me it was connected to a theme park. I was surprised to hear that Holy Land USA was once a thriving amusement park in the 1960’s and '70’s. The property is now run down and has been vandalized badly.

The park is comprised of a mini Bethlehem, a chapel and replicas of catacombs, villages, the Garden of Eden, and many other statues. Most of the attractions are destroyed or in serious disrepair (I drove past this place countless times as a kid, and always wondered what it looked like; wish I'd visited -- DB).

The park was a closed in 1984 and was to be renovated and expanded. The original owner, John Baptist Greco, passed away in 1986 and that never happened.

The property was left to the Filippini Sisters, a religious order of nuns. The sisters tried to revitalize the park, but have since sold the property to Waterbury Mayor Neil O'Leary and car dealer Fred "Fritz" Blasius. They plan to revitalize the property. The first thing they did was install a new illuminated 50-foot cross, replacing the original 56-foot cross.

I didn't get many great shots because of the huge "No Trespassing" sign, but I plan on revisiting this site to get some better shots. (Here's a recent article about the renovation, and cool photos of what the place looks like now -- DB).

One additional fun fact (this is for you, Dave), is that the Flaming Lips recorded a video for the song, "Unconsciously Screamin’," in 1990 at the site.

(I DO love that fun fact! Here's the video -- DB)

Thursday, June 12, 2014

What's In a Named Building (Part 4)?

From Dave Brigham:

My son loves trains, as I've mentioned on this blog before. He used to be all about the Boston subway, but recently he's discovered commuter and Amtrak trains. So, whereas we used to take trips under the Hub, nowadays on weekends we venture outside the city so he can make videos and I can take pictures in the neighborhood.

Recently we trekked out to Framingham, Mass., where I spied this cool named building.

Built in 1905, the Bullard Building houses stores, restaurants and offices, and sits right across from the train station.

More recently, we went to North Andover to spot some trains. In between sightings of an incredibly long freight train and a commuter train, we shot over to Lawrence, a great old mill town.

I was overwhelmed with the vastness of the mill buildings, some restored, some in process, and many awaiting their fate. I didn't have a lot of time, but shot a few named buildings, as well as other structures, which I featured two weeks ago (see May 31, 2014, "Lawrence of Massachusetts").

I had no idea when I shot the Pemberton Mill building that its predecessor had a violent and tragic past.

The original building, constructed in 1853, collapsed just seven years later, killing as many as 145 workers, mostly young women. The cause was found to be faulty iron pillars, which most likely gave way due to extra equipment the owners had brought in. Here's the New York Times article from that day.

The building that stands today was built shortly after the tragedy.

The George E. Kunhardt Corp. manufactured woolen and worsted goods for men. The company's namesake passed away in 1932; the company went bankrupt during the Great Depression. The building now houses offices and a function hall.

Built in 1909, the Ayers Mills building now houses a New Balance outlet store.

Here are the previous three installments of my named buildings series:

Number 3

Number 2

Number 1

I'll post other named building stuff as time goes on.