Search This Blog

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Crumpets and Tea, Huntington, West Virginia

I love tea rooms, and they are getting hard to find!  Is it any wonder?  Everyone is such a hurry, no time for tea, no time for living!  I will take time for tea.  Recently my husband and I moved (temporarily) to West Virginia for his job.  He works and I play.  I hunted all over Ashland, Kentucky for a tea room--no luck.  I did find this little place in Huntington, West Virginia.  Crumpets and Tea is located in the back of an antique store downtown Huntington.  What a delight this was.  I recommend this place to everyone.
 I always feel so special and pampered when I sit at a table like this.
 The decorations are so interesting, which makes the dining an experience.  I was in a graduate course at Sul Ross State University, and we had an owner of a guiding service at one of our meetings.  He said, "We are living in the 'experience' age.  People pay to have an experience.  People want to have supper under the stars in the bottom of a canyon with candles and table clothes."  He ran Big Bend River Tours out of Terlingua, Texas and gave people the experience of floating the Rio Grande, and probably dining under the stars.
 I could have the same food at a table outside of Sonic and it wouldn't be the same, because the eye appeal just isn't there under an umbrella outside Sonic drive in.
 It's fun watching the guests who came in to dine.  I couldn't take any photos of them, of course.  I wish I could have taken one of the man sitting at this table.  He had on a grey suit with a blue tie, and he sat ram-rod straight.  He had the whitest hands I have ever seen.  I know those hands never did a moment of physical anything, except put on clothing, brush his teeth and comb his hair!  If he had to change a flat tire, he would have never lived through it.  I marveled at how daintily he handled his fork, taking little bits of bread pudding on the end of the utensil.  See eating at a tea room is more than food.  I love it.
 Karen has her business organized, and she makes the most of the small space she has for food prep and service.  She says the best part of the business is meeting people.  The hardest part is doing big functions (they do special meals for whatever reason).  And Karen says in order to start something like this you need capital to support yourself.  You cannot expect to draw a big salary from the tea room right away.  Hire local experts for things you cannot do.  Remember,  you have to have permits in these large places, probably not in Jayton, Texas, but Huntington, yes.
 Just a little glimpse of the kitchen area.
 Meet the owners, Karen and Dr. Dale Shook.  Dr. Dale grew up in Illinois, and Karen in Indiana.  She says they have the same work ethic--mid-western.  I have one regret--I didn't really get to talk to these two people the way I would like to.  They are  so interesting!  They  worked in Saudi Arabia for six years, spent time working in Germany, Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands, and then to top it off they they owned and operated the Wayside Inn and Bed and Breakfast in Saratoga Springs, New York.  They also had a tea room to go with it.  I want to sit down with them, and have them regale me with tales of their adventures.  Karen and Dr. Dale have four children, five grand children in Huntington, one in Vermont, and two in Virginia.  I do hope I get to talk to these folks in depth.  In fact I think a pod cast would be good!

Sunday, September 4, 2016


In a little town called Milton, West Virginia is Blenko Glass Company, which has been in business since 1893.  The plant has been in Milton since 1921 Just take a look at all this beauty.  I couldn't stop taking pictures because I love color.

I just had to have one of these tree ornaments.  The hard part was deciding which one!

It was lunch time when I went out to the working area but the ovens were blazing.

So, I went to the glass garden.
Jennifer Pitcher I took this one especially for you.  It is all blue glass.
I decided that this garden would not work in West Texas because we would get a hail that would break everything!

Here we are back in the workshop.  These have something to do with molds.
These are molds.

The were giving a tour and this lady is about to blow this piece of molten glass.
Shaping the ball.
Here she goes.  She blew to expand the glass.
Then they put that glass in a mold and she blew more to expand the glass to fit the mold.
She is marking the neck of shape with a metal instrument.
This is a wet wooden paddle.  It was dripping with water.
I didn't get a picture of it, but another man brought a small molten ball of glass over and stuck it to the bottom of this vase.  Now, she will break off the neck and the man on the left will carry the glass back to the furnace for more firing.
Some of the Blenko glass on display.
Founder, William Blenko was born in London, England December 8, 1854.  His parents were working class people not wealthy by any means.  William was interested in glass making so his mother encouraged him to pursue his  passion (wise mother).  William went to work for a glass craftsman.  In the 1880s he went in to business for himself making round glass window panes.  When he was 38 years old he made a move to New York City to learn about natural gas, and started one of the first gas fueled glass factories in the U.S.  Even though he produced superior glass, craftsmen would not buy it because they wanted European glass.  William went back to England to produce the same glass and sell to U.S.  Later he moved back to Indiana and then set up his business in Milton, West Virginia because there was a good, sober, hardworking labor force there.  Blenko glass is still in the family and Walter Blenko Jr., grandson of the founder, is president of the company.
I love this story!  What perseverance and risk taking it is, and Wm Blenko realized the American dream through his hard work, and chasing his passion.  That is what it takes, so go out there and get to work on what you are passionate about.

Thursday, August 11, 2016


 Kentucky is such  a beautiful state!   Bobby and I were talking, just this morning, how blessed we are to be born in the United States, and it is a miracle of God that we won our independence from England.  The patriots laid it all on the line for freedom, and we are truly blessed because of their vision and bravery.  I am taking the walking tour of the historic section of the city.  It is supposed to be a two mile trip, but it felt like more.  I walked 6000 steps and quit.  It was hot and I was lugging a big camera bag, and my excuse was parking.  I parked in front of the library at Central Park, and even though there was no parking limit signs posted, I decided to head back, after all the lady at the tourism center said the city was very firm on the two hour parking limit.
This sign tells the origin of Ashland.  I must contact the Poages in Rankin, Texas to see if their family came from this area, and do you think M.T. Hilton is related to Conrad Hilton?

This fountain is at the library entrance of the Central Park, a 47 acre area of trees and walking paths, ponds and  flowers.  This is a nice place for people to cool off on hot, steamy days.

 The path leading into the park, with lights, flowers,  and benches.
 Cone flowers, pure delight for butterflies.
 This man made pond is so beautiful, and peaceful.  I think it will be a delightful place for Bible reading, prayer and meditation.
 Water lilies, something I haven't seen in West Texas.
 One end of the pond is covered in lilies.
 Another little fountain just across the street from King's Daughter Medical Center.
 Kentucky Iron, Coal, and Manufacturing Company sold the park acreage to the city for $32,500 in 1900.  Martin Hilton laid out the city in 1854 and this plot of ground was used as a park back in those days.  King's Daughter is instrumental in the park development.

 2008 Lexington Avenue.  Lon Rogers, coal operator, built this beauty in 1920, complete with cross gables on each end, exterior embellishments and a flowing brown shingled roof.  I am taking information right off the  Ashland Historical Tour pamphlet.

 1900 Lexington Avenue. The Veyssie family occupied this hip roofed, frame home for most of the 20th century, which was built about 1900.  It features a semicircular cast iron porch.

 Pineapples are a symbol of hospitality.   According to Hawthorne Tours the tradition began when sea captains returned to the colonies from adventures among Caribbean Islands loaded with rum, fruit and spices.  The captains speared a pineapple outside their home signaling to folks it was time to join him for food, drink and fun, and I am sure his house was the most popular one on the block, at least as long as the rum held out.
 Here we are at 1520 Lexington Avenue.  This house is probably the first home built on Lexington Avenue back in 1855 by Alexander Bagby.  Bagby was a high powered lawyer from Louisville and the Bagby family lived here until the 1930s.
 These old houses are built high on the hill, definitely out of the flood zone.
 1520 Chestnut Court.  W.W. Culbertson built this home for his second bride, Lucy O'Hara Hardy, in 1876.  The land was compliments of W.W.'s first wife, Sarah Means who died in 1874.  W.W. was an iron manufacturer, state legislator, and mayor of the city.

 1317 Hilton Court.  This is the only view I could get of this house,  built by Martin Hilton in 1855.  He also designed the plan for the town and provided sanctuary for southern soldiers during the Civil War.  The Hilton family owned the home until 1983.  There was no way that I could get in front of the house, so this is as good as the photography is going to be.
 Just a nice home that I saw on the tour.
 1304 Bath Avenue.  Abraham C. Campbell, financier, built this house in 1870.   This is an impressive structure, sitting on a huge gated yard.  The address is big and bold on the entrance gate, and the sign on the other side says, "No Soliciting."  
 The walk way to the Campbell home.
 I had fun using my big lens to get close to the front door.  Nice door decoration!

 1301 Bath.  Rufus VanSant built this beautiful home before 1897.  He was the owner of VanSat-Kitchen Lumber Company.  The stone porch was added in 1913.
1317 Bath.  This charming house dates back to 1875 and belonged to Robert Peebles who was the secretary-treasurer of the Ashland Coal and Iron Company.  This was home to a member of the Peebles family until 1984 and is the only 19th century Gothic house that exists in Ashland.  Now it is an apartment building.
1401 Bath.  W.B. Seaton designed this home in 1893.  W.B. Seaton was manager of Bellefonte, a coal fired iron furnace that was set up in Greenup County in 1826.  He built this house big enough for five children and big enough so they wouldn't be heard.  I do believe he achieved his goal! 
1400 Bath.  In 1920 W.B. Seaton built this fine home for his daughter, Hilda Peebles.  Ms. Peebles died of pneumonia in 1923.  Desjardins and Hayward, architectural firm from Cincinnati, designed the building.
1420 Bath.  This was the largest house in Ashland in 1856 and is still an imposing structure.  John Means was the owner, and a member of the Town Board in 1860.  Then he became president of the Eastern Division of the Lexington and Big Sandy Railroad in 1870.  In 1881 he was elected Ashland mayor.
1504 Bath. Hugh Means is the builder of this awesome structure; it may have been designed by Martin Hilton, city engineer.  Means was a director of Kentucky Iron, Coal and Manufacturing Co. Hugh, Thomas and John Means were Ohio industrialists and they had a major role in the development of Ashland.  After reading about all of his accomplishments, I felt like I need to get off the computer and go do something!
1516 Bath.  I think this is the most spectacular of all the homes.  It was built sometime after 1864; the land was purchased by Eliza Jan Gartrell.  It was later owned by Thomas Means,  John Kobs Sr., John Hager, and Mrs. Alice Fetter, who had the thing torn down around 1917, and she built this mansion, known as the Mayo Manor ( she was the widow of John C.C. Mayo).  It is easy to see that coal was king in the early 1900s.  There were some very wealthy folks in Ashland at that time. 

 Today, this fine home houses the King's Daughters' Medical Foundation, and I am so happy that it is being used and maintained.
 1600 Bath.  In 1875, Robert Poage built this house for his son, Ashland Poage.  Poage was one of the founders of Ashland, and his son was the first born in the city after the Kentucky legislature created it with a special act in 1854.  I have tried to reach the Poages in Rankin, Texas to find out if they are of this family.

1612 Bath.  "Mrs. Sarah Calvin built a frame house on this lot in 1891 which was remodeled in 1954 by Simeon S. Willis, the only resident of Ashland ever to be honored by election as governor of the Commonwealth of Kentucky.  This house utilizes the exterior feature of the 1854 Lace House in Columbia, S.C."  Quoted from Ashland Historical Tour pamphlet.

 1600 Central.  Timothy Field, co-owner of Crump & Field Wholesale Grocery Company, built this palace on Winchester and 17th, then in 1900 the whole thing was moved in tact to 1600 Central with mules (about five blocks).  I am in awe of the engineering it took to build this massive structure, but more in awe of the amazing skill needed to move the whole thing to a new location without tearing it up! 

Indian Mounds in Central Park.

 1616 Bath Avenue.  Andrew Wilson, Ashland contractor, built this brick mansion for Sarah Ann Calvin in 1892.  The house remained in the family until 1979 when Hope McCown, last family member,  passed away.  The house is trimmed in red and cream colored sandstone, with terra cotta

The First Church of Christ, Scientist on 315 17th Street was designed by architect Laura White and built as First Christian Church in 1890.  Now, it is for sale.  the congregation outgrew the sanctuary and has moved.

This painting of the church is on a wall next to the train station.

1624 Winchester Ave.  C.H. Parson's Department Store is now the Highlands Museum and Discovery Center.  The department store opened in 1926.  In 1948 it became the tallest building in Ashland when two more floors were added.  The department store was open for business until 1989.  In 1993 the Highlands Museum opened with historical and cultural exhibits.  Stop in at the gift shop.

First Presbyterian Church located at 1600 Winchester Avenue was finished in 1888.

1544 Winchester Ave.  The Community Trust Bank was originally the Ashland National Bank and finished in 1923.  It crashed during the depression, like many banks did, and in 1932 the Second National Bank bought the building. It became Community Trust Bank in 1980.
Looking all the way up on the Community Trust Bank building.
These beautiful baskets of fuchsia petunias hang from every light pole on Lexington Street.
1601 Winchester Avenue.  This building was built in 1890s as the Merchant National Bank.  Eventually it became the Steele and Lawrence Pharmacy (1946) and the McMeans Pharmacy in 1987.  Now it is a tuxedo shop.
Camayo Arcade, located at 1536 Winchester Avenue, was built in 1926 and was said to be the finest arcade building in the South.  Today shops and offices have taken the place of pool tables and pin ball machines, or whatever was in the arcade.

1401-1405 Greenup Avenue is  the location of the Crump and Field building,  originally a wholesale grocery store and built in 1892.  Restoration of the outside started in 1987 and was finished in 1989.

Calvary Episcopal Church is on 14th and Winchester Avenue.  This structure was consecrated in 1903, however the original church burned after a laundry exploded in 1898.  The fire burned half a city block and was one of the worst fires in Ashland.  In 1979 another fire broke out and burned  the church hall on the west side of the building.
This theater was built in 1930 according to the design created by Paramount Pictures for a model  constructed at the Chicago World's Fair in 1932.  The plan was to have one of these copies built in each of the 48 states.  Three were completed and the Ashland Paramount Theater is the only surviving  copy in existence.
Today the theater is owned by the Greater Ashland Foundation and is the Paramount Arts Center.
These buildings are not on the tour, but are old and across from the Paramount.

If you want some great food go to Fat Patty's located on Winchester Stree in the McCleary Building built in 1907.

First United Methodist Church located on 1801 Carter Avenue.  The building was finished in 1920 for the First Methodist Episcopal Church, North.  The First Methodist Episcopal Church, South joined with this church and became the United Methodist Church.  Mrs. Jay from Jayton said uniting these two churches was a mistake.  Time will tell.

Here we are at 1800 Carter Avenue and believe it or not this is a house that was built in 1880 by Morgan Huff who was the editor of the Ashland Republican.  Mr. Huff is famous for printing "The Ashland Tragedy" which detailed the rape and murder of two girls, and the murder of a brother.  Frances Gibons age 14  and her disable brother, Robert, age 17, and Emma Carico age 15 were bludgeoned to death with an ax and crowbar Christmas Eve 1881.  Now, the building is a dentist office, and the bottom floor has been enlarged for the business. 
These are the buildings that are on the Ashland Historical Tour, but there are many other beautiful homes and buildings to see in this fine city.  Coal and steel have been the life blood of this part of the state.  Our trade with China and the climate change frenzy is taking its tole on this area.  I hate to see buildings that are empty, and businesses that are gone.  I want to see production again.  Hopefully we can see this happen in the near future.