Month: July 2015

Historic Lemp Brewery, in St. Louis

At the time of the St. Louis World’s Fair in 1904, the Lemp Brewing Co of St. Louis was the third largest brewery in America. Founded by a German-American entrepreneur, Adam Lemp, in the city’s south central area, the brewery proved to be an innovator up until the time of Prohibition. Family misfortunes and the Temperance movement took their toll. In response to the outlawing of booze, the Lemp facility attempted to brew a non-alcoholic beverage called Cerva, which flopped. The company could not sustain the factory operations.

In 1922, the family owners sold the complex, covering an entire city block, to the International Shoe Co. for practically nothing. The ISCO in turn finally sold the complex in 1992, leaving it without major tenants. The old brewery and factory site is considered an archtecturally and historically significant site in St. Louis, and the Lemp Hall is still used for catered events.

If you find yourself in St. Louis, a visit to Cherokee Street, which ends at the Brewery’s doorstep, is well worth your time. I lived nearly two decades in St. Louis and knew nothing about this place until I came back recently. Proves to me how ignorant I was as a teen and how wonderful older American cities can be if you bother to spend time exploring.

For the brew historians among you, and there are many I think, here are some interesting anecdotes:

  • Lemp brewed the first successful lager beer in the United States.
  • Lemp used natural underground caves in St. Louis to allow its beer to ferment and produce a superior product.
  • Lemp was the first shipping brewery to establish a national shipping strategy.
  • It was the first brewery to run its own railroad, the Western Cable Railway Company, that connected all of the plant’s main buildings to shipping yards near the Mississippi River.
  • The mansion of the Lemp Family is included on many haunted homes and buildings lists, if you believe in ghosts.

A wonderful documentary that does not use a distorted fisheye lens, like a GoPro I used here, can be found on the Built St. Louis web site.


Summer’s perfect food, a ripe, sweet Missouri-grown watermelon

I practically lived on watermelon for about 15 years of my young life, growing up in St. Louis. Missouri, hot as hell as it was, also was an ideal place to grow the fruit, and the sweetness was to die for. Eating all that watermelon was maybe a gift from heaven, as watermelon is all natural, nutritious, and full of healthy vitamins (A and C) and minerals (potassium and magnesium). It has far fewer calories than processed food, and it reportedly has been linked to promoting recovery in athletes. (Click on the photo to see a larger picture in a separate picture page.)

As beautiful and grand as architecture get, all in St. Louis

I grew up in Metro St. Louis until I was 18. I did a fabulous city architecture tour in my senior year of high school and was blown away by the depth and richness of St. Louis’ architectural past. I learned it was misfortune and visionary legislation that made this possible.

A disastrous and deadly fire in 1849 led the city passing an ordinance preventing the construction of wooden buildings. The easy access to clay deposits led to a boom in brick buildings that provide a richness almost unparalleled in any American city. The money from the industrial era and real-estate speculation allowed for the construction of amazing homes and neighborhoods, even though slums were widely prevalent. Those gems from the golden era of St. Louis remain today. The pictures here are from the historic Cherokee Street area, near the river in South St. Louis, and the Lafayette Square area, in south central St. Louis. In racial terms, those remain mostly white, but that is also changing. Cherokee Street now hosts Hispanic celebrations, due to their large presence.

A web site dedicated to St. Louis’ diverse architectural styles provides a nice overview for those who do not have a background in architecture, with a nice sample of the gems any visitor can find with a map and simple curiosity. The styles I have captured are mostly Second Empire, inspired by French designs, and one Neoclassical design for the Chatillon mansion.

Gardening gone wild at a Lutheran seminary

During my recent visit to St. Louis, I visited one of my favorite places, Concordia Lutheran Seminary, which trains young Lutheran ministers of the Lutheran Church of the Missouri Synod (the conservative branch) for their life’s work. To my surprise, I spotted four woman arrive in front of the campus church with bags. They began filling those bags with the green leaves. Turns out the church’s flower beds actually were kale beds. The four told me there were other gardens on campus with vegetables and spices. I did a quick Google search and learned the gardens were the brainchild of the Seminary Guild, made up of mostly women who are doing some good deeds. Wow, what a great idea. I would love to see this happen elsewhere, but I think the gardens would be picked clean. Concordia is relatively secluded, so it can sustain a huge batch of basil without pesto makers swooping in.

(Click on each photograph to see a larger picture on a separate picture page.)

Pastures of plenty

The brutally hot and dry year means that crops are coming up short and being harvested early. Wheat harvests are underway now in Oregon, and the stalks are a bit short. Here are a few shots I took last week, of corn and wheat, in Oregon. (Click on each photo to see a larger picture on a separate picture page.)

FYI, the title was a Woody Guthrie reference, if you missed it.

Sauvie Island river surf

North of Portland, you will find Sauvie Island, a stretch of land that is both a fish and wildlife area and superb farmland. About 30 mammals can be found here, not to mention dozens of different bird species. Today I spied osprey to egrets. It is also a layover spot for migratory birds on their passages north and south.

One of the nicest sections of this popular getaway from Portland are the beaches that line the Columbia River. No doubt Native Americans fished and hunted here for thousands of years. Today, you will find residents from the Portland area trying to stay cool.

The sandy stretches are superb. You can see the freighter traffic pass by, to the ports of Portland and Vancouver, where there are large grain silos and shipping docks. When the big ships pass by, they of course leave some powerful wakes that create micro surf on the beach. It is a pretty fun thing to do on a hot day, and everyone I saw was having a great time.

(Click on each photo to see a larger picture on a separate picture page.)


My faith in humanity

On days when chaotic people around me seem overwhelming, in that place called life and the real world, I always seek the solace in what I know to be universally true. And that is the goodness in others.

I ignore the emotional tornadoes who suck energy from others, and I bring back memories of people I have met everywhere in the world. Today, on a day when the whirlwind people were a bit too much, I got a jolt of the “rest of humanity” through some friendly old smiles. Here are a few of their faces, taken from my travels in Bali and Java, in Indonesia, in February 2009.

(Click on each photo to see a larger picture on a separate picture page.)

Memorial to the masterminds of the Armenian genocide

Fourteen years ago I traveled in Turkey and worked on a documentary project photographing the legacy of Armenia’s culture in modern-day Turkey and historic locations associated with Armenians’ long history in Anatolia. I also photographed locations linked to the genocide of Armenian citizens of the Ottoman Empire, between 1915 and 1922. About 1.5 million civilians were slaughtered in the first documented case of genocide in the 20th century. This fact is still disputed today by the Republic of Turkey, and I outright discount that argument because of the overwhelming evidence, from documents, first-person accounts, and mountains of evidence.

The Talaat Pasha Memorial in Instanbul proved to be the hardest place for me to find and photograph. There was no guidebook showing me the way, and no map called it out. Even its name was in dispute. I called it the Talaat Pasha memorial, and that is what some Turks I met called it when I finally tracked it down in the Caglayan neighborhood of Istanbul. It was gated, not well-marked, and overgrown with weeds. It was not the safest place to go, and photographing the monuments in the square likely would have caused me problems. So, I made a fast job of it, snapped some photos, and left quickly.

Currently web sites are now publishing pictures of the site, more than a decade later.  Here are photos by a Turkish photographer from 2011. Web sites I found, including the Wikipedia entry (whose facts may not be fully accurate), also show contemporary photos of the location. I have found the plaza square to be dubbed the Monument of Liberty Cemetery and Hürriyet Şehitleri Abidesi, or “Freedom Martyrs Monument.” There is apparent agreement of online sources that the site was originally built before World War I to honor reformers, who died or were killed.

It is perhaps famous or infamous today becuase it has the graves of the remains of two of the three leaders of the Ottoman Empire, Enver Pasha and Talaat Pasha, who organized the genocide against civilian Armenians. (You can read my detailed story here about the genocide and my trip to Turkey; note the file is large, so please allow time for it to download.)

Current photographs of those memorials honoring these leaders is even published by the official Government of Turkey web site. That site clearly shows the memorials of these two leaders and notes, almost ironically, the massive Palace of Justice of Istanbul that has been built behind the memorial plaza: “Hailed as the biggest courthouse in Europe by the government, it overlooks the park and the Monument. It almost seems like the justice system is entrusted to the watch of the Committee whose members used to pledge alliance to it with a rifle and Quran. Whether this has any connection with justice let alone liberty is of course another question.”

Symbolism and language matter, as do monuments. Enver Pasha’s remains were returned here in 1996, and Talaat Pasha’s remains in 1943, during World War II. When Enver Pasha’s remains were feted in a ceremony in 1998, one news account noted that thousands attended, including President Suleyman Demirel, ministers, deputies, and Turkey’s top generals, and the former war minister. Enver Pasha was proclaimed a martyr. “Enver Pasha, with his faults and merits, is an important symbol of our recent history,” Demirel said. “We have no doubt that history will reach the proper judgments through evaluating past events.”

The photo evidence published online today and the Government of Turkey’s web site that shows a spruced up memorial  clearly signal that the current government of Turkey shows no interest in backing away from its denial that the last leaders of the former Ottoman Empire were masterminds of a massive human rights violation, which still causes controversy today.

(Click on each photograph to see a larger picture on a separate picture page.)

A story for every stone

My explorations of Portland’s historic Lone Fir Cemetery found lots of fascinating headstones. Each represents a life, a full story, a story that intersects with hundreds of other stories. And how do we remember these former residents, who are now but forgotten. Cemeteries remain a good place to contemplate one’s life and what one does with one’s life. Because ultimately we all return to the earth, and our life is but a speck in the passage in time in an infinite universe. (Click on each photograph to see a larger picture on a separate picture page.)