Sunday, December 16, 2012

Christmas Tour of Historic Homes

Today we went on a Christmas tour of historic homes in Alpine. This home was designed and built around 1902 by well known pioneer architect and building contractor, William Daugherty.  The interior of the home has the feel of solid construction, and a designer that was ahead of his times.  Although it has a warm classic feel, there are many features in the interior architecture that seem modern.  Mr. Daugherty designed and built many of the finest homes, businesses and churches in Alpine.
The interior of this stucco home was our favorite!  The furnishings are very eclectic!  Everything about this home had a fascinating quality.  Super kudos to the owners on their decorating skills!  An article in the October 14, 1927 edition of the Alpine Avalanche announced in regards to this home that "one of the most modern and complete homes in Alpine" was be be built for Mr. and Mrs. J.C. Coleman.  Mr. Coleman was the first graduate of Sul Ross University.    
William Daugherty designed and built this home in 1908 for Mr. and Mrs. William Townsend, parents of noted Brewster County lawman and legislator, E.E. Townsend.  The home was later sold to A.H. Parmer.  Mr. Parmer's first wife and the mother of his children, was Susan Lavenia James, younger sister of the outlaws Frank and Jesse James.  The home is now owned by a couple from out of the area, who use it as a place to stay while in Alpine.  The home is very sparsely furnished.  Note the large windows and two front doors.  The front doors seemed of larger dimensions than usual and opened into two large rooms at the front of the house.  Large windows were prevalent throughout the house.  Even the rooms were expansive in floor space and high ceilings.  It gave the feeling that the expansive rooms would be wonderfully cool on a hot day, with all those large doors and windows circulating a breeze.  The house is reported to be a hybrid of Greek Revival and Victorian Styles.  I loved this home for its openness and aire of yesteryears!  
This home had a present day artistic feel.  It was built around 1901.  It has a Gambrel barnstyle roofline, popular in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.  The rooms are very small, and it has a steep narrow stairway to the upstairs bedrooms. This home in present times seemed comfortable for at most two people. There was a large church and one more home on the tour that didn't lend themselves to pictures.  Roy and I found it interesting that while we could appreciate every aspect of the homes on the tour, that neither of us felt any longing for home ownership.  That bodes well to the longevity of our gypsy life!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

The Marfa Mystery Lights

This is Highway 67/90 heading out of Alpine towards the community of Marfa.
Marfa is 24 miles through the desert.
About 8 miles before reaching Marfa is a viewing station for what is known as the Marfa mystery lights. 
This is the viewing platform.  The round portion of the building contains restrooms.
If you guessed it would be pitch black in the middle of the desert at night, you would be very right!  Lights in the viewing area and the driveway area leading to it are kept to a minimum for better viewing of the mysterious lights that appear over the desert.  There were cars along the drive, but when we got to the platform there was only one man with the hood of his sweatshirt pulled over his head.  The dark was spooky enough, but to share it with this shadowy lone figure was too much to relax and enjoy the light show.  To be fair I think we made him as nervous as he made us!  The night temperature in the desert in December didn't lend to our wanting to linger for the light show either.  A few minutes of nervousness and we all departed.  We did see the shimmer of a light or two before leaving.
This is an Internet picture of some of the lights.  The Marfa mystery lights have been appearing over this area of the desert since the 1800s.  They appear in all seasons and all types of weather.  The only stipulation is that it be nighttime.  Some are occasionally seen at dusk and early dawn.  They are about the size of a basketball, come in a variety of colors, and float from 10' to 400' in altitude.  Varying numbers of the lights appear, and they act independently of one another.  The individual lights may last a few seconds to an hour and move in all directions!  Some people report having been followed by them or having had them come close overhead!  Native Americans claim that they are spirits of their ancestors, some say they are U.F.O.s, and others say they are produced by swamp gas.  A common theory is that atmospheric conditions cause lights from vehicles 20 miles away and over the distant ridge to be reflected.  Others say that this can't be true, as the lights were being seen before cars were around!  Conspiracy theorists believe that because there was once an Airforce base close by that there is an underground laboratory where experiments are being conducted!  There are some videos on YouTube to explore and lots of information on the Internet to research.  I discovered that there are group tours out of Marfa.  That might be a more comfortable way to view the lights.  If we are in the area during warmer weather, I'd like to give viewing the lights another try.  They would definitely be fascinating!