Monday, November 23, 2009

The Victorian House of Westminster Manor

This mansion at South Street was built for Gordon W. Allen and his second wife, Ada, whom Allen married in November 1890. Allen had moved to Union Springs as a youth. In 1861, Allen came to Auburn to read law at his uncle's firm. In 1863 Allen enlisted in the 160th New York Regiment. Allen returned to Auburn in 1865 and wed Caroline Osborne. For 10 years Allen served as treasurer of the D.M. Osborne Company. In 1894, Allen joined with William J. Henry to form the Henry and Allen Company. This firm manufactured reaper blades, chains, and implements at its plant at 231 Wadsworth Street. In August of 1893, the wedding reception of Allen's stepdaughter, Anna Dennis Myers and William H. Seward, Jr. was held in this home.

Many elderly Auburnians associate this mansion with Charles A. McCarthy, who lived here from 1911 until his death in 1937. In 1889, McCarthy joined with John Dunn to create The Dunn and McCarthy Shoe Company. Located on Washington Street the company became a leader in the shoe industry as well as a major employer in Auburn. McCarthy's philanthropic endeavors were numerous. McCarthy gave to the Auburn Theological Seminary building fund and to the construction of the original Auburn City Hospital.

Today this mansion serves as a senior apartment facility for Westminster Manor. Westminster Manor purchased the property in 2002.

Information compiled by Sheila Tucker, Cayuga County Historian

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Montezuma Photography Workshop

New Pond

Naturalist Dave Spier conducted a meeting for nature and wildlife photography e-club members at the Montezuma Audubon Center (MAC) this afternoon from 2:30 PM to 4:00 PM. There were 18 attendees present.

Using the MAC facilities Dave shared several slides showing photos of fall vegetation, snow scenes and wildlife.

Dave employed recently taken photos of frost to show examples of backlighting, random pattern selection and reflection.

Emphasizing the credo, Keep It Simple, Dave pointed out how to focus on the main point of the photo and how to eliminate distractions that do not contribute to the main point.

A question was asked regarding shooting RAW. Dave's explanation seemed to favor taking your photos in the RAW, especially now that photo cards are reasonably priced.

At the conclusion of the program, Art Benning introduced Lois, his wife, and himself to the audience. Mr. Benning said that the Benning Marsh, the 5 acre marsh created in 1991 on the Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge for the purpose of providing additional shorebird habitat, was named after his father, a renown birder.

Looking out through the MAC's windows the gray skies discouraged those in attendance from taking photos today.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Montezuma Audubon Center - Bird Watching

Montezuma Audubon Center - 7 AM

Naturalist Dave Spier conducted an early morning bird monitoring hike around the Montezuma Audubon Center (MAC) today.

At 7:00 AM, our group of four assembled in the MAC parking lot. Dave led our group (Linda from Palmyra, Chuck from Lyons and myself) out onto the frosty grounds.

Upon leaving the parking lot we saw a flock of Canada geese flying east. This was the first of several Canada geese that we would observe this morning.

Trail Map

Walked toward Sandpiper Shallows our presence put up a Great Blue Heron. Using Chuck's telescope stand we viewed 13 Trumpeter Swans floating at the south end of the pond.

Sandpiper Shallows & Marganser Marsh

Went towards the rim of Marganser March.

Marganser Marsh

We continued toward the observation deck. Upon entering the wood Chuck brought to our attention a Red-bellied Woodpecker. Then Dave noted a Tufted Titmouse.

From the observation deck we scanned the area. Some of the Trumpeter Swans took to flight.

View From Deck

Dave on the right, Linda & Chuck

We headed back to the MAC center by way of Warbler Walk. There to the right of the path was a huge tree. Dave identified this massive tree as a wolf tree.

Warbler Walk

Cresting a mound Chuck pointed out an area in which he would like to place a bench.

Views From Chuck's Suggested Location for a Bench

Some of the Audubon Center flora seen on this frosted morning.

Back inside the MAC center referring to The Sibley Field Guide Dave took a few minutes to point out the birds that we saw today.

The sightings the Trumpeter Swans and the Red-bellied Woodpecker were a first for me making the early morning waking worthwhile.

Osage Orange - Revisited

In fall, this fruit’s color turns a bright yellow-green and it has a faint odor similar to that of oranges thus it name The Osage Orange.

Are Osage Oranges edible?

How do you grow Osage Oranges.

Do Osage Oranges repel insects?

This last question was addressed in the October 2009 issue of Better Homes and Gardens. On page 141 to the left of a photo of a decorative tray of wrinkly green hedge apples was the question - Do hedge apples keep spiders out of houses? The answer - This belief isn't supported by science evidence but is widely held, particularly in the Midwest. Demand for hedge apples is such that many grocery stores sell them each fall when the fruits ripen. The tree, known as osage orange, was planted to create fence rows before barbed wire was invented, but it is not a recommended ornamental tree.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Sarah Palin

Going Rogue - Auburn Visit

Former Alaska governor Sarah Palin, right,
rides with her husband Todd and daughter Willow

Former Alaska governor Sarah Palin took part in Auburn's Founders Day on June 6, 2009. This event celebrated the 50th anniversary of Alaskan statehood. Founders Day is an annual celebration of the Auburn's history.

Going Rogue, Palin's book, is being released this week in the midst of a national media blitz.

In the book Palin calls her visit to Auburn and the Finger Lakes “inspiring,” stating she was able to visit sites associated with “heroic figures” like Harriet Tubman - who helped runaway slaves escape through the Underground Railroad - and women's rights pioneers Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony.

Palin recalls in the book seeing Tubman's home in Auburn, a visit that took place the day before Founders Day. “As with Seward, Tubman hadn't taken the easy path. But it was the right path,” Palin writes.

William H. Seward, one of Auburn's most famous residents, was responsible for the United States' purchase of Alaska.

On pages 12-13 of her book, Palin points out that Seward dealt with a lot of criticism for the purchase, which was panned as “Seward's Folly.” But she called him a “visionary” for seeing the land's valuable resources and strategic position.

“Decades later, (Seward) was posthumously vindicated, as purveyors of unpopular common sense often are,” Palin wrote.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Rake'em & Bag'em

The City of Auburn code prohibits city residents from depositing leaves on the street, sidewalk, gutter, curb or other public places unless they are in bags or containers for collection. Also according to the code, property owners are responsible for keeping the street, gutter and sidewalk in front of their properties free of leaves.

In The Citizen today Auburn City Manager Mark Palesh reacted to this the law.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Osage Orange Road Trip

Today after lunch Joan and I drove out to Aurora. Entering Union Springs Joan noted the price of gas at the Indian's fuel pumps, $2.56 a gallon. Doing a quick u-turn I pulled up to the pump and filled the TrailBlazer. Then came the hard part getting back on the highway. The locals were doing their own thing and we were forced to veer off to the left when the red arrows on the signs told you to go right. After detouring around the back of the station we were on our way again.

Osage Orange

Passing the cemetery and rounding the bend coming into Aurora there she was old faithful. Not only did she look glorious in the Fall sunlight but underneath her in the culvert were a multitude of large osage oranges. Always hesitant to venture into the yard here we were able to fill three plastic shopping bags with the oranges that were lying just off the highway.

Osage Orange Tree
Aurora NY

We continued into the village of Aurora. We were seeking the Wells College golf course. Jackie at Smiley's told us that there was an osage orange tree near the clubhouse. A student obligingly directed us to the course. However we did not notice any tree bearing oranges. Since there were several golfers using the links we passed.

We then drove to Long Point State Park. Here Joan collected a bag of rose hips and I walked down to the shoreline.

Long Point State Park
Aurora NY

Driving along the lake we turned back on to the highway and headed for Sherwood. Just south of the four corners we came upon another tried and tree osage orange tree. Once again today we found the culvert overflowing. Joan filled three bags.

Osage Orange Tree
Sherwood NY

We definitely agree that searching for osage oranges before Thanksgiving is the best time.

Upon returning home we celebrated our most successful road trip with take-out from Connie's.

Comments received by email:
Nov 15, 2009
Here in Kentucky, I saw them in the fields where I played as a young preteen. They were called horse apples and weren't considered eatable. Your pictures are very entertaining. Have a great day, Bill Mitchell

Nov 15, 2009
I haven't seen one of them in ages.. my Uncle who had the Dairy Farm would gather them up and give them to all us kids and he would have us stand across from one another to see who could hit who with them. They make good bruises on a youngster...haha

Nov 15, 2009
Here in Ohio we call them,hedge apples....

Nov 15, 2009
What a unique and strange looking fruit. I loved the pictures of your road trip. Please paste more. I've been to Long Island before. What a beautiful state. Enjoy your day :o)

Nov 15, 2009
Sounded like a fun trip! Enjoyed the trip photos. Thanks for sharing with us. Take care now, mitzi

Neat road trip. Scavenging as well, as a bonus.
-- jroot

Beautiful tree and very interesting fruit. When I was thinking about ideas for growing a living fence, my research brought me to the Osage Orange. Evidently, before barbwire was invented, farmers planted young Osage Orange trees close together in a line. By pruning them into a thick hedge, it would grow into a living fence horses, cattle, pigs and goats could not get through. In addition, the trunks make incredible fence posts that resist rot and termites for decades. One of these days, I might try to use this tree to grow a living fence. Thanks for the photos!
-- Robin, Massachusetts

A very successful venture to get the Orange and a Rose bud as bonus. Doug you have taken beautiful photos. Your posting has given us very important information on practical uses of Osage Orange tree for which I thank Robin.
-- Sharad

Osage Orange Revisited

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Fire on Perrine Street

Early this Sunday morning a fire damaged the home at 99 Perrine Street. The homeowner, Maryellen Williams, got out without incident. No one was hurt but the house received moderate smoke damage.

Arriving about 2:07 A.M. firefighters found flames in the attic loft of the wood-frame structure. The blaze was out by 2:24 A.M. but not before firefighters pulled down ceiling tiles in a second floor bedroom to get at it.

Judged accidental. The cause was determined electrical failure in a ceiling fan in an upstairs bedroom. Damage was confined to the upstairs bedroom and a crawl space above the ceiling where a fire hose was used to extinguish the flames.

Terry emailed us after breakfast noting the incident. Until then we were unaware of the happening which took place just down the street. Our house must be sound-proof.