Posts Tagged With: Lewis county West Virginia

Halloween visit to the haunted Lunatic Asylum

Visiting the Trans Allegheny Lunatic Asylum is my favorite place to explore as an artist and photographer.So when a friend explained a desire to see the huge building in person this Halloween, I was over joyed to share my love with them. So Oct 29th we spent the day exploring and learning about one of West Virginia’s most unusual places. The Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum, constructed between 1858 and 1881, is the largest hand-cut stone masonry building in North America, and is purportedly the second largest in the world, next to the Kremlin. With the VIP tour tickets in hand, we spent our morning learning about the treatment and care of our mentally ill and how it has changed over the last 140 years. We also took this unique opportunity to photograph something that is in various stages of restoration and decay. The TALA was closed in 1994 due to the deterioration of the facility and changes in the laws about care of those who suffer from mental illness. At that time the State of West Virginia had no plan for the future of the building  and the 300 acres of farm land that they now had owned in the center of a sleepy farm town.cropped-fall-afternoon-on-the-lawn-of-the-trans-allegheny-lunatic-asylum-west-wv-2016.jpg

The Trans Allegheny Lunatic Asylum fell into deep disrepair over the next 9 years leaving the community of Weston, West Virginia to wonder what the future would hold for their Georgian style monument. Would the building be sold off one huge block at a time, would a developer take control  of the land and building and turn it into something that would help the small town or would the TALA just fall apart from neglect. In 2003 Lewis County got its answer as  Morgantown asbestos demolition contractor  Joe Jordan bought the nationally listed historic building for 1.5 million dollars. It was the start of a new beginning for the building and the town.

As a local resident for many years, I have always heard the ghost stories told about the Asylum. I always wanted to get inside to see for myself if it was as spooky and mysterious as reported. Over the years I have been inside some of the buildings, but this trip I was astounded at the amount of work that the Jordan family has committed to doing. Here is just a sample of  images that show what kind of shape the building was in 2007 and in some cases still is today.

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Drop cloth on the floor of the plaster repair shop TALA.

 

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Sunlight on a solitary confinement room at the TALA.

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Washing sink in the kitchen food prep area of the hospital. This seems to be one of the first sinks in this area the newer ones are stainless steel.

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Creepy reflections appear in a widow at the medication dispensary area of the Trans Allegheny Lunatic Asylum.

The woman on the left is a lady as part of our tour group… the older woman on the right without a body remains a mystery. I also have several photos with orbs in them and some believe that the orbs are images of spirits that are in the room.

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Lilly’s room at the TALA where at times ghostly things happen with the toys offered to her.

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Single desk in a common area of the TALA with bared windows and chipping paint.

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Metal bed frame imprinted into the tile floor of one of the patient rooms.

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Sunlight streams through a cobweb covered window looking out on another portion of the TALA.

 

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Doors and windows and grotesque faces on the back of the civil war section of the building of the TALA.

Our tour took us up the three  floors of the main building and from the civil war era to almost modern times with in the building. Each tour that Greg gives is slightly different and geared for the group he leads.Some portions of the main building have been restored had wonderful time period furnishings and made visitors understand what the buildings intended purpose was in the 1800’s.

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Tour guide Greg showing off some of the furniture that is original to the TALA.

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What a room at the TALA could look like for those who were well-behaved.

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Common room area niche with “tea time” table setting on first floor wing

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The first item to be restored was the clock tower and clocks the color that was chosen for the trim of the tower is a color match from the 1800’s.

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My friend Alex Smits in the reflection of a mantel mirror in the restored administrators office at the TALA.

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Second floor nurses quarters unmarried nurses were allowed to live at the TALA and these are were they would have visited and relaxed in the common areas.

The VIP tour lasts around 90 to 95 minutes and covers every area inside the large stone building from the entry area to the scary electro-shock therapy rooms and solitary confinement rooms. It showed what the building was meant to be and also showed visitors what really happened in the days of over crowding when a one person room would have three or four living in small 10 x 10 cells that reminded me of prison cells rather than recovery rooms.

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Observation window in the wall of the shock therapy room.

Alex and I both felt a mixture of fascination and horror while on the tour when we found out the many ways Dr.’s tried to “help” the people who found themselves committed here. I have often been disappointed in our fellow-man but when a person realizes the reasons that were used to place people in facilities like this one… if makes the hair stand up on the back of you neck.

REASONS FOR ADMISSION
WEST VIRGINIA HOSPITAL FOR THE INSANE (WESTON)
OCTOBER 22, 1864 to DECEMBER 12, 1889Amenorrhea
Asthma
Bad company
Bad habits & political excitement
Bad whiskey
Bite of a rattle snake
Bloody flux
Brain fever
Business nerves
Carbonic acid gas
Carbuncle
Cerebral softening
Cold
Congetion of brain
Constitutional
Crime
Death of sons in the war
Decoyed into the army
Deranged masturbation
Desertion by husband
Diptheria
Disappointed affection
Disappointed love
Disappointment
Dissipation of nervesDissolute habits
Dog bite
Domestic affliction
Domestic trouble
Douby about mother’s ancestors
Dropsy
Effusion on the brain
Egotism
Epileptic fits
Excessive sexual abuse
Excitement as officer
Explosion of shell nearby
Exposure & hereditary
Exposure & quackery
Exposure in army
Fall from horse
False confinement
Feebleness of intellect
Fell from horse
Female disease
Fever
Fever & loss of law suit
Fever & nerved
Fighting fire
Fits & desertion of husband

Gastritis
Gathering in the head
Greediness
Grief
Gunshot wound
Hard study
Hereditary predisposition
Ill treatment by husband
Imaginary female trouble
Immoral life
Imprisonment
Indigestion
Intemperance
Interferance
Jealousy
Jealousy & religion
Kick of horse
Kicked in the head by a horse
Laziness
Liver and social disease
Loss of arm
Marriage of son
Masturbation & syphillis
Masturbation for 30 years
Medicine to prevent conception

Menstrual deranged
Mental excitement
Milk fever
Moral sanity
Novel reading
Nymphomania
Opium habit
Over action on the mind
Over heat
Over study of religion
Over taxing mental powers.
Parents were cousins
Pecuniary losses: worms
Periodical fits
Political excitement
Politics
Puerperal
Religious enthusiasm
Religious excitement
Remorse
Rumor of husband’s murder or desertion
Salvation army
Scarlatina
Seduction
Seduction & dissappointment

Self abuse
Severe labor
Sexual abuse and stimulants
Sexual derangement
Shooting of daughter
Smallpox
Snuff
Snuff eating for two years
Softening of the brain
Spinal irritation
Sun stroke
Sunstroke
Superstition
Supressed masturbation
Supression of menses
Tabacco & masturbation: hysteria
The war
Time of life
Trouble
Uterine derangement
Venerial excesses
Vicious vices in early life
Women
Women trouble
Young lady & fear

Sources: http://www.trans-alleghenylunaticasylum.com/main/history3.html

In most cases we would all be committed and institutionalized for the rest of our lives here if they still fallowed these reasons. Thank goodness we have modern medications and treatments.Yet, our tour guide repeatedly told us that several patients at the Asylum cried and became distraught when they closed down the building and had to be move. Some patients had lived inside the gates of the TALA their whole lives and were not stable enough to understand why they had to leave.

No matter how you feel about the TALA it is an interesting tour and a very educational one. I left the building with mixed feelings, I felt shame and heart-break for the people who lived here, fascination for the history and architecture, scared in some of the rooms and by the detailed information given about procedures and treatments. I felt sadness while looking at the art of the patients. I did not include many of my photos because the drawings and painting evoke such strong emotions that I felt as if I was sharing something very personal and did not have the right to.

In the end I had a great time, I got spend time with someone I really enjoy, and got to take photos of a historic old creepy building.. what a wonderful Halloween I had.

 

 

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Categories: Appalachian Mountains, Civil War, Halloween, Lewis County, museums, Photos, sickness, Trans Allegheny Lunatic Asylum, Travel, wellness | Tags: , , , , | 4 Comments

The 1800’s Mansion on the Hill, The Lewis County Library,Weston WV

Time stands still every time I have the opportunity to spend time in this historic mansion. Lewis County, West Virginia is one of a few communities that have taken on the major task of making one of their county’s most historic buildings useful in modern times. The Louis Bennett Memorial Public Library is a grand house built by local craftsmen with local materials between 1874-1876. It represents the “Can Do Spirit” of the West Virginia people. With its massive size (4 stories) and grand features(12 foot ceilings) it allows visitors to imagine what life would have been like for the very wealthy who could live in such large homes.

front of Louis Bennett Library

Front of Louis Bennett Memorial Library from the Court Street View. The white enclosed porch was the normal family entrance and the grand double front doors were rarely used.

4 story mansion donated to the city of Weston,WVG for use as a llibrary

4 story mansion donated to the city of Weston,WV for use as a library in 1922.

 

Senator Jonathan McCally Bennett had the huge home built overlooking the downtown area of Weston, West Virginia after his home at the same site burned to the ground. The  replacement home is in the Italianate style with 20 rooms and built by the Parkersburg architect Columbus B. Kirkpatrick. At the time this may have been the first house in Lewis County the used a real architect for its construction. The construction contained 125,000 bricks and 209 handmade windows, one that is round and ruby-red in the tower. The large house is heated with two main chimneys with 6 fireplaces not including the kitchen chimney with two fireplaces used for cooking in the rear half of the house.  The home became plumped for illuminating gas at the end of 1875 making it one of only two buildings to have gas lighting throughout at that time. The other building with gas illumination at the time was the Trans Allegheny Lunatic Asylum only a few blocks from main street and easily visible from the front porches of the Bennett’s new home.

On June 21,1875 Jonathan and his wife Margaret moved into the residence while some construction continued on some of the finer details. The cost of the mansion is stated as $4,000 in 1876 and converts to about $450,000.00 + in today’s market. Sadly after a decade of life in the grand house Margaret Bennett succumb to heart problems and died in 1886. Then to the dismay of their 4 children Jonathan M. Bennett passed away a year later. The house was left to their 4 children and eventually placed into the care of their son Louis. The home remained in their hands until the death of Louis Sr, and of Louis Jr, his son during World War I. These two deaths within a month of each other drove Mrs. Bennett to make arrangements for the houses donation to Lewis County for use at the first Public Library. In 1922 the home transferred hands and Mrs Bennett moved to Europe. The home has since been used as a Library and meeting area for the community of Weston and all of Lewis County.

When visiting the massive building your first view of the inside of the building is of the grand hall on the main floor with the staircase and upgraded chandelier that was once a gas light fixture. The County has tried very hard to leave the home as close to “lived in” condition as possible adding only what is necessary to make the building safe and warm.

Main hall with a view of the front doors and Chandelier

Main hall with a view of the front doors and chandelier at the Louis Bennett Memorial Library.

The remaining rooms on the main floor are two parlors, a dining room, kitchen, and small library. The two parlors are home to the circulation desk, the main collection of fiction books and computers. The library room is used as a small meeting room/ reading room. The dining room and kitchen areas are for the children’s books and the nonfiction collections.

Main staircase and entry of the Louis Bennett Memorial Library

Main staircase and entry of the Louis Bennett Memorial Library.

The second level of the mansion includes what the Bennett’s used Bedrooms. Again off of a main hall the second floor housed 4 bedrooms two for the parents and two for the girls and boys. Today the wall between two of the rooms is removed to make a large meeting area where we have our book club meetings. The other rooms are now two offices and a bathroom.

My book club meeting in the second floor meeting room with Christopher

My book club meeting in the second floor meeting room with Christopher.

The third floor housed the servants quarters with three main rooms and a bathroom and door way for the tower. The third floor has individual rooms for selling used books and is full of donations for fund-raising for the library.

Christopher in the Attack of the Louis Bennett Library. Front peak room full of used Children's books

Christopher in the Attack of the Louis Bennett Library. Front peak room full of used children’s books.

Third story bathroom in the Louise Bennett Library

Third story bathroom in the Louise Bennett Library.

The tower also held small rooms for servants or children. The middle room of the tower has two balconies for viewing the sights of the growing town and a small drawing-room at the top surrounded by windows on all  four sides. The public is not allowed into the tower any more and the head Librarian states that its maintenance is major concern.

Rear view and main entry into Lewis Bennett Memorial Library

Rear view and main entry into Lewis Bennett Memorial Library

This small library serves a county of about 16,500 people and is one of the most beautiful buildings along the downtown area. For our family and many others this is the only library with in the county and is one of the very few places that the public had free access to computers and internet. This old house serves a very vital role in Lewis County and I happy to see is still open to the public and being used everyday. I am proud user and supporter of this wonderful building and hope that more people of my local area see how important it is to try to preserve it.

Entry way of the Louis Bennett Library

Entry way of the Louis Bennett Library

All factual information on the construction of the house is gathered from a booklet by Otis and Betty Reed of Weston West Virginia, Titled ” The Building of the Jonathan McCally Bennett Mansion in Weston”. Copyrighted 1997,by the Friends of the Louise Bennett Public Library,inc. The information is used with permission of the the Head Librarian Karen Enderele, 2016.

Categories: Books, Country life, historic locations, Lewis Bennett Library, West Virginia, Weston | Tags: , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

The Lost Soul of Loveberry Ridge Church. ( St Bernard Catholic Church, Lewis Co. WV)

The wood sided church sits on a hill on a one lane road, miles from the nearest town. The tree-lined road is quite and family homes speckle the trip up to the 1910 church. The well cared for church and cemetery were once the center of catholic life in the Lewis County, West Virginia. With many of the parishioners being immigrants from Ireland who brought with them their Catholic faith and traditions. These include the sad tradition of not allowing the bodies of the damned  buried inside church cemeteries. The story of John Kennedy and his unusual burial is the reason so many have thought over the years that this church and cemetery are haunted.

Back Side of St. Bernard Church Lewis County West Virginia

Back Side of St. Bernard Church Lewis County West Virginia

Construction on the single room church finished and services began in 1910. Yet, many of the graves in the cemetery are from the late 1800’s, the graves are remnants of earlier church yards.This structure is actually the third version of the church.The first being recorded back to a log Catholic Church that was active in the 1850’s. All of the  churches have  looked down over Loveberry Ridge as a beacon on the hill to those looking for a place to worship.

Many churches and cemeteries in the mountain state are on the tops of hills or mountains no matter what the denomination.West Virginia people held the belief that you were “closer to God” when you worshiped/ spent eternity/ on a mountain top. The other more practical reason to have a cemetery on a hill-top is flooding. West Virginia is prone to flash flooding and has a wet climate making bottom land swampy and full of bogs if not well-drained. So in the 1800’s a wise choice was to place the wooden coffins in higher locations where they would not float to the top of the ground during a flood or bob up to the surface if a fresh water spring started under the cemetery.

St Bernard and Rectory 1938

St Bernard and Rectory 1938 sourced from www.orlandostonesoup.blogspot.com.

If you look closely at the above photo and the photos below you will see a tombstone that is not in line with the others in the church cemetery. Up against the fence, alone, is the stone marking the grave site of John Kennedy. The stone is so close to the fence that an adult can not pass between it and the fence. On the ground in front of the headstone is his foot stone with just the J.K. marking. This is a strange placement for a foot stone during Victorian times, it would have been places several feet below the head of the dead. It is this grave that started the stories of the haunting at the Church.

Cemetery and Church of St Bernard, showing headstone of John Kennedy

Cemetery and Church of St Bernard, showing headstone of John Kennedy

Headstone of john Kennedy through iron fence

Headstone of john Kennedy through iron fence

HD photo of inscription of Tombstone of John Kennedy St Bernard church, Weston, West Virginia

HD photo of inscription of Tombstone of John Kennedy St Bernard church, Weston, West Virginia

Footstone of John Kennedy at St. Bernard Church Weston, WV

Foot stone of John Kennedy at St. Bernard Church Weston, WV

As was the custom of the 1800’s Catholic Church, any person who committed a mortal sin was unable to have a Funeral Mass or burial in the church cemetery. John Kennedy committed suicide at the young age of 19 making it impossible for his remains to stay in St Bernard’s cemetery. Johns other family members are buried in the cemetery and were people of wealth and power making it possible for John to have the large marker with in the fence of St Bernard’s but not his body. The remains are in the small bank along the road outside the fence. Leaving John to forever struggling with the fact that his bones are outside the sacred ground of the church and without the holy blessing of the priest. Some say that John roams the road and parking lot. That he is always looking for a way back into the good graces of the church and family.

First hand sightings have said that the front and back gates of the church will open and close on their own even though both gates into the property have latches. That a black shadow figure moves around the parking area and up and down the road to the church. That at certain times of the year that the church windows glow at night as if by candle light. As if some one is trying to look out of the church into the cemetery.

Top gate at back of church at St Bernard, Weston, WV

Top gate at back of church at St Bernard, Weston, WV

Back view of front gate at St. Bernard church, Weston, wv

Back view of front gate at St. Bernard church, Weston, WV

It is interesting to note that the remains of the Rectory are still visible across the road where Father Thomas A Quirk over saw the building of this church and lived most of his life. The rectorie’s well, cellar and stone path are still visible to anyone who would want to walk up the steep bank to see them. The property is also protected with a huge wooden cross that stands on the front of the bank where the main house and offices would have stood. This maybe why the ghost is only seen in the road…

Cellar of rectory of St Bernard church, Weston, WV

Cellar of rectory of St Bernard church, Weston, WV

Well cover at the site of rectory of St Bernard church

Well cover at the site of rectory of St Bernard church

Wooden Cross at the location of the rectory of St Bernard church

Wooden Cross at the location of the rectory of St Bernard Church

It is also possible that the strange happenings at (inside and out) the church could be caused by the ongoing conflict between the longtime resident Father Thomas Quirk and the young man John Kennedy. Father Quirk passed in 1937 after serving his parish for over 39 nine years passing at the age of 92. His resting place in the cemetery  has a large white sculpture of Calvary with a monolithic gray granite stone slab where his remains rest only feet from the stone marker for John Kennedy.

Monument to Father Thomas A Quirk at St Bernard church

Monument to Father Thomas A Quirk at St Bernard Church

Monsignor Thomas Aquinas Quirk, dead, 15 September 1937, St. Bernard's Catholic Church. Photo: Arch Ellis

Monsignor Thomas Aquinas Quirk, dead, 15 September
1937, St. Bernard’s Catholic Church.
Photo: Arch Ellis. sourced from http://www.orlandostonesoup.blogspot.com

Locals believe that Monsignor Quirk is the spirit still protecting the church and its Revival Gothic interior. The Monsignor’s ghost will not allow anyone who enters the church to remove anything that belongs to his church. The story goes that nothing from hymnals to bibles can be removed from the church by anyone who is not approved by the watchful ghost. Many stories state that if a person attempts to remove the altar bible from the church the book gains weight as the uninvited guest  progresses down the isle of the church. Finally the book becomes to heavy to carry and drops to the floor where it is impossible to moved.In the last few years the care takers of the church have also added the watchful eyes of security cameras to prevent unwanted intruders from entering the church. The Church is officially closed now days, no services are regularly held, but the church remains part of Catholic life in Lewis County. Some summers the church is open when they choose to have home-coming events and weddings at the remote location.

I did not need to see the inside of the church this day. All I needed was to see the headstone of John Kennedy and say a little prayer for him. I hope that his eternal struggle is over and that one day he would find some kind of peace in the cemetery way up at Loveberry Ridge.

Photo enhancement of front gate at St Bernard Church

Photo enhancement of front gate at St Bernard Church by Jolynn Powers

 

 

Categories: Cemetaries, Church, ghost stories, Halloween, historic locations, nostalgic, rural life, traveling, West Virginia, Weston | Tags: , , , , , , | 13 Comments

For My Love of Bridges: Wheeling Island and Walkersville Covered Bridge

 

Wheeling Island Bridge deck and walkways

Wheeling Island Bridge deck and walkways

So as a creative person who loves to take photos almost more than any other free time activity,I spend a lot of time thinking about where and what I will take photos. Ten years ago I found my muse. Unlike some photographers  I do not take a lot of photos of humans or love to trek into the wilderness to find beautiful vistas or take photos of the night sky with a million stars. I can’t help it, I love to photograph bridges.

This summer I actually spent some time with two historic bridges here in West Virginia and wanted to add them to the collection of photos I have of them. Then if that is not strange enough… my husband recently started work for the State Wide Bridge Department for the Dept of  Highways here in WV. So I get to fallow him around our state taking more photos of bridges he works on and in the surrounding area of his locations. My love affair always seems to lead to him!

So I wanted to share some photos of where we have been this summer and what I have seen. My first stop was to see the oldest suspension bridge that is still open to traffic in the United States. The bridge passes over the Ohio River and connects Wheeling Island to the main city of Wheeling, West Virginia and the state of  Ohio. The Island is a large populated island in the Ohio River with a wonderful history of flooding and escaping the river. Bridge construction completed in 1849 and has been in continuous use ever since. The bridge looks almost the same as it appeared in the 1800 except for the decking was changed in the 1950’s to better deal with the problem of swing caused by the wind and traffic.

Stone Pier of the Wheeling Island Bridge, Island side.

Stone Pier of the Wheeling Island Bridge, Island side.

It is one of my favorite bridges so far because the bridge design has always included the two side walks you see in the upper photo… Meaning I get to walk across the 1010 foot span of the bridge and not get stuck on the road way to take photos and I get to feel the strong cables that hold me above the cold water of the Ohio. I spent some time imagining the many families who would walk the bridge in the early 1900’s to get to the city to buy necessities for their family every week. Then make the return trip before dark with tired children and arms full of produce and meats. The view from the bridge is lovely, it shows off the Ohio River Valley and some of the  historic homes of Wheeling island.

Barge moving slowly up the Ohio River from Wheeling to Wirton West Virginia

Barge moving slowly North up the Ohio River from Wheeling to Wierton West Virginia

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New Life Church on the bank of the Ohio River on Wheeling Island… and my little silver car!

The bridge drops you on Main Street in downtown Wheeling and only about a block from the Capital Theater.  It is West Virginia’s largest and oldest theaters… and a career starting point of Brad Paisley’s musical life. It is beautiful and worth it to stop to enjoy its charm and if you are lucky see a show.

Front of Capitol Theatre, Wheeling West Virginia

Front of Capitol Theater/ Theatre, Wheeling West Virginia

Pediment of Capitol Theatre/ Theater, Wheeling WV

Pediment of Capitol Theatre/ Theater, Wheeling WV

The Bridge and Wheeling island are nice reason for a trip to downtown Wheeling. There are so many beautiful places hidden in the old down town area. I hope to spend more time walking the city streets at some point but for this trip the National road and Wheeling Island bridge were a great way to spend the afternoon.

The other bridge the my family stopped to take photos is not far from our home and is one of 17 restored Covered Bridges that remain in West Virginia. This one is pretty small in comparison to others, but It is still a wonderful place to enjoy the views. The Walkersville Covered Bridge is in the southern part of Lewis County in the North Central Region of the state. It crosses the Right Fork of the West Fork River and passes through several small communities. The bridge is a 39 feet 4 inches long and constructed in 1903 to help passage of farmers from their farms to the city of Weston. My family passes the bridge quite often and I love to stop and walk on the wooden trusses and wonder what it would have been like to drive a team of horse with a wagon through the bridge.

The bridge is off the main road and gets very little traffic. The bridge and the surrounding small farms and pastures make it a perfect country setting for photos.

front of the Walkersville Covered Bridge in Lewis County West Virginia

front of the Walkersville Covered Bridge in Lewis County West Virginia.

South side of Walkersville Covered Bridge in Lewis County, WV

South side of Walkersville Covered Bridge in Lewis County, WV

This last photo I took is my favorite of the collection. The inside view makes me think of all the “Sleepy Hallow” movies that I have loved through out my life. To ride a horse through the bridge on a cool foggy early morning would just make this little bridge come to life for me.

Inside View of the Walkersville Covered Bridge

Inside View of the Walkersville Covered Bridge.

The day we stopped to see the bridge the farm next door was taking a lunch break from bailing hay on the hot afternoon. I just could not keep myself from taking a photo of the tractor and bailer at rest for a short time in the field.

lunch time on the farm during hay season

lunch time on the farm during hay season.

The covered bridge will be part of a seasonal series that I hope to make. Because the bridge is so close to my home I can take time during winter and fall to try to capture some of the beauty that nature adds to such an old structure. I hope to grow my photo collection over the next couple of years and share them through a calendar at some point.

 

 

Categories: bridges, nostalgic, photo review, Photos, traveling | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

Lambert’s Vintage Winery, advice from a wine maker

Stone entry sign at Lambert's vintage winery, Weston, West Virginia

Stone entry sign at Lambert’s vintage winery, Weston, West Virginia

Since spring has not really reached my home yet,  I thought this was the best time to do  more investigations into wine making and visit some friends who make wine for a living here in North Central West Virginia. The Lambert family owns and operates one of the loveliest winery’s in our northern Appalachian mountains. Hidden back on a hill the winery has some thing for everyone, even a newbie wine maker. I spent the afternoon with J.B. Lambert ( son of owners Jim and Deb Lambert) and Jimmy Blake as they showed me the wine making process. They let me taste some of their stock and ask questions about the most important parts of the wine making process.

Lambert's stone tasting room,store and porch for events

Lambert’s stone tasting room,store and porch for events

The winery property includes several Gothic style stone buildings, a small vineyard, a banquette hall with a catering area, and a waterfall. By late spring the entire place is green rolling hills , flowers and out door fire places for warmth and lots of smiles.

Lambert's winery front doors to tasting room and  kitchen

Lambert’s winery front doors to tasting room and kitchen photo by Jimmy Blake used with permission

Water fall and flowers at the side of the entry of fermentation building  photo by Jimmy Blake used with permission

Water fall and flowers at the side of the entry of fermentation building photo by Jimmy Blake used with permission

The inside of the stone building is just a warm and inviting as the rest of the property with a tasting bar and kitchen area for a summer pizza night.

Wine tasting bar at Lambert's Vintage Wines

Wine tasting bar at Lambert’s Vintage Wines

Dinning table with fire place at Lambert's Vintage wines, Weston, West Virginia

Dinning table with fireplace  at Lambert’s Vintage wines, Weston, West Virginia

J.B Lambert was so helpful for answering all of my fermenting questions. The wine making in the family started with a humble story of a husband brewing in the family kitchen. Father, Jim Lambert started with the same inexpensive equipment as I have. He learned and increased the amount of wine step by step, from kitchen, to basement, to cellar, to garage, to full-out fermentation building under ground. The passion grew with each step and soon the family needed to add  more space to accommodate  the growing equipment and crowds that wanted to see and taste the wine the family made.

Fermentation tanks getting ready for use at Lambert's winery

Fermentation tanks getting ready for use at Lambert’s winery

The smell of wine greats you as J.B. opens the heavy wooden door to this room where most of the real work happens. All equipment gets washed and sanitized before the fruit juice pours into the tanks. J.B. made clear that this was one of the most critical parts of the wine making process,wash and sanitize everything. Making sure that you start with clean yeast and bacteria free equipment to save you from having loses later.   Then J.B. showed me their bottling machine. It fills the bottles, corks and labels them in a matter of seconds. Sadly, for me this process will not finished in seconds at home. I hope to spend most of one whole day doing nothing but bottling and corking two cases of bottles.

bottling machine at Lambert's vintage wines

bottling machine at Lambert’s vintage wines

When I asked J.B. who designed the distinctive label for the winery, he said that Deb, his mother and Tracy, his sister, were the one who came up with the labels. Their style is apparent every where you look at the winery. They decorated the store, dinning area, and porch and helped with labels and logos. In this photo of  bottles on the tasting bar you can see some of the lovely labels and colored bottles that they use.

bottles on bar at Lambert's winery

bottles on bar at Lambert’s winery

I am hoping to make my own labels on printer friendly, water-soluble paper, I found on-line. This will give my Dandelion wine a unique look when I give it away as gifts. I can also date the wine to help me keep track of the aging process.

After I walked back to the kitchen area from the fermentation room, Jimmy Blake invited me to see their banquette hall. This is the most resent addition to the property. This way a wedding  preformed outside can include a sit down dinner at one location. This addition makes the winery perfect for weddings, reunions, and birthday parties.

seating inside banquette hall of Lambert's vintage wines

seating inside banquette hall of Lambert’s vintage wines

The banquette room includes  beautiful french doors that open out on to a large porch with outdoor seating. While adventuring outside to taking more pictures of the grounds and buildings, I stumbled into the wineries most lovable mascot… their yellow lab. She is a real beauty.

The Lambert winery Mascot

The Lambert winery Mascot

I then went back to the tasting room to talk more about what other important steps in the fermentation process. J.B. Lambert felt that the next two most important steps in home wine making was to learning to rack your wine carefully and testing for alcohol content  as fermentation slowed. You want to stop the process when you are happy with the end product not when the sugar runs out or when you get a vinegar instead of a wine.

Racking the wine is the process that removes sediment from the wine. At home the process can take up to three siphoning processes. When the wine has finished fermentation, to clear away sediment the wine is siphoned from one container to another. This process if done correctly leaves the sediment in the bottom of the first container. Then you allow the wine to sit for another few weeks to settle again and repeat the processes. Their other methods that maybe faster and more expensive but for the home wine maker it is just a simple game of waiting and siphoning.

The second thing that we discussed is stopping the fermentation process before it makes the wine to dry or becomes a vinegar. He explained the Hydrometer and how to use it and what the Campen tablets can do and how is can help me in both the cleaning step and the testing step. I now know that I can stop the fermentation any time. I can also learn to control the amount of alcohol safely and have better control over the finished product with this simple tool. He explained the a Hydrometer was an inexpensive tool at about 8 dollars and that Campden tablets were available at our local liquor store.

While J.B. and I talked I also sampled a few of the 25 different wines and sherry that they  produce. My two personal favorites are their Blush White  Zinfandel that is crisp, fresh and lite and the a White Niagara  that is fruity without being to sweet. Then we tried the Lambert’s newest addition a deep red Chocolate Kiss.The sent is of a Tootsie roll, but to my surprise the flavor is of cherry’s bathed in chocolate, something like a chocolate covered cherry but with a strong cherry flavor. This is something that I will add to my collection soon mostly for cooking.  What a great way to dress up a black forest cake with a wonderful wine sauce. Then I wanted an idea of what their Elderberry wine tasted like. I want to make mine, as good, if not better than, their wine at home. It was fruity but not to sweet and gave me a high mark to aim for this summer.

With the tour and tasting over, I was able to just sit and visit with my friend Jimmy for a while and take a few more wonderful photos. I  snooped through their wine cellar and collection of pottery that they also sell.

wine cellar at Lambert's vintage wines

some of the hand made pottery at Lambert's vintage wines

some of the hand-made pottery at Lambert’s vintage wines

Wine god tile with hand made bowels at Lambert's vintage wines

Wine god tile with hand-made bowels at Lambert’s vintage wines

A day with friends surrounded with the warmth of a fire and a glass of wine really can’t be matched. I left Lambert’s winery a richer person with advice from a local family, and time spent with my friend. I may just be able to make a few bottles of my own elderberry and dandelion wine now and miss some of the pitfalls along the way.

A huge thank you goes out the Lambert family for letting me see and photograph their lovely business and to Jimmy Blake for always being a friend willing to help me write a better blog.

corks on bar counter at Lambert's Vintage Wines

This is the Vineyard/ Winery’s contact information for any one who wants to stop in to see them or call and order wines for your next event.

Lambert’s Winery is in north central West Virginia about an hour south of Morgan town, W.V. or two hours South of Pittsburgh, P.A. off of I-79 to exit 99 Weston. Take rout 33 west 4 miles to Gee Lick Road. Turn right 1.5 miles to Dutch Hollow Road turn left at winery signs.  190 vineyard Drive Weston, West Virginia, 26452.  You can call  the winery at  (304) 269-4903  or visit their website at www. lambertsvintagewine.com and like them on Face Book. Summer time is the best time to see the winery but they are a very busy with weddings and events on the weekends. I recommend visiting during the work week if you can, when the family is able to really spend quality time with each guest.

Categories: fermentation, Lambert's Vintage Wine, West Virginia, Weston, wine, winery tour | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

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