A Tale of Two Domes

Earlier this summer we took a 2-week road trip to attend a conference (for me), visit family, and see the sights on the East Coast between Washington and Philadelphia. We also enjoy what I call “ecclesiastical tourism,” that is, looking for old or notable churches in the places we visit. Our trip did not disappoint.

Angeli in Excelsis

St. Nicholas Catholic Church in Zanesville, OH was built in 1898, a new Romanesque Revival building for a parish founded in 1842. The octagonal dome with its eight angels was quite an impressive sight.

Sicut Columbam

The Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Baltimore, MD, better known as the Baltimore Basilica, is the first Catholic cathedral built in the United States. Designed by Benajmin Henry Latrobe and built between 1806 and 1821, it witnessed many important events in the history of the Church in America, including the Plenary Councils of Baltimore that gave us the Baltimore Catechism and the Catholic University of America.

Latrobe’s dome features a ring of windows which illuminate the medallion representing the Holy Spirit before the light is filtered down to the nave, giving the interior an open, airy feel.

Advertisements

Leafburst

Leafburst

Let’s face it: backlit sunstar images are overdone, cliché, a shallow effect for a quick burst of emotion behind which there is no deeper meaning…but they’re sure fun to make, as this one was.

Coffee Break

Coffee Break

When I came back to work at the University of Illinois, I found that a local businessman was running a coffee shop with branches in the Siebel Center and the Mechanical Engineering Lab. In the spring of 2015 he decided to get out of the coffee business. The shop in MEL is now vacant, but the Siebel location was subsequently occupied by the Einstein Bros. bagel-and-beverage-and-pastry chain, which has set up this gauntlet of coffee and tea canisters for thirsty customers to fill their cups.

Flags of Gold

Flags of Gold

After a slow start, spring is quite advanced here in central Illinois. This year’s irises are just beginning to bloom, and yellow ones like this have not appeared yet, so I’ll get their forebears from last year to stand in for me while I wait for an opportunity to take some new pictures. 🙂

Past the Stair

Past the Stair

I have blogged before about the Monticello Railway Museum, one of our local hidden treasures. A couple of years back they completed a project to build a replica interlocking tower, named for Richard P. Stair, a now-deceased long-time volunteer. It contains two different styles of original Illinois Central interlocking machines, salvaged from Gibson City, IL and Tuscola, IL.

Lock and Interlock

On some weekends you can get a tour of the interlocking tower, where one of the volunteers will explain how the system works. An interlocking machine is really a kind of analog computer, with connections between the levers that will move multiple switches to guarantee that two trains do not attempt to occupy the same segment of track at the same time. The volunteers, many of whom used to work for various railroads, will also be happy to tell you that the Stair Tower is much too clean and much too comfortable, a dandified version of the dirty and drafty places they used to work. 🙂

Panopticon

Panopticon

If you’re going to doodle on the stall door while occupied in the restroom, at least you can be artistic or witty rather than vulgar.

Dappled Afternoon

Dappled Afternoon

“Photography” comes from Greek roots meaning “to write with light,” but what makes a photograph compelling is often not light simpliciter but contrast: light against dark, dark against light, and the boundaries where they mix. The pattern in this photograph repeats itself every afternoon for a few days in late September in the building where I work, and one day I determined to capture the dappling of direct sun on the otherwise dark interior. I didn’t dare push the contrast much harder than this, though, because of the dark sign on the wall.