Examining Place Through Google

I’m sure we’ve all used Google Maps or Google Earth by now, or maybe your a Mapquest person, but either way, I’m sure you’ve seen the satellite views that these mapping platforms have to offer.

Have you ever used Google Maps to examine what once was there?  I do for fun, it’s interesting and often revealing.

No, I don’t mean adjusting the slider bar to see the before and after of storm aftermath, although that is a fantastic way to use this technology and to grasp the devastation of a storm on a geographic level.

Here are two examples of places close to me.

Remember back when I posted about the buildings at Goddard State Memorial Park?  I had said that there had once been a mansion on the property, but that it had burned down some decades ago.

While exploring the park via Google, this is what I saw.

A small portion of Goddard Memorial State Park, Warwick, RI.

A small portion of Goddard Memorial State Park, Warwick, RI.

You can see the remains of the mansion in the grass!  Now, I’ve been here in person, and there is no evidence above ground of the mansion.  No foundation stones, nothing.  The grass grows lushly, feeding off of whatever fill was used way back when.  Even though it was a number of years ago now, that fill is still newer than the surrounding dirt and it is less compacted as well.  You can easily see rooms of the mansion, from the burn pattern in the grass, suggesting that the foundation stones were left in place and the grass doesn’t have as much dirt to root into.  Shallower roots allows for more burning.

My second example comes from Newport, RI on the Salve Regina Campus.

A chapel for Salve Regina University now stands on this spot.

A chapel for Salve Regina University now stands on this spot.

Where now stands a chapel, once stood a greenhouse that was surrounded by a brick wall.  A likely brick pathway winded its way into the opening between the walls.  You can clearly see the burn marks in the grass where the remains of the wall and path sit just below the ground’s surface.

What interesting things have you found while exploring satellite images?

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Shouldn’t Miss News of the Week

Here’s some news that I think you shouldn’t miss, enjoy!

Stolen documents return to the Maryland Historical Society: These documents were stolen by Barry Landau and his assistant, John Savedoff.  The two stole documents from institutions up and down the East Coast…more than 10,000 items.  The return of these documents is just part of the next step that the FBI and NARA are taking to get all of these documents (once evidence in the case against Landau and Savedoff) back to their rightful repositories.

Antique home reveals its past one shoe, or hoe or bowl at a time:  Okay, so this one is nearly two weeks old, but it was just sent to me, and I thought it such a fabulous historic preservation success story that I had to share.  Saved 2 weeks before it was set to be demolished back in 2002, this house from the mid-1700s is being restored for the Glocester Heritage Society in Rhode Island.  They hold a 99-year-lease on the property, which is owned by the Chepachet Cemetery Association, which owns a cemetery next door (another great layer of history if you ask me).  The restoration has revealed artifacts in the floors and walls of this house.  I definitely recommend you read the whole article for the rest of the story.

Amelia Earhart Plane Found? Sonar Image of Possible Wreckage May Suggest Earhart Died On Island:  I’m sure many of you have heard this news by now, but I enjoyed this article about the find and its accompanying videos over the many others.

Bronze Age boat reconstruction is altering archaeologists’ view of era:  This is a neat example of experimental archaeology, where archaeologist Robert Van de Noort teamed up with shipwright Brian Cumby and the National Maritime Museum in Falmouth to take a full-size replica of a Bronze Age boat out on the water.  They tested to see how it maneuvered and to gain an appreciation for those who lived and traveled this way in the Bronze Age.

‘World’s Oldest Torah’ scroll found in Italy:  This is an example of something “found in collections” also known as an FIC.  In this case, the Torah was known about, rather than something never accessioned, but it had been misidentified and as a result had been thought to be much newer than it actually was.  Just how old is it? Find out by reading the article.


For more, check out Bricks + Mortar’s This Week feature.

Posted in Archaeology, Historic Preservation, Museums, Newsworthy, Preservation | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Memorial Day Flagging

You may know that I sit on my local historic cemetery commission.  One of the accompanying responsibilities is to flag the headstones of the veterans within the cemeteries.  It’s an honor really.

It’s a wonderful feeling to visit these resting places and provide them with new flags.

Helping this:


to become:

Cemetery 35 Asa B Henry

May everyone have a good Memorial Day no matter how you spend your day.

Posted in Cemetery | Tagged , , , , | 5 Comments

Shouldn’t Miss News of the Week

Here are some articles that I think you shouldn’t miss.  Hope you enjoy!

Mexican Cave Art Offers Peek into Pre-Spanish Past: The rock art, discovered in 2006, has not been accurately dated yet, but proves that there were numerous groups of people in an area where no one was thought to be prior to Spanish colonization.

The Rise and Fall and Rise of Zahi Hawass:  This is a rather lengthy article, but it is an interesting look into this well-recognized figure (no matter what your opinion of him is).

Ancient discovery set to rewrite Australian history: It reads like a treasure hunt, there’s even a map with an X on it!  Coins found at that X 70 years ago (then forgotten about for decades) could prove that people made it to Australia way before James Cook landed in 1770.

New Study Finds That King Richard III Was Buried in a Hurry: New information about the discovery of his skeleton under a parking lot reveals that his grave was too small, his hands may have been tied together, and that he may have died in “violent humiliation”.  Two groups now want to give him a proper burial.

Meet London’s Master Architects in Jell-o:  Every once in a while I choose to share a somewhat silly story that is still somewhat pertinent and rather neat.  It has “Architects” in the title, that’s my justification this week.  There is also a neat model of St. Paul’s Cathedral pictured in the article, made of orange Jello.


For more, check out Bricks + Mortar’s This Week feature.

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What is it Wednesday

I sometimes look down when I walk outside.  It’s not because I don’t want to make eye contact with people or have to watch where I walk out of fear of falling down.  I just don’t want to miss anything neat that’s on the ground.

This is one of the things I’ve found.  I have no idea what it is, so that’s why it’s just a “thing”.  I found it by some trees, partially in the dirt at Goddard Park, home to a few buildings that I’ve previously blogged about.

DSCF0292From first glance it looks like a cap of something.

DSCF0299Something metallic and grooved, see the rust at the top of this thing?

DSCF0300Also, it’s made of sand, or something very sand-like.  The sand part doesn’t surprise me, Goddard Park’s northern border is a beach and the dirt itself is very sandy.

DSCF0302I have no idea what this is, do you?  Any idea on what it could have fit on or been used for?

Posted in Material Culture | Tagged , | 3 Comments

Shouldn’t Miss News of the Week

This is actually a roundup of the last two weeks of interesting preservation/cemetery/architecture/archaeology/etc news articles.

Hangers Help Archives Director Identify Graves: Who knew a pair of metal clothes hangers could help locate graves and determine gender?  Read the article for more info on this dowsing technique, and do let me know if you’ve ever tried it.

Builders Bulldoze Big Mayan Pyramid In Belize: Sadly, you read that right.  SERIOUSLY?!?  There are so many things wrong with this, and there is no way that ignorance on the builder’s part can be claimed-it was one of the largest pyramids in Belize. It’s difficult to look at this loss in any way but shock, but some researchers are trying to find a silver lining.  Head to the end of the article to see what it is.

Has Lost City of Gold Been Uncovered?: Using Lidar (a 3D mapping technique) researchers have found what looks to be foundations and roads, ruins of an old city, in an area of Honduras rainforest.  Airplane flyovers helped capture the imaging, and later this year an archaeological team will make the trek to determine if it is truly the remains of a large metropolis.  Here is a second article on this possible discovery.

Stunning Byzantine Mosaic Uncovered in Israel: The mosaic was a floor of a public building, a building that has no religious affiliation where nearby buildings displayed elements of Christianity.  Archaeologists are still unsure what the purpose of this building was.  They also found pools and piping in front of the building; their purpose is also unknown.

Jensen-Byrd building will be renovated by WSU Spokane: Originally the building was going to be torn down and a new one built to house students.  Opponents to that plan successfully challenged the decision saying it ignored the area’s historic preservation guidelines, and that renovating the building would have greater economic benefits for the area.  WSU listened (yay!) and now the building will be renovated instead.


For more, check out Bricks + Mortar’s This Week post.  Here is last week’s too.


I have updated the conference calendar, adding 2 new ones, and pushing ones that have already happened to the end of the list.

Posted in Archaeology, Cemetery, Exploration, Historic Preservation, Newsworthy, Technology | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Place Bucket List (Mountain Plains Edition)

This post is the eighth and final in my Place Bucket List series inspired by Adventures in Preservation, which asked readers what buildings were on our bucket lists.

*Note: The regions I have given these states in this and upcoming posts are how I have come to rationalize them for this purpose (and to prevent any one post from being too long), not necessarily how these regions are defined by any government entity.

North Dakota:

  • Geographical Center of North America, Rugby, ND
  • International Peace Garden
  • Little Missouri National Grasslands
  • Theodore Roosevelt National Park

South Dakota:

  • Mt. Rushmore
  • Badlands National Park
  • Corn Palace
  • Crazy Horse Memorial
  • Custer State Park


  • Pictograph Cave State Park
  • Granite Ghost Town State Park
  • Helena
  • Missoula
  • Glacier National Park
  • Lewis and Clark Caverns State Park
  • Gallatin National Forest


  • Topeka
  • Nicodemus National Historic Site
  • 4-State Lookout
  • Abilene
  • Dodge City
  • Garden of Eden
  • Geographic Center of 48 Contiguous States
  • World’s Largest Ball of Twine
  • Yellow Brick Road


  • Carhenge
  • Lincoln
  • Omaha
  • Pony Express Station
  • Chimney Rock National Historic Site


  • 426 Miles of Route 66
  • Tulsa
  • Mount Olivet Cemetery
  • Oklahoma City
  • Sequoyah’s Cabin


  • Jackson Hole
  • Yellowstone National Park
  • Grand Teton National Park
  • Devils Tower National Monument
  • Fort Laramie National Historic Site
  • Cody
  • Ten Sleep


  • Denver
  • Rocky Mountain National Park
  • Mesa Verde National Park
  • Rimrock Drive
  • Old Hundred Gold Mine Tour
  • Crested Butte


  • Boise
  • Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve
  • Old Mission State Park
  • Idaho Falls

Think I missed something?  It’s definitely possible, so let me know.  As always, I look forward to hearing from you.

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Shouldn’t Miss News of the Week

Here’s some news that I think you shouldn’t miss, enjoy!

Long Hidden, Vatican Painting Linked to Native Americans: This is a case of what happens when a painting completed in 1494 gets cleaned as part of the restoration process.  Very few people ever saw this aspect of the painting before as the area it was located in was closed off, unused, from 1503 to 1899.

The Renaissance of a 1920s Abandoned Parisian Cinema: A great article on the restoration of a small theater.  Wonderful to see a group of people come together to save this building and get it back up and running.  There are pictures in the article too, so go check them out, they’re awesome.

Full moon gets partial blame for Civil War general’s death: Astronomers are looking at the moon to see how it may have played into the death of Stonewall Jackson by obscuring the enemy but making him very visible to his own troops…just not identifiable.

What a ‘Modernized’ Wrigley Field Might Look Like: If you aren’t a baseball person, you might not know that Wrigley Field is home to the Chicago Cubs, who haven’t won a World Series since 1908.  They haven’t been to the World Series since 1945.  Their last winning season was 2009, when they went 83 and 78.  That was the year that the team came under new ownership, and recently the owner has been calling for some upgrades around the ballpark, which has been home to the team since 1916.  He’s even said that if he doesn’t get some upgrades he will consider moving the team, which has always been based in Chicago.  This article shows what some of the changes could look like, and I don’t think they’re all that bad.  Much of the stadium will retain its charm, and it is certainly preferable over leaving Wrigley entirely, which would definitely leave the structure in danger of meeting its destruction.

How Historic Architecture Can Anchor Economic Development: Sometimes I bookmark an article with an interesting title early on in the week because it seems like it would be a good fit for Shouldn’t Miss News.  It’s also a reminder to me to actually read the article that I didn’t have time for when I found it.  This is one of those articles and I was so happy to see that it was about Providence, RI, which I live about 20 minutes away from.  Providence is such a good example to use and it has changed radically over the last decade or so.  It’s a happening place (with wonderful food trucks and a good historic preservation scene too).  Sadly, right now RI doesn’t have Historic Tax Credits, which is also addressed in the article.


For more, check out Bricks + Mortar’s This Week feature.

Posted in Architecture, Art, Community, Historic Preservation, Newsworthy, Place | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Place Bucket List (Pacific Edition)

This post is the seventh in my Place Bucket List series inspired by Adventures in Preservation, which asked readers what buildings were on our bucket lists.

*Note: The regions I have given these states in this and upcoming posts are how I have come to rationalize them for this purpose (and to prevent any one post from being too long), not necessarily how these regions are defined by any government entity.


  • Spokane
  • Mount Rainier National Park
  • Seattle


  • Crater Lake National Park
  • A prune ranch
  • National Historic Oregon Trail Interpretive Center
  • Tamastslikt Cultural Institute
  • Portland


  • Hollywood
  • Cannery Row
  • Alcatraz
  • San Diego
  • Yosemite National Park
  • Sacramento


  • Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
  • Pearl Harbor
  • National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, Punchbowl
  • Kaunolu Village
  • Hawaii overall (after all, it is Hawaii)


  • Mt. McKinley
  • Crow Creek Mine
  • Sitka National Historical Park

Think I missed something?  Let me know.  I feel like Washington and Alaska are lacking, but I don’t know enough about them to add more.

Posted in Exploration | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments

Shouldn’t Miss News of the Week

Here’s some news that I think you shouldn’t miss, enjoy!

MoMA: Expanding at all costs?: I recently included an article about the social media campaign to find other ways for MoMA to expand without demolishing the neighboring former American Folk Art Museum building.  This article looks at the philosophy behind MoMA’s previous and future expansions and what that means for preservation.  Well worth the read.

Ancient Europeans mysteriously vanished 4,500 years ago: DNA research suggests that there was a dramatic shift in the DNA makeup of Europeans at this time, thus one group of people suddenly replaced the other.  The cause of this radical shift is unknown, but you can read the article for a couple of theories that could be the explanation.

Agritourism: Where the farm and vacationers meet: A look at the tourism industry that involves going to working farms, ranches, and wineries.  Some of these opportunities have been around for years, but it’s really catching on now.  You can find some statistics about it in this article.

Dismantling History: A Reflection on Salvage: A wonderful blog post from the National Trust for Historic Preservation on architectural salvage written by someone who does the salvage work as well as restoration projects using those materials.

“Hear My Voice”: Smithsonian Identifies 130-Year-Old Recording as Alexander Graham Bell’s Voice: You likely have heard about this by now from one of the many news pieces written about this awesome discovery this week.  This particular article comes from the Smithsonian itself where the disc that contained Bell’s voice is held and finally heard thanks to a collaborative project with partners Lawrence Berkeley National Library and the Library of Congress.  So neat that we now have the technology to make hearing these recordings possible again.


For more stories, check out Bricks + Mortar’s This Week post.


After some contemplation, I’ve changed the tagline of this blog from “Preserving places and the communities that love them” to “Presenting preservation-related issues in an approachable way” to better reflect what this blog is about.

Posted in Archaeology, Architecture, Exploration, History, Museums, Technology | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment