Thursday, July 14, 2011

Shreveport's Architectural Treasures

This is the fourth in a series of posts featuring pictures I captured during a recent trip my husband and I made to Shreveport, Louisiana.
So far, I've shared pictures of the Shreveport skyline ...

The Strand Theatre, which is one of the most beautiful architectural landmarks in Shreveport ...

And the faded glory of a stretch of old US Highway 80, which winds its way through downtown Shreveport ...

You can click on the links to those posts, if you haven't read them and would like to read them before this one.
Today I would like to share a few of the historical buildings that caught my eye as we rode around the downtown area.
Not too far from the abandoned buildings on Highway 80, is the beautiful old Holy Cross Episcopal Church.

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the church was built in 1905.

And a couple of blocks away you will find the stately Scottish Rite Cathedral, circa 1917. Mr. Edward F. Neild, a member of the Shreveport Scottish Rite, was the architect who designed the cathedral.

It is listed on the National Register of Historical Buildings, and is one of the most magnificent structures in Shreveport.
You can click on the pictures if you'd like to get a closer look at its truly awe-inspiring architectural details.

The cathedral is available for rental for special occasions, such as weddings, receptions, and banquets. In fact, a few minutes after I took the above pictures, we passed the cathedral again and saw a bride being photographed on the front steps.
On the opposite corner from the Cathedral is the B'Nai Zion Temple, a classic example of neo-classical architecture.

Sadly, this building is vacant and has fallen into disrepair.

Here are a few more architectural treasures that caught my attention:

We were stopped at a traffic light downtown, and I captured (with my zoom lens) these works of art gracing some buildings a couple of blocks away ...

Downtown Shreveport is a beautiful and thriving historic district, which is home to hundreds of businesses, restaurants, and entertainment venues. The buildings are so full of character and history, and everywhere you look you see beautiful architectural details like the ones shown above. All you have to do is look UP! I would love to spend a day capturing them with my camera.
My story wouldn't be complete without sharing one of the most prominent landmarks downtown &#151 the First United Methodist Church, an impressive building that stands at the end of Texas Avenue (old US Highway 80), where it intersects Common Street.
A few years ago, I photographed the church but, unfortunately, I accidentally deleted my pictures while transferring them to my computer. I tried to find a good picture on the Internet that depicts its commanding presence, but found them sadly lacking.
I wanted to show a "before" picture of the way it looked before a tornado in October 2009, blew its steeple off, but at least I can show you this "after" picture I captured over the weekend.
I took it as we were driving down Texas Avenue, and you can imagine our surprise when this is what we saw ...

We were curious about what happened to the steeple, so I called the church a couple of days after we got home and asked the gracious lady who answered the phone what happened to it. She told me that a tornado passing over the downtown area on October 29, 2009, blew the 100-ft. tall steeple off the building, and dropped it on top of a car that had stopped for a traffic light -- talk about being in the wrong place at the wrong time!
I found these pictures on the Shreveport Times website.

Here is the incredible story of what happened that day, as written by Mario Villafuerte 2009, for FOX KMSS-TV, Shreveport, Louisiana:
"Michael Williams' car was crushed by a 12-ton church steeple on October 29, 2009, after a tornado dropped it from atop a church while Williams was stopped at a signal light in downtown Shreveport. Williams was trapped for some 50 minutes as fire fighters extracted him from his flattened car.

The 57-year-old graphic artist is now at his Shreveport home slowly recovering, with the help of his wife Judy."
Mr. Villafuerte also produced a video in which Williams talks about the two miracles that occurred in his life as a result of the accident, and if you would like to hear his inspiring story, you can click on this link:

Steeple Man's Miracle Recovery
According to a source at the church, engineers are working on a way to secure the steeple so this won't happen again. Perhaps on our next trip to Shreveport, I'll be able to capture the church in all its glory, including its beautiful new steeple!
I hope you will join me tomorrow as I continue my photo journal of our visit to Shreveport. Here is a peek at what you will see:

1 comment:

Unknown said...

it would be truly great if you could show us some of these buildings inteir architechture . particularly like the b`nai zion has beutiful hand carved woodwork inside it . as do many of thes eold bldgs . most certainly well worth seeing .