Saturday, June 9, 2012

An Afternoon at "The Arb"

It was a warm spring day recently when Karen and I visited the historic Bartlett Arboretum in Belle Plaine, Kansas.

"The Arb" as it is affectionately known was started in 1910 by Walter Bartlett, and developed into a tree lined park with a pond for waterfowl. Athletic facilities were also developed in the park.

After Walter's death in 1937, his son Glenn took over managing the arboretum. Glenn became a professional landscape architect and horticulturalist. Glenn and his wife Margaret planted flower gardens, more trees not indigenous to Kansas, and constructed bridges over the pond and creek.

After Glenn and Margaret's deaths, the third generation of Bartlet's decided to put the Arb up for sale, and in 1997, the current owner, Robin Macy bought the Arb while driving through the area, with no previous gardening or horticultural experience.

Robin is perhaps best known as a bluegrass singer and founding member of the Dixie Chicks, is a math teacher during the day and a steward of the Arboretum during almost all other times. She receives help from many local and regional volunteers.

Robin has opened the Arb to weddings and still performs regularly with friends there. It took a lot of work to clean up and refresh the grounds. See more information at the Arb website (link is at the end of this post).

Tree Peony (Karen's Photo)
Gazebo (Larry's Photo)
When Karen and I entered the grounds, we immediately saw the warm early spring had helped the gardens bloom early. There were thousands of tulips and other flowers in a number of gardens. Architectural elements add to the beauty and Karen and I immediately started composing photographs.

Footbridge (Larry's Photo)
Bridge & Tulips (Karen's Photo)
The water pond and creek are included in many of the photos we saved. There are three scenic bridges, a tree house, caretaker's house, and other elements that are also included in many of our photos. Between the two of us, we saved over 200 photos to our personal collections. (See the link to our favorite photos saved to our SmugMug gallery at the end of this post).

Lanterns in flower garden (Karen's Photo)

We also visited the back part of the grounds, where a number of large, well-established, stately trees are found. Varieties of Cypress, Maple, Redwood, Cottonwood, Birch, Oak, Elm, Sycamore, Magnolia, Pine and other mature trees are here. It is a fantastic collection of mature trees.

I wish to credit the Bartlett Arboretum's website for the history and information I've used in this blog.


Larry and Karen's photo gallery of the Bartlett Arboretum:

Bartlett Arboretum Photo Gallery

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Wichita Carthalite

Karen and I have been examining some of the architecture in Wichita that contains colored cast concrete elements called "Carthalite".

Carthalite was the trade name used by the Cement Stone & Supply Company to designate this unique cast stone. About 11 buildings still stand with these elements. All these structures were built between 1927 and 1940.

Colored elements were only used for surface structures, not any 3 dimensional elements. The color was obtained by adding mineral pigments to the concrete, and in a few instances colored crushed glass was also added to the concrete aggregate. The colored elements are usually surrounded by white or gray concrete.

There are even rumors that crushed Mentholatum jars were used in the mural on the old Wichita Municipal Airport building. The color was not just a surface treatment, but penetrated fully throughout the entire depth of the casting.

Carthalite seems to be unique to Wichita and possibly the entire US. Researchers are still looking to see if other examples exist.

Minisa Bridge

One of the most accessible examples of Carthalite is on the Minisa bridge over the Little Arkansas River on 13th St north near North High School. Here, Carthalite is used in the Buffalo and Native American images.

Dockum Drug Store

Also, there are many Carthalite elements on the 2 visible sides of the Dockum Drug store at Douglas Ave and Hillside St. Many pastel colored elements are placed over much of the walls.

For more information about Wichita Carthalite see the following:

Article about Wichita Carthalite in American Bungalow magazine written by Barbara Hammond of the City of Wichita Historic Preservation Office:

Kansas Sampler Foundation Eight Wonders of Kansas page for Wichita Carthalite: