One green and two yellow spherical lights above a table at The Tonga Room (1945).
950 Mason Street, San Francisco, California: 27 January 2013
part of the Tonga Room album
Walking up the eastern terminus of Paderewski Drive on the approach to Buffalo Central Terminal (1929) in Buffalo, New York.
495 Paderewski Drive, Buffalo, New York: 28 June 2014
part of the Buffalo Central Terminal album
Operating as a passenger train station for fifty years, Buffalo Central Terminal (1929) in Buffalo, New York is a wonderful art deco facility featuring a fifteen-floor octagonal tower and high-ceilinged concourse with marble, tile and arched windows. A local landmark since its inception, the terminal has endured years of disuse, the stripping of its fixtures and damage from trespassers.
Built as a major transportation hub, two decades of prosperity were followed by a rapid decline in the 1950s as automobile and aircraft travel became popular. Buffalo Central Terminal continued operating, however the 1970 bankruptcy of Penn Central Railroad and Amtrak's 1979 decision to bypass caused the terminal's closure.
Unfortunately in 1981, the concourse bridge over the Belt Subdivision railroad lines was demolished to accommodate tall railcars. Later placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1984, the slow and uphill restoration process of Buffalo Central Terminal did not begin until August 1997 when the property was transferred to Central Terminal Restoration Corporation.
Nearly two decades later, there is still an enormous amount of work to be done. Helping to fund the refurbishments, Central Terminal Restoration Corporation occasionally conducts limited public tours. I was luckily able to take one and although it was briefly mentioned soon after, I have yet to document the awesome experience of visiting Buffalo Central Terminal.
That article is currently in pre-production as I process photographs and conduct research, but my building excitement over a return to that Saturday evening in June 2014 necessitated this teaser in the meantime. For example, imagine my delight at discovering a vintage postcard featuring the same composition as the first photograph I took on the day of my visit.
The postcard (8C-K360) was produced in 1958, printed by Curt Teich and Company utilizing their Curteichcolor (1949) process and distributed by Ernest Gunzburger of Buffalo. The photo was taken from the center of the approach road to the terminal, the eastern terminus of Paderewski Drive — renamed in 1941 to honor Polish pianist Ignacy Jan Paderewski (1860–1941).
I did find a few other postcards but they have different artwork. Pleased with my postcard photo, I decided to create a triptych by processing it three different ways. The standard version was developed using my normal process. The second is a moodier cut that highlights details and emphasizes the brooding clouds. Finally, the third variant is rendered in black and white.
Two boat-tailed grackles (Quiscalus major) squawking at each other on a small wooden pier at the city marina in Cedar Key, Florida.
302 Dock Street, Cedar Key, Florida: 13 October 2014
part of the Manatee Springs State Park album
At the end of a visit to Manatee Springs State Park — see "The Creatures of My Dreams" — we took a brief detour to Cedar Key, Florida, a little over thirty miles south of the park. We had a great lunch at Ken's Cedar Keyside Diner, which I just discovered closed in December 2014 not long after our visit, before browsing the other local businesses along Dock Street.
There was not much activity at the City of Cedar Key Marina, but I did photograph several birds in the area including these male boat-tailed grackles. Squawking and posturing in close proximity, showing glossy black feathers with iridescent blue and purple hues, they did not appear to be fighting so were possibly competing over a female or having a territorial dispute.
A Heliconia Golden Torch (Heliconia psittacorum x spathocircinata) flower taking in sunlight on a wooden-decked courtyard overlooking the Gulf of Mexico at Harbour Master Suites in Cedar Key, Florida.
390 Dock Street, Cedar Key, Florida: 13 October 2014
part of the Manatee Springs State Park album
A juvenile red-shouldered hawk (Buteo lineatus) observing the area from atop a light pole within a residential neighborhood in Altamonte Springs, Florida.
Altamonte Springs, Florida: 07 September 2015
part of the Red-Shouldered Hawk album
A young red-shouldered hawk paid a visit to my old neighborhood in Central Florida earlier this week, possibly searching for its next meal in the grasses surrounding homes. Mom spotted the hawk first, alerted me and then fetched her camera. She shot about a dozen frames and then handed the camera to me.
Since she had already gotten good coverage from a short distance, I decided to move even closer to the light pole upon which the hawk was perched. Rotating its head in a rather mechanical way to gaze in different directions, the hawk took note of my presence but seemed rather more concerned with its own business.
I was able to stand directly beneath the hawk without it fleeing, however our luck ran out after I moved beyond the pole to capture different lighting. Before I could even compose my shot, the hawk decided to fly into a tree across the street. I captured two blurry pictures of the departure, but the hawk is mostly out of frame in each.
My albums are teeming with wildlife photography, typically taken at one of Florida's many wonderful state parks. I cannot however recall an instance of being this close to something less common than a cardinal or raccoon in such a suburban setting. Hawks like this had better watch out though, as Florida now prefers to solve the issue of increasing human-caused animal interactions by allowing the additional hunting of those infringing species.
Florida state parks are wonderful, that is, so long as the current government does not succeed in their efforts to transform our parks from relatively unspoiled nature preserves free of hunting into commercialized revenue streams free of conservation or natural value.
The Florida black bear "conservation" and management program now includes a special hunt scheduled for October 2015. This was the reaction by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to several close calls occurring in one region. They believe that the solution is to kill hundreds of bears statewide while simultaneously refusing to regulate that rural homeowners use bear-proof garbage cans.
Emerging from the Iberian Lounge into the Cuban-inspired faux courtyard called The Fountain Lobby inside The Hotel Hershey (1932) in Hershey, Pennsylvania.
100 Hotel Road, Hershey, Pennsylvania: 02 July 2014
part of the Hersheypark album
Ascending the hill through the parking lot, The Hotel Hershey building sits ahead large and awash with light. We are here to enjoy a beverage after a day of exploring Hershey, rural farmlands and the Amish Country of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. Two-and-a-half hours and three glasses of The Glenlivet later, I exit the delightful Iberian Lounge and pause at my view.
With a unique scene before me and delicious single malt Scotch flowing through my veins, my mind immediately links what I see to an unrelated image in memory. Having left my camera in the truck, I ask to borrow Mom's so that I might attempt to capture this scene from my mind's eye. I shoot seven frames before we leave and then promptly forget about them.
Recently reminded of Hershey, I browsed Mom's photos from this day and discovered my seven shots among them. The fun evening's memories came back to me in flashback as I amusingly had the same thought looking at the pictures as I did standing in the hotel over a year earlier. The above two photographs viewed consecutively are the result, my whisky-fueled homage to a shot in the Luc Besson film The Fifth Element (1997).
In a brief transitional scene we see the titular character as she arrives aboard the ocean liner starship Fhloston Paradise to a musical welcoming committee. As she walks into the ship's main lobby, the camera dollies forward while slowly panning up to reveal the grand room, its two fountains and a row of large elliptical windows showing the planet Fhloston's sky.
The Hotel Hershey's original main lobby and registration area, the Fountain Lobby was designed to emulate the look and feel of the patio courtyards that Milton Hershey had enjoyed during his winter trips in Cuba. With its antique oak elements, Ernest A. Batchelder tilework, inlaid marble from Baumgardner Company in Baltimore, Maryland, "palm trees, seating areas, wrought iron lights and a painted sky," the room would have certainly made an impression to hotel guests coming in to register.
Ironically, it turns out that one of the other photographs I took inside the Fountain Lobby is unintentionally similar to a classic photograph of the room. I found the following circa 1934 image of "the Patio" in the Hershey Community Archives while researching this article. If I had only shot with a wider lens and taken a few steps back and to the right…
The Fountain Lobby was refurbished along with the rest of the hotel in 1998. As infrastructure work unfortunately required cutting into the painted ceiling, the hotel subsequently hired artist Gary Thomas to repaint it in the original style. Other work in the room included extensive cleaning of the tilework, "[stripping] decades of wax buildup to reveal the original vibrant colors."
A natural extension of the lobby, the Iberian Lounge "was designed to be 'Spanish in its atmosphere and rich with oriental rugs, oak-paneled ceiling and columns, tinted walls, soft rugs […] a charming fireplace and a mural depicting a Spanish waterfront scene.'" The mural, now located behind the bar, was painted by the hotel's interior designer Robert von Ezdorf. He also incorporated some of the mural's designs in the adjoining Fountain Lobby.
Designed during prohibition, the Iberian Lounge was built as a reading and sitting room. Following the repeal of prohibition in 1933, the hotel added a wine cellar and opened a cocktail lounge in the Garden Terrace, a 5,490-square-foot space elsewhere on the first floor. The Iberian Lounge became a bar in 1968 and the Garden Terrace is currently a ballroom available for events.
Perhaps a bit removed at first, our bartender Kirk poured stout drinks and eventually warmed up to us by sharing some of the venue's history. It was a fun diversion to spend time in a beautiful hotel constructed in the early 1930s, well-maintained in the interim and remaining remarkably similar to its original appearance. On our way out, I relieve myself of driving duty after my indulgence in the lounge and leave Mom with the valet so that Ross and I can go and fetch the truck for her.
Back at our campsite — wide awake and unsurprisingly keen for a meal — I waste no time suggesting that we visit the delicious Cocoa Diner in Hummelstown, just four minutes away door-to-door. A classic eatery serving a comprehensive menu of breakfast, lunch and dinner fare twenty-four hours a day since 2002, the Cocoa Diner was an instant favorite of mine a few days earlier.
I had the grilled ham steak dinner served with mashed potatoes and gravy, peas and corn medley, vegetable soup and a pineapple ring. Previously, I had a patty melt on grilled rye bread, topped with Swiss cheese and sautéed onions and served with French fries, coleslaw and a pickle. Both meals were excellent, served exactly how I wanted and expected.
Cocoa Diner is closed for seven hours every week: from 2300 on Monday until 0600 on Tuesday. The restaurant is otherwise always open for business at 590 East Main Street, Hummelstown, Pennsylvania.
Homes in Belle Vernon across the Monongahela River from the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission Speers Landing access on River Avenue in Speers, Pennsylvania.
121 River Avenue, Speers, Pennsylvania: 25 June 2014
part of the Wonder Boys album
Following a day of visiting Wonder Boys filming locations, I am standing in the grass along Pennsylvania Route 51 reflecting on my experience and watching the traffic go by. The passing vehicles kick up rainwater on the pavement while making the characteristic accompanying whoosh sound. The humidity is probably in the seventy percent range, but it feels higher.
Ready to carry on, I decide to purchase a drink inside the bfs convenience store, one of the businesses now occupying the site where the Belle Vernon Howard Johnson's once stood (1963–1999). One last look and then I am off, driving westbound on Interstate 70. My destination is the Speers Street Grill, about seven miles away in the small borough of Speers.
After exiting onto Pennsylvania Street, I turn left on State Street following the sign to Lower Speers and the ten local businesses there along the shore of the Monongahela River. After turning right onto Speer Street, I spot a sign about restaurant parking and pull into a gravel lot on the right. Walking up to the entrance, another sign tips me off to the fact that I am actually at The Back Porch Restaurant and not the Speers Street Grill.
The Back Porch Restaurant occupies a house first built by Henry Speers, Junior in 1806 on land that he purchased as the "Speers Intent" in 1785. Following Speers' death in 1840, the home was passed down through his descendants until being sold and subsequently abandoned for many years. During the time of the American Civil War, the home is said to have been used as a stop on the Underground Railroad. The home was later acquired in 1972 by Joseph Pappalardo, who conducted a major renovation before opening the restaurant on Friday, 14 February 1975.
Walking inside to the hostess, it is obvious that you are in the home's central corridor connecting the exterior doors, first floor rooms and stairway. It is a very neat place but I decide that I would prefer the namesake back porch, which as a bonus is currently empty. The porch is surrounded by plants and although you cannot really see it, the Monongahela River is not far away.
I am seated in a corner table and, with the help of an excellent server, proceed to have a most delicious and satisfying meal. I start with a bowl of Lobster Bisque served with a very clever lobster-shaped cracker. My main course is the Oscar Filet Mignon medium-rare with jumbo lump crab meat, asparagus and Béarnaise sauce. To drink, I enjoy a beer called Mischievous Brown by Helltown Brewing of nearby Mount Pleasant, Pennsylvania.
Besides being close to my last Wonder Boys location, I wanted to dine in Speers because of my secondary mission — to drive along the Monongahela River north to Pittsburgh. The most direct route is about thirty miles or just under one hour of travel time. My route, winding along the length of the river, was a bit longer at about forty-five miles or one-and-a-half hours of driving. From Pittsburgh, I would get onto Interstate 279 and then Interstate 79 for the rest of the one-hundred mile return trip.
There would be no time for photography along the way due to the sun's schedule as well as my own, so before leaving the area I decide to head over to the shore to photograph the river. I find an excellent spot to do this at the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission's Speers Landing access point, conveniently located next to Smitty's Marina on River Avenue.
I take some pictures of the river, boats and the Belle Vernon Bridge (1951) carrying Interstate 70 over the Monongahela before noticing that I am being watched. Standing on rocks in the shallows between Smitty's and the Speers Landing is what I believe to be a Domestic Greylag Goose (Anser anser). It checked me out while sitting there but did not seem to mind my presence.
After about ten minutes, I leave the goose and Speers behind to embark on my river cruise of sorts. The journey is uneventful and the traffic light, allowing me to look around as I drive through small town after small town along the river. Some towns are near still-open factories and are apparently doing well, while others are showing few signs of life or commercial activity. My only wish is that I would have had the time to stop in these towns and document their states.
I pass through Monessen, Donora, Monongahela, Elrama, West Elizabeth, Clairton, Dravosburg and West Mifflin, pulling over in the circular eastern terminus of Grant Avenue in Duquesne to make a telephone call. From there, I continue along the river before eventually transitioning to the interstate in Pittsburgh.
Darkness now surrounds the travelers of Interstate 79 like myself. Having escaped the confines of the city, a large number of fireflies are now unfortunately impacting my windshield and leaving behind streaks of glowing bioluminescent material. With an hour yet to go, I get off at Exit 99 and visit the Pilot truck stop in Portersville. There is another moment of reflection while waiting for the pump, having purchased fuel in the same spot that morning.
Back on the road again, I spot white-tailed deer foraging alongside the highway in the rural expanses between Zelienople, Grove City and Meadville. I will be in Harmonsburg around 2330 and sneak a quick look at my pictures from the day before going to sleep. The following day we will drive to Allegany State Park in Salamanca, New York where I will, for a few days at least, get to explore my childhood memories of camping there.
Statue of a woman holding an infant on display in the Great Hall of the College of Fine Arts Building (1916) at Carnegie Mellon University.
5100 Margaret Morrison Street, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania: 25 June 2014
part of the Wonder Boys album
The Far Shore of Accomplishment
A Wonder Boys Road Trip
As previously documented here, I rather enjoy finding and visiting shooting locations from my favorites in film and television. Whether by adding visits to vacation agendas or using free time on business trips to take an excursion, for me this is a hobby of opportunity. Such an opportunity presented itself during a family road trip to the Northeast in June–July 2014.
I would be staying a hundred miles north of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania for about six days, allowing me to visit some of the locations featured in Wonder Boys (2000). Directed by Curtis Hanson and based upon the eponymically named Michael Chabon book, Wonder Boys uses the Pennsylvania locations and bridges in particular as part of the story. "Pittsburgh, as much as any of the human characters in the story, is a wonder boy," says Hanson in the DVD locations special feature.
I had been to the city at least once before, but this outing would take me to and through places I probably would not otherwise see. On Wednesday, 25 June 2014, I departed Harmonsburg — later in the morning than I had planned due to rain — and headed south to visit multiple locations within a twenty-six-mile radius of Pittsburgh. It was a really fun day.
Instead of documenting my journey from start to finish as I would normally, this article is presented as a Wonder Boys location guide in film chronological order. If you need a cheat sheet for the characters, reference the production credits. Otherwise, ready your manuscripts and hop inside the 1966 maroon Ford Galaxie 500… you are going on a trip with Tripp, Grady Tripp.
With the university being central to the story, it is appropriate that a classroom scene opens the film. Although the college goes unnamed, Carnegie Mellon University plays the part throughout. Of the seven major area colleges and universities, the filmmakers selected Carnegie Mellon because it "seemed the most comfortable fit visually" for the story.
I spent about an hour on campus and was very nearby, but this interior classroom location (possibly in use during my visit) did not make the cut. The classroom scene was shot in Baker Hall 235B, located in the third wing from the left on the northern side of Baker Hall. One of the university's first academic buildings, Baker Hall was designed in 1900 by Henry Hornbostel.
Today, Baker Hall 235B is one of nine reservable classrooms in the building with supported multimedia equipment. Able to hold thirty-five students, Baker Hall 235B features movable furniture, a projector, DVD player, document camera and auxiliary inputs for other devices. Beyond the technology, a new paint job and a window unit air conditioner, the room looks about the same.
Carnegie Mellon University
From the outside, the wings and awesomely large windows of Baker Hall are standout features. The same pattern is mirrored on the building's southern side along Frew Street.
Friday, 26 February 1999
Alone In The Car
00:04:39Exterior Day Driving First Appearance VisitedDriving: Tripp's 1966 Ford Galaxie 500Carnegie Mellon University — Segment I
5001-5099 Tech Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15213
Carnegie Mellon University — Segment II
5124 Margaret Morrison Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15213
Schenley Park — Segment III
Schenley Drive, Pittsburgh, PA 15213
Before identifying the locations in the first of ten driving scenes, it is important to understand Cinematographer Dante Spinotti's solution to the challenge of filming in moving vehicles. For these scenes, he suggested that the inside action be shot on a stage with green screens. The action outside the windows would be shot separately and then digitally composted into the windows.
Using this method allowed Spinotti and Hanson to keep Pittsburgh as a "vivid" and "palpable presence" out the windows. In addition, "the actors would be more comfortable [on a stage] and we could do more takes with controlled lighting to capture the moods perfectly," noted Spinotti. "I felt that the acting and dialog in these scenes was very important."
Green screen stages in Pittsburgh and at Paramount Studios in Los Angeles, California were used for the live action, shot on similar film stock to that of the background plates and with matching lighting effects. The composition was done in Los Angeles by Cinesite and Visual Effects Supervisor Jerry Pooler.
As we join Tripp in his car, he continues his voiceover narration while driving through campus en route to the Pittsburgh International Airport. There are three distinct segments to this scene, which only lasts thirty-eight seconds. I both walked and drove through these locations, but unfortunately failed to take any pictures — it was drizzling, I was short on time and whoops.
Tripp drives out of the Fine Arts (P8) parking lot — which itself makes several appearances later — to the stop sign at Margaret Morrison Street and Tech Street. The residential Donner House and Boss House are visible down Margaret Morrison Street.
Turning right onto Tech Street, the brick wall along the eastern sidewalk is visible out Tripp's window as he drives south. He then notices and drives underneath a WordFest banner strung across the road from a streetlight lamp post.
From the shot of the WordFest banner, we cut immediately to Tripp turning right again. He turns not onto Frew Street as you might expect, but onto Margaret Morrison Street at the stop sign where he started. Thanks to movie magic and now travelling east, we see Margaret Morrison Carnegie Hall (1914); the West Wing and Resnik House residences at Gesling Stadium; and the Donner House residence going by out the window.
Seen in the first two segments, I did manage to capture the Donner House (1952–1954) residence while walking along the East-West Walkway near Gesling Stadium. Margaret Morrison Street is on the other side of the building. Colloquially referred to as "Big Blue" by students, Donner House is home to 239 freshmen residents. The small structure in front is the Solar Decathlon House (2005), which placed tenth in the U.S. Department of Energy's 2005 competition to build a zero-energy home.
From passing Donner House on Margaret Morrison Street, we cut directly to a few seconds of the University of Pittsburgh's 535-foot Cathedral of Learning (1926) through some trees. Based on available evidence and my own calculations, I believe that this was shot on Schenley Drive in Schenley Park south of Flagstaff Hill and just east of the triangular intersection with Panther Hollow Road and the Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens.
Driving west a short distance on Schenley Drive before the intersection, the tree-covered and sloping terrain matches what we briefly see. A "stop sign ahead" sign visible in the final few frames shown also corresponds to a sign at this location. In the winter when the tree canopy is absent, the view from this location would include the Cathedral of Learning.
Friday, 26 February 1999
She's Still A Transvestite
00:05:17Interior Day First Appearance UnvisitedTripp Meets His Editor at the Airport
Tripp meets his editor Terry Crabtree and Crabtree's new friend Tony "Antonia" Sloviak near Gate D84 at the Pittsburgh International Airport. After meeting up and exchanging greetings, the trio walks through the terminal on an offline moving sidewalk (presumably to allow Tripp, walking parallel to the moving sidewalk, to keep up with the other two).
We cut to baggage claim in the airport's main building where Tripp and Crabtree are talking while waiting for luggage. At the end of the luggage carousel where they stand is a backlit "Welcome to Pittsburgh" sign with an aerial photograph of five bridges downtown. I could not find any photographs of it, so I cannot say if the sign still exists or not.
Running through Mount Washington from the Fort Pitt Bridge (1959) over the Monongahela River west to Pennsylvania Route 51, the Fort Pitt Tunnel (1960) is an obvious choice to get into the city from the airport. I briefly considered driving through, but the tunnel was a bit off course from my agenda's locations and I have been through other similar tunnels before.
A photograph from Friday, 14 May 2010 shows little difference in the tunnel, although it looks like the lights were replaced since filming in 1998–1999. As of Friday, 12 June 2015, a $14.1 million renovation project that started in February 2015 to "repair the ceiling, camera systems and the overall infrastructure of the tunnel" was still underway.
Friday, 26 February 1999
Things Ain't What They Used To Be
00:07:17Exterior Interior Night First Appearance UnvisitedWordFest Kick Off Party at the Gaskell Home
The tunnel scene cuts to the trio arriving at the Gaskell residence for the WordFest kick off cocktail party. The exteriors and some interiors were filmed at Eastover House (1931) on the Shady Side Academy campus in Fox Chapel, an Allegheny County borough about nine miles north-northeast of Carnegie Mellon. Eastover is the traditional headmasters home yet was vacant during production. I considered contacting for permission to visit, but decided to cut this location from my schedule before doing so.
Introduced in this scene and featured several times later, Sara Gaskell's greenhouse was built just for the film. Constructed next to Eastover House without a foundation, the greenhouse was removed after shooting.
Scenes in the upstairs hallway — where Tripp has a fateful encounter with the Gaskell's dog Poe — and the adjacent bedroom with a safe and baseball memorabilia were sets built on one of Pinnacle Studios' two sound stages in Trafford, about twenty miles southeast of Eastover and Shady Side. The stages are housed in a former warehouse in the Trafford Commerce Center, the owner of which was first approached by filmmakers shooting Kingpin (1996) in 1995.
When we join Trip and literature student James Leer in the car, their conversation indicates that they have been driving for sometime. As such, the background plate first visible shows that they are heading west on Margaret Morrison Street on campus past the McGill House and Boss House, with the Resnik House visible behind Leer.
Honestly, I am unsure about the locations for the rest of the scene. The campus architecture is very similar and with the scene at night, I have not been able to establish additional matches. Presumably, the remaining background plates are of campus buildings in the general vicinity. In reality, Tripp's destination parking lot is just ahead on Margaret Morrison Street.
As Tripp and Leer move, uh, cargo to the spacious trunk, we can see that they are in the Fine Arts (P8) parking lot. The space — "Reserved For Fine Arts Permit Holders Only" — is on the south side of the lot in front of the Kraus Campo garden atop Posner Center, between the College of Fine Arts building and the Tepper School of Business.
From the next angles of Tripp and Leer in the parking lot, Margaret Morrison Carnegie College (1903) is seen behind. Better daytime views of this building will appear near the end of the movie and my photos of parking lot P8 accompany a later scene.
Friday, 26 February 1999
The Water's Edge Of Inspiration
00:26:22Interior Night First Appearance VisitedWordFest Opening Night Keynote Event
There are some interesting images during the next few scenes at this location, the College of Fine Arts Building (1916), making it one of my must see destinations. Being the fifth stop of the day, I was already pretty excited by this point.
Heading east on Forbes Avenue toward Margaret Morrison Street, where I would find metered street parking, I saw something quite amusing: I passed Morewood Avenue. There are a number of things called Morewood in the region, but this delighted me because author Quentin "Q" Morewood, a supporting character who appears throughout Wonder Boys, was already on my mind.
The first of this location's scenes opens with Tripp and Leer entering the packed Kresge Theatre late as Morewood is being introduced to speak. Entering through the western door, they head to their right along the curved, wood-paneled back wall and find a place to stand under the third round light.
Unfortunately but perhaps not surprisingly, the Kresge Theatre was not vacant on this day. No, my visit coincided with two scheduled workshops of some kind, both involving prepubescent musicians. When I entered the building, I went to the theatre's open eastern door only to find a group on stage practicing. I decided to scout the rest of the building's locations hoping that the group would finish soon.
When I returned, they had indeed finished but a new group was arriving before their event. Not wanting to miss out on this crucial location, I approached one of the two adults on stage having a chat and asked if they minded my taking a few pictures. They assumed that I was a student (thanks for the compliment, ma'am) but I said it was for personal photography. She agreed so long as I avoided the children. No problem; I did not want them in my shots anyway.
It was a bit of a problem however because the children, still unoccupied before the event, were roaming around aimlessly and not at all interested in giving me clean shots. Worse, a group of them were standing in Tripp and Leer's spot. It was now or never so I did my best to grab a few frames and move on. I am not entirely pleased about the results but what is one to do?
Kresge Theatre, sometimes known as the Kresge Recital Hall, has a seating capacity of 255 and is one of at least twenty-five places named for Sebastian Spering Kresge (1867–1966), founder of a private philanthropic nonprofit called The Kresge Foundation and of the company that became Kmart.
The space has undergone several renovations. A modernization plan in the 1970s resulted in the removal of a "large skylit leaded-glass ceiling" that some believe was made by Tiffany & Company, but extensive research and authentication attempts in 2008 were all inconclusive due to lack of evidentiary records.
The space has also transformed since the opening of Purnell Center for the Arts in 1999, which saw the drama program move out of Kresge allowing the music program to take over. Additional facility upgrades and renovations to bring the space to code were conducted in 2008–2009 by Desmone Architects of Pittsburgh.
Despite the modifications, Kresge Theatre still looks very similar to its original configuration as seen in these circa 1918 photographs from the Carnegie Mellon University Archives.
Carnegie Mellon University Archives
In pain and somewhat intoxicated, Tripp hastily exits Kresge Theatre to the building's main foyer (College of Fine Arts 131), stumbles over to the stairs (College of Fine Arts 132) and tentatively ascends.
He turns left around the corner from the stairs and stops almost immediately in the Great Hall (College of Fine Arts 133) next to a statue of a woman holding an infant. This is but one of eight sculptures lining the passageway.
There is a fade to white as the statue's face is replaced by Sara Gaskell's, our point of view shifted to the floor where Tripp is laying down having had another one of his spells/episodes.
Tripp says "give me a hand?" to Gaskell and raises his arm and hand to her. She retorts by placing his eyeglasses in his hand instead. I have always found this moment amusing because of the statue visible behind extending an abbreviated limb.
Remember, no smoking is allowed inside the Great Hall of the College of Fine Arts building.
Following more dialogue between Tripp and Gaskell, a swell of applause is heard from the WordFest crowd. A few moments later, the Kresge Theatre's western doors burst open to reveal Leer being carried by Crabtree and an unknown student.
Crabtree and the Good Samaritan carry Leer through the foyer "to the men's room," as Leer narrates aloud. "But, would they make it in time?" Only after my visit to this location did I find a new appreciation for this moment. In reality, the closest men's room is actually beyond that wooden door on the right. Perhaps a rowdy Beaux Arts Ball had rendered it inoperative?
This angle also allowed the filmmakers to slip in more bridge imagery by panning up as Leer and his helpers pass the camera.
Besides that bridge, the ceiling frescos in the foyer are quite detailed and depict notable buildings that architect Henry Hornbostel was said to have admired as well as portraits of some of history's great architects, artists, composers and writers.
Outside the Kresge Theatre's doors, Tripp is asked for a lift by Sloviak and they head out to the parking lot together.