Menlo’s Dead End: a pleasant diversion

Menlo pl. backs into Highland Park, right across from Mt. Hope Cemetery. It is a little explored side street on an extremely busy road. Since it is a dead end, only pedestrians who are not trying to get to the South Wedge or downtown have any reason to wander down it. Those who do will find a terrific collection of houses that represent many of the most influential architectural styles of the early 20th century, including Modernism, American Foursquare, and the Victorian style.

The fact that it is adjacent to Mt. Hope Cemetery only adds to the street’s intrigue. It also shadows the urban woodlands of Highland Park, which gives this out of the way pocket-  neighborhood a serene luster. It is a pleasant diversion.


Photography by George Cassidy Payne 




First Church of Christ Scientist

Christian Science Reading Rooms are public spaces where anyone can learn about spiritual healing. Published materials about Christian Science are available to read or purchase, including the core teachings of Mary Baker Eddy.



The Artful Gardener has American Made Crafts and giftware include pottery, art glass, jewelry, etchings, fiber arts, soaps and candles. Garden pieces include metal sculpture, statuary, frost-proof pottery, fountains, birdbaths, birdhouses and more.





Attributes of Victorian Houses

  1. Steeply pitched roof of irregular shape, usually with dominant front-facing gable
  2. Textured shingles (and/or other devices) to avoid smooth-walled appearance
  3. Partial or full-width asymmetrical porch, usually one story high and extended along one or both side walls
  4. Asymmetrical facade





The Colonial house style consists of many styles built during the Colonial period (early 18th Century) in America’s history when England, Spain, and France had colonies scattered across what is now the United States.

English colonies closely mirrored housing fashions of England although they were 50 years behind. Early on (pre 1700) the First Period English style houses were based on the building practices of late medieval Britain. After 1700 the English colonies evolved their building style into the Georgian style.

When the American Revolution arrived the architectural fashion evolved into the Federal style and persisted until around 1820. The next housing fashion to develop was based on the ancient Roman architecture that inspired the Renaissance and was labeled the Early Classical Revival Style. This style was popularized in the southern U.S. by popular southern architects such as Thomas Jefferson. Also, during this time the French colonies in Louisiana developed the French Colonial style and further west the Spanish Colonial style evolved. Both Spanish and French Colonial styles are very rare in today’s popular Colonial styles.




Highland Park










It is the form of a Foursquare, more than its trim and materials, that makes it distinctive. In its purest rendition, it is a simple box, roughly as wide and deep as it is tall. Each of its two stories is quartered into four roughly equal spaces. Often a kitchen will occupy one of the quarters, but they were just as likely to be found in additions off of the main structure. Another distinctive feature is a dormer on one of more of the roof slopes, often with a miniature roof just like the larger version it sits on.




Mt. Hope Cemetery



Most Modern (1900-1950) house styles of American architecture include familiar and very popular architects. This list includes Frank Lloyd Wright, Le Corbusier (Charles-Edouard Jeanneret), Charles and Henry Greene, Mies van der Rohe, and Walter Gropius just to name a few. What they had in common was an attempt to design inexpensive housing that was not only eye-pleasing and functional but could be built quickly to keep up with the fast paced affects of the industrial revolution.



Streetlamp in Highland Park



The Historic Brewster-Burke House Gets a Touch of the French Quarter

Photography by George Cassidy Payne

On the corner of Spring St and South Washington St, Rochester, NY, stands one of the finest examples of the Italianate style in the city. Featuring a hipped roof with cupola and an entrance porch with carved Moorish Revival ornamentation, the Brewster-Burke House was officially listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1971 .

Today, the French Quarter Cafe is located inside this historic building.



Date Built: 1849


“The Brewster-Burke house has a chhattri porch with a scalloped ogee arch and quatrefoils cut out in the spandrels. The brackets are oversized and are an s and c scroll shape with interesting spirals cut out. Candelabra columns are also included, but these are far more angular and have deep fluting that make them look like grass bundles. The windows have lintels with simple triangles. A monitor caps the roof and a long wing to the side has a porch that mimics the central porch. The house ends in a structure with three pointed Gothic arches, that served as a summer kitchen and carriage house according to the plans, demonstrating the stylistic link some theorists of the period found between Indian and Gothic architecture. Throughout the house has ironwork balconies on the windows, while the main porch has a fantastic wooden balcony with exotic finials on the posts. The side seems to have had a porch that was as fantastic as the main porch with carved ornament, but this has disappeared along with an exceptional fence, pictured below from HABS. The house was threatened many times with demolition but has been saved mostly intact, despite some losses.” (



Moorish style

A long-lasting Islamic Iberian style created by the ruling Moors who invaded from North Africa and were brilliant woodcarvers and leatherworkers. Little furniture was used or survives from this era, in which richly covered cushions were important, but it was part of the Muslim world inspiration for a 1856–1907 revival.
The Brewster-Burke House is a prime example of how this revival traveled far beyond the Muslim world to influence the architectural sensibilities of Europeans and Americans working in the mid 19th century.


Original Owner: Henry R. Brewster


 “We wander through old streets, and pause before the age stricken houses; and, strange to say, the magic past lights them up.” – Grace King, French Quarter Guidebook




Italianate Style

” Emphasizing the rambling, asymmetrical character of Italian farmhouses, the style easily fit into the informal, rural ideals of picturesque movement. Because of the increasing complexity of American building types by the 1850s – from train stations and commercial buildings to townhouses, apartments, and suburban homes, the style was modified to fit a building’s particular function. The style’s use for many of America’s main-street commercial buildings provides for one of America’s most distinctive symbolic landscapes of midwestern town centers. Like Gothic Revival, Italianate and its cousin, the Italian Villa style, was heavily promoted and popularized by Andrew Jackson Downing by the 1850s as the preferred suburban country house. By the 1860s, Italianate overshadowed Gothic Revival as America’s most popular romantic style.” (



Architect/Builder: Merwin Austin


AUSTIN, Merwin (1813-1890) was a successful architect in Rochester, N.Y. from 1845 until 1869 who executed several important works in Port Hope, Ont., a popular summer destination for visiting Americans who lived directly across Lake Ontario. Born in Hamden, Connecticut, he joined his older brother Henry Austin (1804-91), the eminent architect of New Haven, Conn., when the latter opened an office there in 1837. Merwin Austin moved to Rochester at age 31, and by 1850 had established a local reputation there with his Greek Revival design for the Monroe County Court House, Rochester, 1850.



Subsequent Uses: owned by William Burke, the Rochester Public Health Nursing Association, and Rochester Institute of Technology Graphic Arts School before becoming Landmark Society Headquarters in 1970.


The villas of Renaissance Italy inspired the Italianate style. It was popular from the 1840’s to the 1880’s. The people who preferred Italianate homes wanted their residences to look like they had been added onto over the course of several centuries, so the houses were often composed of a series of rectangles.




The Landmark Society purchased the property in 1970 and it was designated as both a city landmark and by the National Register of Historic Places as part of the Child, Jonathan, House & Brewster-Burke House Historical District.


In New Orleans…..You can’t separate nothing from nothing. Everything mingles each into the other…until nothing is purely itself but becomes part of one funky gumbo.” – Mac Rebennack A.K.A. Dr. John, Musician




Loisanna Finds Home


Everything in New Orleans is a good idea. Bijou temple-type cottages and lyric cathedrals side by side. Houses and mansions, structures of wild grace. Italianate, Gothic, Romanesque, Greek Revival standing in a long line in the rain. Roman Catholic art. Sweeping front porches, turrets, cast-iron balconies, colonnades- 30-foot columns, gloriously beautiful- double pitched roofs, all the architecture of the whole wide world and it doesn’t move. – Bob Dylan, Chronicles, Vol. 1, 2004


This house was an example of the mid 19th century transition from the classical to the romantic style of architecture.

Rochester Makerspace: Learn. Use Tools. Make Things.

Photography by George Cassidy Payne




 The Rochester Makerspace is located at the rear of 850 St. Paul Street in almost 4,000 square feet of workspace. They are a volunteer-run 501c(3) nonprofit organization and their mission is to encourage learning, creativity and collaboration. According to their website, they do that by “providing low-cost and free access to sophisticated tools, offering a wide variety of classes, and by providing opportunities for “makers,” artists and craftspersons of all kinds to meet and learn from each other.”

When I first walked into the space I was totally blown away. I had no idea that Rochester had this kind of an environment. The first impression that a visitor has is wow! this place is huge. The second impression, at least for me, was one of hope and optimism for the future of our children. This is a wonderful resource for any young mind who is in a process of exploring their own interests, habits, goals and dreams as designers. Here, one can choose what to look into without the fear of failure. Here, one can satisfy their own curiosity and be given ample permission to try new disciplines. Architecture and design one day; robotics and radio communications the next. Participants are only guided by their imagination.

For anyone who has not heard about The Makerspace, you got to check it out. If you know someone who wants to belong to a worthy cause that is educational at the core, please help them learn about this effort. It is a terrific asset. But it will only continue to exist if people support it.



Screen print created in The Makerspace


Creativity is the key to success in the future, and primary education is where teachers can bring creativity in children at that level. A. P. J. Abdul Kalam


IMG_20160331_151641872 (1)
An unassuming exterior leads to a fantastic complex of ingenuity come to life



The Rochester Makerspace is open daily for members from 8 AM to 10 PM. Visitors are welcome on Thursday nights from 6 PM to 10 PM, Saturdays from 11 AM to 3 PM, and many other times if you can them first contact us.


Electric saw in the woodworking and carpentry stations


I think it’s fair to say that personal computers have become the most empowering tool we’ve ever created. They’re tools of communication, they’re tools of creativity, and they can be shaped by their user. Bill Gates



Art in the classroom not only spurs creativity, it also inspires learning. Mickey Hart


IMG_20160331_153506496 (1)
Artifacts and tools from the stained glass window station


Making the simple complicated is commonplace; making the complicated simple, awesomely simple, that’s creativity. Charles Mingus
The Wood Shop


I read that The Makerspace is now offering field trips for students in second grade through high school. They offer demonstrations of woodworking, 3D printing, home made robotic cars and computers, magnetic crafts and more. They can also arrange study groups for small groups of students with specific interests. To make arrangements, contact



Simple but effective

Upcoming Classes & Events as Found on the Website

Every Thursday Night, 6 to 10 PM – Weekly Community Night & Open House

Every Saturday, 11 AM to 3 PM – Weekly Community Night & Open House

The public is  invited to drop in at the Rochester Makerspace to explore, learn, and make… for free! Stop in and use their stuff (sorry – the wood shop, machine tools, and laser cutter are for members only, due to safety and insurance). Their open houses always draw a big crowd (visitors and members), so you’ll have the chance to meet a lot of other makers. Get inspired and try something new! Plenty of volunteers will be on hand to offer tours. Park in the lot at Scrantom St. and Conkey Ave. and follow the signs.

Every Thursday Night, 7 to 9:30 PM  Microcontrollers & Robotics Meetup

Work on your Arduino, Raspberry Pi, Picaxe or Beaglebone projects with other users of these small, inexpensive computers. All skills level are welcome. They help you by sharing their knowledge and experience.



Drill press on the main lot


Rational thoughts never drive people’s creativity the way emotions do. Neil deGrasse Tyson


Tools that would be impossible to afford for most people are made available to any person in Rochester who wants to get involved in the mission of the Makerspace.



There is a fountain of youth: it is your mind, your talents, the creativity you bring to your life and the lives of people you love. When you learn to tap this source, you will truly have defeated age. Sophia Loren



The Library


Artwork in the hallway of the Makerspace building

I.M. Pei’s Wilson Commons Building: A Contemporary Mastery of Method

Photography by George Cassidy Payne

Designed by I.M.Pei in 1976, just after his John Hancock Tower, in Boston, and before his John F. Kennedy Library, also in Boston, the Wilson Common’s building is the campus’ Student Union for the University of Rochester.

As a central location for campus life, Wilson Commons provides space for gatherings, performances, lectures, exhibits, leisure, play, and eating throughout its five floors. Among its many stunning features, the six-story glass atrium, which is adorned with flags representative of that year’s student body country of origin, is one of the most impressive public spaces in Rochester. Less dramatic in scale, it still possess all of the hallmark characteristics of his most famous work the Louvre.

Transparent: the building’s windows exemplify the virtues of inquisitiveness and honesty. Rational: the building’s calculated layout is constructed of the most durable materials. International: the building invites all to gather as a common body of learners. Democratic: the building only functions when everyone does their part to make it work. Open and free: the building is, in the form of metal, brick, and glass, a glorious manifestation of the liberal arts.






The essence of architecture is form and space, and light is the essential element to the key to architectural design, probably more important than anything. Technology and materials are secondary. I. M. Pei




As one critic writes: “Pei has been aptly described as combining a classical sense of form with a contemporary mastery of method.”






A city, far from being a cluster of buildings, is actually a sequence of spaces enclosed and defined by buildings. I. M. Pei





“Pei refers to his own “analytical approach” when explaining the lack of a “Pei School”. “For me,” he said, “the important distinction is between a stylistic approach to the design; and an analytical approach giving the process of due consideration to time, place, and purpose … My analytical approach requires a full understanding of the three essential elements … to arrive at an ideal balance among them.” (




Pei’s first major recognition came with the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Colorado (designed in 1961, and completed in 1967). His new stature led to his selection as chief architect for the John F. Kennedy Library in Massachusetts. He went on to design Dallas City Hall and the East Building of the National Gallery of Art. He returned to China for the first time in 1975 to design a hotel at Fragrant Hills, and designed Bank of China Tower, Hong Kong, a skyscraper in Hong Kong for the Bank of China fifteen years later. In the early 1980s, Pei was the focus of controversy when he designed a glass-and-steel pyramid for the Musée du Louvre in Paris. He later returned to the world of the arts by designing the Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center in Dallas, the Miho Museum in Japan, the Suzhou Museum in Suzhou, and the Museum of Islamic Art in Qatar.

Pei has won a wide variety of prizes and awards in the field of architecture, including the AIA Gold Medal in 1979, the first Praemium Imperiale for Architecture in 1989, and the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum in 2003. In 1983, he won the Pritzker Prize, sometimes called the Nobel Prize of architecture. (



I liked the America of Bing Crosby, Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton – it was all a dream, of course, but a very alluring dream for a young man from Canton. I. M. Pei




I arrived in the U.S.A. in 1935, to San Francisco. I got the boat from China, and I didn’t even speak English. I could read a little, perhaps write a little, but that was all. It was a 17-day journey, and I learnt to speak English from the stewards. I. M. Pei





Architecture must not do violence to space or its neighbors. I. M. Pei








To me, form doesn’t always follow function. Form has a life of its own, and at times, it may be the motivating force in design. When you’re dealing with form as a sculptor, you feel that you are quite free in attempting to mould and shape things you want to do, but in architecture, it’s much more difficult because it has to have a function. I. M. Pei





Modern architecture needed to be part of an evolutionary, not a revolutionary, process. I. M. Pei




It is good to learn from the ancients. I’m a bit of an ancient myself. They had a lot of time to think about architecture and landscape. I. M. Pei




Biographical Information

Name: I. M. Pei
Full name: Ieoh Ming Pei
Born on 26 April 1917 in Guangzhou, Guangdong, China, Asia
Place(s) of activity:
1919 Family moves to Hong Kong
1927 Attends Saint John’s Middle School in Shanghai
1935 Leaves for the United States, short stay at the University of Philadelphia
1936 – 1940 Transfers to MIT; Bachelor of Architecture; Alpha Ro Chi Medal
1941 Research assistant at the Bemis Foundation;
Works for Stone and Webster
1942 Marries Eileen Loo, student at Harvard Graduate School of Design
1943 – 1945 Volunteers for the National Defense Research Committee in Princeton
1945 – 1948 Studies at the Harvard Graduate School of Design under Walter Gropius, Master of Architecture;
Occupies a post as assistant professor for two years
1948 Employed by William Zeckendorf as architectural director for Webb and Knapp
1954 Becomes a US citizen
1955 Founds I. M. Pei and Associates
1966 The firm becomes I. M. Pei and Partners
1968 Firm receives AIA Prize
1979 AIA Medal
1981 Great Gold Medal of the Academy of Architecture

Creative Diplomacy Needed in North Korea

North Korea is a small blip on the map. But the attention it receives on the international stage is entirely out of proportion with the nation’s geographical stature. Although the landscape may seem insurmountable and endless to visiting travelers and soldiers alike, in actuality, the national boundaries pale in comparison to its two giant neighbors.
Likewise, the brinkmanship displayed by Donald Trump and Kim Jong- Un is entirely out of proportion with the interests and needs of the planet. The escalating rhetoric out of the White House is actually taunting common sense by dangling the possibility of thermonuclear war. In an April 28 Reuters article, Trump said: “There is a chance that we could end up having a major, major conflict with North Korea. Absolutely.” On April 30, he Tweeted:  North Korea is looking for trouble” and encouraged North Korea’s neighbor China to “solve the problem.” 
As gratifying as this saber rattling is to many in his base, the president would be wise not to underestimate the military capability of North Korea. Not only do they possess a nuclear deterrent, their masses are indoctrinated with a prophetic worldview that makes war with America inevitable. Ample evidence suggests that many North Koreans would welcome American intervention-and defectors have shared stories of an internally demoralized populace- but the vast majority are being prepared to fight to the end. With modern weaponry involved, as well as cyber and biological attacks, It will be a catastrophic bloodbath that will eclipse the death toll of the first Korean War by millions.
Simply put: a land invasion of North Korea would be an unfettered disaster for both countries and the region.
Is North Korea a menace. Absolutely. The nation’s track record is dismal in the area of human rights. But the most effective way to engage people in dictatorships is to show them why liberty and equality are enviable values. Rather than a policy of “strategic patience,” cyber-attacks, economic pressure, and the threat of war, why not try something new and interesting like creative diplomacy? Why not trade with North Korea? Why not negotiate for peace with North Korea? Why not make North Korea a business partner? Isn’t that what you are good at, Mr. Trump? Why do American interests need to inherently conflict with the interests of North Korea? This is a nation that is in the dark. Why not work with China, Japan, South Korea and Russia to help bring them into the light? Why must we all succumb to the darkness together?
This is what I mean when I say creative diplomacy. Estimates of mineral wealth in North Korea run to $1 trillion in rare earths, coal and potential oil assets. There are gigantic supplies of marble, granite, gold, coal, iron ore, and copper. Based on some sources, North Korea may have the most uranium on the planet. With the proper intention and effort the United States can assist the North Koreans to develop these industries in a way that has a direct benefit on the people of this isolated and often desolated country. 
In other words, what if President Trump engineered a new Marshall Plan for North Korea which had as its sole purpose the enhancement of their country’s natural resource extraction, storage and distribution? Creative diplomacy is the art of dealing with people in a sensitive and effective way that stimulates the imagination and generates goodwill. A strong and vibrant North Korea could be a magnificent boon to the United States if our companies, universities and private citizens are the ones helping to build their infrastructure. If President Trump truly wants to have influence in this region, this is one way to do it. Work collaboratively and strategically with China and the other regional powers to make North Korea open for business. Again, nothing is more effective in combating a dictatorship than the promotion of free enterprise and the genuine exchange of ideas.   
Korea map 11

Use Mother’s Day To Reflect on Trump’s Legacy of Abuse Towards Women

With Mother’s Day approaching, I think it is worthwhile to revisit some of the president’s words about women.
In 2013, Trump tweeted that military sexual assault should basically be expected because men and women serve in the military together.  Matt Lauer gave Trump an opportunity to restate his comments in a forum hosted by NBC. Trump said. “Well, it is a correct tweet.”
About journalist Megyn Kelly, he said she had “blood coming out of her wherever” after she questioned Trump for having demeaned women as “fat pigs” and “dogs.”
About Carly Fiorina, in an interview with Rolling Stone, he said: “Look at that face!” “Would anyone vote for that? Can you imagine that, the face of our next president?!”
About reproductive rights, he said, “there has to be some form of punishment” for abortion if it were to ever be banned in the United States — and that punishment should fall on women.
During the debates, Trump mocked Clinton for being a few minutes late returning to the stage during a Democratic debate saying, “I know where she went, it’s disgusting, I don’t want to talk about it.”
 After Clinton challenged Trump on his history of criticizing women’s looks and bodies, focusing on the specific example of Alicia Machado, a former Miss Universe who says Trump called her “Miss Piggy” (after she gained some weight) and “Miss Housekeeping” (because she is Latina), Trump defended fat shaming Machado, telling “Fox and Friends” that “she was the worst we ever had.” “She was a winner, and she gained a massive amount of weight, and we had a real problem,” he said. “We had a real problem with her.”
Worst of all, there is the Robert Ailes crimes. The former CEO of Fox News, was accused by many women of sexual harassment, including former news host Gretchen Carlson. But Trump defended Ailes, telling “Meet the Press”: “I can tell you that some of the women that are complaining, I know how much he’s helped them.”
And let’s not even go into the infamous Access Hollywood video.
Put bluntly, on January 20, the nation collectively witnessed the most public act of domestic violence ever recorded. Trump is an abuser. His words are abusive. His actions are abusive. His policies are abusive. His with women is marred by abuse.
As domestic violence writer Lundy Bancroft wrote: “An abuser can seem emotionally needy. You can get caught in a trap of catering to him, trying to fill a bottomless pit. But he’s not so much needy as entitled, so no matter how much you give him, it will never be enough. He will just keep coming up with more demands because he believes his needs are your responsibility, until you feel drained down to nothing.”
Photograph by George Cassidy Payne

Trump Needs Creative Diplomacy With North Korea

North Korea is a small blip on the map. The attention it receives on the international stage is entirely out of proportion with the nation’s geographical stature. Although the landscape may seem insurmountable and endless to visiting travelers and soldiers alike, in actuality, the national boundaries pale in comparison to its two giant neighbors.

Likewise, the brinkmanship displayed by Donald Trump and Kim Jong- Un is entirely out of proportion with the interests and needs of the planet. The beating of the war drum by the White House and the chorus of support from the mainstream news propaganda machine is actually taunting common sense with the possibility of thermonuclear holocaust. In a region that could easily escalate into World War III in the snap of a second, the president continues to escalate his rhetoric every day.

But why? I think the president would be wise not to underestimate the military capability of North Korea. Not only do they possess a nuclear deterrent, their masses are indoctrinated with a prophetic worldview that makes war with America inevitable. Every North Korean is being prepared to fight with all conceivable weapons-from hand tools to automatic rifles. They will fight from cave to cave, hilltop to hilltop, farm to farm, river to river, street to street, and house to house. It will be a catastrophic bloodbath that will eclipse the death toll of the first Korean War by millions. Does Trump realize that they have intercontinental missiles that can be fired from mountainous bunkers that are impenetrable? Does he understand that they have extremely well trained infantry and armed tank corps in every urban center? Meanwhile, the majority of Americans (who are not war weary from doing the real fighting) are vegged out on The Voice, Budweiser, and planning for their next family vacation. The bottom line is that America is not ready to go to war against North Korea. They are more prepared as a citizenry than we are for a protracted martial conflict.

That being said, a land invasion of North Korea is basically suicidal. The Yellow Sea and Korean Bay act as barriers in the west. The Sea of Japan acts as a barrier in the east. The interior is strung with impassable mountain ranges. The elements in winter are torturous.

So, why exactly does the president need to start World War III here? This is a nation that is in the dark. Why not work with China, Japan, South Korea and Russia to help bring them into the light? Why must we all succumb to the darkness together?

Is North Korea a menace. Absolutely. The nation’s track record is dismal in the area of human rights. But the most effective way to engage people in dictatorships is to show them why liberty and equality are enviable values. Rather than a policy of “strategic patience,” cyber-attacks, economic pressure, and the threat of war, why not try something new and interesting like creative diplomacy? Why not trade with North Korea? Why not negotiate for peace with North Korea? Why not make North Korea a business partner? Isn’t that what you are good at, Mr. Trump? Why do American interests need to inherently conflict with the interests of North Korea?

Who said this must end with thermonuclear disaster when it could begin with a New Deal for both countries?

And if that sounds like wishful thinking, what if we thought away the existence of borders all together? Why do we have names and flags to possess what is just imaginary lines in the dirt? There is no such thing as a natural border. We create these lines around us to protect us from all enemies- some are real and some are imagined. We tell ourselves that we need these lines in order to know where we are in the world. But the truth is we can only be in one place. That place is never where any map says it is. There is no such thing as a border beyond the ones we choose to perceive. The border- like the objects and people it is designed to keep out- is a product of our mind. We create it. We live by it. We make decisions by it. We let it rule our lives as if it is real.

George Cassidy Payne is a SUNY adjunct professor of philosophy and residential counselor at the Willow Domestic Violence Center in Rochester, NY. He has been published in numerous local and national journals, magazines, newspapers, and online blogs. He can be reached at

 Korea map 11

The Bevier Memorial Building at Night: Another Dimension of Claude Bragdon



There is something geometrically flawless about the Bevier Memorial Building. Designed by Claude Bragdon, the building invites viewers to ponder the ornate tile work while basking in the warm lamplight of Gothic fixtures, Romanesque arches, and pragmatism at its finest.

Like all of Bragdon’s works, the building is perfectly shaped for its purpose and functionality. He was not just a brilliant designer of mere bricks and glass. He was a superbly talented mathematician who worked out some of the most unfathomable problems in the field.

The important thing to know about the Bevier, is that it was Bragdon’s personal favorite. In doing research for this article, I discovered that his father died in 1910, which is the year that this building was officially dedicated and opened for business. I now see that it may be more than a sublimely noble piece of structural art; it may be a sentimental present to the memory of his father. For a spirit driven builder in the first place, this added significance only creates a more profound sense of dignity and love in the space he designed.

Highlights abound. The front staircase is simply alluring. The windows in the front are dramatically installed to make the entire building swallow the sunlight whole. From top to bottom the brick work is handled with delicacy. Throughout, it has the fingerprint of a theosophist, mystic, engineer, and designer who called Rochester home.  It is the inimitable work of the one and only Claude Bragdon.


Photography by George Cassidy Payne




“The designer of Rochester’s New York Central Railroad terminal (1909–13) and Chamber of Commerce (1915–17), as well as many other public buildings and private residences, Bragdon enjoyed a national reputation as an architect working in the progressive tradition associated with Louis Sullivan and Frank Lloyd Wright.” (





“His power came from some great reservoir of spiritual life else it could not have been so universal and so potent, but the majesty and beauty of the language with which he clothed it were all his own.” Claude Bragdon




“Mathematics is the handwriting on the human consciousness of the very Spirit of Life itself.” Claude Bragdon




“Two things can get people to make efforts: if people want to get something, or if they want to get rid of something. Only, in ordinary conditions, without knowledge, people do not know what they can get rid of or what they can gain.” P.D. Ouspensky





“George Chandler Bragdon, Claude Bragdon’s father, was born April 29, 1832 at “Chestnut Hill,” a well-known station on the Underground Railroad near Lake Ontario in Richland, New York. After attending Union College, he taught briefly before embarking on a career as a newspaperman.   He edited a succession of newspapers across upstate New York before he and his family settled in Rochester in 1884. An accomplished poet, ardent Emersonian, and early Theosophist, G. C. Bragdon published a volume of verse, Undergrowth (1895), various pamphlets on New York State, and edited Notable Men of Rochester and Vicinity (1902).  He died August 7, 1910.” (




“Katherine Elmina Shipherd was born December 30, 1837 in Walton, New York to Catherine Schermerhorn, a temperance and women’s rights advocate and Fayette Shipherd, a Congregationalist minister and abolitionist.  Like the Bragdon’s Oswego County home, Fayette Shipherd’s house was a station on the Underground Railroad. In 1858, Shipherd moved his family to Ohio where his younger brother John J. Shipherd had been a founder of Oberlin College.  Katherine Shipherd taught at Pulaski Seminary in Oswego County, New York prior to her marriage to George C. Bragdon on March 22, 1860. The couple had two children, May (1865-1947) and Claude Fayette (1866-1946). Katherine Bragdon died September 6, 1920.” (





“Claude Fayette Bragdon was born at the Shipherd family home in Oberlin, Ohio on August 1, 1866. His family moved often until shortly after Bragdon and his sister graduated from Oswego High School in 1884, and they settled in Rochester.  Bragdon immediately began work as a draftsman for a series of Rochester architects, most notably Charles Ellis, for whom he worked 1886-1889. During this period Bragdon helped to organize the Rochester Architectural Sketch Club and entered numerous architectural competitions, often winning a top prize. In January 1890, Bragdon struck out for New York where he was briefly employed by Bruce Price before returning upstate for a job with the Buffalo firm of Green & Wicks. He returned to Rochester in 1891 to go into partnership with Edwin S. Gordon and William H. Orchard (Gordon, Bragdon and Orchard). Among the firm’s most notable projects were competition designs for a New York City Hall and a re-design of Boston’s Copley Square as well as several railroad stations and a commission for a new building for the Rochester Atheneum and Mechanics Institute.” (

The Rochester Atheneum and Mechanics Institute is now RIT and is the Bevier Memorial Building today.




“A prolific and influential writer, Bragdon published more than twenty books and hundreds of articles. He was nationally known for his graphic art, his writing on the fourth dimension, his Song & Light Festivals of 1915-1918, and his role in theater’s New Stagecraft.” (

He had technical and artistic expertise in many disciplines, making it difficult to categorize his work into a specific stylistic trend. Bragdon’s work as an early modernist is important both in its own right and as a key to other 20th Century architects’ work.

Why Trump Really Won


We are now closing in on one half of the first year in Trump’s presidency. The debate over why he won last November is still being waged by millions of Americans on all points of the political spectrum. Hillary Clinton recently told a CNN reporter, in a widely publicized interview, that the ultimate reason that she lost the election is because FBI James Comey spooked the American people with his cautionary letter to Congress.

I want to offer a less vindictive and conspiratorial assessment. I think the real reason that Clinton lost the election is because most Americans have a shorter attention span than a goldfish.

According to the Television Bureau of Advertising, the average American family has 2.5 TVs per household. 75% of Americans have at least one television set in their living room, and 31% have 4 sets or more. Kids 2-11, spend 26 hrs a week watching TV. That amounts to 1,248 hours a year. The average American adult watches 4 hours of TV each day. Every 4 hours a viewer witnesses 80 minutes of commercials.

In total, Americans spend a little more than 20 days a year just watching television commercials. From the age of 3-80, an average American will spend 1,540 days watching commercials. Divide this number by 365 days and you get 4.2 years.

Microsoft funded researchers in Canada surveyed 2,000 participants and studied the brain activity of 112 others using electroencephalograms (EEGs). They found that since the year 2000 (or about when the mobile revolution began) the average attention span dropped from 12 seconds to 8 seconds. The goldfish has an attention span of 9 seconds.

Could it be that the ultimate reason a cameo actor on The Nanny, Sex and the City, Home Alone 2, The Little Rascals, and Zoolander- and an executive producer of the Miss Universe pageant and The Apprentice- was able to become POTUS, is because the name Trump is a commercial brand that screen addicted Americans knew and trusted?

Trump won for the same reason that consumers buy Sprite instead of the store brand lemon up. Trump won for the same reason people buy a bottle of Advil instead of the generic Rite Aid brand. Trump won because most Americans will spend 4 years watching commercials. Trump won because most Americans have a shorter attention span than a goldfish. Trump won because he shouted loudest and most often on television.