Monday, May 16, 2011

I visit Paradise for my birthday

My birthday festivities began on Sunday, the eve of my birthday. JoAnn and I cruised to Howard Finster's Paradise Gardens for Finster Fest. It was a warm and gentle afternoon with folk artists, food, music. Here I am with Katherine Michael's self-portrait on cardboard.

Down here the closest we get to paradise is family. So road-tripping to Paradise with JoAnn seemed like a stolen base. We were architecture tourists in unfamiliar territory in no hurry to get home.

We got off I-75 at Adairsville and found a double porch

a town square

and the Adairsville United Methodist Church.

We made a bee-line to Summerville then north to Pennville on 27 to Rena Street and Paradise Gardens. We found my dream car, a red Cadillac convertible with angels.

I don't know what to tell you about Paradise Gardens. Howard Finster died in 2001. I understand the gardens took a beating after that. It's not a huge place. But we could sense the huge energy and passion of the man. He collected, he built, he painted, and he preached all at once.

Where else can you find a mountain of metal and bicycle frames.

The "L" shaped "bridge" had everything inside, everything that Howard hadn't yet made into art.

It was a gentle place. Folk artist SANDY told me that she started the day by painting miniatures. It helped get her motor running.

Folk artist Sam G's devil woman warning signs were working fine.

There was much fine music. We enjoyed the New Binkley Brothers, bought their CD and listened to "Greasy Coat" and "Indian War Whoop" on the way home.

After I had a pulled pork sandwich from Big Kev's Barbecue and JoAnn had a slaw dog we were felling good.

We bought a cup of boiled Peanuts and aimed towards home, the slow way.

The First Methodist church was up the west hill of Summervile.

On the east side was this grand, abandoned school house from 1914-1915.

We headed toward Rome. Isn't there a college there? Berry? Shorter? Both, but Berry takes the cake. JoAnn and I were in awe.

It's the worlds largest contiguous college campus with more than 12 acres per student. The dining hall is a cathedral.

There is a log chapel.

There are classic buildings galore.

And uncanny tornado damage.

JoAnn and I were close to overload but we soldiered on to Rome.

Rome, good grief. Broad Street has buildings like this.

The churches start in the next block up the hill.



Up the hill are houses, amazing houses of all sizes. JoAnn and I love pink houses and salmon houses - depends on your monitor.

Green with gingerbread.

Modest. lived in, and perfect.

Details only a couple of alert architecture tourists in love would spot.

We weep bitterly for crunched yellow shingled houses.

I think by this time the police were following but didn't think this old man was very dangerous.

Our camera was near meltdown so we vowed to return to Rome with a bigger boat.

We couldn't resist a detour though Cartersville to snap the Bartow County Courthouse (1902).

That was just my birthday eve.

Today my family took me to Mary Macs Tea Room.

If you are wondering and still reading: I am 61 today.

If you don't mind, I'm feeling sentimental about family:

"Marriage is a duel to the death which no man of honour should decline."
-- GK Chesterton
"There is no finer investment for any community than putting milk into babies."
-- Winston Churchill


  1. It looks like a great birthday - taking your art and architecture tourism beyond the boundaries of the Atlanta area seems like a perfect birthday itinerary. Reading this post gives me the feeling that life is swell (not sure why this word came to mind, but it did) for the Kearns family, and they treated you to a fine day.

  2. Terry, I hope you had a happy birthday. Best wishes for many more years of architectural touring.

  3. What a great way to spend your birthday--taking yourself on a ROAD TRIP!

  4. I agree with Holly -- contentment comes across in your post. Happy birthday!

  5. Looks like a great day...and happy 61 years young!

  6. Happy Birthday, Terry - you may know my old pal Tom Patterson, who wrote a book on Finster. He now lives up near Winston-Salem, NC.

  7. Terry, I'm sorry I missed this post about your birthday. Many, many happy returns of the day, as the Brits say. Oh, and welcome to adulthood - now you're over 60!

  8. My eye Doctor says, "Terry, you are starting to mature."

    But there is no evidence.

  9. Happy Belated Birthday, fellow tourist!


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