Thursday, May 23, 2013

Eau Claire

I figured that my inaugural post would be about my new home, Eau Claire.  I ended up here for a job, after living in Pennsylvania for most of my life.  My family has lived in the same county in Pennsylvania since the late eighteenth century.  Actually, my mom lives in the home she grew up in -- a wedding present for my grandmother from her father.  Several of my aunts, uncles, and cousins live right next door; needless to say, we don't wander too far.  It's all very charming and I have wonderful memories growing up surrounded by family... so it's not at all like Deliverance.

I spent my entire childhood and young adulthood surrounded by family, then I headed off to college.  As a language major, I wanted nothing more than to study abroad.  I did... initially for a year... but then I stayed.  I didn't set foot in the U.S. the entirety of 2003.  I guess I wanted to explore something beyond that quiet street of my relatives.  And then I returned and spent the next seven years in grad school, which makes this the first time I don't feel transitory.  So when I arrived, I felt like I needed to experience this new place, to discover and learn as much about my new home as I could about it.

Eau Claire has a public liberal arts university and is trying to re-design its downtown and become something cosmopolitan... maybe it's just trying to escape its prostitution past (in the late nineteenth century, a local newspaper called Eau Claire a "naughty, naughty city").

Former Water Street brothel in Eau Claire

Oh, I love when people and places have a "past".  Anyway, Eau Claire is French for "clear water":

Phoenix Park
And water abounds here...

Half Moon Lake, Carson Park

Chippewa River
Eau Claire has some gorgeous gems architecturally (the first one is my personal favorite):

Martin Van Buren Barron House, Carpenter Gothic, 1871

Barnes Block, Romanesque Revival, 1893

Ottawa House (catering to the French-Canadian lumbermen), 1882

Ager House, Victorian, 1892
Salsbury Victorian Row Houses, 1891

Sacred Heart of Jesus (styled after the German Abbey Maria Laach), 1928

Community House, Prairie School, 1915

I have plenty more to tell about Eau Claire and, of course, more to discover... but we'll save that for later.

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