A Digital Journal

Photography by Tony Triolo

A Haunting Place

Every time I head to Florence or Muscle Shoals in northwest Alabama, I invariably pass by this structure located just east of Killen on Hwy 72.  It’s always drawn my interest, but until today, I have never taken the time to stop and see just what it was.  It has a definite sinister character to it, and someone went to a good deal of trouble to make the structure appear older than it obviously is.  The badly faded marquee out front identified the building as Graystone Manor.  My timing couldn’t have been better, because I soon came to realize that Graystone Manor is a haunted house, ready to scare the bejesus out of any paying customer.

Graystone Manor

The front entrance to Graystone Manor

The house is actually part of a larger complex which includes several other structures along with the Killing Town Cemetery, an obvious play on the nearby town’s name.  After doing a bit of research, I found out that the Graystone Manor is a reconstruction of a 19th-century manor house, and it features several hundred animatronic props within its 30,000 square foot interior.

Gargoyle stands sentry outside the Graystone Manor.

A gargoyle stands sentry outside the mansion

Unfortunately, the place was not open when I happened to drive by, but you really wouldn’t expect anyone to be around during daylight hours would you?  Ghouls and ghosts only show up after dark, right?  Everyone knows that Dracula never sees the light of day.  He only makes appearances at night when there’s a full moon, if I remember from all those old Hollywood movies.

The front door beckons the unsuspecting

Although there were no living creatures about, it was obvious that the enterprise was in full operation, as you might expect just two days before Halloween.  The banner across the facade of the main facility, known as Arx Mortis, provides the days and times of operation.  Heralded as one of the best haunts in the South, I almost wished that it were closer to the witching hour and I could venture inside.  But who’s to say I would have lived to tell you about what I saw within.  You will all have to do that for yourselves.  Good luck!


Circular window of the Graystone Manor

Are there bats in this belfry?

October 29, 2010 Posted by | Alabama, Architecture, Photography | , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Global Reach from Nikon

An interesting read about a great photographer, Jim Richardson.  He’s made some amazing images during his long career, most notably for National Geographic magazine.  Basically, it talks about, how we as photographers, always need to look beyond the obvious first impression of a place.  Try to find an image that is different from he one taken by thousands of photographers who came before you.  The better photo may be just around the corner.

Global Reach

For more of Jim’s work check out:    http://www.jimrichardsonphotography.com/

October 28, 2010 Posted by | Photography | Leave a comment

A Lock on Burritt

Barn Door Padlock

This past weekend I found myself at an Indian cultural festival.  It was held on the grounds of the Burritt Museum high atop Monte Sano Mountain in north Alabama.  There was a time when I was a frequent visitor to the historic park due to the fact that our family once lived on top of this last foothill in the Appalachian chain.  My wife and I lived there for almost fifteen years, raising three kids who grew up to love that mountain and nature in general, and who still find excuses to visit the state park and take in the spectacular views of the city of Huntsville below.

The Burritt Musem, or more accurately, Burritt on the Mountain, grew from the original mansion and grounds bequeathed to the city back in 1955 by the original owner, Dr. William Burritt.  Included in his will were the surrounding 167 acres of land which provided the backdrop for Huntsville’s first museum.  Since that time, volunteers and community activists have brought original homes from the area to Burritt to be restored and utilized as an educational facility.

During the period of time I lived nearby, I would often use the grounds of the museum as settings for the outdoor portraits I was doing at the time.  There were a number of wonderful locations suitable for posing families, children and babies.  Parents loved the outdoor look to their family portrait and kids liked the fact that they were outdoors and not stuck in some stuffy old studio.  The only mishap, I recall, is the time I unknowingly sat a two-year old directly on a fire anthill.  The howls of the youngster were only surpassed by those of his mother.  Come to think of it, I don’t think that sitting ever produced a sale.  Can’t imagine why.

Well, those days have come and gone, and the museum continues to grow and evolve.  It is currently home to well over fifteen historic structures which have been relocated here and painstakingly reconstructed on-site.  These buildings comprise the educational venue for the museum and provided the backdrop for a number of activities associated with last Saturday’s Indian festival.

So what does this photograph have to do with any of this, you ask?  Nothing, other than the fact that it is of the padlock on the door of the museum’s barn, and I thought it made for a nice shot.  I liked the old-time look of the lock and hasp and the way the light played across the door.  So, after a couple of hours at the festival, this is the image I liked the most.  Seems like often times the simplest things are the best.

October 21, 2010 Posted by | Alabama, Architecture, Historic Alabama, Photography | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment