Story and photos by Will A. Davis (Additional photos supplied)
On one of our many south to north trips we were able to break the “routine” of highway travel with a two day visit to Greensboro NC. Here is the first report on that visit.
We often hear in our daily activities something about the word “green”. On a recent trip to Greensboro, North Carolina this became even more relevant for me because not only is the city of Greensboro (named after Revolutionary War hero General Nathaniel Greene) but of the way the city has advanced in the last twenty years or so into a kaleidoscope of green spaces, arts, humanities, Leed buildings, education and sports to name but a few. From the beautiful gateway gardens, the wonderful art galleries at the Weatherspoon Art Museum, the incredibly progressive African American Atelier for the Arts , to the colleges spread throughout the city and even to the beautiful New Bridge Bank Stadium home to the Greensboro Grasshoppers and their one and only canine bat dog!
Miss Lou Lou Gehrig,the one and only bat dog of the Greensboro Grasshoppers professional baseball team…on loan to the Atlantic Coast Conference baseball tournament.
Greensboro is known as the “Gate City” because it was the meeting point for many of the railroad lines that intersected here. Like the cog of a giant wheel Greensboro is wonderfully situated geographically with the spokes of the wheel pointing towards Raleigh/ Durham, Charlotte, High Point and Winston Salem all easy day trips to the many attractions those wonderful cities have to offer. To the north and west are the Appalachian Mountains and the beautiful Skyline Drive of Virginia.
A Good Place to Start.
My experience has been, when possible, to get the feel of a city by making one of my first stops the local history museum or history center. The Greensboro Historical Museum is an excellent choice in this instance.
The museum, its collections and galleries are in an 1892 building that was the home to the First Presbyterian Church with add-on’s of a Sunday school Rotunda and connector, all featuring original architectural features.
One can follow the timeline of Greensboro’s history from its earliest roots and the patriots of the Revolutionary War, though the Quaker communities and struggles of the African American community to the present day through the winding display of articles and fascinating artifacts. A delightful lifelike street-scape is also on the second floor.
Thought ?-Did you know that Vicks Vapo Rub was invented here or that the city was once the Denim Capital of the world? (Think Dungarees if you remember!) Dolly Madison (Not the ice cream !) the First lady of the United States as President James Madison’s wife was born here as well as journalist broadcaster extraordinaire Edward R. Morrow. Greensboro is home to the prolific short story writer O. Henry as well as the Greensboro Four.
When we get home I’m going to the library to reacquaint myself with O. Henry’s writings as his life story was so intriguing.
Extensive displays of world famous Jugtown Potteries are here too. An excellent compliment to the North Carolina Pottery Trail. This is a great venue for all ages. Don’t miss it!
Art! Art! Art!
The Weatherspoon Art Museum
One of my favorite stops was the Weatherspoon Art Museum located on the grounds of the University of North Carolina-Greensboro campus. We were given a tour of the museum by Nancy Doll, Weatherspoon’s Executive Director.
The interior of the museum has a light and airy feel to it as you make your way through the three changing exhibition galleries. There are unique well placed benches for those who like to sit and ponder for a few moments.
The Mirror-1827 Henri Matisse (1869-1954
Founded in 1941 by Gregory Ivy, first head of the Art Department at Woman’s College (now UNCG), the Weatherspoon Art Museum has grown from a university teaching gallery to a fully professional museum that is nationally recognized for its excellent collections and dynamic exhibition program. The Museum serves a broad audience of over 32,000 visitors annually, including UNCG students, faculty and staff; the Triad communities; and visitors from across the state, region, and nation including an additional 24,000 students who take art history classes in the building.
From its inception, the museum has focused on building a permanent collection of modern and contemporary American art that is now considered one of the best in the Southeast. Numbering close to 6,000 works, the collection represents all major art movements from the beginning of the 20th century to the present. Willem de Kooning, Louise Bourgeois, Robert Rauschenberg, John Marin, Alexander Calder, Robert Henri, Cindy Sherman, Sol Le Witt, Louise Nevelson, Eva Hesse, and Andy Warhol are just a few of the major artists represented. Other highlights include the Dillard Collection of Art on Paper; the Etta and Claribel Cone Collection, which includes prints and bronzes by Henri Matisse; and the Lenoir C. Wright Collection of Japanese Prints.
The Weatherspoon is quite accessible with a street level parking lot behind the building and level, large open galleries. An elevator is available to the second floor.
Check their website for more information and a listing of current exhibitions and many special events.
Greensboro Science Center
Someone, somewhere once said “The ability to recapture childhood is pure genius”. I think that is true in many ways, especially when on vacation and thinking of sites that can satisfy the needs of all is almost impossible at times but one place in Greensboro seems to fit the bill and it’s the Greensboro Science Center.
Park once for three great attractions and a fun filled day (Or more if you like!). Activities that will indeed bring back the memories of a younger time in our lives as well as forge new memories and adventures for the young abound. That’s not to say I’m so old as to remember dinosaurs in spite of what some might think!
The Greensboro Science Center is the Triad’s premier multi-generational family destination offering; an Aquarium, Museum and Zoo.
The Carolina SciQuarium, North Carolina’s only inland aquarium features a variety of water-dependent animals including attention hungry penguins, ever popular sharks, playful otters, eels, stingrays, a rare fishing cat that especially enjoys a young audience, an anaconda plus fish of all shapes and colors.
Animal Discovery Zoological Park offers visitors more than 12 acres of up-close creature encounters with tigers, meerkats, howler monkeys, lemurs, crocodiles, tortoises, a red panda, farm animals and many more.
In the Museum, visitors can walk among prehistoric dinosaurs and come face-to-face with a roaring 36-foot Tyrannosaurus Rex model, experience hurricane force winds in the Extreme Weather Gallery, take an interactive journey through the human body in HealthQuest, see live snakes in the Herpetarium, and enjoy hands-on learning and interaction in Kids’ Alley and in the touch lab. Also in the Museum is a state-of-the-art OmniSphere Theater that showcases awe-inspiring, full dome digital, laser and eye-popping 3D shows on a 40-foot dome ceiling.
It was pretty warm the afternoon we visited but that didn’t stop younger kids from racing around the zoo area while grandparents could enjoy the cool of inside exhibits.
Annual family passes are a popular way for locals to frequently visit the Science Center some coming at least once a week. The indoor outdoor options make it a great destination for any weather conditions.
Spanning 11 acres, Gateway Gardens provides a stunning entryway into the City of Greensboro, a playful and interactive garden, and a horticultural oasis integrating elements of history, movement, discovery, and community.
Gateway Gardens represents the biggest project ever undertaken in the 40+-year history of Greensboro Beautiful. This garden is strategically located on one of the City’s major entryways – East Lee Street, within 1/2 mile of Business I-40 and I-85 while near neighborhoods. Phase I opened in 2011, and includes the Michel Family Children’s Garden, the Heritage Garden, Rain Garden, Gateway Plaza & Icon, and the Great Lawn.
We walked around enjoying the cheery sculpture, a soothing water feature and the many varieties of plantings. This is a space planned for community use and a lot of it! Just come anytime with your children or guests (it’s free) to enjoy the beauty and expansive space, attend a concert or have your wedding or special event here. The facility and gardens are accessible with flat parking adjoining the entrance.
Plan your visit at www.VisitGreensboroNC.com