Friday, August 10, 2007

The Mysterious Staircase

Many local folk are familiar with the hillside staircase that goes from the foot of Willis Street up to the Sacred Heart Church and school. Far fewer are aware that there is another set of steps up a hillside. These stairs start behind the Middle School and take one up to McCormick Street at the spot where it turns west for the final climb up to the Pioneer Home, barely visible at the top of the picture above.

I've no idea of the history of these stairs. I can speculate that they were put in place for use by residents of the home back in the world before autos were so ubiquitous. However, they don't take the user toward downtown -- it's much easier to take the sidewalk straight down McCormick to go shopping or to Whiskey Row for a beer. There are even benches to rest along the way.

Maybe the stairs were for students who lived up the hill? No, they don't actually end up at the school, either, but rather wind up at a path to Aubrey Street. Is there anybody out there with an answer?


sheoflittlebrain said... one time, I believe there was a community of little houses below the Pioneer"s the flat..along the creek.. E. may have a postcard of them. I'll look..

Chickenbells said...

I'm not exactly sure what they led to or from, but I think you're on the right track with the idea of them leading to the school. There was a bigger neater school up there for Sacred Heart years ago (I ran across an old school year book from then, and it looked really neat architecture wise, and I think there were more than just the few grades they have now) I believe they tore it down though to build the church...Which is a shame, cause the church is way uglier than the school was. Oh well...they also tore down a deco movie theater to build the cruddy part of the Baptist church that faces the square on Cortez. It's a shame someone wasn't around to stop them from doing all of the "improvements"

Granny J said...

Brain -- would these little houses have been where the middle school is not located? I'd love to look at such a postcard -- as well as the entire collection.

CB -- Actually, the stairs that are pictured are much closer to your shop than the steps up to Sacred Heart, which is to say that there are not one but two staircases going up the bluff from Granite Creek. These stairs, just below the Pioneer Home, are not visible from the street and even the casual stroller will miss them, as a rule. As for the destruction of many wonderful old buildings, it's inevitable -- but very, very sad, especially for those who remember them.

Lucy said...

The stairs look very intriguing and enticing anyway!

Anonymous said...

Interesting how things like the stairs makes one wonder what was there. I enjoyed the post. Looking forward to the answer.

Granny J said...

Lucy -- the stairs were a wonderful surprise when I first found them.

Steve -- I have a hunch we won't get an answer!

smilnsigh said...

I love shots like this!!!

I had something like this, here. But ours are in better repair than yours. Yours really beg for a search on their origin.


Granny J said...

SnS -- your stairs look like they might be used on occasion, unlike the staircase here. I like for just that reason -- it's hidden and quite forgotten. Nice photos, BTW; obviously you love your little city just as I love Prescott.

k said...

Of course, I'm ever so fond of things like staircases to nowhere. And old chimneys, all alone in a field, the only thing left standing after a fire or storm destroyed a wooden house. Perhaps the old foundation, the outline of the *footprint* of the building, is still somewhat in place.

Sometimes there's nothing left of the building at all. Maybe you can see a few old but thriving daffodil stands or other such plants, things that were clearly imported and planted around a foundation.

But all that's left of the orignal building is a sort of clearing, a space where any trees are much younger than the surrounding ones.

What you have there is what I think of as a qhost footprint.

If you can get to the top of a *mystery* staircase, sometimes if you look carefully, you can see the ghost.

Another source of info, of course, is simply to look at the old property records. I don't know if your county Property Appraiser's tax records are available on a website; most of them are, these days, including Broward County. Some - not all - give a pretty extensive chain of title and/or history of taxable improvements.

Some - not all - give a history of improvements even if they're considered non-taxable, like church properties.

Sometimes - not always - a nice long-time employee in the records office will simply remember, and tell you over the phone or in person.

For real estate and local history lovers, those offices can be a wonderful place to visit.

Did you ever see the Blues Brothers movie, where they were collection money to pay the taxes and save the Sisters, or whatever? and at the end, went to the Tax Collector's office to pay the bill?

It was quite something.

Granny J said...

k -- with all the development going on, our best ghosts are found near old mining claims and mines or other locations out in the forest, although I know of one such place near the Square, which, now that you remind me, I shall have to photograph. The plant that lingers hereabouts is old fashioned two-toned purple iris. As for the staircase -- I think it is on public land.

Avus said...

"Half way up the stairs is neither up nor down"

Granny J said...

Avus -- that's why I let the fabulous niece from Memphis take the pictures -- I might have got stuck half-way up or half-way down...

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