Friday, February 22, 2008

Williamsburg/Hampton, Virginia

Pierce's Pitt Bar-B-Que, Williamsburg, Virginia

I began my short stay in Williamsburg with a meal at Pierce's Pitt Bar-B-Que. Pierce's has been around forever, and specializes in melt-in-the-mouth pork sandwiches. I had this:

This Popular "Jumbo" sandwich - 5 oz. of our famous pulled pork bar-b-que in "Doc" Pierce's Original Bar-B-Que Sauce, layered with our homemade slaw. Comes with regular drink, french fries, and homebaked cookie.

Pierce's is a roadside shack, but an upgraded shack. Kind of bright with lots of orange accent color, it's not really an atmosphere for lingering. Truck drivers mingle with the local folks. There are nice pictures on the walls of earlier, even more modest, versions of the restaurant. Williamsburg has always been a schizophrenic place. You've got the college crowd, Colonial Williamsburg, and now, wealthy retirees. But there's always been a rural element, both white and black, vestiges of the old south. There are people who'd never go to the colonial restoration, but go wild over the Pottery Factory, a vast emporium of cheap crockery and goo gaws for the home. Pierce's Pitt Bar-b-que caters to both sides of town.

Check out their website and don't miss the scrapbook. See the famous--and infamous--politicians seeking authenticity by visiting Pierce's.

Pierce's Pitt Bar-B-Que

I had already mapped a number of megachurches (my new photo project) in the Hampton Roads area, and two were close to each other just off Mercury Boulevard. When I was a teenager Mercury Boulevard was the place to go for a movie, shopping at the mall, and concerts at the Coliseum. I even bought my first guitar on Mercury Boulevard in a shop housed in a small bungalow along the service road, obviously built long before the present ten lanes of blacktop.

Today the street is--let's not mince words here--a horror. It exhibits everything that is wrong in America's obsessive car culture, but more than that, it doesn't even function well in that context. I remember when they built Coliseum Mall with a one lane flyover funneling traffic to the parking lot. The flyover flies no more, and the mall has been demolished. It is being replaced by a new-fangled
ye olde mall, just as big with the same endless parking lots, but with touches of faux main street frillery.

Bethel Temple, Hampton, Virginia

Bethel Temple is a domed flying saucer shaped object across from its own parking lot and a BP gas station. An empty field with a grouping of trees that once must have surrounded a house lies diagonally across. I parked in the lot of a nearby shopping center and took several shots from directly across the street and from some distance away. Like a lot of these churches it's an assemblage of buildings revealing the growth of the church from, usually, humble beginnings.

R.O.C.K. Ministries and Bethel Temple in rear

In sight, just up the street near Mercury Boulevard a tiny church called the R.O.C.K. (Restoration of Christ's Kingdom) Ministries occupies a small building along with its affiliated businesses: Dora's Drycleaning, Performance Haircutting (waxing by Jeannie), and Studio 5 (photography).

Liberty Baptist Church

A couple of miles away is Liberty Baptist Church, a sprawling campus with very new looking buildings. I stayed off the grounds--maybe later when I get more confident about what I'm doing I'll walk in and and ask to take photographs. I did several photographs from the street with lots of grass in the foreground. The buildings are low slung making it hard to get a sense of the form of the structures. There's a large port-cochere in front, which is, from what I've seen, common with megachurches. Basically, the place looks like a community college or hospital.

Houses near Liberty Baptist Church

A small neighborhood of new houses stands adjacent, directly across from the front door. I made one photograph with the houses in the foreground and the church just visible beyond the fence at rear. If you lived here, even though the church is right behind your house, you'd probably drive. It's a long way around, and just not a walking environment.


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