A South Carolina businessman recently donated one of the most impressive private fossil collections in the world – totaling more than 1,500 specimens – to the College of Charleston.
Mace Brown of Mt. Pleasant, SC, began collecting fossils when he was in his early teens; today his collection, valued at more than $1.6 million, includes complete skeletons of such creatures as a giant armadillo, a cave bear and a saber-toothed cat, along with Tyrannosaurus rex teeth and Triceratops horns.
The collection focuses on North American land and sea creatures. More than 90 percent of the fossilized creatures in the collection inhabited South Carolina over a 400-million-year span, according to a College of Charleston press release.
“I wanted the collection to be in Charleston, in a location where fossils were the focus and a place where the public could see the specimens up close, not stored in cabinets out of the sight of the public,” said Brown, renown as an international fossil collector.
Brown’s passion for collecting and recording fossils was sparked by a rock collection when he was 13. By age 45, he had amassed more than 87 species of shark teeth.
Over the next decade and a half, Brown expanded his collection with fossils from around the world.
The collection, which will be housed in the Mace Brown Natural History Museum at the College of Charleston, also features saltwater mosasaurs with snakelike detaching jaws; skeletons of a warthog-looking, buffalo-sized pig; and a dog-sized horse and camel.
For more than a decade companies have been highlighting the “environmentally friendly” nature of their new buildings, and for more than a decade the press has been lapping it up, generously doling out coverage that is all but impossible for businesses to secure through the execution of their actual work.
Ponder that for moment: An accounting firm, for example, in a major city that employs 250 people – many in high-paying positions – and has grown slowly but steadily over the past 20 years, will find it difficult to get media coverage until the times comes when it announces it is a constructing a new office, one that is environmentally friendly.
Never mind that stories of these sorts have been in the news for, yes, a decade or more, making them not very “newsy” at all; the media never tires of writing about anything “eco-friendly.”
This is tiresome on several levels:
- One, space and coverage, particularly of business news, have shrunk dramatically in recent years. To devote limited resources to writing about environmentally friendly construction while ignoring the actual accomplishments of the businesses in question, be they accounting firms, banks, advertising agencies, etc., is bad journalism.
- Second, it’s no longer newsworthy when someone builds a structure that meets the standards of the U.S. Green Building Council. That entity was formed in 1993, and more than 7,000 green building projects have been built in the US alone since then.
- Finally, and perhaps most importantly, it appears that the concept behind building environmentally friendly structures may be flawed – very flawed, in fact.
Nearly 70 years after the end of World War II, a campaign has been inaugurated in Germany to track down the final remaining Nazi war criminals and bring them to trial.
Some 2,000 posters featuring the entrance to the Auschwitz death camp are being displayed in Berlin, Hamburg and Cologne.
They ask individuals with information to contact the Simon Wiesenthal Center, according to the BBC.
The US-based Wiesenthal Center estimates there are five dozen war criminals – ranging from death camp guards to members of Einsatzgruppen, mobile death squads responsible for mass killings – still alive in Germany and fit to stand trial.
“Unfortunately, very few people who committed the crimes had to pay for them,” according to Efraim Zuroff, a leading international Nazi hunter and the center’s Jerusalem branch director. “The passage of time in no way diminishes the crimes.”
As part of its “Operation Last Chance II” project,” the center is offering rewards of as much as $33,000 for information which helps in the prosecution of war criminals in Germany.
After more than 70 years on the floor of the English Channel, a German bomber shot down during World War II has been raised.
The Dornier Do 17 aircraft was downed in August 1940 off the coast of Kent during the Battle of Britain.
It is believed to be the only intact example of its kind in the world, according to the BBC.
The aircraft, brought up last week, was found to be badly corroded, with the fuselage twisted and held in place only by a strut inserted by the salvage team. The plane’s engines were found to have come apart from the plane and had to be brought up separately.
The existence of the Dornier Do 17 – nicknamed the Luftwaffe’s “flying pencils” because of its narrow fuselage – became known when it was spotted by divers in 2008 lying in 50 feet of water on a chalk bed with a small debris field around it.
The Dornier will be restored at a site in Shropshire before eventually going on display at the RAF Museum in Hendon, north London.
Federal forces spent four years trying to silence Confederate guns on Fort Moultrie, but the massive iron weapons face just as formidable a foe today: the environment.
To protect the 10 historic siege and garrison guns still located at the Sullivans Island fortification, preservationists have turned to technology, including computer sensors, in a bid to defend them from the salt and humidity omnipresent along the South Carolina coast.
The guns of Fort Moultrie are of particular historical significance because they were among the weapons that were used to fire on Fort Sumter April 12-13, 1861, officially beginning the War Between the States.
“The last of the guns, a 7-ton Union rifled Parrott gun suspended in a yellow sling held by a crane, was slowly jockeyed into place onto a new concrete base last week,” according to The Associated Press. “It completes what the fort refers to as Cannon Row, where seven of the heavy guns are lined up next to each other.”
The conservation work, which included coating nearly all the guns in rust-retarding epoxy, is being done through a collaborative effort between the National Park Service and Clemson University’s Restoration Institute.
The price tag for the multi-year conservation effort is $900,000.
Efforts have begun to conserve a North Carolina state flag captured by Union forces during the Battle of New Bern.
The banner was carried by the 33rd North Carolina State Troops during the March 14, 1862, battle at New Bern, NC. The encounter marked one of Federal leader Ambrose Burnside’s few highlights during the war, when his troops overcame an undermanned Confederate position and captured what was a key supply point.
New Bern would remain under Yankee control for the remainder of the war.
The conservation of the 33rd North Carolina regimental flag is the latest project of the Society for the Historical Preservation of the 26th Regiment North Carolina Troops, the largest group of War Between the States re-enactors in the Tar Heel State.
The 26th Regiment is working with the North Carolina Museum of History in Raleigh to conserve the 150-year-old standard; the effort will cost an estimated $7,500 to $10,000.
The 33rd North Carolina State Troops was organized in Raleigh in September 1861 and saw its first action at New Bern, according to the New Bern Sun Journal.
During the battle, the 33rd North Carolina suffered the greatest number of casualties of the six Confederate regiments engaged, with 32 men killed, 28 wounded and more than 100 taken prisoner, including its commander, Col. Clarke Avery.
Preservation efforts began Wednesday on Pittsburgh’s oldest-known building and the oldest authenticated structure west of the Allegheny Mountains.
The Fort Pitt Blockhouse was built in 1764, in the immediate aftermath of the French and Indian War. Much of the stone foundation, bricks and timber in the two-story structure are original, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
The blockhouse was built to reinforce Fort Pitt, the largest British fortification in North America.
The project will take 10 months and is being funded by an anonymous donor and the Colcom Foundation, according to the Fort Pitt Society, which owns the structure.
Fort Pitt was completed in 1761, amid the lengthy French and Indian War, a good bit of which took place in the Ohio Valley. During Pontiac’s Rebellion in 1763, a weakness in the fort became apparent when British forces noted that the structure’s design impeded efforts to repel snipers.
In response, Col. Henry Bouquet constructed several redoubts, or blockhouses, for sharpshooters in 1764. The structure being renovated is the lone surviving remnant of Fort Pitt.
A key aspect of readying the Fort Pitt Blockhouse for its 250th anniversary is inspecting its timbers.
A cannon that sat in New York’s Central Park for nearly 150 years was discovered last week to have been loaded with a cannonball and black powder the entire time, it was announced last week.
Parks workers came upon a live cannonball, loaded in a Revolutionary War-era cannon currently being refurbished, New York television station CBS 2 reported. The artillery piece was one of two British cannon being stored at a Central Park shed near the 79th Street transverse, according to the station.
Preservation workers for the Central Park Conservancy called police last Friday after opening up the capped artillery piece for cleaning and finding the cannonball, cotton wadding and 28 ounces of black powder wrapped in wool, still capable of firing, according to the New York Times.
The loaded cannon was on public display from the 1860s until 1996, when the Central Park Conservancy decided to bring it indoors to protect it from vandalism. It was donated to the park around the time of the War Between the States.
The cannon, believed to be more than 220 years old, was apparently donated after it is believed to have been salvaged from the HMS Hussar, a British frigate that sank in the East River around 1780 during the American Revolution, according to the Associated Press.
One week after a ceremony honoring South Carolina civil rights pioneer George Elmore culminated with the erection of a historic marker in front of the downtown Columbia building he once operated, the structure was promptly razed.
Elmore ran the Waverly 5-and-10 cent store, and area mainstay, up until the late 1940s, when he dared to challenge the state’s status quo and put his name on a lawsuit that sought to end South Carolina’s practice of all-white political primaries.
Elmore’s actions led to economic reprisals and financial ruin, according to The State newspaper.
Last Friday, one week after a ceremony attended by city leaders, academics and Elmore’s descendants, the 1935 structure was reduced to a pile of rubble.
The property’s owner, First Nazareth Baptist Church, which sits next door, has not said what it will do with the razed site or why it chose to knock down the historic structure.
Not surprisingly, there is a good bit of unhappiness in area preservation circles.
An 1824 work by English painter John Constable sold for $35 million at auction earlier this month, setting a record for the influential artist while also highlighting an ugly family spat.
According to several media reports, Baroness Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza blamed the decision to sell “The Lock,” a work that had hung in Madrid’s Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum, founded by the baroness’ late husband, on Spain’s slumping economy.
Apparently oblivious to the benefits of modern public relations, the baroness quipped to a Spanish newspaper, ”I need the money – I really need it. I have no liquidity. Keeping the collection here is costly to me, and I get nothing in return.”
The sale drew the ire of the baroness’ family as well as a board member of the museum, who resigned in protest, according to a Reuters report.
A stepdaughter of the baroness was quoted in the British press saying that her stepmother “has shown absolutely no respect for my father and is simply putting her own financial needs above everything else,” according to the Los Angeles Times.