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Restored WWII bomber flies to N.Y. museum

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Written by Associated Press   
Thursday, 07 July 2011 09:38
The A-26 Invader, a light bomber built by Douglas Aircraft, was first used in by the U.S. in World War II. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons. LANCASTER, Ohio (AP) – A World War II bomber restored during 12 years of volunteer work in central Ohio has been flown to a museum in New York.

The Historical Aircraft Squadron in Lancaster donated the labor needed to get the twin-engine plane back into flying condition, and the California plane collector who owns it paid about $200,000 for parts.

The Lancaster Eagle-Gazette reports the 26,000-pound plane was flown Tuesday to the 1941 Historical Aircraft Group Museum in Geneseo, N.Y., for display.

Tuesday was its seventh – and potentially last – flight.

"They'll keep it a flyable plane, but who's to say if it will fly again," said Branson Rutherford, a volunteer with the organization who oversaw much of the plane's restoration.

The squadron says the aircraft was introduced to combat late in World War II and flew in the Korean and Vietnam wars.

Squadron and museum officials say the plane that originated as an A-26 bomber was later designated as a B-26 (1948-1965). They say operational planes of either type are rare.


Information from: Lancaster Eagle-Gazette,

Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, redistributed, or rewritten.

AP-WF-07-06-11 1518GMT

The A-26 Invader, a light bomber built by Douglas Aircraft, was first used in by the U.S. in World War II. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
Last Updated on Thursday, 07 July 2011 10:02

Famous St. Louis excursion boat being scrapped

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Written by Associated Press   
Tuesday, 05 July 2011 14:55
The S.S. Admiral retained its signature Art Deco look from a 1930s makeover. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons. ST. LOUIS (AP) – A century-old riverboat-turned-casino that folded under withering competition from the St. Louis region's growing array of gambling sites is headed to a scrapyard, piece by piece.

Crews are dismantling the S.S. Admiral along the Mississippi River at St. Louis, months after a would-be auction failed to attract what the owner considered serious bids for the vessel that until last summer was The President Casino.

Gateway Marine Services' Bill Kline told the Belleville News-Democrat that about a half dozen of his company's workers are using saws, cutting torches and other tools to pick apart the once-shimmering, floating giant with an Art Deco look.

“The boat's being recycled,” Kline said, noting that the dismantling must be done meticulously. “Old boats tend to be like an archaeological dig. The materials are in layers, so you have to be very conscious of flammable material. So you can't just break out the torches and go at it.”

The work on the river's Missouri side, beneath the Martin Luther King Bridge linking the state with Illinois, will take about a month before the boat will be taken to Alton, Ill., just north of St. Louis for completion.

Kline called the Alton site preferable, given that it has better access and the location of locks and a dam there mean the river conditions don't vary as much.

At tens of thousands of square feet, the vessel was billed in the auction postings as the world's biggest inland entertainment vessel.

Built in 1907 as a Mississippi-crossing ferry, the boat was lengthened by 70 feet in the 1930s and converted into what was then the only air-conditioned excursion boat, according to the eBay listing.

The President was among Missouri's first casinos after the state legalized casino gambling in 1993. But over time, the vessel permanently moored near the equally glistening Gateway Arch became by far the St. Louis area's smallest casino and was hampered by its age, size and location.

Flooding over the past several years frequently forced it to close temporarily, and its business suffered as more modern, fancier casinos cropped up around St. Louis. In December 2007, Pinnacle opened a massive downtown casino called Lumiere Place just a few hundred yards from the President, hastening the boat's demise.

And in March of last year, Pinnacle opened its River City Casino in south St. Louis County

Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

AP-WF-06-30-11 1733GMT

The S.S. Admiral retained its signature Art Deco look from a 1930s makeover. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 05 July 2011 15:09

Historic Marathon Motor Works village rises from rubble in Tenn.

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Written by HOLLIE DEESE, The Nashville Ledger   
Tuesday, 05 July 2011 12:51
The Marathon Motor Works factory was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1996. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons. NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) – Barry Walker was just 28 years old in 1986 when he first laid eyes on the Marathon motor car factory in what had become a rough part of town. The neglected, decaying Clinton Street structure was surrounded by weeds and inhabited by addicts.

“It was rough,” Walker says. “Dead dogs, needles, drug addicts. It was disgusting when I came over here.”

But Walker couldn't stop thinking about the space, its proximity to downtown and what the history behind it could be. “I was taken by this building and just kept coming back and coming back,” he says.

Walker had been in the market for a building for his burgeoning business, Ingenuity Shop, which builds audio/video consoles and computer workstations. He also began building elevator cabs for an elevator company and supplying skilled labor to Vanderbilt.

“I got really big, really fast,” he says, adding he had more than 30 employees. "I would interview people at restaurants because didn't want them to know how little I was."

His office at the time was about 700 square feet, much too small for his needs. But space wasn't a problem once he bought the 32,000-square-foot building.

“People are too apt to see old buildings and say, ‘Ah, it looks like hell, tear it down.’ We are tearing down pieces of beautiful art when we tear them down,” he says. “You can't get this kind of stuff back.”

After he moved his business in, he still had an abundance of space he didn't want to go to waste.

“I was creative, had done sculpture and all kinds of stuff, and so I said, ‘Gee, I'll fix this space up for some real creative people and make it a real fun place,’” he says. So he did just that, fixing the upstairs of the building and renting out the units to an eclectic group of clients.

Since that initial purchase in 1986, Walker has been adding piecemeal to it, buying up the other buildings that were built at different times – the oldest in1881 and the newest in 1912. He didn't know what the buildings were when he bought it but now he is an expert on all things Marathon.

“In 1989, I finally found out it was part of the Marathon car company,” he says. “I started researching and there really wasn't that much out there.” No stranger to treasure hunting, thanks to a history of scuba diving for shipwrecks, he kept digging. Then, he found out his hometown of Jackson, Tenn., is where the company originated.

In 1884, the Southern Engine and Boiler Works opened in Jackson, manufacturing gasoline engines and boilers for industrial use. By 1904, it had grown into the largest plant of its kind in the nation. Cars were becoming more popular and by 1909, the name was changed to Marathon. The company offered two models.

Marathon moved its operations to Nashville in 1910, but it was in the old building in Jackson that Walker hit jackpot.

“It was vacant and they told me I could have anything I wanted,” he says. “I found a sealed off darkroom, so I knocked out the plaster and found that it had 68 glass negatives and blueprints of the Jackson plant and all the Nashville stuff. I felt like Indiana Jones.”

He now owns and is fixing that building, too.

By 1914, Marathon had ceased operations and stopped manufacturing the cars. “At the time they made between 8,000 and 10,000 cars and had a dealership in every state of the country.” Walker says there are now only eight known left in existence. He owns four of them.

Of course, not everyone initially saw the beauty and potential of what is now Marathon Village. People thought he was crazy, Walker says, adding he acted the part – complete with a gun he would shoot into the ground – so people in that rough neighborhood wouldn't bother him.

“I had to come in like a nut and have no fear,” he says. “People really thought I was crazy for buying this place. But that is how things get started. Someone has to make a move. And I knew it was only a matter of time. I would sit up here on top of this building and see all this land around here and be looking right downtown. Nobody could really see it, but I could.”

As the years have passed, the buildings have become a growing museum for all of Walker's Marathon findings, while more and more tenants continue to move in. About six years ago, Lightning 100 moved their offices in, after a decade located on top of the L&C tower.

“It is unique and eclectic like we are,” says Fred Buc, general manager for the station. And while they gave up a killer view, what they got in return was easier access and like-minded neighbors. Yazoo Brewery anchored the other side of the building, which was a good way to help people understand where they were now located. Now, that space is occupied by the Corsair Artisan Distillery.

“It cost this company a lot of money for parking downtown every month, so it saved us a bunch of money moving here,” Buc says. “But what we lost in the process was being able to walk out our front door and have 20 places to eat and a post office and a bank and drycleaners and Walgreens and the Arcade. In return we got easier access in and out for our sales people who come in and out all day.

“And even though we are a little bit harder to find now, at least the people who are coming to us don't have to fight for a parking space and pay $10. It is just easier.”

Among the nearly 50 tenants of Marathon Village are photographers, distillers, personal trainers, interior designers, sculptors, printmakers, music video producers, recording studios and advertising agencies.

The tenants seem to love being there, but might love Walker even more. After working through serious motorcycle accident three years ago, they rallied around him.

“Barry is one of a kind,” Buc says. “He has had some misfortune but he really is surrounded by a lot of people who care about him and love him. He has really bounced back, and I think that is due to the closeness of the people he associates.

“The building is his baby and, while a lot of tenants could go to other places that may be more developed or fancier or ritzier, I think a lot of people have chosen to come here because of him and because of the uniqueness of the building and the area.”

Walker feels the same about the building and neighborhood he has helped bring back.

“We never have a boring time,” he says. “I have had tons of people who want to buy but I am not interested in selling. I have my own little village. It is my own little hangout.”


Information from: The Nashville Ledger,

Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

AP-WF-07-02-11 1639GMT

The Marathon Motor Works factory was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1996. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 05 July 2011 13:27

Appraisals are best left to the professionals

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Written by TONY REID, (Decatur) Herald & Review   
Thursday, 30 June 2011 08:46
DECATUR, Ill. (AP) – It's easy to get all wrapped up in antiques and then carried away by what we think they might be worth.

Who hasn't seen that appraisal on an episode of the PBS Antiques Roadshow, now used as a promotional segment for the program, where the guy from Tucson, Ariz., brings in a circa 1840 to 1860 Navajo blanket he keeps draped on the back of a chair? Asked how much he thinks its worth, he has no idea. Then viewers can almost see the color drain from his face as he's told between $350,000 and $500,000.

We all want to be that man. Trouble is, ultra-valuable tribal blankets don't gallop along that often, so how are you going to know if you've got one? Or an Old Master painting? Valuable clock? Rare Turkish rug?

Some fans say scoring a massively oversubscribed ticket to a Roadshow episode is tougher than winning the lottery, so not much chance of getting satisfaction there. But local professional help is at hand to tell you how much your old things are worth if you are willing to cross their hands with silver. Just don't bank too much on getting good news.

Decatur-based Edwin Walker is a personal property appraiser who is an accredited member of the International Society of Appraisers. You pay him to price antiquities, and he sticks rigorously to an honesty-is-the-best-policy approach, warts and all.

“I would say, in probably 75 percent of the situations, especially when people have me look at one item, like a painting, then 75 percent of the time, I am the bearer of bad news,” he said. “It's about being diplomatic and good-natured and convincing enough to let them down easily.”

Walker, who offers formal written appraisals and cheaper “verbal approximations of value,” said clients are generally more accepting of the verdicts once they see the research and effort that goes into them. An associate professor of art at Millikin University teaching graphic design and computer graphics, he specializes in fine arts himself, but through his professional appraisers association, said experts in other fields are only a phone call away.

At the end of the day, he said, what he's selling is peace of mind. “People then have an idea; they know they don't have the Hope Diamond sitting around at home,” he added. “If they are considering sending stuff to the Salvation Army or whatever, they want to know they made the right choices and no major mistakes.”

Appraisers can be found in the phone book, but be wary of any situation in which an appraiser turns around and offers to buy the item. “That is a serious conflict of interest,” Walker said.

Decatur appraiser and auctioneer Mike Hall has been in the business for more than 40 years and has seen more estates and estate goodies than he could shake a gavel at. In a sad commentary on the state of the American family, he said many of the appraisals he does involve the carving up and valuation of property, antiques and otherwise after a divorce, when people might be arguing over who gets what and what it's worth.

He prefers to avoid showing up at the family home when either party is present. That way, he avoids getting into verbal tussles with some unhappy spouse who insists, for example, that the Indian rug by the fireplace must be worth at least X number of dollars because they'd seen one just like it on TV.

“I usually tell them I charge by the hour, and this is costing you standing here and arguing with me and telling your story,” he said. “Stories which I've heard many times.”

Like Walker, he said the secret to a solid appraisal is fearless honesty, which he seasons with knowledge and lots of experience. He said Internet selling has radically reshaped the antiques and collectibles marketplace, but a real world local auction, advertised to the right specialist buyers far and wide, will still bring top prices if the lots deserve it.

“You will get it sold, and it'll bring what it's worth,” he added.

Appraiser Virginia Cannon said part of the fun of the profession is that you never know what you will be asked to judge the worth of next. She recalls, for example, being asked to calculate the value of giant collections of dead bugs donated to the Illinois Natural History Survey at the University of Illinois and Illinois State University in Normal.

Add both collections together, and Cannon was faced with more than 13,000 dead insects, but she wasn't creeped out. “No, bugs don't bother me,” she said. “But, with all the formaldehyde, they kind of smelled bad.”

A certified appraiser with the International Society of Appraisers and an accredited senior appraiser with the American Society of Appraisers, she said it helps to have a wide field of expert contacts you can turn to for help on pricing the unusual. The collections turned out to be valued in the thousands of dollars each, and Cannon said people who have valuable things they may never want to sell should still get them appraised for insurance purposes.

“To replace that item, you are going to have to go out to an antiques shop or somewhere and find it,” she explains. “And you might have to pay through the nose to get it.”


Information from: Herald & Review,

Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

AP-WF-06-29-11 1027GMT





Treasure divers find antique ring worth $500,000

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Written by Associated Press   
Monday, 27 June 2011 10:29
KEY WEST, Florida (AP) -- Treasure divers searching for a 17th-century sunken Spanish galleon off the Florida Keys say they have found an antique emerald ring worth an estimated $500,000.

The gold ring has a rectangular cut estimated at 10 carats. It's believed to be from the Nuestra Senora de Atocha, which sank off the Florida Keys during a 1622 hurricane.

Divers from Mel Fisher's Treasures found the ring Thursday about 35 miles from Key West.

A spokesperson said the ring's estimated value is based on the stone's 2.7- by 2.5-centimeter size and the value of other emeralds from Atocha.

Also found were two silver spoons and other artifacts. A 40-inch gold rosary was found in March and a gold bar in April.

Mel Fisher (1922-1998) was an Indiana-born treasurer hunter best known for finding the wreck of the Nuestra Senora de Atocha on July 20, 1985.



Mel Fisher Treasures:

Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

AP-WF-06-23-11 2324GMT




Last Updated on Thursday, 07 July 2011 09:42
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