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Lake Geneva · July 2008

Seen this trip:The Yerkes Observatory, LakeGeneva
Around Geneva Lake
Black Point Preserve: The Seippe House, on the southshore

The Yerkes Observatory(owned by the University of Chicago, built 1895)

I think thedoorway looks like the entrance to a romanesque church such as you would see in Burgundy. Thebuilding layout is cruciform--a cathedral to a different religion, no doubt, but still very like achurch.


But there is adifferent kind of ornamentation.

Our guide (in red) suggested that one face on the column, which is adorned with signs of the Zodiac, isthat of U of C's first president, William Rainey Harper. If so, it is not a good likeness. Directlyabove that face is another, in profile, with a very long nose; the scar at the tip was created when a wasp wasremoved--as the guide's photo above shows, it originally sat on the nose; possibly this had to dowith some anecdote about building the observatory. But it offended somebody, so all the wasps have been removed.

The original telescope (the white tube, lower right) measures 40". It is still functioning, but it's nolonger state-of-the-art. The wooden floor around the telescope (photo left, below) is an elevator and moves up and down as users' needs require. How high? The lower railing in front of the double door atthe back (to the right) can be raised to the height of the upper railing--that is, to the height of the2nd window on the right.


A boat trip around Lake Geneva

A perfect day for sitting on the dock

Captain, my captain: this was Zak, at 20 a very impressive guide and pilot. It seemed that everymassive mansion around the lake was built by some tycoon associated with a brand name--American Can, Nabisco, Rock Island Railroad, you name it. Zak knew themall.

That's the Yerkes Observatory in the background, on the left.       On the right is a house called"Alta Vista."


All decked out for the 4th


Black Point

The house, built by the owner of theSeippe Brewery in Chicago, was called "Lorelei" until the First Word War made German namesunpopular. Thereafter it became Black Point, named for the black oaks that grew around thehouse but are no longer to be seen. It's perched on a hilltop and almost invisible from thelake. The house was donated to the State of Wisconsin 11 years ago by Bill Peterson, a grandson of the original owner; it took 10 years to get the museum open because neighbors opposed the invasion of their sanctuary. So access is limited to the boat dock and restrictions are considerable. Still, worth the trip.



Something like 120 stairs from the boat landing to the top.


Right ahead of George, on top of the trees on the horizon, is theYerkes Observatory.



Irrelevant, but nice to see, somebody's nice ride to work at the house.