Friday, September 30, 2016

The Mermaid City

Tiled Mermaid near the Oriental Pagoda

Cannonball Trail historic marker.
We stopped in Norfolk last week to walk the Cannonball trail which provides a lovely walking experience of Norfolk's historic spots.

The tour began at the Fireman's Museum on Freemason St. and led us to St. Paul's Episcopal church. The church, built in 1739 is the only building in the city that survived the British attack in 1776. It still has a cannonball embedded high up on one wall. It took us a few minutes to find it. You must enter the side gate and walk through the very old cemetery to get the best view.

The Cannonball trail led us around the downtown district where we discovered the MacArthur Memorial, a Confederate memorial, a US Customs House, Nauticus, and in Norfolk's historic waterfront an Oriental Pagoda

Cannonball in the wall of St. Paul's church

I am not sure how far we followed the cannonball symbols embedded in the sidewalk but our Fitbit's buzzed 10,000 steps before we stopped for lunch at Freemason Abby.
That's a restaurant not a meeting place for members of a fraternal organization.

Norfolk is called the Mermaid City. That designation was adopted in 1999 by business leaders as part of a plan to bring visitors back to its downtown.

The project began with a first casting of 130 statues. Each mermaid was designed and decorated by a local artist. The completed works of art were auctioned at a Mermaids on Parade event in November of 2000 with the proceeds donated to local charities. The mermaids were then installed throughout the city. Over the past 16 years they have become part of Norfolk's identity.

We were told that no one really knows any more how many Mermaids are in Norfolk. Some statues have been lost to weather, to vandalism and to theft.

Textured Verdigris Mermaid near the MacArthur Center
We saw bronze mermaids, tiled mermaids, painted mermaids, glass mermaids and even a mermaid with a Hawaiian lei. The 10 foot long statues are impressive and each fish/lady is a unique work of art.

Mermaids are all over Norfolk. We were on a Scavenger Hunt and spotting them was like finding little treasures.

Patriotic Mermaid near the courthouse.

"Miss Definitely Downtown" Mermaid

"Riverview" Mermaid points toward the harbor.

Not one of the original 130, this bronze mermaid was at a waterfront hotel.

"Aloha" Mermaid at Nauticus.

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