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My Two New Friends From Melissa, Texas
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Another great day lost with my camera, Midnight, and this time I found myself in Melissa, Texas.  I had set off on another adventure looking for barns, churches, birds, or anything else fun to photograph, and this adventure landed me right in the middle of Melissa.

I’ve passed the signs for Melissa many times on my way north on 75, but I have never visited.  So glad I decided to head that way to see what it was all about…

The City of Melissa is a quickly growing community Northeast of Allen (where I live), with a population of about 10,000.  If you are curious about other things this little town has to offer, you can visit the City of Melissa Website for more information.

The main reason for my trip was so I could look for things (mainly barns) to photograph, and I found plenty.  I will definitely be heading back sometime soon.  I just love the small town feel Melissa has (and will hopefully maintain), while still being so close to the big cites.  Allen, Plano, Dallas (and others) are all just down the road.

Not only did I see lots of barns, quaint little church buildings, birds, and much more, but I also made two friends.  Very unusual for me, because on most of these adventures, I am by myself, and usually I don’t see or speak to anyone!

Except for the occasional person who slows down to try and figure out why I’m taking a picture of a dilapidated building or some strange bird or Hawk, these adventures are very quiet!  However, sometimes me and my camera in unusual or remote locations causes local residents to ask lots of questions…

Well…on this adventure, I discovered a long, winding road with lots of old barn buildings.  There was one abandoned house in particular that I loved.

I was so drawn to this dilapidated old house. I could just see its potential. Perfect candidate for Fixer Upper, right?

It was next to a barn that looked like it was in the middle of being taken down.  I pulled over to the side of the road after taking a few pictures to check them out, and an old pickup truck pulled up next to me.

As I looked up to see who was getting all in my space pulling up right next to my car, I could hear my mom saying “You know…one of these days someone is going to tell you to get off their property, or they might just shoot at you.  You need to be careful when you’re out in these small towns.”

My window was already down, so I was pretty sure I was going to be forced to speak to them.  I looked up, and there was a sweet older woman in the passenger seat, with a sweet older man driving.  Their window was down too.

They had passed by me earlier going the other way, and slowed to take a good long look at me trying to figure out what I was doing.  I remember them, because I loved their old, beat up truck!

The woman smiled at me and said “Are you lost?  You look really lost!”  Well…at least they weren’t mad at me.  Or shooting at me.  Or worse…calling the police to report a strange woman with a giant camera lurking around the neighborhood.

The conversation went something like this:

Sweet Couple:  Are you lost?  You look really lost.

Me:  No.  Just pulled over for a minute.

Sweet Couple:  Wow, that’s a fancy camera?  What are you taking pictures of?

Me:  Just looking for barns and other interesting buildings to photograph.

Sweet Couple:  Well, that barn right there is ours.  We are in the process of tearing it down.  The house is coming down too.

And that was the beginning of my wonderful conversation with my two new friends.  I ended up talking with them for about 20 minutes.  They told me all about their property.  It started at the stop sign, and it extended quite a ways down the street I was on.

If only I’d made it to Melissa a few months earlier. Maybe I would’ve gotten a picture of the barn before they started tearing it down.

I asked them all about their barn, and they told me that no one looking for property these days wanted old buildings on it.  All the developers were looking for land that had already been cleared.

They were in their late seventies probably, and they told me they were prepping their land to sell it.  To do this, they were slowly tearing down all the old buildings they no longer used, as well as the original old house on the property.

I was so sad to hear this, because I am always looking for old buildings and barns to photograph, hoping that one day, my husband will break down and buy me one.

They told me how much this area had changed in recent years, and that they suspected most people would eventually end up selling off most of their land to developers.

They were so sweet and very inquisitive.  I think they were trying to figure out if I was a creep staking out their place, or planning to do something bad.  But after talking for a few minutes, I think they realized that I was just a nerd with a camera looking for old barns and other cool things to take pictures of.

I asked them if they knew of any other dilapidated barns in the area, and they pointed me in the direction of a few.  And the older man became very excited to tell me about Blue Ridge, Texas.  “It’s just down the road,” he said.  “It’s a shame you don’t have time to go there now, it’s such a beautiful day.”

During our conversation, I had told them I needed to get going – – it was getting close to carpool time, and I had exceeded my limit of chatting with strangers.  As delightful as they were, I was ready to be on my way…

One of the long, winding roads in Melissa. I would love to ride my bike here!

He told me that I would probably see lots of barns out towards Blue Ridge, because, according to him, Blue Ridge is still very much an agricultural town!  I chuckled a bit at that, because I thought Melissa was very much an agricultural town – at least compared to Allen.  I was excited about what I might find in Blue Ridge!

Guess where you’ll find me on my next adventure!  Yep…I’ll be heading out to Blue Ridge!  I’ll let you know what I find once I make it out there.  If you have time, head out to Melissa.  It’s a fun little town to visit.  Until next time…

If you’re as interested in barns as I am, you might consider the book called Barns: Preservation and Adaptation, The Evolution of a Vernacular Icon.

This richly illustrated volume from leading barn historians and preservationists is a celebration of a quintessential American architectural form. Widely revered yet steadily vanishing from our cultural landscape, the barn is an expression of pastoral romance, painstaking craftsmanship, and tradition. The authors, both practitioners of historic barn restoration, offer a tribute to and exploration of the many extant forms of the American barn, following the evolution of the form from this country’s earliest days to today, when these structures are repurposed as country lofts and spaces for living. They also show successful efforts to restore, adapt, and repurpose these simple, soulful structures. Barns embody the ethos of another age, one still to be found in these beautiful buildings. Due to the ravages of time, weather, and neglect, these essential American edifices are threatened as never before. Barn afficionados and enchanting storytellers, the authors demonstrate here a profound love and respect for the form. Their book reminds us that barns are as much a part of us as our love of apple pie and should be cherished for their artistry and cultural significance.