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Urban Remains Chicago News and Events

Urban Remains Chicago News and Events

Antique American Architectural Artifacts

  • on friday, september 24th, i received a phone call from a very elated brad suster, president of preservation chicago, informing me that the historically important st. boniface church erected in 1902 will not face the wrecking ball. instead, the remarkable henry schlacks-designed church building had passed on to a new owner who fully intends to convert the building through adaptive reuse, repairing or restoring its existing historical elements during what will likely be a lengthy transformation from dereliction and abandonment to a fully functional and lively place where people will live, work, and play. i too was overjoyed with the news...
  • an alarming number of chicago churches constructed in the 19th and early 20th century have been taken down this year. st. john's (1910) on moffatt street is the latest casualty. when i arrived on its last day, it was already a pile of ruin with the exception of the crumbling facade and severed bell tower (the bronze bell was carefully extracted weeks ago). the final moments of the building's existence were short-lived, brutal and completely unforgiving.    several gothic style limestone ornamental sections - likely fabricated by the bedford limestone...
  • [caption id="attachment_24565" align="alignleft" width="765"] two-story 19th century brick residence with original and intact pressed tin cornice undergoing demolition.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_24566" align="alignleft" width="650"] the american victorian two-flat was likely fabricated between 1885-1895.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_24569" align="alignleft" width="740"] the second 19th century house is equally as stunning, with original two-toned metal cornice. note the use of anderson pressed brick ornament beneath the first floor bay window once containing an art glass triptych window.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_24567" align="alignleft" width="728"] original fanciful turned wood pilasters and trimwork divided the windows. the ornamental brick, running the length of the window assemblage contains a simple, yet elegant "bullseye" design.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_24568" align="alignleft...
  •   after the evergreen street post-fire cottage (1874) was brought down and the dust settled, i jumped up on the heavily notched old growth white pine wood sill plates, resting atop the few brick walls that remained standing. with camera in tow, i aimed to closely examine the materials and methods used to build this house, which resided outside the neighborhoods i've spent most time salvaging and studying.   familiar territory or not, i hope to help countless cottages live on through the images and artifacts collected during their untimely demolition. this cottage's framing, deep within the walls, was of interest to me as it was...
  • as the facade of st. john's church came crumbling down (a terrible loss for chicago's preservation movement) several pieces of limestone ornament, the dated cornerstone, and the copper time capsule found within it, were carefully removed. they are currently being documented in my studio, where there are already hundreds of photos to edit and several hours-worth of research required. i hope to identify the stone fabricator, church builder, and most importantly, decode the two-page, hand-written letter (written in german) that explains the origins of this chicago-based congregation, along with the details of their building which was constructed in 1910 and...
  • when in new york i always visit sullivan's bayard-condict building (1897-1899) not only to reacquaint  myself with an "old friend" of sorts, but to closely study and photo-document the exceptional white glazed terra cotta facade through time, executed by the perth amboy terra cotta company, perth amboy, nj. the playful and lively terra cotta curtain wall adorning the bayard-condict building's steel skeleton frame is such a radical departure from the regurgitated design elements used time and again in american renaissance architecture, which at the time, was integrated in the majority of commercial buildings across the country. both the city and department of buildings were not very fond of...
  • several original single-sided documented brushed and refurbished cast iron staircase panels recently entered the bldg. 51 collection: the exquisite cast iron ornament exhibit symmetrical and restrained floral motif inside overlapping geometric shapes that once adorned the stairs of a historic uptown building whose alteration is intertwined with the upheaval of early 20th century businesses that have shaped the neighborhood. the goldblatt’s chain began as many businesses in chicago, via the steadfast entrepreneurship of immigrants, whose endeavors would far outlast the founding generation. in 1905, simon and hannah goldblatt arrived from poland with their sons. they made a living on chicago’s west side...
  • The Eric J. Nordstrom Interview Posted on September 16, 2016 Since I was a much younger person I've been interested in "lost" Chicago, the buildings that have been boarded up or torn down and lost to history (you can check out an interview with David Garrard Lowe, who literally wrote the book on that topic,here.) So I had lots of questions for Eric Nordstrom, a molecular biologist-turned-salvager who saves pieces of doomed Chicago  buildings for his store Urban Remainsand saves the rest in his museum Bldg. 51. He often provides historical context for news items about buildings coming down. And in...
  • the decorators'' supply company traces its history back to 1883 when the original founders, simon strahn and richard c. foster, established a partnership to manufacture "artistic decorative accessories." an old lease document dated april 13, 1890 describes the company as a carving and guilders business. by 1893, decorators supply had blossomed into a manufacturer of cast ornamental plaster. the company was involved in the fabrication of the mouldings that would adorn the buildings and halls showcased in the columbian exhibition of 1893. these buildings, embellished with ornamental plaster, became known as the "white city." the world's fair of 1893 attracted a...
  • a remarkably intact wood-framed cottage with gable front was reduced to rubble in a matter of hours this past weekend. once the residence of william schmidt - a chicago patrolman during the 1870's - the house likely dated to shortly after the great chicago fire of 1871. several interior and exterior elements remained intact, but this was sadly not enough to keep it standing. the simple, yet elegantly designed cottage was remarkable in so many ways, and having to witness its death was a very bitter pill to swallow. the following images show the freestanding facade - its surrounding walls...

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