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Urban Remains Chicago News and Events

Urban Remains Chicago News and Events

Antique American Architectural Artifacts

  • as more and more 19th century cottages succumbed to the wrecking ball over the course of the past year, i could not help but entertain the idea of salvaging bigger and more visually-striking house "systems," whose parts alone are powerful in size and scale.   [gallery ids="22908,22910,22909"] in the beginning, over two years ago, i pushed the concept of creating a massive and hugely resourceful historic building material database into becoming a very real and ever-growing collection of samples or "specimens" (e.g., studs, sill plates, spikes, clapboard, window frames, shingles, etc.), culled from well over 100 wood-framed chicago worker cottages dating from the...
  • near the intersection of grand and halsted, demolition was recently handed to a 19th century building which, until relatively recently, housed chicago’s oldest italian food importer -- a family business that operated from 710 w. grand for over a century. in documenting and salvaging the interior and exterior 4-story brick structure shortly before it is razed in the coming weeks, we discovered multiple "steamer" trunks filled with turn of the century heirloom artifacts – an utterly surprising time capsule of the family who lived and worked there. [gallery columns="4" ids="22832,22844,22845,22846"] in 1892, vincenzo formusa arrived to chicago from sicily. his parents had both...
  • a recent dig site has proven to be a fruitful source for 19th century bottles and artifacts. the site, along the north branch of the chicago river, is unassuming, sitting in a dead space between a glass and steel skyscraper and an industrial warehouse undergoing extensive restoration. while discussing the site with a friend who has been digging around chicago for decades, i further investigated the area, which supposedly yielded at least two early aqua lomax blobtop soda bottles years ago, when he was there with a city street and sanitation work crew that mentioned to him that the site was apart of...
  • though it isn't the first time they've been threatened with demolition, two late 19th century buildings within chicago's downtown area, at 317 and 321 evergreen street, received a death sentence this month. before they are reduced to rubble, however, i was able to document the exterior and ornamental elements of these neighboring residential structures in detail. at the western-most structure, 321 evergreen, am 1870's wood frame cottage is raised on a brick foundation, and has a clapboard exterior that features elongated windows surrounded by simple wooden frame and header, and a cornice containing recessed panels accentuated with fret-sawn decorative pine wood brackets along the gabled roof. to the...
  • as i document existing wood-framed cottages around the city for an ongoing study, i continually find myself gravitating to structures that are outside the parameters of my research-- buildings that hide in the shadow of newly-built residential homes. when i spot these, i approach as closely as i possibly can without imposing on existing occupants, and try to photograph the exterior in greater detail. perhaps some day i might overcome good manners, or sensitivity, and attempt to gain access to the interiors of these cottages. then, if they are mowed down by the city's wreckers when i'm not around, they will at least have been documented. just recently that trepidation...
  • the glow of a stormy sky reflected the situation perfectly: at the intersection of lake, ogden and loomis, a queen anne style structure (and long-time residence of the italian restaurant "la luce") is slated to be reduced to a pile of rubble. the ornate four-story building was constructed in the early 1890's, and is not only a rare and irreplaceable element of the surrounding urban fabric, but represents a historically important building whose destruction would be nothing short of a travesty. [gallery ids="22638,22639,22640"] the city released this building from the demolition hold list, meaning that destruction could be underway in the near future. it seems the...
  • my friends eric o'malley and bryan keely at prairiemod recently launched a new website and newsletter which promises to be worth following! they will aggregate articles each week honing in on a favorite architectural icon, and distributing wright-specific news.  july's issue announces the sale of wright's christie house, profiles the executive director who will oversee complete restoration of the graycliff conservancy, includes a write-up on the effort to restore a sullivan-designed bank in chicago, and offers information on a summer event at taliesin. [gallery columns="4" ids="22621,22620,22619,22618"] the newsletter will be published weekly and all architecture enthusiasts are encouraged to sign up. receive relevant news and support a company that keeps the...
  • there really is no beginning or end to the surreal story of my crew and i being paid to completely deconstruct the historically important and visually stunning main lobby of the "850 lsd" or the lakeshore drive athletic club building. we were hired on to extract a collection of ornamentation that would later be reintegrated, after the building was gutted and subsequently renovated. at the time, i was consumed with laying the foundation for urban remains - still very much in its infancy - and yet retained a laser-like focus on the routine labor of extracting ornament from structures facing demolition or destructive alterations. i avoided, for the...
  • within the past month, demolition commenced and then quickly finished on two wood framed cottages located at 455 and 457 aberdeen street (just west of the site where the john kent russell house once stood) in west town. since the excavated lots have been emptied of wrecking crew and salvager alike, there is little to keep them from passing away in public memory. the structurally important residences which date to chicago's "pioneer days" would have been among the oldest surviving cottages in the city based on existing data. as a manner of extending attention to these historically important cottages, the following post...
  • over a month ago, the existing building standing at 1443 n. wells street (in the heart of "old town") landed on the demolition delay hold list, a sure sign it will be wrecked and replaced when the "hold" is released. the multi-story commercial masonry building occupying a single lot with garage located in back (currently occupied by a cleaner and tailor), clearly retains elements of 19th century italianate architecture, even as real estate listing places the date of construction in the early 1930's. no evidence has been found to corroborate its construction in the 20th century. instead, obvious visual clues indicate a much older style, with a multi-colored red brick...

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