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Urban Remains Chicago News and Events

Urban Remains Chicago News and Events

Antique American Architectural Artifacts

  • since 1910, st. john's oversized cast bronze church bell was used to call the congregation to service, announce weddings, and of course, toll at funerals. late last week that oversized bell, fabricated by the henery stuckstede foundry, st. louis, mo., was carefully extracted from the exposed bell tower and brought to my studio where it will be cleaned and possibly restored. additional information on the foundry, church bells, and so on will be examined in a future post. the following images provides a quick sequential overview of st. john's bell from it resting on its cradle "in situ" to being documented in my studio...
  • recently acquired for the bldg. 51 collection/museum are a pair of remarkable 1920's exterior light fixtures, discovered in a remodeled stairway leading down to lower wacker west of michigan avenue.   though the large globes are not original (they were replaced time and again), they sit atop the original decorative prairie style cast bronze bases, and greatly complement the vertical fixtures with a brightly colored green patina - weathered from their time outdoors, when they were likely affixed to a street post or bracket on the north side of chicago (e.g., lake shore drive, boulevards or lincoln park zoo). the early 20th century fixtures of this...
  • i'm continuously arranging and rearranging any and all artifacts housed within the bldg. 51 museum, as a means to generate inspiration and flush out narratives held within these historically important remnants of the past. at the most basic level there is information attached to every object that enables us to reconnect with its specific histories (e.g., a white glazed terra cotta fragment is traced to the reliance building facade and its restoration, and by proxy the visions of daniel burnham and charles atwood in 1894). in this regard, much of my understanding depends on the amount of time i've...
  • at least a fifty or so "projects" related to chicago history are currently awaiting my attention. the information so greatly deserves to be shared, whether through an image gallery or a lengthier narrative tied to research, and i feel the rapid accumulation of this dead weight on my shoulders every time i open another folder full of images in need of editing. there is so much happening constantly, and it seems i am inevitably left banging my head against the wall, unable to accomplish everything i aim to. the feeling of overwhelm is most certainly cyclical, but i cannot help experiencing...
  • among the non-chicago based artifacts in the bldg. 51 museum collection is a highly unusual depression-era theater seat end, included in the catalog for its reflection of exotic movie palace architecture in the mid-west, and as an object designed for chicago architects anker graven and arthur mayger. the distinctive polychromatic painted auditorium seat end features a detachable mayan revival figural mask with nose and eyes containing glass "jewels" that were once illuminated from behind. this sort of design element is just one component of the overall thematized decor that permeated the entire grandiose movie palace, made to be a standout...
  • outside of architectural ornament, signage is an important element of the built landscape for its ability to retrace a specific area's changing landscape. as a salvaged object, it is always implicated in whatever historical narrative might arise. this is embodied in a very rare original early 20th century unusually large city of chicago exterior street sign from the intersection of michigan avenue and van buren street, in the heart of downtown chicago. the sign was bent and contained holes from mounting flush against a building facade. the nearly 6 foot long oversized porcelain enameled sign is an excellent representation of an...
  •   last weekend i made my way over to rush hospital to document what remained of the historically important buildings containing ornamental terra cotta, limestone, and other materials on their facades. once onsite it was clear the presbyterian hospital's daniel a. jones building (1888) was long gone, surviving from then on only in pictures and a pile of crated red slip glaze terra cotta ornament, which was headed to auction. as usual, the site was calm and quiet, with only the occasional passerby--who was no doubt oblivious to being near a site with piles of materials belonging to the buildings that...
  • out of equal parts curiosity and utter fascination i've chosen to devote a considerable amount of my time away from the business life of urban remains, toward meticulously documenting the death of a logan square church. instead of the usual deconstruction process, in which the building is swiftly pulled apart then left as a pile of rubbish, considered waste to be trucked off, i'm witnessing the church being systematically stripped of its parts then carefully organized. whether architectural components are palletized, stacked, or boxed - the collection of material is redistributed to various recipients in need of say, several pallets...
  • the following photo gallery offers a glimpse of the most recent artifacts salvaged and/or acquired and posted in the urban remains massive website catalog (15 new items are added daily in their respective categories). this year marks the ten year anniversary of urban remains, and from day one, one of the primary goals -- now and since 2006 -- has been to have every salvaged artifact housed in the warehouse and/or showroom available for viewing on urban remains' ever-expanding online catalog. as of this writing, we have 25,000+ meticulously documented pieces organized in the virtual catalog on our new website launched last month. in addition, we strive to post...
  • during this week’s demolition at 2442 w. moffat street, as st. john’s church was painstakingly deconstructed before my eyes, i decided to move forward and secure two matching sets of original c. 1910 gothic style pressed and folded antique copper finials, along with the topmost oversized finial (the lightning rod remains largely intact) from the church building's steeple or tower. the nicely weathered and structurally sound ornament, with its richly colored and mostly uniform green patination, visibly marks its century atop the logan square church, and makes the finials appealing fragments to rescue as some of the more notable stand-ins for the historic structure as...

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