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New Products / Urban Remains Chicago News and Events

New Products

  • i've noticed more and more cold-rolled steel or iron porcelain enameled advertising signs being dug from both commercial and residential excavation sites across chicago over the past few months. nearly all of the signs unearthed are heavily corroded with the polychromed enameled finish faded, but intact enough to identify the product or service and approximate date the sign was fabricated. the burdick enamel sign company was one of chicago's earliest sign makers that manufactured both "stock" and customized porcelain enameled signage. [caption id="attachment_27961" align="alignleft" width="1200"] period photo courtesy of john chuckman.[/caption] vitreous or "porcelain enameled" exterior building advertising signs first appeared during...
  • a sizable collection of all original illuminated interior wall-mount lobby bronze meta elevator "signal lanterns" or indicators were salvaged from the historically important, towering 38-story graham, anderson, probst, white-designed foreman-national bank building during a nearly completed overhaul of the "lasalle canyon" skyscraper's interior. the extant foreman state national bank building is composed of a 38-story central tower, flanked by two 22-story sections. the building’s five story base is clad in gray granite and the floors above are of indiana limestone with dark-colored, ornamental terra cotta spandrels. the facades are detailed with low-relief, art deco ornament and verticality is enhanced through recessed...
  • with "unearthing chicago" (a bldg. 51 publication) off to the printers, i'm eager to revisit a book project i've had on the back-burner far too long. after nearly 5 years now, spent documenting the henry ives cobb-designed chicago athletic association building (1893) during its remarkable rebirth through its historically sensitive restoration, i feel obligated to finally put together a book containing images, notes, and stories i've collected and posted about in blog posts. i managed to shoot well over ten thousand images, capturing each and every interior and exterior architectural detail along with any and all alterations made during the course of the...
  • most of the images, at least the ones taken with my zoom lenses, gravitate towards the perforated polychromatic terra cotta panel detail outlining the facade of rapp & rapp's mission revival style central park theater. the linear bands of cream and green-colored terra cotta crisscrossing the facade of the theater were designed and/or configured with the dual purpose of being both decorative along with housing electrical condulets to provide illumination at night. the centrally located openings were outfitted with weather-resistant porcelain sockets fabricated by or for the hub electric company, chicago, ills. the terra cotta banding concealed...
  • a little over a month into the new year, the bldg. 51 museum has been busy acquiring and cataloging several historically important architectural fragments from chicago's past - salvaged from buildings demolished long ago. perhaps the most important acquisition is a rare cast aluminum elevator grille recovered from the non-extant isabella building, designed by architects william le baron jenney & william bryce mundie in 1892. the lightweight 19th century cast aluminum grille is one of only two salvaged from the isabella, where only one original elevator cab remained intact and functional (used by the building's custodian) until the time it...
  • original museum-quality 20th century american hexagonal-backed side chair salvaged from the imperial hotel (tokyo, japan), prior to demolition in the late 1960's. the iconic "peacock" side chair was designed by architect frank lloyd wright, with an original drawing for an "overstuffed chair" dating back to 1921. the chair that resides in the bldg. 51 museum collection was likely fabricated between 1925-35, with rudolph m. schindler as contracting supervisor. additional images of the frank lloyd wright-designed "peacock" chair are shown in the gallery below: [gallery columns="4" ids="27654,27652,27655,27651"] the hexagonal-backed chairs were used throughout the hotel. the earlier versions contained caned backrests, seats and sides...
  • this stereoview captures both a chaotic and energized street scene deep within the former "burnt district" along lasalle street, less than 2 years after the great fire of 1871. the stereoview (i.e., creating or enhancing the illusion of depth in an image by means of stereopsis for binocular vision) was distributed by the photographic firm of lovejoy and foster, chicago, ills. on the verso it reads, "la salle st. north from madison, chicago, 1873." looking closely at this image gives me this uncontrollable urge to just dive into the image and get lost in the crowd. after carefully looking over this...
  • after nearly ten years, i was delighted to finally come across a catalog that definitively identifies the fabricator behind a small collection of stamped steel or tin "sullivanesque" style ceiling panels i've had in my possession all these years. this was one of the more substantial discoveries this week, so i'm pleased to share images of tin ceiling panels - now residing in the bldg. 51 collection, and the accompanying illustrations discovered in this newly acquired catalog, which features several other visually striking tin ceiling patterns, along with other ornament (e.g., weather-vanes, gutter-spouts, cornices, signage, etc.).   company history: friedley-voshardt company. their main offices were once...
  • the bldg. 51 museum of fragments from chicago's past continues to acquires historically important artifacts from the non-extant granada theater, once a grand movie palace constructed for the marks brothers in 1926 with levy and klein as architects. the newly added plaster fragments, cove lighting fresnel lenses and unused tickets not only bolster the the museum's collection, but enhances the historical narrative of the theater from the time it was built to the day it was taken down by wreckers. with guidance from the incredibly resourceful historic american building survey (habs) website, which contains a vast deposit several photographic images, i've...
  • earlier this week a 19th century residential privy pit or "vault" was discovered during the excavation of west town neighborhood lot where a single story framed-wood cottage once stood, before succumbing to the wrecking ball nearly a year ago. i distinctly recall photographing the demolition, but did not return when i was informed excavation of the lot was not going to happen anytime soon. and now, after several months later, i returned to the site to document what, if anything, was waiting to be discovered underground. when the excavator reached the area located behind the house and began to dig,  i...

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