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Urban Remains Chicago News and Events

Urban Remains Chicago News and Events

Antique American Architectural Artifacts

  • two nearly identical, museum-quality cast plaster interior residential ceiling medallion salvaged by richard nickel in 1968 was recently added to the bldg. 51 museum collection earlier this month. the remarkable solid plaster ceiling medallions or rosettes were designed by louis h. sullivan for the louis frank house (1884). [gallery ids="26277,26273,26276"] the modeler, who did the plaster work for adler & sullivan's auditorium building, sculpted the medallions used throughout the frank house. the one featured in this post survived in the form of a box of fragments since the time it was rescued in 1968. since that time, layers of paint have...
  • the following objects, culled from various ongoing projects, were selected and assembled as a hodgepodge, cohered by the single theme of being utilitarian objects from chicago's past. when we can flesh out the context in which these originally existed, they take on a new meaning as functional pieces of a larger whole, and are harder to discard. even so, objects can at times inspire curiosity and interest before a narrative has even been created. while i find the ability to research and excavate the history in each object is paramount to storytelling, the following images standalone as a gallery that...
  • my mind's eye gravitates toward crazed paint, cracked windows, timeworn stonework, and "ghost signs" as i walk the streets with camera in hand. those are only a few of the numerous attributes that i look for in aging buildings that have avoided being substantially altered. even when the face of a building has not been willingly changed by residents it will have survived decades of environmental damage, which in the 19th century was no small feat. the coal-infested air from factories and  gargantuan boilers buried deep in the bowels of city buildings, produced pollutants that have sullied many a building...
  • months after the newly-built united center indoor sports arena (home to both the chicago bulls and the blackhawks) opened in august of 1995, demolition of chicago stadium began in march of 1995 (its site is now a parking lot for the united center across the street). news channel cnn televised the demolition, showing devoted both blackhawks and bulls fans crying as the wrecking ball repeatedly smashed into the vacated stadium. during the stadium's demolition, numerous architectural artifacts, equipment, seating, and other materials were salvaged and distributed to various institutions, souvenir seekers and/or collectors, athletes, etc. a few notable examples include the console of the...
  •     the five story s.a. maxwell commercial loft building (1881-1882) contains the earliest surviving ornament (on an extant building)designed by louis h. sullivan, who at the time, worked for adler and company (the following year they formed the widely recognized and respected firm of adler & sullivan, perhaps best known for the auditorium building). the s.a. maxwell loft building was built for martin ryerson as a speculative commercial project. shortly after its completion it as leased to the s.a. maxwell company, known as a stationary, book, and wallpaper retailer. the showroom occupied the first floor while the upper floors held offices...
  • rediscovering a 1920's softbound catalog and/or booklet while rearranging my library the other day proved to be both rewarding and informative. after pouring over the images and descriptions time and again, i finally pinpointed the fabricator of the plaster ornament used to "dress" the palace theater's (1928) stunning interior.   in addition, i was taken aback when i came across "in situ" images of the full-figured cast plaster statue (one of two) that resides in the bldg. 51 museum - salvaged long ago from the southtown theater. i had no idea that the same statue, sculpted in an identical pose, was used in...
  • to this day, the rookery building (burnham & root, 1888) still houses the northern trust company's old central safety deposit vaults in its basement. while the vault room no longer houses the 1100 private safes (installed in 1901) used to protect chicagoan's securities and valuables, the heavily fortified room does contain an impressive collection of artifacts leftover from extensive renovations the building underwent beginning with the lobby spearheaded by frank lloyd wright in 1907. the fully functional and elaborately designed 19th century hinged diebold safe & lock company vault room door and surrounding jamb, fully equipped with a three-movement yale & towne...
  • the chicago-based architectural firm of burnham and root was established in 1872 when the two men worked as apprentice draftsmen in the offices of drake, carter, and wight, building several private residences for the wealthy elite of chicago's meat industry. both of them married into wealthy families which allowed them to establish a basis for their business. burnham was known as the pragmatic designer and impressive salesperson, while root was the engine, driving the firm's creativity. the most significant buildings designed by burnham and root were built during the 1880's and early 1890's. during that time, root's architectural designs paved the...
  • an exceptionally well-maintained two-story masonry residence, constructed between 1888-1894, was issued a demolition permit late last week. despite being structurally sound and a solid representation of a late 19th century victorian-era chicago boarding house and/or two-flat, it seems it was sadly only a matter of time before it fell in line with its neighboring developments. the surrounding neighborhood has slowly transformed into lots of predominately new construction - including its neighbor directly to the east. in time, the 19th century building on the right will also be targeted, and will succumb to the wrecking ball. once the wheels are set in...

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