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Urban Remains Chicago News and Events

Urban Remains Chicago News and Events

Antique American Architectural Artifacts

  • a theater-related acquisition this week joins the bldg. 51 collection, as a rare remnant of restoration efforts that took place at the iconic chicago theater over twenty years ago. the highly ornate floral terra cotta fragments were fabricated by boston valley, the decorative cream-colored terra cotta made to hold a central bulb, protruding from the floral motif. the segments prove similar to other atmospheric theater elements in seamlessly combining form and function. the terra cotta segments are an unusual acquisition for being reproductions, however, they are a significant remnant derived in renovation work rather than demolition (a fate that almost came...
  • seven architectural artifacts followed by period images of the buildings they were removed from.  
  • it's been nearly two years since i got to spend several consecutive afternoons photographing the entire facade of henry ives cobb's chicago athletic association building. my access was granted during a time when the building was covered from top to bottom in a web of scaffolding, replete with a makeshift staircase and haphazardly placed gang boards to walk along, allowing for full immersion in the facade's surface detail. with the exception of some short-sighted and irreversible alterations, the incredible facade is mostly original from the time it was first constructed, in 1891.                                                                                                                   to my great delight, i discovered multiple "signatures" on the facade, including...
  • 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...
  • two 19th century houses were handed the death sentence earlier this week. the late 1890' two-flat with rusticated stone arches on george street (see below) has already been pulled apart and trucked off. the second house (1880-1884), replete with pressed ornamental brick, rusticated stone, and exceptional stamped zinc metal cornice, was cleared for demolition this morning. documentation of the exteriors and interiors along with salvaging ornament before demolition proved incredibly difficult due to the complete and utter stupidity exhibited by a single savage who continues to greatly disrupt the efforts of numerous individuals who are on the "front lines" documenting destruction...
  •   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...

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