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Salvages / Urban Remains Chicago News and Events

Salvages

  • discovering the remnants of bygone tradesmen in a building seems akin to finding the proverbial “needle in the haystack.” it takes patience and sufficient lighting as much as luck to pinpoint objects left undisturbed for many decades. it is all the more gratifying to uncover these rare treasures, largely hidden by an accumulation of dust. as exploration of the congress theater continues, I keep finding workers' possessions along the wooden catwalks, artifacts that have been untouched for the past 91 years. [caption id="attachment_29629" align="alignleft" width="1500"] this 1926 chicago street guide was found approximately two feet away the catwalk surrounding the bottommost...
  • research continues on a marvelous brick mansion that is in the process of being converted into a pre-school. the structure envelops two city lots, and appears to have been built around 1887.     to accommodate the needs of the developers and satisfy building codes, the interior has been subject to alteration. unfortunately this means the original hand-carved oak staircase was removed. still, the building retains many significant, intact elements – including glass windows, vestibule and entrance doors, and marble fireplaces.   during the two-day salvage of the bissell street mansion it became apparent that the 19th century residence had actually...
  • looking over the work i've managed to post, coupled with a seemingly endless list of unpublished "drafts" for 2017 alone, i'm increasingly convinced i'm a good candidate for karoshi. it looks like a sabbatical is on the horizon...  ...
  •     long after the hodgepodge of 19th and 20th century buildings forming the ace hardware on ashland were demolished last year, excavation work finally began. multiple machines dug deep below grade in preparation for the foundation work of a new development, and just a few days later i was summoned to the site when a machine operator stumbled upon a massive pile of antique bottles, including an unusual number of "pictorial" hutchinson bottles featuring deeply embossed animals (e.g., lions, bears, wolves), dating to the turn of the century. [caption id="attachment_29311" align="alignleft" width="1377"] image courtesy of hutchbook.com.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_29310" align="alignleft" width="1404"] image courtesy of hutchbook.com.[/caption] the stretch...
  • the destruction last year of the osborne & adams building (erected in 1872) remains a deeply upsetting affair, and one i remember each time i walk past the three gargantuan keystones housed in the bldg. 51 museum collection. the exterior architectural elements were rescued from the loft building's "cast stone" facade as it was pulled apart behind the cloak of an extensive web of scaffolding.  confirming john mills van osdel as the building's architect (widely considered chicago's first architect) a few weeks after the building's disappearance only added insult to injury. additionally, through demolition, it was revealed that the four-story loft building's...
  • [caption id="attachment_21122" align="alignleft" width="900"] detail of built-up molding on pine wood exterior door. the entry and any and all images first published on may 26th, 2016.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_29214" align="alignleft" width="450"] 1886 sanborn insurance map with red arrow indicating location of the superior street italianate. note: the extant coach house wasn't built yet.[/caption]           th when last year, i read dnainfo's story on the likely demolition of an exceptional 1870's post-fire chicago italianate residence, i was so alarmed that i immediately prioritized documenting it in person. i knew the facade and splended ornament deserved to be photographed before any chance of its demolition had come...
  • 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...
  • i've spent a great deal of time in congress theater's attic space. i go there because it's a place where time stands still. it's so quiet and peaceful there, so i'm overpowered with a rarely experienced sense of calm, which makes it more perceptive to the environment i navigate through with my head lamp and camera. [caption id="attachment_29067" align="alignleft" width="1200"] two abandoned incandescent (not carbon arc) major equipment spotlights were still mounted on the bent tubular steel ring surrounding the base of the dome. several vibrantly colored red and blue glass panels or "lenses" were found near the lights. blue represented...
  • after slowing down some, i find myself deeply immersed again in the "unearthing chicago" project long after i finished cataloging several extensively archived chicago dig sites for the soon-to be-published "unearthing chicago" book (bldg. 51 museum press) due out this year. like any other project i've worked on, it's hard to turn away when opportunities arise to collect more data - both in photographic and physical form - to gain further insight into a subject or study that always leaves questions unanswered. within the past two months i've documented at least a dozen excavations downtown and surrounding neighborhoods. discovering the site of druggist...
  • i was taken aback when i discovered a seemingly endless field of debris (several decades worth) covering the floor of a gargantuan plenum duct running under the congress theater's auditorium floor. i spent a good deal of time combing through piles of candy wrappers, matchbooks, ticket stubs, and popcorn boxes, but when the pain from crouching for nearly an hour left me fixated on my herniated discs, i grabbed what i could and worked my way back to the lobby. [caption id="attachment_28875" align="alignleft" width="1000"] i've run across several cigarette packs in the attic - no doubt left there by the tradesmen...

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