richard nickel's garrick theater "ornament scrapbook" now digitized

when it came to salvaging architectural ornament, chicago's richard nickel was exacting, tedious, and methodical, both in preparation and execution, on any and all demolition sites. an invaluable example of this approach (rarely seen since) lives on in the form of nickel's "ornament "scrapbook," which was a guide he created to carefully extract interior and exterior ornament from adler & sullivan's garrick theater (1891) shortly before and during the building's demolition in 1960.

the loose leaf booklet - ravaged from being lugged around both the demolition site and navy pier - contains a combination of nickel's heavily cropped silver gelatin prints of ornament pasted on the page as a "system," consisting of multiple components that were individually identified for removal and reassembly for further docukentation and/or exhibits. a few pages contain a partial inventory of the ornament salvaged and stored at navy pier, before being quickly disseminated to numerous institutions requesting examples of sullivan's ornament for their collections.

the additional images, courtesy of the ryerson and burnham archive, art instite of chicago, were pulled from numerous contact prints nickel made, documenting the entire salvage operation from beginning to end. most of the images include members of the salvage team (i.e., richard nickel, john vinci, and david norrison) in action, along with workers from atlas wrecking - the company charged with demolishing the building.

this workbook- now fully digitized from front to back - will be a critical component in the book i'm slowly piecing together on the salvage operations of the schiller building or garrick theater - one of chicago's most beloved adler & sullivan buildings that was reduced to rubble. crafting a story based on the salvaged ornament, documentary photographs, artifacts left by tradesmen and patrons, and any and all ephemera pertaining to the building will no doubt be a massive undertaking, but the importance of shedding light on one of the earliest architectural ornament salvages in the country must not be overlooked and/or forgotten. 

 

 

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