Friday, May 27, 2011

Krause House

Earlier today, I met up with my friend Brittany in Lincoln Square, a very cute neighborhood in Chicago, a little northwest of where I live.  After a nice lunch at Cafe Selmarie, where we both had the salmon club sandwich, we wandered around looking in some cute stores.  Brittany was looking for some inspiration for a friend's birthday gift, and we found some in a few stores along Lincoln Ave., including Enjoy, an Urban General Store.
            I was very pleased to stumble upon the Krause Music Store, which I had learned about this past year in my architecture history course.  It was Louis Sullivan's final commission.  It was finished in 1922, but recently restored in 2007 so that the facade we see today is how Sullivan designed it back in the early 20th century.   Too bad the natural lighting wasn't conducive to getting a really great picture!
            You will notice that the detailing in the stone is very typical of Sullivan's designs, reminding me a lot of the ironwork on the exterior of the Carson Pirie Scott building (see below), downtown, one of Sullivan's most famous buildings.  It's worth noting that these two designs were done about 20 years apart.  Not to say Sullivan was a "one trick pony," because if you see some of his other work, it can be vastly different, but he definitely had a style that he liked.
This is a picture I took back in 2005, when it was actually still Carson Pirie Scott, and Marshall Fields was just up the street.  Nostalgia!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Weekend in New Orleans

This past weekend, I jetted down to New Orleans with some of my best lady friends to fete our friend Katy, who is getting married this coming August.  We had a wonderful weekend of eating, drinking, and making general merry, and I flatter myself and my friends by saying we were the classiest group of bachelorettes in the city.  We stayed in the French Quarter at a very old hotel called the Place D'Armes.  Out of the 4 rooms our group occupied, 2 (including mine) did not have windows!  But the gorgeous courtyard at the hotel just about made up for that.  Note: if I ever design a hotel, or redesign an old one, every room will have windows.
            Of course, much of our free time was spent sipping cold drinks (you know what I mean) on Bourbon Street.  We even managed to get into a club which let us out onto their balcony so that we could throw beads at pleading passers-by.  We had some fantastic meals, including a dinner at Red Fish Grill, where Katy's fiance surprised us all by pre-ordering 6 chocolate bread puddings for us all to share.  I highly recommend trying one someday.  We also had a lovely brunch at Sylvain.  They made us fresh bloody mary's (tomatoes squeezed on the premises) and I thoroughly enjoyed my breakfast of pork shoulder with cheese grits and roasted tomato hollandaise.
            On Sunday afternoon, we all went our separate ways.  Most girls headed back to Chicago, but my friend Ruthie and I stayed one more night to take advantage of a cheap Monday morning airfare.  Ruthie managed to squeeze in an interview for an article she is writing for her magazine, and while she did that I spent an hour walking around the neighborhood which I have since found out is called Uptown.
            My camera and I ogled all of the gorgeous houses along St. Charles Street, which is the main Mardi Gras parade route.  Because of that, the electrical wires and trees along that street are covered with Mardi Gras beads.  Some might say it's tacky, but for the few hours I was around, I thought it looked magical.  Like it could be Christmas every day.
            Some buildings I thought were beautiful and interesting were the Milton Latter Library (if my library looked like this I would be there all the time)
and St. Elizabeth's Asylum.  Not that I've got many to compare it to, but this is definitely the nicest asylum I've ever seen.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Los Angeles, the final chapter

The last few days of my trip in LA were a little more understated.  What's amazing, in the end, is that I did get to do/see all of the things in my geeky Future-Architect wishlist.
The Gamble House
Thursday morning Mary and I went to the Gamble House out in Pasadena, designed by Charles and Henry Greene in 1908.  The website suggested you get there when the bookstore opens (10AM) to be sure to get a ticket for the first tour of the day (noon).  It's a bit of a pet peeve of mine when people do this, because if they write for you to get there that early, a certain kind of person (me) will get there then and the thing will sell out.  If they had told me to come at 11 I could have been just as happy being only 1 hour early for the tour as I was with 2.  But anyway, our 2 hours of free time in the neighborhood gave us a chance to explore.  Like my nearby Oak Park, IL, which is full of Frank Lloyd Wright houses, this neighborhood was stocked with Greene & Greene houses, so we bought a walking map at the bookstore and set off to waste some time.
Clinker bricks on a garden wall
            Mary and I quickly became obsessed with clinker bricks, which is the name for misshapen bricks that are set too close to the heat source in the kiln.  Most people throw these out, but the Greenes used them to make more interesting designs (if you can call it that) and textures in their brick walls/walks.
from berkeley archives
            The tour of the Gamble house was a great treat because it still has most of its original furniture, having never been sold out of the family.  That's especially interesting for an arts and crafts house of this kind because most of the furniture was built specifically for this house.  Even the upright piano's case (the wood part that we all see of the piano) was designed by the Greenes, built by the Hall Brothers (who did most of the woodworking for the Gamble house), then sent to the Baldwin piano company in Ohio to be filled with all the pertinent piano parts.
            After our tour, Mary and I headed into downtown Pasadena to have a lovely lunch at the Scarlet Tea Room, then in the afternoon we went into Hollywood to take pictures (with all the other tourists) of celebrity handprints in front of Grauman's Chinese Theater.
The Hollyhock House
            On Friday morning, Mary and I made the short walk (hike, really) from her place to the Hollyhock House, on the top of the hill in Barnsdall Park.  I've seen a number of Frank Lloyd Wright houses now, but this one was definitely different from all the others I've seen, even Taliesin West.  He did a few homes in Hollywood in the 1920's.  Unlike the Gamble House, which we had been spoiled with, it has very little of its original furnishings and has gone through a series of remodels, because it's been used for a number of different (mostly public) uses in its 90 year history.
            I'm proud to say that I exposed Mary to a number of things that she, as a 4 year Los Angeles resident, hadn't gotten to see before.  But I do wish I had had some more time to spend out there because it's such a huge city; I know I only got a small taste of it. Hopefully I'll get out there again soon, because I already have a new list forming of other things I'd like to check out!