• Artifact of the month (December, 2019)

    Otis elevator call button

    The unassuming and dimunitive little Otis elevator call button  was a simple but artistic design used for many years by Otis elevator Co., with their laurel wreath encircling their name emblazoned over a globe logo, and surrounded by a classical egg & dart molding. This particular artifact has only one button- the “up” button as it was originally located in the basement, not only was it located in a lowly, damp basement, but that basement happened to be the one that was under the 1867 Broadway Central Hotel  (BCH) once located on several lots fronting 150 feet of Broadway with the main entrance at 673 Broadway, NY City.

    It was originally named “The Grand Central Hotel”

    The site was originally a hotel and theatre known as; The Lafarge House.  Edwin Booth appeared there as did other well known persons, this  building was destroyed in an 1854 fire, it was rebuilt, and destroyed in yet another spectacular fire!

    In March 1869 the property sold at public auction by the heirs of the Lafarge estate  to E. S. Higgins, Esq., who was recorded fourth on the list of wealthy citizens for the sum of $1,000,000. This gentleman was determined to erecting the largest hotel in the country with 630 rooms.

    The hotel had 350 workmen building it, 7 acres of carpeting, 4,000,000 bricks were used.

    The hotel was the scene of Railroad magnate Jim Fisk’s shooting, and in the early 1970s when the hotel was a welfare hotel and deteriorated greatly, the rear of the hotel was converted into the Mercer Arts Center, a multi theatre and arts complex by Sy Kaback.

    On a late summer day in August 1973, a section of the 8 story facade and the floors behind it all collapsed onto Broadway- killing several people, hundreds of patrons who were due to attend the theatres that very evening escaped the disaster!

    The buck stopped with the city who was notified about a serious  crack and “bulge”  in the facade wall, and other violations, they sent an inspector out, and despite requiring corrective action within 10 days, nothing was done and the city didn’t bother following up! Of the 308 residents, 4 residents were killed, 2 dogs survived days trapped in the rubble, one was adopted by the fire department. Consider that just between Nov 1970 and March 1973 there were 450 building and health code violations recorded in the hotel. Violations included illegal alterations, leaks in the plumbing, fire alarm malfunctioning, and of course the crack and bulge in the facade wall to name but a few.

    On Jan 26, 1973 the Buildings Dept was notified by an engineer doing structural renovations at the hotel that brickwork was bulging out of bond, the next day an inspector found a crack stretching from the 2nd to the 6th floor separating the bearing and facade walls. What was happing there was the facade was moving away from the bearing wall in the center where the 2 walls connected to one another which ran East to West from Broadway to Mercer St in the back.
    The inspector decided to call in the chief inspector, but neither wrote an official report! They did not issue a summons or record an official violation either, they “informed” the hotel manager who promised to take immediate action.

    It wasn’t until Feb 22nd- almost a month later that it was re-inspected after “officially hazardous” conditions were first discovered, a violation was recorded then. It wasn’t even re-inspected again until March 29, NO repair work had even been done despite the 10 day law.
    Still nothing happened as April, May, June and July rolled on by while a major crack from the 2nd to the 6th floor went un-repaired, then Friday August 3rd came around and residents reported hearing strange noises coming out of the walls, the Buildings Dept emergency number was called by Mercer Arts owner Sy Kaback and his wife over the weekend and they told them to call on Monday! The noises became worse and plaster was falling from the ceilings in places, so at least one if not 2 callers called the fire department and they were told that “strange noises are coming out of the walls” the person at the fire dept asked the caller if they had been drinking… amazingly, in the middle of that call with the Kabacks the line went dead because that was when the collapse happened and a large section of the stone and brick facade wall fell out onto Broadway and the sidewalk.

    Broadway Central Hotel Collapse

    I communicated around 1998 or so with the owner of the Mercer Arts Center: Sy Kaback, and his wife, who together operated several live performance theaters in the back of the hotel, Sy’s wife described the scene to me and her call to the fire dept.
    On the day of the collapse, the Mercer Arts Center was expecting a crowd of patrons for some live performances, and the Kabacks were gravely concerned about the falling plaster and cracking and other noises in the walls, they tried calling city agencies to get a go or no go because if they cancelled the event they would have been sued for breach of contract, OTH if they had a few hundred patrons in their theaters and something happened- they would be liable.
    As it happened, the collapsed cccurred just hours before the events were to begin!

    After the collapse, an emergency demolition was begun to demolish the entire building, that was when this  then 13 year old author discovered the site and I began exploring it top to bottom during the demolition, the little Otis elevator plate was discovered after crawling down thru a hole in the rubble to a debris filled hallway in front of the elevator. The button plate and a number of other artifacts came home with me over the many weeks of demolition, and some of these will be pictured here as well.

    But let us go back before the collapse, way back, back before the hotel was built and to the LaFarge House, this illustration will perfectly show my theory, which to my knowlege no one else has hiterto come up with;

    The drawing  on the left in the split image would have been done before the fire on January 8, 1854, Metropolitan Hall and the adjoining La Farge House were destroyed by the fire; but the hall was rebuilt and opened in the following September, under the name of the New York Theatre and Metropolitan Opera House.
    Towards the close of the same year the house was remodelled and called Laura Keene’s Varieties; and in the following year, it became Burton’s Theatre. In 1859 it became the Winter Garden and Conservatory of the Arts, the first part of the title being that by which it is best known and which it retained until its total destruction by fire, March 23, 1867.

    On the left is the old LaFarge House, on the right is the Broadway Central Hotel built on the site after the LaFarge burned to the ground in a spectacular fire, those words “burned to the ground, spectacular fire” are key to my theory, because while the building burned down, the stone and brick facade REMAINED largely intact, notice the red circles showing the very same unique window surrrounds on the LaFarge facade, a classical tripointed  alternating with  dioclesan pedimented windows, as well as the center entrance treatment. In other words what I strongly believe they did, was they REUSED the LaFarge’s facade and where it’s  6th floor shorter windows and cornice were- they removed the cornice, added a larger more dramatic cornice plus three more floors on top and a large central tower with a mansard roof!

    So when we consider this, remember- the LaFarge facade was built for a SIX story building, it was exposed to a massive fire in the rear, collapse of the floors behind it, no doubt millions of gallons of water soaked into it’s footings and surrounding earth. Add now almost 70 years of subway trains vibrating it underneath, and an illegal doorway was cut thru the East-West brick bearing wall behind it in the basement, factor in the additional weight of three more floors and it should be no surprise it finally gave out.

    The failure can be traced right back to the big fire, water, and adding three more floors on top of it causing instability and settling.

     

    Broadway Central Hotel Ca. 1910

     

    Probably THE earliest photo of the hotel, on the original image it is clear that final finishing work was still being done in the rooms behind the windows whose upper half is pushed down fully open, that dates it to about 1869, the horse-drawn carriages were in use before the trolly tracks came in 1892. With a larger scan of one part of the above image reproduced below, let’s focus on the remains of a painted SIGN clearly visible on the wall that says; “–ARGE  HOUSE”;

    THIS is where the original LaFarge House side wall left off and the new brickwork added to the left and above it, that one arch top open window’s lower half is exactly where the short square windows of the LaFarge were located, and that elaborate cornice with it’s large scrolled brackets is where the plainer LaFarge cornice was.

     

    Some other artifacts from the hotel include a Tycos mercury thermometer from a basement

    hot water tank, china and silverware with the hotel logo, and an ACME fire alarm box.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

  • Sculpture of the week (November 26th, 2019)

    Union Square Subway Station Eagle

    Interior cast-stone shown with an antique dirty bronze finish

     

    14th st subway eagle model when it was  completed.

     

    The eagle plaque sculpture  is a  bas relief and after a design by Grueby Faience Co 1904. Grueby custom made tiles and ornaments for the NYC subway stations, and at the Union Square (14th Street), Brooklyn Bridge, and 33rd Street stations these eagle plaques were installed in two slightly different configurations.

    All the ornamentation had been designed to help passengers recognize his or her station without the necessity of listening for the announcement or reading the signs.

    The Interborough Rapid Transit Subway, or IRT, was the first subway company in New York City, and opened on October 27th, 1904
    Station Decoration, Plaques: Grueby Faience Co. 1904.

    Architectural Designs For New York’s First Subway David J. Framberger Survey Number HAER NY-122, pp. 365-412 Historic American Engineering Record National Park Service Department of the Interior Washington, DC.

    SIZE: Nominal 24″ high by 19″ wide.

    The plaque is one piece made to look like the multiple pieces the originals were made from, these can be obtained in your choice of any of my usual finishes and may be purchased at this url;

    https://www.urbansculptures.com/cart/product/union-square-subway-station-eagle-nr-s2/

  • Sculpture of the week (November 19th, 2019)

    Sullivanesque panel, after historic artifacts once on the James W Scoville building, Chicago.

    I am excited to offer this interesting  Sullivanesque 1884 design after the artifacts that were connected to  Adler & Sullivan, George Elmslie, Kristian Schneider, and  once installed on the James W Scoville building in Chicago.

    Those involved in creating the original 1884 Chicago design are said to have included;

    Dankmar Adler
    Louis Sullivan
    George Grant Elmslie
    Kristian Schneider

    Significance: The James W. Scoville factory building, designed by Adler & Sullivan contains three different designs belonging to the transitional period (1880 and 1890) of  Louis Sullivan’s architectural ornament. This structure was the best and most ornamental of all the few remaining factory buildings by Adler & Sullivan.

    Some of the original historic artifacts that were salvaged from the 1973 demolition are in the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (VMFA) and were gifted by the Metropolitan Museum,  a set of three of these artifacts appears in the St Louis Art Museum’s web site of their holdings.

     

    The  artist working on the master clay model of this design from photos and known measurements

     

    How the original artifacts were originally used on the Scoville building’s facade

    The picture above is from a HABS study done before the building was demolished, three of these designs were installed together under the window sills on one floor.

    One of my interior cast stone casts in the aged buff yellow finish shown above, the mold for casting was taken directly from the original clay model

    SIZE: Nominal 21-1/4″ high by 13″ wide, 3″ deep.
    WEIGHT:Nominal #35
    There is also a hand-pressed, kiln fired red terracotta version available;

    The terracotta version  is;

    Nominal 11-3/4″ wide
    Nominal 19″ high
    Nominal 4-1/2″ deep

    Weight: 35#

    To purchase the fired terracotta version, the link is here;

    https://www.urbansculptures.com/cart/product/sullivanesque-panel-after-james-w-scoville-chicago-nr-ls-2/

     

     

  • Sculpture of the week Nov 12, 2019

    Art Deco Chanin Building Panel D10 “Enlightenment”

    Original design by Rene Paul Chambellan, smaller scaled reproduction modelled by Randall

    SIZE: Nominal 21″ high by 17″ wide
    WEIGHT:Approx 30-35#
    HISTORY of the building
    The 56 story tall Chanin Building is a brick and terra-cotta skyscraper located at 122 East 42nd Street, at the corner of Lexington Avenue, in Manhattan. Built by Irwin S. Chanin in 1929 It was designed by Sloan & Robertson in the Art Deco style, with the assistance of Chanin’s own architect Jacques Delamarre, and it incorporates architectural sculpture by noted sculptor Rene Paul Chambellan.
    In the lobbies, eight bronze reliefs designed by Rene Paul Chambellan are inset in the walls above ornate bronze radiator grilles. The bronze ornamentation continues in the waves on the floor, mailboxes, and elevator doors extending the general Art Deco style from the outside in. Initially a dominant landmark in the midtown skyline, the building had an open air observatory on the 54th floor. Having been surpassed in height by a number of buildings, most notably the Chrysler Building located across the street, the observatory has been long closed. The self-supporting tower atop the building is the original transmission site for WQXR-FM from 1941 to the 1960s.
    Irwin S. Chanin, was a self-made man – from poor immigrant to successful architect & developer. He wanted the building that bore his name to represent everything America and New York City meant for him, and could also be for all those that chose to seek it. He had Rene Chambellan work with Jacques Delamarre to develop a set of eight relief sculptures to represent this. There were two lobbies in the building, each have four plaques, all of which were to represent a theme of “New York, the City of Opportunity.” four of the plaques represent the Mental Life and four of them represent the Physical Life of the individual. Each plaque had a title: Mental Life: “Enlightenment,” “Vision,” “Courage,” “Achievement” Physical Life: “Endurance,” “Activity,” “Effort,” “Success”
    HISTORY of the sculptor whose artwork appears on the building
    Rene Paul Chambellan (September 15, 1893 – November 29, 1955) was an American sculptor, born in West Hoboken, New Jersey. Chambellan studied at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts and the Academie Julian in Paris and with Solon Borglum in New York City. Chambellan specialized in architectural sculpture. He was also one of the foremost practitioners of what was then called the “French Modern Style” and has subsequently been called Art Deco. He also frequently designed in the Greco Deco style. Rene had many historic and significant buildings under his belt as a sculptor, including the NY Daily News Buildings, Buffalo City Hall, NY Life insurance building. Rene also designed medals, bronze doors, and the historic city seals and other artwork adorning the old Miller Highway (West Side Highway) that ran along Manhattan’s West side along the North (Hudson) River until a collapse in 1973 resulted in it’s eventual removal.
    To purchase an interior cast of this attractive design;
  • Sculpture of the week

    In addition to the new “Artifact of the month” feature in which I detail the story, history and more of each architectural artifact in my personal collection, I decided to start a new “Sculpture of the week” feature which will showcase one of my sculptures each week.

    Inspired by a terra cotta frieze on the historic Nortown Theater, Chicago, Illinois,
    ~ I present ~
    Art Deco Nortown Spandrel Panel Nr D5
    Nortown theater Art Deco D5 (Dirty Nickel finish)

     

    Nortown theater Art Deco D6 (Dirty Nickel finish)

     

    Nortown theater Art Deco D7

    While the Nortown theater is long gone, you will be able to enjoy the lovely design in your home. Fans of Art Deco may have seen the Nortown theater in Chicago, the theater featured many interior plaster decorations as well as exterior terra cotta elements. Some of the limited number of ornaments were salvaged and were for sale, most of these exterior pieces were quite large at over 30″ wide and 20″ high, 4-6″ deep, my version of this is in a more apartment/home friendly size/weight at a nominal size of  21-1/2″ by 13-3/4.
    The Nortown Theater was located at 6320 North Western Avenue, Chicago, IL and was designed by J.E.O. Pridmore in 1931, the theater was demolished in the summer of 2007. On the facade there was a frieze band on the ground floor composed of 4 different panels assembled in a set about 17 feet long. There were 5 sets total. The sets consisted of 3 panels with this design 31″ wide, 21″ high, 5-6″ deep alternated with a “tragedy” and a “comedy” mask, and capped on both ends with a square geometric block. Thus, there were only 15 panels with this design and 5 each of the masks made, most were salvaged and offered by an antique firm in Chicago for $750 and an even  heftier price of $1850 respectively!
    After I modelled this first panel, I modelled the other two panels with the tragedy and comedy masks, thus, the series of three of these panels are completed and available individually or as a set.
    This ornaments on the building were probably made by the major company that supplied much of these to architects in Chicago- Midland Terra Cotta Co. It’s curtains for Nortown; 2 smaller cinemas to take place of old. Chicago Sun-Times, Aug 4, 2007 by Teresa Sewell The old Nortown Theater is finally coming down. The grand movie house hasn’t featured a film since 1990, but the building — famous for its striking seahorse, mermaid and zodiac motifs — has stood its ground at 6320 N. Western since 1931. Demolition of the Nortown began in 2007. Amrit Patel, who owns several Dunkin Donuts and Baskin Robbins locations, wants to build a 70-unit, six-story condo building on the site.
    To purchase one of the interior cast-stone versions of this panel, they are priced $179 each and include shipping to your door;
    D5 is ALSO available in a hand-pressed, kiln fired red terracotta

     

    Nortown theater Art Deco D5 terracotta rear view

    These are made exactly like the original antique  terracotta pieces were.
    Each of theses terracotta sculptures are personally signed, numbered and dated works of art. Please note that hand pressed is NOT the same as the much cheaper, paper-thin ceramic “slip castings” used to produce teapots, china plates, bowls and ceramic pieces! The two processes are similar only in that both use a complicated plaster mold, the difference between slip casting ceramics and hand-pressing clay is- the slip is simply poured into the mold like a plaster cast, let set a while, drained and removed just like a plaster cast. Slip casting is a condensation process, with the clay particles condensing by gravity, slip castings are usually very weak, very thin, and easy to break, this process is used for mass production. Hand-pressed clay sculpture involves real work, physically taking the moist clay and both pressing and ramming small amounts of it into the plaster mold, pressing and working it in to remove air and squeeze the clay into all of the fine details. As the sculpture is built up to the top surface of the mold it is then levelled off on the back and hollowed out by hand, leaving the clay walls about 5/8″- 3/4″ thick.
    Once the pressed-clay has remained in the plaster mold used to form it for a few hours, it is carefully removed and laid on a wire rack to begin drying. Here is another difference- the pressed-clay sculptures are completely gone over by hand with sculpture tools to add back any fine details, accent others, and generally clean up the whole surfaces, this is exactly the same processes used to create all of the architectural terracotta found on old buildings my work is based upon. These sculptures are fired in the kiln @ 2,079 degrees for about 36 hours.

    Someone recently mentioned they “hate” terracotta because they had some in the garden that “fell apart,” please do not confuse THAT type of mass produced Chinese -JUNK sold for $9.95 at Walmart with fine hand-made sculpture! The reason their “terracotta” in the garden fell apart was that it was poorly made, poorly fired at the lowest possible temperature to save time and money, and the item was sold in garden stores cheap. This stuff is NOT real terracotta, I even suspect some of it is just red tinted plaster. Due to clays’ shrinkage, the terracotta version of my design is slightly smaller than the interior cast-stone version. NOTE: on the production time, I will try to keep a few of these on hand to ship quickly, however, if I happen to run out it WILL TAKE 3 weeks to make and dry one before it can be fired, 2 weeks of that is for the slow drying out process which can’t be rushed.

    SIZE: Nominal 12-1/8″ high by 19-3/4″ wide, 2″ deep. WEIGHT: 29#.

    These are priced $259 and include delivery to the lower 48 states, I only work with red terracotta.

    To order one of these this is the link to do so;
  • Artifact of the month (November, 2019)

    Artifact: Two Large and two smaller acanthus leaves, parts of interior capitals
    Material: Cast iron
    Length: 20-1/2” , 13-1/2″ and 10-1/2″
    Origin: St Bridget of Erin church,  1100 North Jefferson st. St Louis.
    Architect: John F Mitchell, St Louis, (Cornerstone laid on Aug 7th, 1859)

     

    Demolition of St. Bridget of Erin, one of the oldest churches in St. Louis, underway
    Feb 24, 2016

    Coming down is St. Bridget of Erin, a stately brick church whose cornerstone was laid in 1859 and which for decades served St. Louis’ Kerry Patch Irish Catholics.

    Demolition of the church at the intersection of North Jefferson Avenue and Carr Street began this week. The owner, De La Salle Inc, is spending about $242,000 to have the church torn down as part of an expansion of its La Salle Middle School.

    La Salle, a charter school, plans to move in August to the North Jefferson address from 4145 Kennerly Avenue,  De La Salle bought St. Bridget and an adjoining school in October. The Archdiocese of St. Louis closed St. Bridget in 2003, and in 2012 shut down the school, built a century after the church.

    Andrew Weil, executive director of Landmarks Association of St. Louis, lamented St. Bridget’s demolition. He noted that the church is in the 5th Ward, which lacks “preservation review” of building demolition applications. As a result, the city was powerless to halt St. Bridget’s demolition, Weil said.

    This demo would never be allowed in a preservation review ward,” he said. “It is a real loss.”

    According to the archdiocese, St. Bridget was built to serve an Irish parish organized in 1853. A girls’ school run by the Sisters of St. Joseph and a boys’ school run by the Christian Brothers began there in 1871. From 1927 to 1936 it served Kenrick Prep Seminary and High School.

    Many years later, the school served children who lived at the now-demolished Pruitt-Igoe housing complex a block away.

    Before and after stripping, cleaning and oiling two of the leaves

     

    The cast iron was cast in two pieces per leaf and joined together with a mortise and tenon type joint using molten lead to secure them. They are exquisitely executed in a very bold curving top form in the middle of the best period of ornamental cast-iron in America.

    The original patterns for the leaves would have been carved out of a fine grained soft wood such as basswood, after sanding them smooth and probably shellacked they would have been used in the foundry to make green sand molds for casting the iron in, each leaf required it’s own use-once sand mold made from the wood patterns. Once the iron was cast the sand mold was broken away from the casting and the casting was cleaned up,  mounting holes drilled and then primer and paint applied.

    I am considering casting some in black resin and replicating one of the wood forms to recreate one of the capitals, only the leaves were saved.

  • Architectural Artifact of the month (October 2019)

    Artifact: Keystone, lion with ring
    Material: Grey Terra Cotta
    Identification marks: 162. inscribed in clay on top
    Dim’s h/w/d: 22-1/2” x 14-3/5” x 10”
    Weight: 65#
    Origin: NYC tenement

    A number of buildings in NYC feature this Roman inspired lion with ring keystone design, both with the integrated top cornice shown and without. The keystones date to circa 1905.

    Lions depicted with rings in their mouth were popular back in the ancient Roman era and have been used in many different applications besides architectural keystones, such as drawer and cabinet pulls, carvings on furniture and soforth.

    This particular keystone is identical to a couple I salvaged in NYC in the 1970s/1980s, though it is in better condition. This one was painted over at some point with gold paint of all things, it took a lot of effort to remove the stupid paint to restore it back to the 100 plus year patina. The gold paint is shown in the second photo below.

     

     

     

  • Architectural Artifact of the month (September 2019)

    I have 8 salvaged bricks with paw prints embedded into them recently purchased that came from various demolitions in St Louis Mo!

    Each one of these has a story but we’ll not know what it is.

    One brick has a fawn deer hoof print and one has what appears to be a kitten’s prints, all were pressed into the moist clay before the clay dried and firmed up.

     

    A 9th brick has 3 prints in it;

     

     

    A 10th one that happened to come from St Louis too but in 2014;

     

     

    This one is the best, deepest impression, I found this one myself in 1977 at 127 Pitt St NYC when it was being demolished, it was laying in the pile of bricks dropped down inside the building from the 7th floor that had been taken down, something about this brick caught my eye in the pile because it was different, I picked it up and was amazed!

    I was sure I’d never find another like it, that maybe the brick yard workers deliberately impressed a little dogs’ paw in the clay as a “time capsule” or joke! It was some 37 years later that I found 3 other different bricks with paw prints for sale. Then just recently I found someone who had over 100 that demolition crews had brought into her store over time as they found them when cleaning bricks to resell, they could get more for the paw print bricks. It is still very rare and unlikely any one building would ever have more than a couple or three of them- a lot had to be right for this to happen!

    The clay bricks had to be pliable and laid out in an easy access location where animals could even gain access to them at all, that means no fences or high storage, and the clay would only have been pliable a few hours at most once formed. They likely were formed and laid on the ground maybe in trays or on screens in the sun to dry.

     


    127 and 129 Pitt st NYC, winter 1977

    Built ca 1905

    Photo from: The Gargoyler of Greenwich Village

  • New acquisition: terracotta cornice lion, Boatman’s bank 1915 annex, St Louis MO

    I purchased one of these cornice lions last week, it came from the 1915 annex of the Boatmans’ bank building, St Louis.

    27″H 11″W 17″D, 130#

    The building was originally 7 stories high, but in 1920 they added 4 more floors on after removing the roof and cornice, and then either replacing the original cornice or re-installing it all. There were 69 lions that were scaled for a 7 story building, and when it was 11 stories they looked someone “small” scaled.

     


    Boatman’s bank annex ca 1915
    Architect: Eames and Young (active 1885-1910s)

     

    The terracotta and the lions were made by the Winkle terracotta Company, St Louis

    Photo from 1883

     

  • Architectural Artifact of the month (August 2019)

    I thought I would start a new feature here, each month I will feature and detail one artifact from my collection.

    Artifact: Corinthian Capital
    Material: Cast iron
    Identification marks: J.L. Jackson New York (foundry)
    Dim’s h/w/d:
    11” x 18-1/2”
    Weight:
    40#

    The 1850 U. S. Census recorded James L. Jackson, Iron Foundry as having invested $32,000 in capital, and owning materials consisting of 1200 tons of pig iron and 500 tons of coal valued at a combined total of $24,600. The foundry employed an average of 95 workman and paid average monthly wages of $3700. The annual product consisted of 500 tons of “grate castings” worth $50,000 and 500 tons of other castings valued at $40,000 for a combined total of $90,000.

    Thirty years later James L. Jackson, iron foundry, was enumerated again in the 1880 U. S. Census for industries. At that time capital invested had increased to $250,000. The greatest number of workmen employed was 230, and the total amount paid in wages during the year was $78,552. The value of materials owned was $106,258, and the value of the past year’s product was $210,598.

    In the early 1850s J. L. Jackson opened a second location at 55-65 Goerck St. Then in 1857 his directory listing announced that the business would “remove in September to Twenty Eighth street, a few doors east of Second Av.” The business prospered and expanded on E. 28th St., and remained there until selling out in 1882.

    James had a brother who was part of the foundry for a period from 1853 to 1874 when he moved to California, ironwork cast during his time of involvement and ads had his brother included per; “J.L. Jackson & Bro” My artifact either dates to before or immediately after the brother’s involvement, dating it to ca 1853 or ca 1874.
    Jackson’s foundry was the oldest in the city, and provided iron to some notable buildings, including- the one I lived in on Broadway!
    but also the Metropolitan Life tower, Carnegie Hall, the Puck Building and others. They incorporated in 1885 so I have to assume they changed all references to the name to & Co, Company, or similar then, so that dates my artifact to before then.

    The following obituary appeared in the New York Times, 7 Oct. 1888,

    “James L. Jackson died at his home in Yonkers Friday. He was born in this city Aug. 29, 1818, and established himself in the iron manufacturing business here in 1840. For many years he was very prominent in his line of business, and when he sold out in 1882 to what is now known as the Jackson Architectural Iron Works he was one of the oldest men engaged in it. He erected the iron portion of many prominent structures of this city, among them the Harpers’ building, the Potter Building, Cooper Institute, the Grand Opera House, and the Mills & Gibb building. He was an inventor, and obtained about 100 patents. During the war he made shells for the Government.”

     

    Goerck Street where the J.L. Jackson foundry was located no longer exists. It ran From Grand Street north to East Third Street. Named by surveyor Joseph Mangin to honor his partner, Casimir Goerck. Goerck died in 1798 before the survey could be finished.

     The Corlears Hook Houses, now the ILGWU Cooperative Village (south of Delancey) and the Baruch Houses (north of Delancey) were built over the street and what was there.

     

  • My book: The Gargoyler of Greenwich Village (update)

    I am pleased to say I now have printing for the book arranged again and the quality of the printing is excellent as before. I tried an alternate printer that was a little less cost and as soon as I got the two samples I ordered I immediately regretted it, the photos were muddy and dark, the colors washed out and even the actual photos as printed were not as clear and were somewhat “hazy” as you can see in the photo below, the upper photo in each set is the alternate printer, the bottom was printed by Amazon/KDP, mind you the original Kodak print dates back to the 1970s and has damage to it that isn’t going to go away like magic at the printer, but you can clearly see how poor the alternate printer’s work was- darker, not clear, foggy or hazy, detail is lost, the colors are dull. In contrast the Amazon/KDP is warmer, clearer/sharper, no “haze” and more vibrant colors.

    These are just quick snaps with an iPhone of the two books laid on the kitchen counter;

     

     

    The gloss cover on both printed books however looked the same and excellent;

     

    You can order a signed, numbered copy directly from me for $35 total, ppd,  or you spend more and get it from Amazon for $39.95 plus tax and shipping but they won’t be signed or numbered as they won’t pass through my hands, link to order the book;

    My BOOK The Gargoyler of Greenwich Village

     

  • Sullivanesque panel Nr 3600 Morton School, Hammond, Indiana

    A client purchased a number of sculptures for his home, one was the Morton school Sullivanesque frieze. We decided to do this interior cast stone version for him in the aged buff yellow finish and I think anyone can agree it looks very “old world” an just like a weathered antique fresh off the demolition site!

    The Oliver P. Morton High School, built in 1936 was located at  7040 Marshall Avenue, Hammond, Indiana and was demolished in the late 1980s. Once in a while an oddball piece or two of original salvaged terracotta artifacts come up for sale at pretty high prices. Many have chips and other damage to them as well as inappropriate removal by powersaws of their back sections; supposedly to reduce the weight, but which instead severely weakens the artifact and destroys it’s integrity.

    The amount of  “excess” weight removed is miniscule, on what might be 85 pounds it’s removing at best 5 to 10 pounds.

    Nominal 13-1/2″ high by 15-1/2″ wide, 3″ deep WEIGHT: 22#.

    Read more at: https://www.urbansculptures.com/sculptures/3600.php
    Copyright © 2014 Randall’s Urban Sculptures

     

  • My book

    After a whole lot of trouble and trying to come up with printer solutions I think I may have it finally under control so I can get my book printed again at a reasonable cost as before with Amazon’s CreateSpace (CS).

    CS did some kind of merger/change and I couldn’t access my CS acct or my book files to print more copies, then they told me they no longer just print books, so I wound up shopping for a new printer and found Lulu.com after finding every other printer wanted anywhere from $48 to $67 per book plus shipping to print them!

    When I was selling the book for $35 with postage included, now having to pay $48 to $67 just for printing, plus sales tax and postage to get it to me,  makes it completely unviable! Lulu’s price was comparable to CS’s price, but the problem was I tried at least six times to get my pdf files into their system and every time they went to process and print them they said there was “something” wrong somewhere around page 32… Well I looked and looked, resaved the files and on and on again and every time they uploaded and I paid for a proof copy and waited, a few days later when I was wondering WHERE the book was, I’d log in and see “ERROR” in red next to the files.

    So I went back to what was CS but is now Kindle Direct Publishing, opened a new acct since I can’t access the old CS any more, re-uploaded my files and now waiting on a proof copy to check.

    Hopefully all will look correct, and then I plan to order a bunch to have on hand so I’m not left with none and go to order a couple as needed and find the printer is no longer available or something!

    In order to get printing now, I had to put it on Amazon for sale, and because of their cost it’s $39.95 now plus shipping and tax thru them, I will be offering them still as author direct for less anyway. So THIS is the place to get my book not Amazon!

  • Morton school Hammond Indiana George Elmslie, Louis Sullivan Sullivanesque

    I’ve had this design in my lineup for  quite a while, but this week a client purchased a cast along with several others and I started thinking that since I need to order in some materials, maybe now would be a good time to order what I need to “convert” this design so it can also be offered in my hand-pressed kiln fired red terracotta.

    With an original selling for around $750 at salvage outfits I know there’s a lot of people who don’t want to pay $750 plus shipping for one of the originals, and only being able to obtain one, and it having chips and damage on top of that, but they would be interested in the design in a fired terracotta from me that can be purchased in the quantity they want or need at a quarter of that price,  and they don’t have to settle for damaged goods either!

    I’m going to have to make a new rubber mold to replace the old one I have for this as it is tearing due to the purple Quantum Silicones rubber I used years ago that turned out to be total garbage, once I do that I can  pour a rubber positive in the new mold and then make the plaster piece mold off that to use for pressing the clay version.

    The design is from the demolished Morton High School  (1936, Hammond Indiana) This was George Elmslie’s final project before his death. Elmslie was the chief ornamental designer for Louis Sullivan. This piece is cataloged as an M-5 Main building cornice from the book Architectural Ornament by Krutty and Schmitt.

    Louis Sullivan frieze Nr 3600