• Antique Louis Sullivan “Sullivanesque” panel arrived

    My purchased piece of Sullivanesque came today, from the 1936 Thomas A. Edison school, Hammond Indiana. The design is such that it could be situated either way shown in the first 2 photos, but hard to tell which way it was originally meant to be installed and was, it looks good either way it’s rotated, and the impressed numbers on one surface which I remember from the pieces in NYC were always on the TOP side. So which way did this go… it’s easier than it might seem to figure it out even without aphoto of the school to tell- the last photo up close tells the whole story, that black from coal soot in rain over decades would have stained the top surfaces not the bottoms, so the 2nd photo with the two small squares at the top divided into 4 smaller squares is the correct orientation.

    The back was full of mortar and brick fragments, I removed most of it but since there is an old crack a few inches long I decided to leave that one compartment as is to continue to reinforce it.

    Nice thing is, this terracotta block has it’s original depth, unfortunately it was cut out from a double panel that comprised two of these squares. Maybe the other half was damaged, maybe some misguided fool decided to try to cut the longer panel in half to make two smaller ones, who knows… but the damage is permanent on this 80+ year old artifact.

    While I’m on this topic, there is unfortunately one misguided fool in Chicago who lately seems to be offering original so called “museum quality” pieces like this that he arbitrarily decides to CUT OFF the so called “dead weight” in the back with a power saw or similar in order to reduce the WEIGHT and make it “easier” to hang on the wall!

    Good grief! he permanently destroys hand-made 80+ year old valuable artifacts like this just to remove all of MAYBE five pounds of weight off a piece like this that weighs about 40 pounds, and in the process he destroys the strength and structural integrity of the piece by cutting the back and leaving only about an inch thick left of just the front, stupid! stupid! stupid!

    Another issue is these hand-pressed terracotta artifacts all have incized or impressed numbers and letters on them- the very part the fool cuts off with power tools! those letters and numbers are part of the original setting/contract/mold numbering system used to install the pieces in the wall in the proper order on the blueprints, it positively connects the artifact to a specific unique building and maker, think of it like a serial number.

    Removing a lousy five or ten pounds off a sculpture that weighs 40 or 50 pounds is useless and makes absolutely no difference for hanging it or displaying it, in fact this piece is self standing BECAUSE it has it’s full depth, once that is cut away it no longer can do that and all it takes then is tipping or falling over once and it will break into multiple pieces and be destroyed.

    If you want something to hang on the wall, do it RIGHT with the proper anchor or bracket,  or buy a reproduction to do that with it, don’t destroy or support someone who destroys these artifacts like this just to hang it on a wall or shave five pounds off it!

    So what numbers am I speaking of on these pieces?

    Here’s an example on a keystone I own

    Another example on another keystone I own;

    And lastly;

    When the so called “dead weight” of  sawing 2 or 3 inches off the back of one of these artifacts is done, these historic, identifying numbers are lost forever. No museum I ever know of has ever altered artifacts in any destructive way like that, and calling any such wrecked artifacts “museum quality” is blatantly false advertising and destroying historic antiques on a whim, don’t be part of that destruction!

  • My Sullivanesque model,

    I had to dig out some old unfired very fragile clay models of mine from the corner in the utility room since I had to replace the sump pump hose. This model of a Louis Sullivan design I did in 2008, I’m likely going to convert it to do it in terracotta, so I left the unfired clay model out to look over and plan for that.

    This was not simply molded off an existing piece, it was modelled by me in 2008 for a Chicago client’s townhouse when he couldn’t find the exact design and quantity etc he wanted, so his contractor got hold of me and the end result was the client received three concrete casts of this, in an acid stained rusty red/orange finish.

    Measurements: Approx 19-1/2″ high, 19-1/2″ wide.

    Sullivanesque model
    Sullivanesque model
  • Adler & Sullivan, Elmsley, Schneider James W Scoville building Chicago, progress

    I am excited to get started creating a model of this interesting 1884 design after those that were connected to  Adler & Sullivan, George Elmslie, Kristian Schneider once on the James W Scoville building Chicago, and tonight I started laying in some of the rough design work to get started on this

    Adler & Sullivan, Elmsley, Schneider James W Scoville building Chicago, new model started
  • Adler & Sullivan, Elmsley, Schneider James W Scoville building Chicago, new design

    I am excited to get started creating a model of this interesting  Sullivanesque1884 design after those that were connected to  Adler & Sullivan, George Elmslie, Kristian Schneider once on the James W Scoville building Chicago. I will be working on the clay model of this and upon completion of the various processes I’ll be producing them in hand-pressed kiln fired red terracotta just  like the originals.

    I have pretty much everything ready to start on my model this weekend of this charming and interesting 1884 design by Louis Sullivan and Dankmar Adler.

    Image; Original 1884 artifact courtesy of the Virginia Museum of Fine Art

     

    The printed-out greyscale drawing below, is what  I will use to point up the full sized landmarks on the surface of the clay for the design.

    The master model will be 13.3″ wide, 22″ high and 4″ deep- the size of the box form shown.

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

    Dankmar Adler
    Louis Sullivan
    George Grant Elmslie
    Kristian Schneider

    Kristian Schneider, a Norwegian sculptor, immigrated to Chicago in 1884, and had modeled all of Louis Sullivan’s ornamental work since 1889. He worked for NorthWestern Terracotta until 1906 when he and another worker opened their own shop to do contract work. Schneider was a clay modeller, said by one source to have worked at Northwestern Terracotta Co., another source said he worked at Midland Terracotta Co., and a third source said American TerraCotta Co., maybe over the years he worked at all three of them, but one thing for sure is he appears in photos in “Common Clay” standing by models produced for American TerraCotta for Chicago buildings, from which this design had originated.

    George Grant Elmslie worked closely with Louis Sullivan as his chief draftsman, he left Sullivan’s employ in 1909

    Dankmar Adler (July 3, 1844 – April 16, 1900) was a German-born American architect and civil engineer. He is best known for his ten-year partnership with Louis Sullivan.

    Some or all of these persons had a hand at designing the 1894 building and the ornament here, each has a unique story and history that could fill a book on it’s own, I won’t attempt to do that here beyond this brief summary of who they were and how they connect to this interesting design.

    The building was the James W Scoville building, once located at 619-631 West Washington Street, Chicago, Illinois and is depicted here pre-1973 when it was demolished;

    James W Scoville building

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

    -Historic American Building Survey number: HABS IL-1114
    -Demolished 1973
    – Building/structure dates: 1884-1885

    Call Number/Physical Location at the Library of Congress;
    HABS ILL,16-CHIG,91-

    Source Collection; Historic American Buildings Survey (Library of Congress)
    Repository; Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington,
    Rights Advisory; No known restrictions on images made by the U.S. Government.

  • A quest for my Scalcione family history

    The Scalcione  & Kelly Families

    Rocco Scalcione, faculty photo from the 1961 US Merchant Marine Academy, Long Island NY.

     

    As a 50+ year old  adoptee I searched for and found my roots in May 2017 after taking a DNA test with Ancestry.com

    As part of my continued research/search, I am still looking to find and  make contact with family members  who are decendants or relatives of any person on the paternal side of my ancestry tree, most were Italian and from Great Neck, Port Washington/ Long Island/ Nassau County for the most part.

    This includes others not  shown on this tree; Bobby Scalcione (California) Anthony Scalcione,  the Pietro Peter Annesi family,  Leslie Miller, Gentilella, Zazzarino, Denley, and the James Hicks/ Joanne Scalcione Hicks family, and Matt Armiento.

    On the maternal side I pretty much found my living relatives, but there could be some Irish decendants of Charles Smith, Sadie Wanser, Anna Denley,  or John F Kelly who was an award winning engineer for the Long Island Railroad.

    I’m not looking for money,  homes, cars, your fine china, estates,  inheritances or any such things and I wouldn’t have a problem signing a legal document to that effect, but my father Robert Scalcione of Allentown is obstructing my efforts with false information about me and my  motives in my  search for my biological family to prevent any contact with them. It became obvious that he never told his ex wife Barbara Powers, current wife Betty Scalcione, or anyone in the family that I or my mother  even exist, but exist we do and several family members now know we exist.

    Through Ancestry.com DNA results,  I found my biological parents, two brothers, and many cousins, father however from the get-go wanted absolutely nothing to do with me, and that became even more clear when,  after months of his having my contact info and my not hearing a word from him, I decided to send a personal certified mail letter  to him explaining how I found him,  a bit about me, why I contacted him, and stated by that letter in writing basically that  I wanted nothing from him, money, cars, homes whatever- just a friendship and to learn more about myself and family, some family history, maybe exchange some old photos and compare our lives. I  sent  it to his home in Allentown NJ by certified mail so I would know for sure he received it and not wonder if it was lost in the mail.   That brought about a  baffling, hostile, unwarranted fury of anger directed at my innocent mother of all people- not directly to me, in fact, he never once responded  to me directly but amazingly he ordered (!!!) my 77 year old mom to  tell me, (an adult min you)- to basically stop looking to contact anyone in “his” family!

    So I decided to “write him out” of my life, move on, and find other family members who may be interested in getting to know me, to share photos and stories with them etc, however, I have since then  learned through my mom (and others) that he has apparently been spreading false,  and misleading information about me, and my supposed “motives,” to family members- claiming I’m “obsessed” with “his” family and “stalking” them,  calling me a “nut” to my mom, claiming two cousins I contacted were emotionally “fragile” and that one who has MS is “mentally unstable,”  “emotionally vulnerable” and being “taken advantage of” by me!

    REALLY??  I’m supposedly now  “taking advantage” of this cousin??

    How did I manage to do that when I USPS priority mailed to her  at my expense my $35 published architectural book to enjoy for free so she could get to know me better?  I also took the time to post good scans of photos from military academy yearbooks I found on Ebay of  our grandfather Rocco Scalcione to her on her Facebook page, because I thought she had never seen them, and might enjoy having them since she was spoke so highly of, and was extremely fond of him-  I’ve never asked her for anything even once,  but gee…  I must be “taking advantage” of her, all I can say is- wow!

    Father’s  latest “stunt” was to call (or email) my mom as he has often over the years, but  this time claimed he contacted a “friend” at Homeland Security to research me (OMG I’m scared now boy!!!) and that this “friend” supposedly gave him information that “something is not right about him” and now father Robert is trying to use this kind of  rubbish  as a  threat of sorts against me- issued via email thru my mom! He was claiming he is keeping some homeland security “dossier”  locked away in a safe- unless… I continue contacting “his” family members!

    News flash for father- “His” family is also MINE, and I don’t roll over like a puppy  in fear of his “iron fist” because I’m an adult and have the RIGHT to contact any adult I wish to, and because there’s absolutely nothing in MY background I’m afraid of, no adult arrests, no DUI, no drugs, I don’t even have any moving violations/suspensions on my driver’s license, so I called his bluff  as I have a leg to stand on,  and I stated on my Facebook page which I know he is reading, that I contacted an attorney about  a cease and desist letter that would be mailed to him  and his wife if I learn that I am being libelled, or other derogatory remarks and statements about me or my search continue to be told to family members or other people, and that apparently ended that and he apologised to my mom,  (but not to ME, go figure!)

    This is how far off the deep end this man has gone, and the extent to keep ME, his biological SON he had when he was 17 with my 18 year old mom- a secret from his family! But I have had contact with at least a couple of family members, they have my book, we have spoke on the phone, and they know the truth and facts. They have asked me to not reveal anything about them as it seems father rules even grown adults in the family with an “Iron fist”, so their details will not be revealed to anyone.

    I don’t get it, I’ve done nothing TO this man, he even STILL maintains a regular friendship and correspondence with my MOM to this day *, all these years later! yet I’m some parriah here!

    *Mom decided to block his calls and contacts after all this, after admonishing him over several things and asking “how can a parent hurt their own children like this?”

    Scalcione family tree
    Scalcione family tree
    SCALCIONE – Anthony, of Cliffside Park, NJ, on Sunday, June 30, 2002. Beloved husband of Theresa (nee Parella). Devoted father of Susan Keenan of Ocean Grove, NJ. Loving grandfather of Patrick Anthony Keenan. Dear brother of the late Rocco Scalcione, and Rose Addeig. Anthony was a member of UFCW Union, Local 464A. A Funeral Prayer Service will be held at McCorry Brothers Funeral Home, 780 Anderson Avenue, Cliffside Park, on Wednesday, July 3, 2002 at 11 AM. Cremation is private. Visiting hours on Tuesday, are from 2-4 and 7-9 PM. Family requests memorial donations be made in Anthony’s name, to Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church, 238 Columbia Avenue, Cliffside Park, NJ 07010.

    Published in The Record/Herald News on July 2, 2002

    https://www.legacy.com/obituaries/northjersey/obituary.aspx?n=anthony-scalcione&pid=388602

    Part of my Ancestry DNA matches.

    Ancestry match

    This proves a 1st cousin relationship to a woman who is the daughter of my father’s late sister Joanne Scalcione Hicks.

    Valerie Annesi match on Ancestry

     

    And this proves my ancestry connection to the Annesi side of my father’s line-  decendants of Pietro Annesi in my tree showing as 3rd cousin Valeri and Chris Annesi 2nd or 3rd cousin.  Pietro is my father’s maternal grandfather.

    Ancestry matches

    Some additional matches to me in my DNA results.

    My Grandfather Rocco Scalcione, 1969 Merchants Marine Academy Yearbook

    MY BOOK

    This is the book that family members would want to have, it’s only available directly through me unless a used copy happens to appear on Amazon’s books.

    I would send it free on request  to any close relation family member i.e no 8th cousins or great great grand neice 4 times removed please! These are not inexpensive books and the postage costs money on top.

    https://www.randallwolff.com/gallery/

    The book has nothing to do with my adoption, though it’s briefly mentioned on one page, but it has many photos, and more of my life as an artist and collector of architectural artifacts. As the two family members could see for themselves, I’m successful in my own right, own my house with no mortgage, and owe no one anything, in short I’m not looking for money out of anyone.

    I can be reached through messages on my Ancestry.com page too, it displays my family tree to those who are logged in;

    https://www.ancestry.com/family-tree/tree/114060022/family

     

     

  • City of New York 1686 seal design West Side Highway

    I was pleased to locate one of these 65# cast iron City charter seals like the ones I had in the 1970s and was able to buy it just now, there were 5 different designs and I have 2 of them, now this 3rd one. I used to have a few complete sets of them.

    They were made around 1928-1934 to decorate the sides of the old elevated Wes t Side Highway that ran along the Western edge of Manhattan. The artwork was designed by noted sculptor Rene Chambellan,though these seals had to be very specific, already made designs, so he had little leeway or say on the actual designs, but he made the master models for these.
    The highway itself was shut down for good in 1973 after a section of the roadbed collapsed under a truck, and it was demolished in stages over about 20 years.

    The city totally neglected the ironwork, and the liberal use of road salts combined meant this substantially built structure was already falling apart and had to be condemned in just 45 years…

    About 800 to 1,000 of each design of the seals were cast, I dont know how many were salvaged, certainly not all of them but I read that the city had about 800 of the for sale around 1980. The city had many for sale in the city store way back then for $150 as is, or $250 sandblasted ($450 and $750 in todays’ money) I got this one today for $499- basically the “inflation” amount difference between what the city was selling them for around 1980 and what that amount is today.

    I remember some guy on Ebay from Nebraska had one of these for sale a decade ago, it was given to his mom years before by a friend and sat in the farm field leaning against a stock tank. Well this guy thought he found a gold mine, he said; “it came off a Civil War calvary wagon and was worth a lot of money!!!” He wanted some ridiculous price like $1500, quite a bit for something sitting on the farm field that they got for free as a gift!

    He meant “cavalry wagon” LOL and even so his story was pure fabricated bullshit, I even sent him photos of MINE front and back showing they were identical to his and he still insisted HIS had to have come off a Civil War wagon LOL!!

    Oct 2nd

    The lye bath took less than 15 minutes to remove all the old paint off the iron, leaving a little surface rust that is mostly now wire brushed away. Waiting on the can of Gibbs’ spray to rub out the rest and clean it up.
    I need to make a flat steel bar with two holes in it to mount on the back to hang it on the wall.

  • Architectural Lion Keystone Ca 1901

    Now there’s a mystery!
    I looked up the location on Google maps where I removed one of these around 1977- 99th St 2nd ave and much to my surprise the building is still there! but even more surprising is, none of the lion keystones is missing, nor are their patches in the wall where the holes were! As I zoomed in on the facades, nothing looks like anything had been replaced, yet in my 1977 photo I can clearly see 4 holes in the wall over the fire escapes, I only remember removing one because it was way up in Harlem and quite a bike ride up there, the window on the upper floor over the fire escape clearly shows my usual hole in the wall digging down from above and removing the bricks above and behind to pull the keystone up and in.

    So I thought, well there’s new building a block further up on that side of the street, maybe somehow I got 99th street mixed up with 100th street, but the old Bromley fire insurance map for that block doesn’t jive for that scenario as it had 24 foot wide lots with 24 foot wide buildings having 4 windows across, the 1977 photo and the map shows 99th street having 40 foot wide buildings with 6 windows across, so it’s the right block, and in the 1977 view the corner building was gone- just a vacant lot and in the street view is a new high rise building there.
    Now that’s plain wierd, and it means that somehow exact antique replacements were found (unlikely) and installed in the holes, or they hired Boston Valley to replicate them- possible but VERY costly, and these tenements were not historic or anything of the sort.


    99th St 2nd Ave, ca 1977


    99th St 2nd Ave, 2018

    Detail of one of the lion keystones.

    I don’t have an explanation for how the holes were filled up and the 4 lions I know that were removed are back in the wall as replicas or who knows!

  • Architectural Lion Keystone 1901

    I used to have one of these lion keystones, the seIIer of this one wants more than I’m open to paying for it, but they accept 0ffers, so I sent mine in, we’ll see.

    I know they’ve had it quite a while because I bookmarked it in 2016.
    Dimensions: 23″ high- 12″ wide x 10″ deep.

    Interestingly enough it’s crisper and in better condition than the one I had back around 1980, it looks like the one I had was either made in a very worn mold or it wasn’t fired properly because it had a “grainy” pitted look.

    The store emailed that yes, they accepted! funny thing was in 2016 I saved the page it was on, they had it priced at $2,400, NOW they have it at $1,200 and I offered them $950, so that’s quite a lot off their original $2,400 price but like a lot of things they just picked a number and put it there, but after at least 2 years of sitting there taking up space and not selling they decided to halve the price and I’m probably the only one who showed any interest in it!

    After the keystone arrived Friday, I started stripping that crappy gold paint off it, and after fabricating a steel bracket for it, it’s now mounted on the wall.

  • Concrete

    I decided  some time ago to “phase out” concrete for several reasons, some include the fact the material is not stocked by any local outfits to me, which always meant having to drive to another town whose building supply/lumber yard stocks it-  an18 mile drive each way. It also tends to be a seasonal product since nobody pours concrete here when it’s 10 degrees outside, so if they have any bags of Portland cement at that lumberyard in the winter or early spring it’s been sitting in their unheated warehouse for months absorbing moisture which causes lumps and poor curing.

    I never used enough of it to use up whole bags and it doesn’t store well at all, even sealed up in plastic bags it still winds up absorbing moisture from the air and becomes all but unusable in a few weeks and I wound up throwing away significant quantities.

    There was one period a few years ago where a bunch of clients ordered concrete all at the same time, so I decided to buy a pallet worth- 40 bags 50# each from the local place who agreed to order and deliver it, but then after it was delivered, nobody ordered concrete, so it all sat stacked in the basement and after a few months it was all unusable, I wound up burying about 35 bags of it because the garbage man won’t take the stuff and there’s no place to dispose of it either.

    I decided I’m not going to mess with concrete any further, way too much hassle, and it adds considerably to the shipping costs. The idea of phasing it out  was mainly to replace it with hand-pressed kiln fired terracotta, so far about a dozen designs are available in this permanent, more valuable material. Concrete being just a cheap material has no intrinsic value to it.

    I removed all references I found to concrete on my web sites, and in the price list, if any remain beyond a single sitting dog cast  I have stored away that is for sale, it was an oversight on my part.