• 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 (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”

    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.”

    Courtesy of: https://www.waltergrutchfield.net/jacksonjamesl.htm




    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.