April 1, 2014 | The Salon Doré, a period room at the Legion of Honor, has a long and busy history, most of which has now been uncovered by the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco's team of curators, architectural historians, and restorers.
When it reopens on April 5 all will be revealed, from the salon's origins at the Hôtel de La Trémoille in Paris during the reign of Louis XVI to its installation as a ballroom in a California home, to its eventual arrival at the Legion of Honor in 1959, donated by Mr. and Mrs. Richard Rheem. The elaborate renovation, including the preservation of the boiserie originally installed in 1781, is amply documented on the Legion of Honor's website. What is equally impressive is the ultimate goal of the project--to allow visitors of the twenty-first century to get both a visceral and intellectual sense of how social life was conducted in an aristocratic environment during the eighteenth century. A salon de compagnie was designed to receive guests and invite …» More
November 5, 2013 | When it comes to historic preservation too much reverence is not always a good thing. Philip Zea, president of Historic Deerfield, observes that one of the most devastating effects of 2011's Hurricane Irene was the closing of the Deerfield Inn in the village. "The inn animates the street," he says. "It's right in the middle of things and even its delivery trucks give an important sense of activity here." The 1884 structure took in as much as six feet of water from Irene, affecting every aspect from the foundation on up. Now, two years later, the rebuilding is complete and the inn has reopened with what Zea describes as a "vastly improved interior," modern amenities in its guest rooms, a remodeled carriage house, and a reconfigured and redesigned dining room and bar. One of the owners, Jane Howard Sabo, describes the restoration as an opportunity to enhance the inn's sense of place with the work of such local artists as Stephen Mariatti (1910-1984) and James Wells Champney (1…» More
October 8, 2013 | Chicago's Uptown neighborhood is tucked between the high-end shops of Michigan Avenue and the outskirts of suburban Evanston. In the early twentieth century large numbers of Austro-Hungarian Jewish immigrants settled there, until new roads and growing incomes pulled them away from the city in the years after World War II. They left behind the apartments, stores, and synagogues their parents had helped build.
In the 1920s two Uptown congregations merged and decided to build a magnificent synagogue. Chicago architect Henry Dubin (1892-1963) of Dubin and Eisenberg began work on the twenty-two-hundred-seat facility in 1922. As described by Vincent Michael, John H. Bryan Chair in Historic Preservation at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, the building was constructed in several stages using multiple architectural styles including Romanesque entryway arches, baroque windows, and an art deco parapet. It is, Michael says, "a unique piece of architecture in Chicago."
October 8, 2013 | Call it cultural vandalism: The case against the Museum of Modern Art's plan to raze the former building of the American Folk Art Museum designed by Tod Williams and Billie Tsien and completed in 2001.
"Tod Williams and Billie Tsien's new American Folk Art Museum...is not only New York's greatest museum since Frank Lloyd Wright's Guggenheim was completed in 1959, but nothing less than the city's best work of architecture since then, period."
House & Garden, 2001
"...the Museum of Modern Art has not yet offered a compelling justification for the cultural and environmental waste of destroying this much-admired, highly distinctive twelve-year-old building."
ARCHITECTURAL LEAGUE OF NEW YORK,
in an open letter to the Museum of Modern Art, 2013
"Midtown and MoMA could both use more variety, serendipity and soul. The former folk art museum building, having all those things, isn't an obstacle to progress but an opportunity."
New York Times, 2013
Here in this shell of a house,
This house that is struggling to be,
Hope must have been
The first to move in,
And waited to welcome me.
But hope isn't easy to see.
This lovely tribute to the White House in Leonard Bernstein and Allan Jay Lerner's 1976 musical 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue would make a perfect anthem for a house of far humbler origins, but one that predates it by more than 120 years and has a cultural history that very few private residences can claim. In 1670 Thomas Stanton, a native-born Englishman who learned the Algonquin language and became a celebrated translator, negotiator, and friend of both Native American tribes and colonists, built a handsome wood-shingled house near Stonington, Connecticut. Eleven generations of the family have occupied it, and the current paterfamilias, John W. Davis, still farms the fields that his ancestor received as a gift from the Pequots and began working in 1654. "We haven't missed a crop since," Davis says. "I'll be eighty-nine…» More
[Compiled by Bill Stern, Executive Director at the Museum of California Design, Los Angeles. Originally published in "Curator's Eye" in Modern Magazi» View All