Saturday, May 31, 2008

New Website

It's almost here! The shameless rip-off of several other sites that I have been working on for much of the last year is just about up and running. Stayed tuned.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Shaw's Garden

Tower Grove House in the Botanical Gardens is one of those great examples of Italianate architecture in the middle of the city. Above is what I consider one of the iconic images of the garden, looking through the gates of the oldest portion of the institution.The entire house is surrounded and framed by various trees species.The Linnean House is the oldest greenhouse west of the Mississippi, so they say.Above is Shaw's city house, moved out from Downtown and expanded. Below is a reconstructed bellevue.The bellevue looks down on the hedge maze, which is too easy in my opinion. You can't actually get lost in it.The library, viewed from behind, is never open, which I don't like; it's a great example of early St. Louis architecture.Here is the front, viewed from the old gate of the gardens facing Tower Grove Avenue. Below is his mausoleum; a strange edifice in the middle of the garden.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

A Unique House Outside Pella, Iowa

I have driven by this house on US 163 numerous times, and this time I actually got the driver to pull over.It is unique in many ways, from the date of its construction spelled out in the roof to the great detailing all around.I discussed with my travel companions how there are literally thousands of anonymous, local styles across the country. The oval windows, which feature prominently in this house, also appear in other, smaller buildings near this one. Who was the builder who added these small details throughout their field of work?

This house is worth driving between Ottumwa and Des Moines.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Kahoka, Missouri

Proceeding into Missouri, the county seat of Clark County, Kahoka, features what must be a very, very old courthouse--perhaps dating to before the Civil War.The courthouse is brick, with a stucco veneer that is flaking off very badly in the back (not shown)
Regardless, I definitely want to find out more about this building.What is very fascinating is that the courthouse sits around the corner from the town square; most Midwestern county seats I know of always feature the courthouse in the middle. Instead, Kahoka's main square has only a bandstand (not pictured). The old hotel on the square is a fascinating example of pressed tin store fronts.Update: I was totally wrong; it's actually from 1871.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Eldon, Iowa

The depopulation of the Midwest countryside has been particularly rough on small towns far from the interstate, such as Eldon, Iowa. I passed through the small town twice this weekend, and was able to persuade my chauffeur to stop only because it rid us of some particularly annoying cars in front of us.Despite the desolation, the town has some fascinating local architecture, and a small, if heavily abandoned Main Street.I particularly enjoyed the Doric-Revival bank building in downtown, with its terracotta columns and glazed brick.Here is a detail of the bank.Unfortunately, the refuse of abandonment is creeping close to the downtown area, replete with rusted out trucks.Perhaps the town can fully utilize this potential tourist attraction: do you recognize it below?

Wright Street Almost Gone

The 1900 block of Wright is now probably days away from being completely gone.

Southwestern Bell

Friday, May 23, 2008

Mansion House - Gentry's Landing

Perhaps the most overlooked development in downtown St. Louis is the Gentry's Landing, Mansion House and Radisson Hotel complex on 4th Street downtown. It's not surprising, as the complex is just about as cut off from the street as possible.

Check out an aerial view here. I particularly liked one of the reviews of the apartments here; it seems like the whole complex has fallen on hard times.I wish I knew more about the buildings, which sit along the east side of the street, creating an archetypal "superblock" so common in the 1960's.There is in fact some street level retail, but it is filled with a crumby record store and a standard Chinese restaurant/carry-out.Below is the rather cool entry roof for Mansion House.Here is a shot below of the shopping arcade along 4th Street.I love this staircase that leads up to the terrace of the complex: a classic example of form following function, as they say. The use of reinforced concrete makes the staircase seem to float above the sidewalk.When one reaches the top of the stairs, a garden spreads out around the three towers. The covered walkway continues the motif of the staircase.What is fascinating about the covered walkway is its almost Oriental feel.Below is a great view of the balconies stretching up the side of the towers.One of several pavilions that sit on top of the complex; this one was perhaps a restaurant, but now is abandoned and stuffed with chairs.Maintenance is definitely deferred at this large complex, and I particularly loved this stained mattress propped up against the wall.The street along the east side of the complex is so depressing, and anti-urban that I was left speechless.Here is another picture of the abandoned streetscape.Here is a shot of the strangest building in the complex; a weird almost art-deco building sitting right on the street, and apparently empty.Here is a shot of an small garden, ignored by everybody.
Back up on top, it is remarkably quiet, and deserted.
The views of the arch, framed by the trees and towers, is impressive.The southern end of the plaza is just as deserted, even though it is so close to the Adams Mark. It is dominated by the second pavilion, which has a funky, 1960's feel to it that I really like. Of course it is abandoned.

These gates are so wrongly matched with the modernist building, it is not even funny.I don't know what I think of this complex; it is such a detriment to Downtown, but standing by itself, it is a remarkable architectural ensemble, rarely seen or explored by St. Louisans.

A Blog detailing the beauty of St. Louis architecture and the buildup of residue-or character-that accumulates over the course of time.