Category Archives: Architecture and Design

Ray Kroc’s very first McDonald’s franchise restaurant started in 1955 in Des Plaines, Illinois, is slated to meet the wrecking ball.

First McDonald's franchise restaurant, 1955, May 2018.

McDonald’s very first franchise restaurant on its original site, 1955 (replica, 1985) is slated to be razed by McDonald’s Corporation immediately. — John P. Walsh, May 6, 2018.

By John P. Walsh

A closed-down weather-beaten replica of the very first McDonald’s franchise restaurant started by Ray Kroc (1902-1984) on April 15, 1955 standing on its original site in Des Plaines, Illinois, is slated to be demolished by McDonald’s Corporation with its land donated or possibly sold.

It was not long ago that McDonald’s touted that approximately one in every eight American workers had been employed by the company (Source: McDonald’s estimate in 1996) and that even today McDonald’s hires around 1 million workers in the U.S. every year. By 1961 there were 230 McDonald’s franchises in the United States. In 2017 there was 37, 241 McDonald’s restaurants worldwide. Not only historians and historic preservationists decry the imminent demolition of the first McDonald’s restaurant in Des Plaines, Illinois, just west of Chicago, but others impressed by its direct significance to the growth and impact to U.S. labor history as well as the American restaurant industry and American automotive culture in the post-World War II era. Further, McDonald’s restaurants today reach into 121 other countries around the world influencing and being influenced by global cuisine. That all of this cultural and business import was born on a now-threatened patch of land on Lee Street in Des Plaines, Illinois, is impressive.

It appears that if and when McDonald’s follows through on its November 2017 decision to raze the building and give up the site, this originally-designed McDonald’s restaurant on Ray Kroc’s original site in Des Plaines will be forever lost. The story of how that planned demolition of this unique piece of Americana came to be began 35 years ago. It was on March 3, 1984 that after 29 years of continual operation the original franchise restaurant on the original site was permanently closed and demolished. Founder and former McDonald’s Corporation chairman Ray Kroc had died less than six weeks before in January 1984 at 81 years old in San Diego, California.

The McDonald’s restaurant brand opened its first burger bar called McDonald’s Bar-B-Q in California in 1940 – and, by 1953, brothers Maurice and Richard McDonald started a small franchise business in Phoenix, Arizona and Downey, California. Today’s nationwide and global franchise empire that serves 75 burgers every second (Source: McDonald’s Operations and Training Manual) began when Oak Park, Illinois-born Ray Kroc, a paper-cup-turned-milkshake-machine salesman, convinced the McDonald brothers to let him franchise their business nationwide. Kroc offered to manage the franchises in the U.S., excepting the brothers’ first franchises in Arizona and California, and the pair were to receive a tiny percentage of gross sales nationwide in return.

Kroc’s first walk-up franchise McDonald’s restaurant at the “Five Corners” intersection in Des Plaines, Illinois, served an assembly-line format menu of hamburgers, cheeseburgers, french fries and a selection of drinks. In 1955, he founded McDonald’s System, Inc., a predecessor of the McDonald’s Corporation, and six years later bought the exclusive rights to the McDonald’s name and operating system. By 1961, Ray Kroc’s vision had clearly paid off for the now 59-year-old former paper cup salesman. That same year, Kroc bought out the McDonald brothers for $2.7 million and launched his strict training program, later called “Hamburger University, ” in nearby Elk Grove Village, Illinois, at another of his 230 new McDonald’s restaurants. Ray Kroc’s original vision was that there should be 1,000 McDonald’s restaurants in the United States. When Kroc died in January 1984, his goal had been exceeded six fold — there were 6,000 McDonald’s restaurants in the U.S. and internationally in 1980.

The Des Plaines suburban location of Ray Kroc’s very first McDonald’s franchise retains its relatively humble setting even as the McDonald’s Corporation it spawned earns $27 billion in annual sales making it the 90th-largest economy in the world (Source: SEC). Kroc, the milkshake machine salesman who convinced the McDonald brothers to let him franchise their fast-food operation nationwide, saw his original McDonald’s franchise at 400 Lee St. in Des Plaines open for business until, shortly after his death, it closed on Saturday, March 3, 1984.

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Ray Kroc (1902-1984) with his highly successful McDonald’s franchise restaurant. The franchise started in Des Plaines, Illinois, in 1955 has had a significant impact on U.S labor history as well as the American restaurant industry and automotive culture in the post-World War II era. 

In 1984 there were no plans to preserve the site – its golden arches and road sign had been carted away –  but a public outcry prompted McDonald’s in 1985 to return the restaurant’s restored original sign designed by Andrew Bork and Joe Sicuro of Laco Signs of Libertyville, Illinois, and dedicate a restaurant replica that still exists today on the original site though it is now slated for demolition. The historic red neon-lettered sign turned on for the opening of Kroc’s first store on April 15, 1955 – there is one similar to it preserved in The Henry Ford museum in Dearborn, Michigan dating from 1960 – proclaimed “McDonald’s Hamburgers” and “We Have Sold Over 1 Million” and, intersecting with an iconic golden arch displayed a neon-animated “Speedee” chef, the fast food chain’s original mascot. (The clown figure of Ronald McDonald first appeared in 1963).

Newspaper advertisement

Newspaper advertisement announcing the opening of Ray Kroc’s first McDonald’s in Des Plaines, Illinois. It featured the franchise’s first mascot, Speedee who was significant to the assembly- line format menu and prevailing automotive culture.

Ray Kroc_s first McDonald_s restaurant in Des Plaines, Illinois April 15, 1955.

Ray Kroc’s first McDonald’s restaurant in Des Plaines, Illinois on April 15, 1955.

McDonald's first franchise Des Plaines IL.

The replica of McDonald’s first franchise restaurant is missing its golden arches, “McDonald’s” sign over the entrance, and original 1955 Speedee neon lettered sign. In January 2018 they were dismantled and removed by McDonald’s to an undisclosed location out of public view – John P. Walsh, May 6, 2018.

The day after the original restaurant closed –  Sunday, March 4, 1984 – a McDonald’s restaurant franchise moved across the street into a state-of-the-art new building on a site that once accommodated a Howard Johnson’s and, after that, a Ground Round. The full-service McDonald’s in Des Plaines, Illinois, today continues to operate out of that 1984 building. It may confuse the visitor which exactly is the original site of the first McDonald’s as the newer 1984 building not on the first site displays inside a high-relief metal sign that reads: “The national chain of McDonald’s was born on this spot with the opening of this restaurant.” Though undated, it is signed by Ray Kroc which points to it being brought over from the original restaurant when it was closed. At the replica restaurant on the original site two metal plaques (dated April 15, 1985) properly proclaim: “Ray A. Kroc, founder of McDonald’s Corporation, opened his first McDonald’s franchise (the ninth McDonald’s drive-in in the U.S.) on this site, April 15, 1955.”

A few months after the first franchise restaurant was closed and demolished in 1984, the parcel of land on which it sat – it had only always been leased since 1955 – was purchased by McDonald’s at the same time they announced plans for the replica landmark restaurant.

The original architectural plans by architect Robert Stauber from the mid1950’s were lost, so 1980’s planners applied architectural drawings of McDonald’s restaurants built in the late 1950’s for the replica. Its kitchen included refurbished equipment brought out of storage, including the restaurant’s original six-foot grill. It also displayed one of Ray Kroc’s original multimixers like the ones he sold to Maurice and Richard McDonald that started a fast-food partnership in the 1950’s which by the mid-1960’s inspired many well-known copy cats of McDonald’s model, including Burger King, Burger Chef, Arbys, KFC, and Hardee’s.

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Soda fountain multimixer.

The original restaurant had been remodeled several times during its almost 30 years of operation but never had much in the way of indoor seating or a drive-through. It did feature a basement and furnace built for Chicago’s four seasons and was used by the replica museum to exhibit items. The McDonald’s Museum was open for tours until September 2008 when the site experienced record-setting flooding from the nearby Des Plaines River. In April 2013 another record flood in Des Plaines submerged the McDonald’s Museum and produced serious speculation that the site would be moved or permanently closed.

Aerial 2013 Des Plaines

An aerial view during the April 2013 Des Plaines River flood shows the replica first McDonald’s franchise restaurant (right) with its original Speedee neon sign that was first lit on April 15, 1955 — Chris Walker, Chicago Tribune, April 19, 2013

In mid-July 2017, only four years since the last significant flood, the area experienced its worst flooding on record. In November 2017 McDonald’s announced it would raze the replica restaurant structure and by May 2018 the site had had its utilities disconnected and its golden arches, Speedee sign, and main entrance McDonald’s sign dismantled and removed. These historically valuable items were taken by McDonald’s out of public view to an undisclosed location. Once again, and this time more seriously it appears, the prospect of pleas by Des Plaines municipal authorities, historic preservationists, social media and others for McDonald’s Corporation to preserve the site intact is murky at best.

first night Des Plaines

The original Des Plaines McDonald’s restaurant (pictured here in 1955) was demolished in 1984. A replica restaurant built in 1985 was based on architectural plans of later McDonald’s restaurants. The historic site is awaiting demolition announced by McDonald’s in late 2017.  

Notes:

number of franchises in U.S. 1961 – http://sterlingmulti.com/multimixer_history.html# – retrieved May 8, 2018

number of restaurants 2017- https://www.statista.com/statistics/219454/mcdonalds-restaurants-worldwide/ -retrieved May 8, 2018.

121 countries – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_with_McDonald%27s_restaurants – retrieved May 8, 2018.

McDonald’s System, Inc; McDonald brothers for $2.7 million; Hamburger University; Kroc’s 1,000 restaurant vision – https://www.mcdonalds.com/us/en-us/about-us/our-history.html – retrieved May 8, 2018.

6,000 McDonald’s restaurants by 1980- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_McDonald%27s#1980s – retrieved May 8, 2018

original architectural plans lost – http://www.dailyherald.com/news/20171120/mcdonalds-plans-to-tear-down-des-plaines-replica-retrieved May 6, 2018.

2008 Des Plaines River flood- http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2013-04-18/news/chi-des-plaines-roads-flooded-after-storm-20130418_1_des-plaines-river-big-bend-lake-water-levels- retrieved May 8, 2018.

2013 Des Plaines River flood – https://patch.com/illinois/desplaines/bp–des-plaines-river-flood-information-03bfa82b– retrieved May 8, 2018.

2017 Des Plaines River flood

©John P. Walsh. All rights reserved. No part of this material may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, which includes but is not limited to facsimile transmission, photocopying, recording, rekeying, or using any information storage or retrieval system.

 

 

Chicago Harbor Lighthouse (1893).

Chicago Harbor Lighthouse, September 14 2017.

Chicago Harbor Lighthouse, Chicago, Illinois.

Known as the “Chicago Light,” the Chicago Harbor Lighthouse is an active automated lighthouse that stands to the north of the Chicago Harbor main entrance about one-half mile beyond the end of Navy Pier. This Lighthouse played a significant role in the development of Chicago and remains an active aid to nautical navigation. For more than a century the U.S. Coast Guard staffed this vital lighthouse at the breakwater outside the Chicago Harbor Lock that separates the mouth of the Chicago River from Lake Michigan. The lock, built in the mid-1930’s, is operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and is one of two entrances into the Illinois Waterway system at the Great Lakes. That system provides a commercial and recreational shipping connection to the Gulf of Mexico by way of the Illinois and Mississippi rivers. The Chicago Light starts (or ends) that adventure as it sits in the outer harbor that was constructed in 1880. Through the breakwaters the main entrance into Chicago Harbor is 580 feet wide. The Chicago Light’s conical tower dates from 1893. Twenty-five years later the base building (a fog-signal room and boathouse) was constructed and the tower was reconstructed. The architect is not identified. It was designated a Chicago Landmark on April 9, 2003. The Chicago Harbor Lighthouse is the only surviving lighthouse in Chicago and one of only two remaining examples in Illinois.

SOURCES:

The Chicago River: an illustrated history and guide to the river and its waterways, David M. Solzman, Wild Onion Books, Chicago, 1998, pp.126-128.

Chicago Landmarks Map [Brochure], City of Chicago, 2006.

https://web.archive.org/web/20070410173708/http://www.ci.chi.il.us/Landmarks/C/ChicagoHarborLighthouse.html – retrieved December 2, 2017.

©John P. Walsh. All rights reserved. No part of this material may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, which includes but is not limited to facsimile transmission, photocopying, recording, rekeying, or using any information storage or retrieval system.

The works of David Adler (1882-1949), Chicago architect.

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David Adler, architect (1882-1949).

By John P. Walsh

David Adler (January 3, 1882 – September 27, 1949) was an American architect who made major contributions in domestic architecture for mostly affluent clients in and around Chicago. Different than German-American modernist architect Mies van der Rohe (1886-1969) who also practiced in Chicago around the same time, David Adler’s important work drew from the past for his architectural idioms.What are these artistic arrows in Adler’s quiver and what makes his work interesting and valuable today?

A great amount of his domestic buildings are still standing and mainly intact for the viewer to see and experience today. Only seven of his architectural projects have been demolished. These monuments of a gilded age attract one’s attention by their powerful presence based on their typical enormity, ornate details, and tasteful grace rooted in the classic European style. Gigantic skylights, curved staircases, ornate fanlight windows, columns, working fountains, and many other features, characterize Adler’s homes for his clients.

Based on his commissioned projects, David’s Adler’s architectural career spanned from 1911 following his return from studying in Europe (after an undergraduate career at Princeton University) until the year of his death in 1949. In 1913 he was designing and building outside of the Chicago area—specifically, a chapel and iron gates at Greenwood Cemetery in Galena, Illinois. After 1915, he was doing out-of-state projects such as the Berney house and garage in Fort Worth, Texas and the Dillingham house in Honolulu, Hawaii. Adler’s grandiose floor plans made their appearance at start of his career in 1911 and continued over 38 years in more than 200 major works, several of which he returned to in later years and updated.

His work includes mostly houses, whether complete or in alterations and additions, but also apartments, townhouses, gates and terraces, outbuildings and dependencies, clubhouses, locker rooms, bathhouses, swimming pools, cottages, commercial buildings, boardrooms, lodges, prefabricated houses, houseboats, and in 1924, a dining car for the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad. In the late 1940s, Adler turned to designing an altar and headstones for the social elite.

Adler planned and built in locations throughout the United States as well as internationally including Fort Worth, Texas; Wisconsin; Minnesota; Massachusetts; New York City and State; Connecticut; Colorado; Georgia; California; Florida; the aforesaid Honolulu, Hawaii; Louisiana; Virginia; New Mexico; British Columbia; and London, England. But the vast majority of his commissions—whether he planned and built them or only planned them—are found in the American Midwest, especially in Illinois, and particularly in and around Chicago. While some Adler commissions were also planned but not constructed, only a handful of buildings have been so far razed. This translates for today’s viewer into a near complete body of  Adler’s architectural work to be appreciated (although most remain in private hands).

As streamlined, monumental and functional modernist architecture made its appearance in the late nineteenth century based in part on the stylistic language of industrialization, the wealth generated in that prosperous machine age became concentrated in the hands of individuals and their families who, having begun the perennial pilgrimage of American tourists to Europe, desired to live in private residences that evoked the palatial surroundings of historical nobility.3 David Adler’s “traditionalist” work in the first half of the twentieth century was part of, and built on, the great American tradition of architects who relied on European antecedents but adapted them to contemporary American taste. Additionally, Adler’s years in Europe between 1908 and 1911, especially in France, and his return to Chicago which like other cities in the United States after 1890 experienced a Beaux-Arts (academic neoclassical) renaissance, led him to embrace traditional architectural systems and rules for his clients throughout his career.

Throughout the 1910s and 1920s Adler’s architectural practice— surprisingly he was not a licensed architect although he received an honorary license in his mid-career—encountered socioeconomic conditions in Chicago and elsewhere that benefited his early and later design success. Proliferation of his traditional work is more remarkable when viewed in the context of the modernist architectural achievements which were materializing on the landscape in the United States and Europe in those same years he practiced.By the end of his life Adler expressed regret that the lengthy era of the “great house” was over and he was, after the Great Depression in the 1930s, having to adapt to designing smaller-scaled projects. When Adler died unexpectedly at 67 years old in 1949, he left new commissions on the drafting table. His memorial service was held in The Art Institute of Chicago where Adler had been a board member for almost twenty five years and he was buried in Chicago’s Graceland Cemetery.

NOTES

  1. The Country Houses of David Adler, Stephan M. Salny, Introduction by Franz Schulze, W.W. Norton & Company, New York and London, 2001. p. 9.
  2. Ibid., pp.193- 203.
  3. Ibid., p. 10; see We’ll Always Have Paris, American Tourists in France since 1930, Harvey Levenstein, The University of Chicago Press, 2004.
  4. Country houses, p.11.

©John P. Walsh. All rights reserved. No part of this material may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by an means, electronic  or mechanical, which includes but is not limited to facsimile transmission, photocopying, recording, rekeying, or using any information storage or retrieval system.

Charter Club, Princeton, New Jersey, 1903. Razed in 1913.

David Adler 1905 Charter Club.

Adler’s sketch in 1905 for Princeton’s Charter Club.

David Adler Charter Club

The Charter Club based on Adler’s design. One of Princeton’s undergraduate eating clubs.

David Adler.

Charter Club, symmetrical Georgian Revival design. The entrance portico was supported by four Doric columns that partly masked a balcony on the second story. Strong dental molding crowd the tops of the second-floor windows, while a row of five identical dormers gave the structure a top-heavy look. A covered porch extended to the east, supported by Doric columns. As a cost-saving measure, the entire structure was built of wood. It was replaced in 1913.

Mrs. and Mrs. Charles A. Stonehill, Glencoe, Illinois, 1911. Louis XIII style. Alterations, 1930. Razed, 1960s.

David Adler Charles A Stonehill, 1911. RAZED 1960's.

David Adler, Mr/s. Charles A Stonehill, Glencoe, Illinois, 1911. View of house from Lake Michigan.

David Adler as a young man.

David Adler as a young man.

David Adler Charles A Stonehill, 1911. RAZED 1960's.

David Adler, Mr/s. Charles A Stonehill, Glencoe, Illinois, 1911. Terrace façade.

David Adler Charles A Stonehill, 1911. RAZED 1960's. DINING ROOM.

David Adler, Mr/s. Charles A. Stonehill, Glencoe, Illinois, 1911. Dining Room. English walnut paneling with hand-carved walnut table and high back upholstered chairs.

David Adler Charles A Stonehill, 1911. RAZED 1960's.

Original entrance to Stonehill Mansion on Sheridan Road in Glencoe, Illinois. It sat on more than 19 acres on Lake Michigan. In 2016 North Shore Congregation Israel Temple is on the site.

David Adler Charles A Stonehill, 1911. RAZED 1960's.

David Adler, Mr/s. Charles A Stonehill, Glencoe, Illinois, 1911. RAZED in the 1960s.

David Adler Charles A Stonehill, 1911. RAZED 1960's. ENTRANCE.

David Adler, Stonehill (called Pierremont), Entrance Hall. The Stonehill family lived at the estate until the Crash of 1929.

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The Château de Balleroy is a seventeenth-century château in Balleroy, Normandy.

David Adler Charles A Stonehill, 1911. RAZED 1960's.

One of two stone rams at the entrance to courtyard at Stonehill mansion. Landscape architect Jens Jensen (1860-1951) designed several gardens at the mansion.

David Adler Charles A Stonehill, 1911. RAZED 1960's. MUSIC ROOM.

David Adler, Mr/s. Charles A. Stonehill, Glencoe, Illinois, 1911. Music Room. Louis XVI paneling and parquet-de-Versailles flooring with Louis XV furnishings.

David Adler Charles A Stonehill, 1911. RAZED 1960's.

Members of the Household Staff at the Charles A. Stonehill Estate. The mansion was demolished in the 1960s.

David Adler Charles A Stonehill, 1911. RAZED 1960's.

Garden trellis at the Charles A. Stonehill estate in Glencoe, Illinois.

David Adler Charles A Stonehill, 1911. RAZED 1960's.

Inspired by the Chateau de Balleroy in northern France, Charles A. Stonehill commissioned his son-in-law David Adler to design and build this Louis-XIII style building. Set high on the bluff overlooking Lake Michigan, this home was a popular weekend destination by many of Chicago’s elite in the 1910s.

David Adler Charles A Stonehill, 1911. RAZED 1960's.

Members of the staff of The Charles A. Stonehill Estate on the beach.

David Adler Charles A Stonehill, 1911. RAZED 1960's.

David Adler, Mr/s. Charles A. Stonehill, Glencoe, Illinois, 1911. Drawing Room. Tuscan pilasters. Unique octagonal-shaped coffered ceiling.

Mrs. and Mrs. Ralph H. Poole, Lake Bluff, Illinois, 1912. Louis-XV style. Stands. 

Mr/s. Ralph H. POOLE, Lake Bluff, Illinois, 1912, STANDING.

Mr/s. Ralph H. POOLE, Lake Bluff, IL, 1912. Adler was influenced by François Mansart (1598-1666) for this early commissioned project..

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POOLE (Lake Bluff, IL), 1912. Floor plan. Adler placed the five main rooms along the rear of the house with the living room as the central gathering point.

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POOLE (Lake Bluff, IL), 1912. Adler’s interior is based on the Hôtel Biron in Paris (today’s Musée Rodin).

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POOLE (Lake Bluff, IL), 1912. Living room to music and dining rooms.

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POOLE (Lake Bluff, IL), 1912. Dining room.

Mrs. and Mrs. Charles B. Pike, 955 Lake Road, Lake Forest, Illinois. Built in 1916 in the Italian Villa style. Building stands. 

The house at 955 Lake Road in Lake Forest, Illinois, sits on Lake Michigan and is designed in the Italian villa style. Built in 1916 for Charles and Frances Pike, the 21-room house possesses one of Adler’s most successful outdoor spaces – the entrance Courtyard. Creating paths using paving beach stones with embedded designs, this outdoor garden was encapsulated on four sides by the back wall of the house (the main entrance which faces the road) as well the Kitchen, classically-proportioned Entrance Loggia and fifty-foot-long Gallery. The Courtyard was further integrated with the interior space where one enters the house’s main rooms from the Entrance Loggia into the Vestibule (with Adler’s masterful treatment of pediments and coffered ceiling) or by way of one of three sets of French doors with pilaster-supported archways into the vaulted Gallery.

In addition to the Vestibule and Gallery with its airy fifteen foot-tall ceilings, the interior first-floor plan of the Pike house contained the Living Room, Dining Room and East Loggia. Each of these main rooms was oriented to the balustraded landings of two staircases which led to an expansive sunken garden and towards Lake Michigan.  The second floor of the Pike house contained bedrooms.

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D. Adler. Pike House. Lake Forest, Illinois. 1916. Entrance Facade.

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D. Adler. Pike House. Lake Forest. 1916. Entrance Loggia.

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D. Adler. Pike House. Lake Forest. 1916. Entrance Loggia, another view.

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D. Adler. Pike House. Lake Forest. 1916. Courtyard.

courtyard

D. Adler. Pike House. Lake Forest. 1916. Courtyard with view of his design of the pavement using beach stones creating an interplay of color, texture, and shape.

vestibule

D. Adler. Pike House. Lake Forest. 1916. Vestibule. From the Entrance Loggia one enters the house’s main rooms into this Vestibule with Adler’s masterful treatment of pediments and coffered ceiling.

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D. Adler. Pike House. Lake Forest. 1916. Gallery.

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D. Adler. Pike House. Lake Forest. 1916. Living Room (or Library). The black stone fireplace mantel was the focal point of the room.

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D. Adler. Pike House. Lake Forest. 1916. Living Room (or Library) in recent times.

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D. Adler. Pike House. Lake Forest. 1916. Dining Room. The same size as the as the Living Room, the black terrazzo floor was consistent on the first floor, but Adler achieved greater intimacy with the beamed ceiling.

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D. Adler. Pike House. Lake Forest. 1916. Dining Room today.

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D. Adler. Pike House. Lake Forest. 1916. Garden/Main Facade. The house was inspired by Charles A. Platt’s Villa Turicum from 1908, but Adler turned the Pike house’s orientation to the Lake and away from the road.

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D. Adler. Pike House. Lake Forest. 1916. Sunken Garden. Looking toward Lake Michigan.

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D. Adler. Pike House. Lake Forest. 1916. Garden/Main Facade today.

Mrs. and Mrs. Alfred E. Hamill, Lake Forest, Illinois. Built by Henry Dangler in 1914 in the Italian style and renovated by David Adler in 1917. Building stands. 

hamill 1

When Adler became involved in the project, the Hamill House added two bronze centaurs on pedestals at the foot of the driveway introducing its new brick and limestone forecourt. A more dramatic change was the installation of the false parapet that heightened the house and hid its tiled roof.

hamill 2

Adler added the library to the west wing with steps going down to it from the living room. Warm and inviting the library had tall walnut bookcases and a hemispherical niche. One door opened to a staircase leading to Hamill’s second-floor bedroom. The fireplace was detailed in black marble and limestone with a pediment mantel. Over time Adler directed interior changes that included a breakfast room and music room.

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Into the 1920’s Hamill — an investment banker and the man who introduced Adler to involvement with the Museum of The Art Institute of Chicago — continued to make grandiose changes to his house. Some included adding a tower building and garage and servants’ quarters in the same Italian design as the main house. The tower stood almost seventy-five feet tall and  included Alfred Hamill’s study.

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Alfred Hamill’s study in the Italian-style tower by David Adler in the 1920’s is reminiscent of Napoleon’s tented study at Malmaison in France.

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Another of Hamill’s improvements in the 1920’s was a Palladian-designed Garden Pavilion with limestone open summerhouse and cylindrical posts encircled by stairs leading to a deck. Today the Hamill House as well as its tower and garden pavilion stand, but are separate properties.

All of the Angels in stained glass at St. Michael Church in Old Town, Chicago.

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ASSUMPTION WINDOW (central panel/detail), 1902, St. Michael Church, Chicago. Franz Mayer & Company, Munich, Germany.

By John P. Walsh

INTRODUCTION:

St. Michael Church in Old Town on Chicago’s north side is one of the oldest parishes and church buildings in the city. Founded in 1852, its brick walls from 1869 withstood the flames of the Great Chicago Fire in 1871, yet those flames left it a charred, empty shell. Feeding on clapboard houses that surrounded the historically-German parish, the bell tower collapsed in intense flame as the Fire continued its northward march until petering out for good about one mile away (the Great Fire had started about three miles to the south on the other side of the Chicago River). 

In 1869 the church building had cost over $130,000 to build (approximately $2.25 million in today’s dollars) and in 1872 after the fire its repairs cost $40,000, not including unknown insurance money amounts, or about $700,000 today. Reconstruction did not include these beautiful stained glass windows photographed by the author in 2015 – and that are gloriously preserved for the visitor to see in the sanctuary today – because they were not created and installed until thirty years later. 

In preparation for St. Michael’s Golden Jubilee in 1902 these tall and thin Bavarian-made stained glass windows -the fourth set of windows to be installed into architect August Walbaum’s original design for the building (the others, merely frosted or tinted, in 1866, 1873 and 1878) – drew on centuries of craft and technique in stained glass-making. For the Golden Jubilee in 1902 Franz Mayer & Company of Munich produced some of the finest stained glass of the early twentieth century to depict colorful New Testament scenes for the east and west walls of the sanctuary. Along with five new altars crafted and installed by Hackner & Sons of LaCrosse, Wisconsin, for the same Golden Jubilee, the realism and expressiveness of Mayer’s windows – recently experiencing a complete cleaning in 2013 – gave to the prospering parish a new sense of wonder and great joy in their sacramental worship and lives that can still be seen and experienced in its intact form today.

Mayer’s west windows depict the life of the Blessed Virgin Mary: the (non-biblical) Presentation of Mary and (biblical) Annunciation, Visitation, Nativity and Epiphany, and Assumption. The east windows depict events in the life of Jesus: Finding Jesus in the Temple, Jesus Blesses the Children, Jesus’s feet washed by Mary Magdalene, Ascension and (non-biblical) Sacred Heart. All of these faith events are accompanied by Mayer’s fine depictions of a cacophony of angels manifesting the heavenly host (the special subject of this blog entry’s 11 photographs). The windows’ rich color tones are rendered by using precious metals: gold dust for red; cobalt for blue; uranium for green. The story scenes are given a Renaissance Europe setting. Mayer & Company, founded in 1847 as “The Institute for Christian Art,” established a stained glass department in 1860. In 1882 it was awarded by “mad” King Ludwig II of Bavaria (1845-1886) the designation as a Royal Bavarian Establishment for Ecclesiastical Art. The Pope later pronounced the foundry a Pontifical Institute for Christian Art. Instead of thinking of St. Michael commissioning a venerable Old European arts company that is Mayer’s status today, in 1902 Franz Mayer was a German company that mirrored the Chicago parish in its contemporaneity. 

The founder’s son Franz Borgias Mayer (1848 – 1926) continued to grow the royal manufacturing company for Christian Art so that ten years after St. Michael’s stained glass windows, Pope Pius X (1835-1914) commissioned the German company to make stained glass for St. Peter’s Basilica as well as for several windows in important chapels in Vatican City. Throughout the United States, Mayer grew in clients and prestige serving an increasingly prosperous Catholic immigrant community. This involved significant ecclesiastical work in Chicago, Illinois, and also New York, Ohio, Kentucky, Michigan, Washington State and California. In 2016 Franz Mayer continues as family-owned and operated business (see http://www.mayer-of-munich.com/werkstaette/). 

NOTES:
valuation comparables – http://www.in2013dollars.com/1870-dollars-in-2015?amount=40000

stained glass department in 1860- Franz Mayer of Munich, edited by Gabriel Mayer, University of Chicago Press, 2013.

Pope Pius X commission – Nola Huse Tutag with Lucy Hamilton, Discovering Stained Glass in Detroit, Wayne State University Press, Detroit, 1987. p. 152.

 

©John P. Walsh. All rights reserved. No part of this material may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by an means, electronic  or mechanical, which includes but is not limited to facsimile transmission, photocopying, recording, rekeying, or using any information storage or retrieval system.

Marc-Antoine Charpentier at Versailles: Messe et Motets Pour La Vierge (1702).

Le Concert des Nations in 2005.

Le Concert des Nations in 2005.

Text by John P. Walsh

Intriguing facts coincide in this live early music performance of the Messe et Motets Pour La Vierge (Mass and Motets for the Virgin) by Marc Antoine Charpentier (French, 1643-1704) and the Palace of Versailles in whose Royal Chapel it was recorded in 2007. In the Jules Hardouin-Mansart-designed chapel of 1699 (it was completed in 1710) is performed some of the greatest music ever composed by early music ensemble Hespèrion XXI and period instrument orchestra Le Concert des Nations led by Jordi Savall. The ninety-one minute music video in this post is directed by Olivier Simonnet and broadcast by MEZZO.

Only fourteen miles west of Paris, there are many ways to visit Versailles’ château and grounds because it is very big and expansive. The château has over two thousand windows (count: 2,153). In 2012 when former Chicago Bulls superstar Michael Jordan sold his house he listed it at $29 million. For that price the residence boasted 32,683 square feet on seven acres near Chicago. What about Louis XIV’s Versailles? The royal château is over 720,000 square feet on two thousand acres. The visitor who wanders the 30 rooms of Jordan’s house could wander Versailles’ twenty-three hundred rooms.

To be expected, there is much to see inside the château: by one count, 6,123 paintings, 1,500 drawings, 15,000 engravings, 2,000 sculptures and 5,000 pieces of furniture. Most of the palace was built in the 1670s. It is interesting to host Charpentier’s Messe et Motets Pour La Vierge in the Royal Chapel. Composed in 1702, this brilliant new liturgical music of the time is performed in architectural space that was also new—to be completed in 1710 by the First Architect to the King’s brother-in-law because Mansart died in 1708 at nearby Marley-le-Roi.

What is Charpentier’s composition of Messe et Motets Pour La Vierge about? During the counter Reformation in the sixteenth century, the Catholic Church renewed its devotion to Mary, the Mother of Jesus. Charpentier was a prolific composer who had a diverse list of clients in Paris and the artist continually adapted his work. His religious music is complex for its musical relationships and its theological structures. Charpentier’s complete composition is not trivial. It supports varied expressions of Marian devotion—specifically, a didactic dialogue in her honor (Canticum in honorem Virginis Mariae Beatae homines…), a sorrowful Virgin at the foot of the Cross (Stabat mater dolorosa), a litany of the Virgin, and a great Mass in her honor for God’s glory (Assumpta est Maria…). Added to this theological variety are the different musical styles for soloists, chorus and orchestra. Charpentier’s final product is sublime and leads directly to the Mass worship on the Feast of Mary’s assumption into heaven which is August 15.

Messe et Motets pour la Vierge (1698)

Canticum in honorem Beate Virginis Mariae inter hominess et angelos (H.400)

In Nativitatem Domini Canticum: nuit (H.416)

Stabat Mater pour des religieuses (H.15)

Litanies de la Vierge a 6 voix et 2 dessus de violes (H.83)

Missa Assumpta Est Maria (H.11a)

Vocalists

Emmanuel Bardon, countertenor
Yves Bergé, bass
Pascal Bertin, countertenor
Daniele Carnovich, bass
Raphaële Kennedy, soprano
Jean François Novelli, tenor
Jordi Ricart, baritone
Arianna Savall, soprano
Judit Scherrer-Kleber, mezzo-soprano
Elisabetta Tiso, soprano
Lluis Vilamajo, tenor

Musicians

Jordi Savall, pardessus de viole
Guido Balestracci, bass viol
Bruno Cocset, bass violin
Imke David, haute-contre de viole
Xavier Diaz-Latorre, theorbo
Luca Guglielmi, organ and harpsichord
Marc Hantai and Charles Zebley, transverse flutes
Xavier Puertas, violone
Joanna Valencia, tenor viol

Royal Chapel Versailles

The vaulted ceiling in the Royal Chapel at Versailles (1699-1710). Hardouin-Mansart (1646-1708) designed it without transverse ribs so to create a unified surface, It is dedicated to the Holy Trinity: iGod the Father in his Glory by Antoine Coypel (1661-1722) is in the center. In the apse is The Resurrection by Charles de La Fosse (1636 – 1716). Above the Royal tribune is The Descent of the Holy Ghost by Jean-Baptiste Jouvenet (1644– 1717).

Hardouin-Mansart (1645-1708),

Portrait of Jules Hardouin-Mansart (1646-1708), Premier architecte du Roi by François de Troy (9 January 1645 – 21 November 1730), 1699. Palace of Versailles.


 

©John P. Walsh. All rights reserved. No part of this material may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by an means, electronic or mechanical, which includes but is not limited to facsimile transmission, photocopying, recording, rekeying, or using any information storage or retrieval system.