1887 - Logan County, Arkansas
Subiaco Abbey is named for the Italian village where St. Benedict lived in a cave, then founded the Benedictine Order. Much like the Benedictine Abbey in Atchison-KS, Subiaco was founded mid-to-late 19th century as part of an expansion amoung roman Cantholic communities into Midwestern states. Subiaco Abbey houses a community of 42 Benedictine monks who operate their own fields, livestock, make peanut brittle, manage a retreat center, and still have time to teach and nuture the minds of high schoolers at the all-boys boarding school Benedictine Academy which dates back to 1887.
Subiaco is well-worth going out-of-one's-way - should you be looking for a peaceful adventure while nearby Paris, Arkansas or south of the Arkansas River, west from Little Rock. Without appointment we explored the abbey, church, and manicured grounds; with frequent, and peaceful opportunities to take in the distant rolling Ozarkian agraria.
Cemetery within rolling Arkansas landscape.
Belltower viewed from within cloister courtyard.
Stained glass window in transept.
Cloiseter courtyard & arcade.
Statue of St. Bernadette kneeling at the Grotto dedicated to Our Lady of Lourdes.
August Robert Meyer Memorial
1909 - The Paseo, Kansas City
Meyer Boulevard and Meyer Circle are probably the most fitting tributes to the life of August Meyer-each are landmark realizations of the George Kessler designed Parks and Boulevard system in Kansas City. It was Meyer who as the first president of the Kansas City Parks Department hired Kessler to transform this "cowtown" of late 19th century Kansas City into City Beautiful.
The bronze relief was executed by Daniel Chester French, one of America's greatest sculptors. Previously he'd sculpted figures for the Richard Morris Hunt memorial on the Upper East side, the Rear Admiral Samuel DuPont circle fountain in NW Washington DC. But he is most famous for his great seated monumental figure of Abraham Lincoln in the Lincoln Memorial.
Stone inscription on north side of memorial:
HOUSES AND SHOES ARE MANS
BUT GRASS AND TREES AND FLOWERS
ARE GODS OWN HANDIWORK
UNDAUNTED THIS MAN PLANNED AND TOILED
THAT DWELLERS IN THIS PLACE
MIGHT EVER FREELY TASTE ALL
SWEET DELIGHTS OF NATURE
Louis A. House Memorial
Southwest High School, Kansas City, Missouri
See dedication plaque below. Intriguing, isn't it? Also neat, is that these stones currently reside adjacent to the interesection of 65th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue. Different Pennsylvania Avenue, but I'd like to think it's no accident. According to the Truman Library archival staff, confirmation of the origin of the flag pole base stone pieces, is likely contained in files created by the Commission on the Renovation of the Executive Mansion, now defunct (of course).
1948-1852 mark the years of massive renovation at the White House initiated by the Truman Administration. The second floor balcony was added during this period of time, hence "The Truman Balcony." Not sure I get all the reasons for it - sure, convenience and not a bad view - but architecturally speaking the south facade is weaker as a result.
(1948 photo from White House Museum)
Central Presbyterian Church
1924 - Hyde Park, Kansas City
Inspired at yesterday's K.C. Public Library lecture by architectural colorist Paul Helmer on two historic churches of Kansas City, I decided to visit Central Presbyterian Church located at Armour and Campbell in Hyde Park. A very tight composition by Charles Shepard and A. C. Wiser using Greek Ionic order gives this church modest, almost shy, sense of its monumental portico facing Armour Boulevard.
In true use of facade, this Greek portico - based on Erechtheum North portico at the Acropolis - hides a rather ordinary box form of the main nave behind. Erechtheum is mostly known for it's South portico with caryatids, also called the "Porch of the Maidens."
In the analytique, I illustrate the alignment of entablature variations as they wrap around the building. For the sake of massing, it seems important that the composition of limestone trim be read as continuous bands all originating at the primary entry portico. This portico contains the highest degree of articulation of moulding, which then step down in complexity as the bands travel around the building, away from the portico. The architrave - lower, "beam"-like banding, just above the column capitals - essentially has no profile at all as it reaches the box volume of the main nave. The use of hierarchy within an element, is an important tool for architects in terms of managing the economics of materials: greater detail at the facade and entry, less so 'round back - yet with a managed relationship to the whole.
Charles E. Shepard and Alfred C. Wiser also design the Sophian Plaza apartment building, Second Presbyterian Church at 55th & Oak, and the historic Eldridge Hotel in Lawrence, Kansas (original structure burned during Quantrill's Raid in 1863).
New Second Presbyterian Church
1915, 1917 - 55th & Oak, Kansas City
Prior to constructing the building at 55th & Oak streets, the Second Presbyterian Church and Manse were located at 13th and Central. Lucky 13. During the Great Convention Hall fire of 1900, flames lept across Central Avenue and burned the great gothic revival church to ruins. In 1915, the earliest phase of the new church was built, now called the transept, this first volume is perpendicular in orientation to the main nave. The south-most exterior wall is highlighted by the stained glass mural of Dorcas (Tabitha) - a character named as a disciple of Peter in the New Testament. This mural is secondary to a Louis Comfort Tiffany stained glass composition depicting the parable Good Samaritan located on the East wall of the main nave.
A shorter version of the current bell tower and main nave were finished and dedicated On October 21, 1917. Both phases were the work of the firm Shepard (Charles E.), Farrar & Wiser. The height of the bell tower was increased in 1924; I am not convinced that the final tower was authored by Shepard's office. An Educational Building and Youth & Community Building were added in 1926 and 1953 respectively. For more information regarding Charles E. Shepard and iterations of his firm, see "Best Addresses" titled post.
Stained glass mural of Dorcas
K.C. Star 1914
(from the Missouri Valley special collection newspaper clippings file)
Western Auto, nee Coca-Cola
1915 - Crossroads, Kansas City
Big Apple, meet Paris-of-the-Plains.
"36 Hours in Kansas City" from last weekend's NY Times Travel section (May 16, 2010) means that the current City of Fountains has arrived. Nice little article, but left out touring the Boulevard Brewery - tickets are difficult - but it's a must.
Glad the writer included bongo drumming at Loose Park and luke-warm mention of Power & Light District as "open-air fraternity party" followed by "A smarter alternative can be found in the West Bottoms..."
20 Janssen Place
Hyde Park, Kansas City
Janssen Place is the most refined residential street in Kansas City; it was named after August Janssen - a Dutch business acquaintance of Arthur E. Stilwell who created the dead-end boulevard as a restricted residential street in 1897. Stilwell founded the Kansas City Southern Railroad, he acquired this peninsula of land from the Kansas City Country Club Hyde Park golf links which had moved to what is currently Loose Park (2nd golf course). Janssen Place seems to have followed George E. Kessler's lead; Kessler designed the street system and residential lots for the Hyde Park neighorhood in 1888. The project was immediately successful and set the tone for Kansas City's fantastic tree-lined streets and also for the great Parks and Boulevards System designed by George Kessler.
Development of the street and 32 housing lots continued through the 1960's, but the important residences were constructed during the years 1900-1920. Many of the homes were built and occupied by lumber and construction tycoons who hired such upper crust Kansas City architects as Wilder & Wight (Thomas), Smith, Rea & Lovitt, and Shephard (Charles), Farrar & Wiser. Janssen Place Historic District was placed on the Historic Register in 1976. If one goes blind to the goofy sprinkling of half dozen 1960's duplexes, this street is simply stunning, and on-par with Massachusetts Avenue (D.C.) and Monument Avenue (Richmond, VA).
The beautifully carved stone Greek Ionic entry gateway at the north end of Janssen Place predicts an encounter with the highest quality of residential architecture. Beyond the gates exist very fine examples of Italianate, Jacobean, Queen Anne, Georgian, Cottage and Shingle Style houses - each with a carriage house and apartment located in a rear corner of the lot, with the same attention to detail and architectural DNA as the primary structure.
I couldn't help notice the near decrepit state of 20 Janssen Place - the William Pickering Residence - Italianate massing and order, with some deep-deep eaves and perhaps early Prairie Style stone banding on the upper floor exterior. I particularly liked the variation of the eave support brackets. Because of plane changes of the exterior wall at the chimney and window locations, the brackets are modified, yet retain the same DNA and "meet" the roof fascia exactly the same as the typical brackets.
It seems as though construction work on this home is in-progress, but maybe at a stand-still. I can't imagine the cost incurred by proper restoration and preservation; then again, to be considered the architectural zenith and pantheon of Kansas City residences, it's money well spent.
Residence for Mr. & Mrs. Gilmer Meriwether, Jr.
1930's - Kansas City, Missouri
The current owners of this home were curious about my loitering - but after seeing my sketch, invited me to view the "blue-prints" in their library. The drafting was superb! Entry portico, columns, entablature, and dormers were design by Clarence E. Shepard and in 1930's added to an original 1910 residence. (Clarence Erasmus Shepard is not to be confused with Charles E. Shepard - see previous post regarding Sophian Plaza.) Clarence Shepard worked with JC Nichols on the Country Club Plaza and designed many residences in the subsequent southward expansion of residential Kansas City, Missouri and the original portions of Mission Hills, Kansas.
Mrs. Gilmer Meriwether seems to have been very involved with Daughters of American Revolution and early historic preservation; she is credited for the "Battle of Westport" historic marker installed in the parkway of her front yard.
It surprised me to learn that Shepard worked in Frank Lloyd Wright's Chicago office for a few years during the Prairie School era - considering neo-classical designs like the above. While under FLW's influence, Clarence Shepard designed some Praire School residences in Kansas City, but he also seems to have been as talented as the versatile architects of his day, fluent in an extremely wide range of architectural languages: including a Mediterranean Revival fraternity house in Madison, Wisconsin.
While working for the Kansas City Star in 1928, and living nearby, Ernest Hemingway would visit with his Aunt Arabell White Hemingway and her architect husband - Clarence E. Shepard - in their home at 5440 State Line Road.
The interior of the home is stunning, including work done recently which seems to "have always been." It goes-to-show that there are talented and respectful designers left in this world; by taking the time to understand the DNA code articulated by Clarence Shepard, the interior designer - and an extremely trust-worthy craftsman builder - have created a very model of harmony and detail consistent with the 1930's master work. Well done; to be appreciated and enjoyed for generations.
Washington Square Park
1923 - Kansas City, Missouri
* * * * * * * * * * * * *
ONE HUNDRED AND NINE
THOUSAND CITIZENS GAVE
THIS STATUE TO THEIR CITY
ARMISTICE DAY - 1925
ARMISTICE DAY - 1932
THE TWO HUNDRETH
ANNIVERSARY YEAR OF THE
BIRTH OF GEORGE WASHINGTON
A line of thirteen bronze stars border the above text incribed into the face of the granite plinth designed by Wight & Wight. "WASHINGTON" and "VALLEY FORGE" are inscribed on separate sides. The original edition of this statue was sculpted in 1906 by Henry Merwin Shrady and installed on the Brooklyn side of the Williamsburg Bridge in New York City. Shrady was self-taught, and created the memorial to General Ulyssess S. Grant at the base of the US Capitol in Washington DC. The Grant memorial is an amazing sculpture group composition - depicting two fiercely animated battle scenes, with cavalry, artillery, horses and cannons - each group placed on either side of Grant seated on his horse, alone. Grant faces due West; as the sun sets, it's as though the brim of his hat his pulled low to shield his eyes from the glare.
I have seen only a few old postcards that depict this sculpture in its original location, at the southwest corner of the square, facing the corner of Pershing and Main Streets, opposite Union Station. The current location doesn't work very well at all; unfortunately there is only one random bench located adjacent to the statue - hardly an invitation to come ponder the grim, yet valiant and pivotal moment captured in Shrady's sculpture.