Friday, June 29, 2007

More Civilizing with Domes

The Chicago Tribune has a tolerable essay on the West Baden Resort, near French Lick Indiana. The former Jesuit Seminary (closed 1966) has a unique past as a Mineral Springs, casino, high-end resort, Seminary, college, and now again a Casino.

Did the Dome civilize French Lick? Not exactly, but it was a noble effort, perhaps more thwarted by the Jesuit meandering attention span than aided by glorious architecture. But what glory!

There is a much smaller, but similar story in Colfax Iowa, of a Franciscan Monastery, Mineral Springs, and now halfway house. I will find some pictures.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

A Stone's Throw Away from a Masterpiece

I was all set to take a shot at the Art Institute of Chicago, loading up with a post about the teardown of the George Maher designed wing (thoe old Goodman Theater) that is making way for the toe of the heinous Milenium Park, then going on to smite them for being the "artistic" advisors to the iconoclasty that nearly ruined Holy Name Cathedral (you cannot ruin the majestic ceiling)..and thus has tormented the Archdiocese for nearly 40 years of destruction of the sacred, when...somehow or another, the Art Institute has pulled in the Lorenzo Ghiberti bronze doors from Florence’s Baptistery.
These are really something else (understatement) and haven't really travelled much (understatement again) over the years and they are coming to town on July 28. Aside from Chicago, there is nothing much like Florence for art and architecture. I'll take the doors at Our Lady of Pompeii vs. the 12 hour + flight to Florence, but welcome the Florentine Masterpiece to the Windy City and recommend all visitors stop over at the Shrine to Our Lady of Pompeii to see a beautiful Chicago flavored version of the Florentine Original..

Monday, June 25, 2007

Civilizing the Suburbs one Dome at a Time

Frederick Hogdon is listed as the architect of City Hall at Highland Park Illinois. Classical Revival in its 1920's splendor, completed in 1930 (at the beginning of the Depression), when the City Planning on the North Shore Train Lines was at its most impressive. I need to go inside this facility (of course it is locked) and see for myself why it has a Dome, but I am sure that the lack of Domes on modern City Halls contributes to the general lack of Civilization in Civic Life.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

North America's Oldest Church?

From religionand

The oldest church in North America may lie beneath a small town in Newfoundland, Canada, according to information pieced together from the research of a historian who died before publishing her seminal work. The late Alwyn Ruddock claims an Italian friar accompanying explorer John Cabot built the church during his second trip to the continent in 1498, according to Evan Jones, a University of Bristol researcher who investigated and pieced together Ruddock's notes.

"To describe Alwyn Ruddock's claims as revolutionary would not be an exaggeration," Jones said. "If Ruddock is right, it means that the remains of the only medieval church in North America may still lie buried under the modern town of Carbonear," reported June 16 in a story carried Thursday on

Ruddock apparently found evidence that while Cabot sailed south to explore the eastern coast, an Italian friar named Fra Giovanni Antonio Carbonaro, who sailed with Cabot in 1498 with a number of other friars, stayed behind and established a religious colony at present-day Carbonear. "It appears that Ruddock believed the Newfoundland church was named after San Giovanni a Carbonara," which carried over as a place name, Jones writes.

Ruddock, a University of London historian, was one of the world's top experts on Cabot's voyages until her death in late 2005.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Msgr. Knox Slideshow

"Father Knox, are not limericks unfit
for a priest to compose?" "Not a bit!"
He'd reply to his foes,
"What makes you suppose
That the Lord is deficient in wit?"

Fr. Milton Walsh makes a fine slideshow of a pilgrimage he has made to several important places in the life of Msgr. Ronald Knox. Fine shots of some simple and some very grand chapels in England.
Buy Evelyn Waugh classic biography (packaged with a biography of Edmund Campion)

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

St. Paul of the Cross Park Ridge

Here is St. Paul fo the Cross in Park Ridge Illinois. Built, suprisingly, in 1951. This may be one of the last Churches in Chicago that in the All-American Style of Joe McCarthy's reflections on European architecture combined with Colonial/Georgian. Again, comes out as purely Chicagoan.
Park Ridge was a relatively new suburb at that time, 1951. Still has a very nice downtown, busy shops and theater. Generally, the Catholic Churches in the Suburbs are not as brawny as the Chicago neighborhood churches, as evidenced by this subtle beauty. Anyone know the architect? It was not on the cornerstone. Sure looks like Joe McCarthy, from a pre WW2 design.
Penalized 1 point for being locked up tighter than a holding cell, in one of the most pedestrian and pleasant suburbs in Chicago...all this with literally hundreds of people walking by the Church Campus, perhaps, like me, imagining the interior of the Church.

Monday, June 11, 2007

More Trials of St. Boniface

The status of the Henry Schlacks Germanic St. Boniface is in play again. Per the Chicago Journal plans for turning this church into senior condos have fallen through.
I continue to suggest to the Archdiocese the following use plans for Historic buildings:

1) Churches remain Churches
2) Schools remain Schools
3) Hospitals are generally not architecturally significant
4) Get cash up front from developers

Saturday, June 09, 2007

More Temples of Commerce

Here is a piece in the New York Times about the Wanamaker Organ in the former Wanamaker Department Store (now Macy's) in Philadelphia. I was about to skip out of the article, and noticed this fine shot of the Palazzo Interior of the department store. Thinking it looked familiar, AIA notes the Architect as DH Burnham of Chicago.

Built by the Los Angeles Art Organ Company for the 1904 St. Louis World's Fair, the Wanamaker Organ was designed by renowned organ architect George Ashdown Audsley, author of The Art of Organ-Building. This heroic instrument had more than 10,000 pipes, and its construction was on such a lavish scale that costs soared to $105,000, bankrupting the builder.

This Philadelphia Temple of Commerce may only be matched by DH Burnhams Chicago Temple, Marshall Fields.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Great Ornament at the Shedd

Forget the slimy aquatics at the Shedd Aquarium; Check out the Grand Ornament. Dan Mitsui over at the Lion and the Cardinal has some great shots of the Graham Probst Anderson's Shedd Aquarium showing fine ironwork and other bastions of traditional architecture (vs. Dirk Lohans tumorous 1991 addition). I always cringe at the Second City inferiority complex of claiming such buildings are "Beaux Arts". Chin up Chicago Cultural Establishments, the building is Chicago Style and awesome, needing no Frenchified qualifiers.

Here is a shot or two. Dan has more on Flickr.
Here is John Shedd's (2nd President of Marshal Fields) Mausoleum from a comment section on Dan's Blog

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Fr. Hugh McGuire Guild

St. James, the grand Patrick Keeley Irish muscle flexer on South Wabash, has established the Fr. Hugh McGuire Guild dedicated to the restoration of this awesome Church. Here are some shots, more details later.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Liturgical Buildings and Protestants

Here is a clip from Msgr Francis Mannion:

"It is no accident that the Protestant congregational churches have historically set art and architecture in a rather secondary and subservient role in public worship. Catholicism will be led inevitably in the same direction if it fails to renew its theological conception of the complex structure of the liturgy."

Well maybe..but with all due respect to Msgr. Mannion, how to explain the Dresden Frauenkirke, shown here. At least as exuberant as a Roman Catholic Church, did the Frauenkirke builders not understand the Lutheran Liturgy, or is the Liturgy a bit more complex than a two sentence proclomation.

For example, the Tiffany stained glass at the Presbyterian Chapel at Lake Forest College (albeit this shot from a secular frame) is glorious in is craftmanship. Is there something about "tinting the light of Christ" that the Presbyterians missed?
Looking for a shot of the flashy Tiffany windows First Congregational Church in Kenosha, a church that (at one time) strictly regulated devotional imagery. By the 1902 window installation, reduced devotional imagery was not being practiced at First Congregational.
Anglicans, Episcopalians? The Stripping of the Altars did not work out all that well, resulting in Anglo Catholics on one side, and Quakers on the other. So I pass this over to the esteemed Dr. McNamara and/or Matt Alderman:
Denis, Matt...what is it the connection between the built liturgy and Protestants?