Thursday, April 24, 2008

Marian Apparition in Wilmette

One of the first Architectural Preservation projects I was ever involved in was at the Loyola Mallinckrodt Campus in Wilmette (the village where I now live). I may have been more naive 6 years ago, thinking that somehow a beautiful, liturgically significant structure could somehow be supported by the Church, but reality set in on this Herman Gaul structure (pictured here), and my eyes were opened quite wide to the nature of the property development "industry" (swindle?).

The Village of Wilmette purchased the property for approximately $25 Million with the intention of "preserving" the main building. I was assured (as were various preservation agencies) that the architectural integrity of the building would be upheld. Almost immediately, the Village set out to de-Christianize the structure, removing any religious adornment, crosses, stained glass etc in the manner of rather careful French Revolutionary.

I was foolish enough to speak up as to how the architectural integrity could be upheld if the decorative elements were removed, and was promptly asked to pay a ransom of $100K to rescue the stained glass from removal. I really liked the stained glass, but not for $100K. The Village and their connected developer eventually dropped all pretense towards preservation, tore out a beautiful set of trees (which really annoyed people in Wilmette), and removed a serene statue of Mary, some graceful Latin verbage (did it say Mary Immaculata?) above the main doorway and eventually uncrossed the Cross which topped the magnificent structure, leaving it as a spire.

My children and I went for a walk earlier this week in the adjoining park, observing the desecrated grottoes and spoiled marygardens that once graced the greenspace, when I was surprised to find that a Mary statuary had indeed returned to one of the grottoes. I had to photograph the grotto this morning, as I am sure the Jabobins will be out later today to remove any possible mention of the Christian tradition in Wilmette.

As my wife pointed out, there is also beautiful statue of St. Francis in a marygarden at the (also beautiful) Presbyterian Church in Deerfield. The statue is exactly where it should be, though, it would bewilder John Knox as to why there is an Italian carved in stone in his yard. But the devout know that there is a reason for these things, and human nature encourages appreciation, regardless of the best efforts of the worst elements of society to abolish what is beautiful about the Liturgy.

Monday, April 21, 2008

St. Pauls in Shreds

Andrew Cusack has show a dissection of a very beautiful church in NewYork. Great comment on old pews

George Kirjanov was a volunteer at St. Paul’s in the days after September 11. “Along with many others, I witnessed how these individuals prayed, wept, pondered and rested on the pews now slated to be taken away. It struck me as I recently passed through St. Paul’s, that these pews resonate with the redeeming power of God’s love.”

I fail to see the liturgical importance of staring at your neighbor during mass.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Tribune on Teardowns

The Chicago Tribune gnashes its teeth about teardowns in Winnetka, the slowing phenomena of removing one house to build another in areas where land values are high.

The preservationists howl a bit, a group or two concerned with coherent neighborhoods doesn't like the juxtaposition of faux tudor with faux georgian buildings. But the main issue is skipped, I think.

Houses being torn down are of lower value than the replacement house built in its place. If it isn't the developer loses money. There are some real eyesores, even in Winnetka, thrown up during the Depression to split a large lot and stave off bankruptcy. The issue becomes, when is it OK to interfere with your neighbors choice in housing. Most of the teardowns should be applauded. What comes in to replace them are generally high quality, if not exceptional architecture, close enough to it.

Any thoughts from North Shore Readers?

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Harold Ickes House Available Again

Probably my favorite house ever owned by a Secretary of the Interior in the Roosevelt administration, is for sale again. Harold Ickes house in Winnetka is up for grabs for just a bit over $6 Million. Dwight Perkins designed it (was he some relation to Secretary of Labor Frances Perkins..can't recall).

Here are a few shots from the real estate brochure.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Schlacks in Topeka

From Denis McNamara

Chicago Architectural legend Henry Schlacks also found time to work in Topeka Kansas, designing Holy Name Church, in a style reminiscent of St. Ignatius in Chicago, and numerous Italian Churches.

Here are some shots from Holy Name from a recent trip.

Friday, April 04, 2008