Home Blog

Rosenwald: Toward a More Perfect Union Film Trailer

0
Julius Rosenwald and Booker T. Washington whose partnership created 5,357 schools and related buildings over a 20-year period in mainly rural areas of 15 Southern states. These schools educated one-third of African-American children of the South in the years before the end of legal segregation and gave them a chance for a better life. Image credit: Rosenwald: Toward a More Perfect Union film

“The extraordinary story of a forgotten philanthropist, a Jewish son of immigrants from Chicago who became a champion for black education with in the Jim Crow South.

“The Campaign to Establish the Julius Rosenwald & Rosenwald Schools National Historical Park
The Campaign seeks to promote the establishment of a multi-site National Park celebrating the life and legacy of Julius Rosenwald, the son of Jewish immigrants who, after achieving great wealth leading Sears, Roebuck and Company, became a visionary philanthropist.

“Julius Rosenwald partnered with African American communities across the South to build schoolhouses for children who otherwise would have had extremely limited access to the public education to which they were entitled. As envisioned by the Campaign, the park will include a visitor center in Chicago to focus on Rosenwald’s overall contributions and a number of restored schoolhouses in several states to be selected by the National Park Service.”

Rosenwald: Toward a More Perfect Union Film Trailer

THE ROSENWALD SCHOOLS

“After joining the Tuskegee Institute Board in 1912, Julius Rosenwald enthusiastically embraced the idea of partnering with African American communities in the South, many of them extremely rural, that were already raising money to build the schoolhouses that state school systems were not providing. Booker T. Washington proposed that part of the funds Rosenwald donated to Tuskegee in honor of his 50th birthday be used for a pilot project to build six schools in nearby Alabama.

“Rosenwald agreed to contribute a portion of the costs of each school as long as both communities and local governments participated. This program led to the construction of 5,357 schools and related buildings over a 20-year period in mainly rural areas of 15 Southern states. Even in the face of poverty and severe discrimination, families contributed land, materials, labor and – dollar for dollar—slightly more than the Rosenwald Fund itself in order to offer education to their children.

“These buildings – most of them one or two-room schoolhouses on country roads surrounded by fields and woods – were a source of great pride and affection in their communities. The schools educated one-third of African-American children of the South in the years before the end of legal segregation and gave them a chance for a better life. Following implementation of the Brown v. Board of Education ruling many fell into disrepair or passed into private hands.” (Julius Rosenwald & Rosenwald Schools National Historical Park Campaign)

Learn more at the Julius Rosenwald & Rosenwald Schools National Historical Park Campaign website

Rosenwald, A film by Aviva Kempner

Lost in America: Photographing the Last Days of Our Architectural Treasures By Richard Cahan and Michael Williams

0
Lost in America: Photographing the Last Days of Our Architectural Treasures by Richard Cahan and Michael Williams. Image credit: Lost in America: Photographing the Last Days of Our Architectural Treasures
Thoughts about Lost in America: Photographing the Last Days of Our Architectural Treasures by Richard Cahan and Michael Williams. Tweet credit: @Lady Topham Catt

“‘In this arresting collection, historians Cahan and Williams spotlight architectural jewels of America’s yesteryear in photographs taken between 1933 and the present by the government-run Historic American Buildings Survey… While a dignified beauty suffuses these pages, a looming sense of tragedy is inescapable as well: ‘a number of these structures were fought for… most slipped away unnoticed.’ It’s a bittersweet record that gives worthy due to the spaces that shaped a bygone era.” — Publisher’s Weekly (Starred Review)

“Lost in America documents the life and death of America’s architectural and historic treasures. The book is based on a remarkable archive created by the Historic American Building Survey, a Works Progress Administration project that still documents the nation’s most important buildings.

“Lost in America focuses on 100 buildings that have been torn down over the past 90 years. Some―like New York’s Penn Station and Chicago’s Stock Exchange―were majestic. Others―like a tiny bridge in rural Montana and a small farmstead razed for Denver’s International Airport―were modest. But they all reflected America’s story. Using haunting black-and-white images by the nation’s top architectural photographers, the book presents a timely look at what we’ve lost.”

Hardcover
208 pages
Online price $40.00

Also available: a special slipcase with a Richard Nickel photo of Chicago’s Republic Building signed by the authors in a limited edition of 100.
Online Price: $100.00

Link to purchase Lost in America: Photographing the Last Days of Our Architectural Treasures by Richard Cahan and Michael Williams at CityFiles Press

Before the Wrecking Ball Swung, A new volume of photographs taken for the Historic American Buildings Survey captures the program’s wide influence on architectural culture, Martin Filler, The New York Review, 11/9/23

 

The Newberry presents A Night at Mister Kelly’s Through July 20, 2024

0
Caption Photo Credit: ABC

A Night at Mister Kelly’s
Mar 21–Jul 20, 2024
At the Newberry – Trienens Galleries
Admission for Newberry exhibitions is free. No advance registration required.

“Relive a night on the town in the mid-twentieth century.

“Mister Kelly’s was one of the hotspots of Chicago nightlife in the 1950s through the mid-1970s. Located on Rush Street in the city’s Gold Coast neighborhood, the club was a welcoming venue where people could be entertained by top-shelf jazz and comedy talent and see rising stars who later gained international fame. Names like Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan, Mort Sahl, Steve Martin, Lily Tomlin, and Richard Pryor regularly graced the marquee of Mister Kelly’s. And club founders and brothers George and Oscar Marienthal thought of everything to ensure a quality experience for their patrons. This exhibition draws on the Mister Kelly’s Collection at the Newberry to re-create the excitement of a night at Mister Kelly’s.

“A Night at Mister Kelly’s is supported by the Rosaline G. Cohn Endowment for Exhibitions and the Foundation for Advancement in Conservation. The Newberry also thanks David Marienthal for his gift of the Mister Kelly’s Collection.

Live at Mister Kelly’s documentary film screenings (Registration required)

“At the Newberry – Ruggles Hall

  • March 23, Doors open 1pm, Screening 1:30pm
  • April 20, Doors open 1pm, Screening 1:30pm
  • June 8, Doors open 1pm, Screening 1:30pm
  • June 29, Doors open 1pm, Screening 1:30pm

Public Programs

  • “Nightlife on Rush Street, May 11
  • Comedy in Black and White, featuring Tim Reid and Tom Dreesen, May 16
  • Cabaret Night, June 13 (Winter’s Jazz Club)
  • Make Music Chicago, June 21 (Washington Square Park)

Adult Education

  • “People Get Ready: Chicago’s Rhythm and Blues Culture, 1958-1967, starting March 21
  • Inside Jokes: A Serious Investigation of Comedy, starting April 6

Programming for A Night at Mister Kelly’s is generously supported by the D&R Legacy Fund.”

Learn more and register at The Newberry

‘A Night At Mr. Kelly’s’ At The Newberry Offers Trip Back To Days Of Storied Chicago Nightclub; The exhibition, which opens Thursday, tells the story of the boundary-pushing Rush Street club that hosted legendary performers from Ella Fitzgerald and Barbra Streisand to George Carlin and Richard Pryor, Gwen Ihnat, Block Club Chicago, 3/20/24

Pritzker Military Museum & Library presents The War of 1812: Countering Peril on the High Seas and at Home October 19, 2023 to July 27, 2024

0
The War of 1812: Countering Peril on the High Seas and at Home exhibit chronicles the conflict from an American perspective primarily through illustrations of figures, battles, and landscapes. Get up close and personal as you transcend back to a time when you can witness monumental milestones within a forgotten era of historical struggle. Image credit: Pritzker Military Museum & Library / Naval History and Heritage Command

The War of 1812: Countering Peril on the High Seas and at Home exhibit chronicles the conflict from an American perspective primarily through illustrations of figures, battles, and landscapes. Get up close and personal as you transcend back to a time when you can witness monumental milestones within a forgotten era of historical struggle.

Pritzker Military Museum & Library
104 S. Michigan Ave.
Chicago, IL 60603
312-374-9333

Tuesday – Saturday
10:00 am to 4:00 pm
Closed Sunday & Monday

The War of 1812: Countering Peril on the High Seas and at Home exhibit at the Pritzker Military Museum & Library

Learn more at Pritzker Military Museum & Library website

Climate Action Museum presents Climate Action Hero Awards April 20, 2024

0
Caption Photo Credit: ABC

“Climate Action Museum will host the first annual Climate Action Hero Awards on April 20th. We are excited to recognize Chicago’s very own superheroes with a night that will be out of this universe! Trade superpowers, learn origin stories, and come together with other guardians of the climate including our Special Honoree Tom Skilling.

“Special Honoree: Tom Skilling ⚡️

6:00 PM — Open Bar, hors d’oeuvres, Silent Auction
7:30 PM — Awards Ceremony
8:30 PM — Reception Resumes
9:00 PM — Auction Closes, Live Music, DJ & Dancing with the Stars!

Hors d’oeuvres and drinks will be served from 6:00 PM – 9:30 PM
Cape check will be available
CAM is a Kryptonite-Free facility
Marvel and DC both welcome

“The Climate Action Museum is located at 300 S Riverside Plaza.”

Link to purchase tickets

Illinois Tech presents Book Launch of “Building, Breaking, Rebuilding. The IIT Campus and Chicago’s South Side” April 25, 2024

0
Mies Birthday Soirée: Ludwig Mies van der Rohe’s 138th birthday. Image credit: Mies van der Rohe Society

“Join the Paul V. Galvin Library, the Office of Community Affairs, Professor of Architecture Michelangelo Sabatino, and contributing authors as we launch the publication of Building, Breaking, Rebuilding. The IIT Campus and Chicago’s South Side (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press; 2024).

“Lionel Kimble, Amy M. Mooney, and Mindy C. Pugh will present their chapters while Sabatino provides an overview. This event will take place on Thursday, April 25, from 5–7:30 p.m. in the Schulz Auditorium of Michael Paul Galvin Tower with a walking tour of campus and live jazz at The Bog immediately following. Minors will not be served, and an RSVP is required at community@iit.edu.

“The Beginnings of the Armour Institute Campus” by Mindy C. Pugh, Ph.D. (University Archivist, Illinois Institute of Technology)

“A Plan in Defense of Culture” Race, Space, and Cultural Activism, 1930s–1950s by Lionel Kimble Jr., Ph.D. (Associate Professor of History and Africana Studies, Chicago State University)

“A Bronzeville Muse: Archibald Motley’s Portrait of Edna Powell Gayle” by Amy M. Mooney, Ph.D. (Professor of Art History, Program Coordinator for Art History Art | Design Department, Columbia College)

Agenda
5–6 p.m.—Cocktail Reception

6–7 p.m.—Panel Presentation and Discussion

7:30–8 p.m —Walking Tour

8–11 p.m.—Live Jazz/Speakeasy Set with Ryan Nyther at The Bog

Minors will not be served, and an RSVP is required at community@iit.edu

Learn more at Illinois Tech’s Website

Chicago YIMBY: Lost Legends #12: The Home Insurance Building

0
Home Insurance Building, 1885, William Le Baron Jenney, NE corner of S. LaSalle and W. Adams Streets. Demolished in 1931. Photo credit: Wikipedia Public Domain
Home Insurance Building, 1885, William Le Baron Jenney, NE corner of S. LaSalle and W. Adams Streets. Demolished in 1931. Photo credit: Chicago Architectural Photographing Co., Archival Image Collection, Ryerson and Burnham Archive at the Art Institute of Chicago, CBE: 1 A; BRC: R-3889 A, 78001
Home Insurance Building, 1885, William Le Baron Jenney, NE corner of S. LaSalle and W. Adams Streets. Demolished in 1931. Photo credit: Archival Image Collection, Ryerson and Burnham Archive at the Art Institute of Chicago, BLC: 59499, 59499
Home Insurance Building, 1885, William Le Baron Jenney, NE corner of S. LaSalle and W. Adams Streets. Demolished in 1931. Photo credit: Archival Image Collection, Ryerson and Burnham Archive at the Art Institute of Chicago, BLC: 59500, 59500
Home Insurance Building, 1885, William Le Baron Jenney, NE corner of S. LaSalle and W. Adams Streets. Demolished in 1931. Photo credit: Archival Image Collection, Ryerson and Burnham Archive at the Art Institute of Chicago, BLC: 59498, 59498
Home Insurance Building, 1885, William Le Baron Jenney, NE corner of S. LaSalle and W. Adams Streets. Demolished in 1931. Photo credit: Archival Image Collection, Ryerson and Burnham Archive at the Art Institute of Chicago, BLC: 59497, 59497
Photo showing primitive form of skeleton construction, taken during demolition. Home Insurance Building, 1885, William Le Baron Jenney, NE corner of S. LaSalle and W. Adams Streets. Demolished in 1931. Photo credit: Archival Image Collection, Ryerson and Burnham Archive at the Art Institute of Chicago, BLC: BLC: 52450, 52450

“In this edition of ‘Lost Legends,’ we look at what is often considered the worlds first skyscraper, the Home Insurance Building. The groundbreaking building stood 10 stories at a height of 138 feet tall at the time of its initial completion in 1885. In 1891 two floors were added bringing the building to the height of 180 feet.

“Located at what is now known as 135 S. La Salle Street at the corner of Adams and La Salle and designed by architect William Le Baron Jenney, the structure was a result of massive population growth, high office space demand, and new urban development strategies after the Great Chicago Fire of 1871.

“The building is widely considered the first skyscraper because of Jenney’s use of cast iron to form a steel-frame skeleton along with its impact on building conventions. Although it didn’t hold the title of the tallest structure in the city, a distinction held by the original Chicago Board of Trade Building, the Home Insurance Building’s legacy as the first skyscraper stems from its unique height-to-width ratio at the time, with many buildings achieving their tall heights through spires.

“In 1931, the Home Insurance Building was razed to pave the path for the monumental Field Building, now recognized as 135 S. La Salle Street. At the time, the Field Building claimed the title of the largest office building in the city.

“The Home Insurance Building represented a significant milestone in skyscraper construction, despite not meeting the criteria of most modern definitions, which typically classify a skyscraper as a building standing at least 150 meters or 490 feet tall. The Home Insurance Building established groundbreaking building practices that became defining elements of 20th-century architecture. Its pioneering use of a steel skeletal frame revolutionized structural engineering, paving the way for taller and more resilient buildings. This innovative approach set new standards for construction methods, shaping the development of modern skyscrapers and reshaping urban landscapes globally.” (Billingsley, Chicago YIMBY, 4/2/24)

Read the full story with 3D Modeling at Chicago YIMBY

Chicago Magazine: History Rewritten, A Portage Park illustrator preserves Chicago’s past one letter at a time

0
Granville Picture Framing and Gallery Arts closed in 2017, but its signage served as a source for one of Steve Shanabruch’s fonts. Photo credit: Lyndon French / Chicago Magazine
Storefronts from Englewood (above) to West Town (right) have inspired Shanabruch’s typefaces.
Photography: (buildings) Michael Zajakowski / Chicago Magazine
Schulze Baking Company Building, 1914, John Ahlschlager & Son, 40 E. Garfield Boulevard. Image credit: Preservation Chicago by artist Steve Shanabruch

“On the southeast corner of the five-way intersection of Fuller and Loomis Streets and Archer Avenue in Bridgeport is a prototypical Chicago apartment building. The three-story structure is modest in scale, its bricks various shades of sandy brown and reddish orange, with a series of helix-shaped accents crowning the façade. Today, the structure is nondescript, unassuming: a Chicago apartment complex, nothing more, nothing less.

“When I first saw the building in August 2020, after my partner and I moved to Bridgeport from the North Side, there was more. On the ground floor, storefront signage — maroon lettering on creamy peach tiles — promised passersby ‘Ice Cream’ and ‘Drugs,’ offerings once made by R.V. Kunka Pharmacy, a neighborhood drugstore. Even though the shop no longer existed, that distinctive lettering — asymmetrical and curvy, the K’s formed by a thick stem, a squat lower arm, and a slender, almost half-U-shaped upper arm — was a welcome sight in my new neighborhood, a reminder that I had moved to a place with real history.

“Yet it was not long for the world: By that October, the display had been painted over, and soon any indication of the building’s history had been stripped bare, the exterior made generic for whatever new business might wish to move in. The loss of the R.V. Kunka storefront is one of countless stories we could tell about how the city changes; whether you’ve called Chicago home for five years or 50, you’ve seen things come and go, from single buildings to entire blocks. But still, seeing that signage removed, leaving behind only some tan-colored bricks that were beneath it, left me with an unexpected feeling of mournfulness.

“So I was delighted when I discovered that some tangible form of the old sign lived on, at least in the creative imagination of artist Steve Shanabruch. For Shanabruch, best known for the series of Chicago neighborhood prints he began in 2013, that kind of cultural memory has always been important. Today, his prints — faux tourism placards for dozens of neighborhoods and Chicago landmarks, inspired by WPA-style travel posters — are beloved around the city, with nearly 70 available for purchase. But that is only a part of the work Shanabruch has undertaken to celebrate Chicago and its inhabitants. To honor places like R.V. Kunka and other idiosyncratic pieces of the city’s fabric, Shanabruch has turned to an underappreciated facet of Chicago’s history for inspiration: typography.

“It’s an iterative, intuitive undertaking, Shanabruch says. He chops up different letters into new combinations, with the letters A, O, H, and R proving especially useful for disassembly. His process happens exclusively on Adobe Illustrator, and if you look at his digital workbook for the Starsiak font, you see that some characters emerged in one or two attempts, while the letter G took 10 tries.

“Shanabruch, 42, was born in Beverly and has been in Chicago his whole life, except for the three and a half years he lived on the West Coast after graduating from St. Xavier University in Mount Greenwood. He and his wife moved back to Chicago in 2008 and now call Portage Park home. His fonts project has become a pleasant diversion when he needs a respite from his day job creating designs for local nonprofits — it offers a different sort of mental challenge.

“Shanabruch takes his inspiration from photographs, both archival and contemporary. Several designs started with suggestions by fellow Chicago history enthusiasts on Twitter. Of the 13 fonts he has completed so far, which are free to download from his website (thechicagoneighborhoods.com), all but two were drawn from text at a specific place. One of those two, Park District, is a nod to the midcentury green entrance signs in many of the city’s parks; the other, Snickers, a design based on a vintage advertisement for the candy bar, is a tribute to the recently shuttered Mars Wrigley factory in Galewood, a Spanish Revival–style structure built in 1929 that may soon become a city landmark.

“Learning to read and appreciate storefront signs, registering their unique properties and what they might say about the city’s past, allows us to dig a level deeper, conferring unexpected insight. For those who use Shanabruch’s fonts, as I’ve done in zines, on invites, and even on my business card, his work honors a changing city, showing appreciation for Chicago’s singular charm. While the neighborhood prints have gathered more attention, his typefaces are a way to capture the city despite its ephemeral nature, a way to rekindle a spark of community memory, preserving the small flash of recognition that can bring a place back in the mind’s eye, if not in brick and steel.

“‘Growing up, you take things for granted, and then one day they’re gone,’ Shanabruch says. ‘You remember that cool sign, that cool restaurant, and even if it wasn’t anything of great value or whatever in your life, at least you could go by it and see it, and it would be part of your existence.’

“The R.V. Kunka Pharmacy served its last customer in 2009, as the neighborhood establishment was crowded out by CVS and Walgreens. Shanabruch almost scrapped the font honoring the store, shelving it for six months as he struggled to re-create its intricacies to his liking before he figured out a workable design, which he released in June 2021. And while I caught only a glimpse of the storefront in 2020, a welcoming neighborhood presence now lost to history, I know its legacy is just a few clicks away, there to help conjure whatever city tale might come next.” (Howard, Chicago Magazine, 2/27/24)

Read the full story at Chicago Magazine

 

Hyde Park Herald: Hyde Park Stories: Darrow Bridge

0
Darrow Bridge in Jackson Park, Photo credit: Serhii Chrucky / Esto

“The Darrow Bridge, shuttered by the city since 2013, is historic. Beyond its association with Clarence Darrow, the attorney and radical activist, the bridge is also one of the very few surviving elements of Frederick Law Olmsted’s original design for the park and the 1893 World’s Fair.

“The bridge, which connects the eastern and western sides of the park just south of the Columbia Basin, sits on elegant stone abutments above a curved wingwall with decorative end posts. It’s the product of two giants in park design. As Tim Samuelson, Cultural Historian Emeritus for the city’s Department of Cultural Affairs, said in an email, ‘the dramatic curving swoop of the stone bridge embankment was a remarkable early effort in melding Daniel Burnham’s creative understated modernism with the Frederick Law Olmsted concepts of human discovery and wonder amidst a naturalistic environment.’

“When Burnham and the Olmsted firm redesigned the park, first for the World’s Columbian Exposition and then in restoring the park, the bridge remained a prominent feature. After the fair, the bridge deck was widened. Burnham and Root’s original ornamental iron railings were replaced by the simplified design used in other bridges during the fair. The relocated iron railings, which are still there, were a design created under the direction of Charles B. Atwood, Burnham’s chief of design for the Columbian Exposition.

“Atwood designed more than 60 buildings during the fair, including the much-admired Palace of Fine Arts, which was saved first as the Field Columbian Museum and then, remade in stone, as the Museum of Science and Industry. The bridge’s original 1880 curving stone embankment combined with the recycled World’s Fair railings still lifted the viewer up as Olmsted intended, but now framed this new vista to the north. As the May 23, 1895, Tribune noted, Olmsted was designing the lagoon south of the museum to be a formal frame for the museum, with the bridge standing exactly on the main axis of the museum, reflecting the symmetry of Atwood’s design.

“One of the bridge’s biggest fans was Clarence Darrow. In 1897, Darrow moved to 60th Street to stay with his brother-in-law after his divorce. In 1903, he moved with his second wife, Ruby Hammerstrom, to 1537 E. 60th Street. They lived on the top floor where he could see the bridge from his front bay window. Legend has it that he didn’t just go to the bridge to meditate, he also practiced his famous oratory on the fish in the lagoon.” (Morse, Hyde Park Herald, 3/6/23)

Read the full story at Hyde Park Herald

Piecing Together the Green Mill Puzzle

0
Green Mill on June 17, 1930, Photo credit: on Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago’s archives. Green Mill in 2024. Photo credit: Robert Loerzel

“Let’s try piecing together same basic facts about the place: Where exactly was it during its early years? And how did that change as time went on? And who owned it?

“What follows is a chronological outline of key moments … supported with cartographic and photographic evidence … and sprinkled with some puzzles and unanswered questions. It’s a tangled and complicated history.

“✶ The pictures above include a photo from the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago’s archives. Taken on June 17, 1930, it shows the Green Mill building. As you can see, a drugstore occupied the building’s corner at that time. And Wolf’s Jewel Shop was at 4802 Broadway, where the front portion of the Green Mill is located today.

“This is one of many pieces of evidence showing that the Green Mill wasn’t located during the Prohibition Era exactly where it is now.

“In the close-up below, you can also see the sign for the Green Mill—above the entrance at 4806 North Broadway, where the Fiesta Mexicana Restaurant is today. That was the venue’s main entrance during this era.

“Let’s begin with a brief orientation on where the Green Mill Cocktail Lounge is located today (and where the jazz club has been for nine decades).

“Immediately north of the restaurant, the Green Mill’s iconic façade faces east at 4802 North Broadway. As you walk in, the nightclub’s front portion—including the bar—fills the space north of the restaurant. But as you get farther back, the room widens, extending south to Lawrence Avenue. The bar essentially wraps around the smaller restaurant space.” (Loerzel, 3/4/24)

Read the full story at RobertLoerzel.com