African Bead Museum

 Posted by on July 25, 2017
Jul 252017

Dabls’ MBAD African Bead Museum
6559 Grand River Avenue
Detroit, Michigan

Dabbles African Bead Museum

*African Bead Museum

I had the absolute privilege to speak with Olayami Dabls, the creator of Dabls’ African Bead Museum (pictured above), and he told me some of his story.  He began this project during the Clean Up Detroit program, a project to help clear all of the empty lots of the trash and building parts left after many homes were bulldozed.

This house, now in the hands of an architect, was once owned by the City.

The N’kisi Iron House, now in the hands of an architect, was once owned by the City.

The African Language Wall

The African Language Wall

He repeated often, how he was surprised the city had not shut him down and how happy he was to just keep doing what he was doing.  He did point out that an architect had purchased the building next door from the city. Olayami offered to remove all the art, the architect was happy with it just the way it is, and I for one am very glad that he saw the value in what this folk art brings to this part of town. I highly doubt the city is going to stop him anytime soon as the museum has received a $100,000 grant from theKnight Foundation . If you are interested in helping with matching funds you can do so here.

African Bead Museum

Photo from African Bead Museum website

There is a very complete bead shop on the first floor of 6559 for shopping to your heart’s content.

African Bead MuseumOlayami Dabls’ visual story telling uses a wide range of materials. His work uses references from African material culture to tell stories about the human condition. Using iron, rock,  wood, and mirrors, Dabls found that these four materials are primary building blocks that speak universally to all cultures.

The audience watches

“Yeah, the students are made out of rocks. The exhibit is Iron Teaching Rocks How to Rust.  And, of course, rocks cannot rust, but you can teach people to believe pretty much anything you want them to believe. And they will.” Olayami Dbals.  From an interview to Michigan Radio

The teacher


A mad hatter's tea party?

A mad hatter’s tea party?

Detroits African Bead Museum
Dabls moved to Detroit with his parents from Mississippi because of the political and social unrest in the South during the 60s.

“In the years between 1975-1985, Dabls joined the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History as a curator and artist-in-residence. There, he learned how challenging it was to talk about the civil rights movement because in talking about emotionally charged history, there is no fixed perspective, only the memories, and experiences of millions of individuals. This inspired him to create the African Bead Museum as a space for communal understanding through his own sculptures and his collection of African material culture.”

African Bead Museum Detroit

*African Bead Museum

*African Bead Museum in Detroit

*African Bead Museum of Detroit

*African Bead Museum in Detroit

*African Bead Museum

Thank you Olayami Dabls for bringing such beauty and brightness to a small corner of Detroit.

For those of you that are curious, and have gotten to this point and wondered, MBAD are the initials of Olayami’s children.  Their names are: Makada, Barkan, Alake and Davida, and please, forgive me all four of you if I have spelled them wrong.

Pewabic Pottery

 Posted by on July 24, 2017
Jul 242017

1025 Jefferson Avenue
Detroit, Michigan


Pewabic PotteryPewabic Pottery is a ceramic studio and school founded in 1903 by artist Mary Chase Perry Stratton and Horace James Caulkins.

Caulkins was considered a high-heat and kiln specialist, and developed the “Revelation kiln”.  Caulkins invented the kiln to help with his dental supply business, he then sold his kilns to other dentists so they could fire enamel for their patients.

Mary Perry Stratton was “the artistic and marketing force. Mary Stratton established the ceramics department at the University of Michigan and taught there. She also taught at Wayne State University. In 1947, she received the highest award in the American ceramic field, the Charles Fergus Binns Medal.

The collaboration of two and their blend of art and technology gave the pottery its historic place in the International Arts and Crafts movement exemplifying the American Craftsman Style.

Pewabic Pottery

The pottery continues in operation today and was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1991.

The word Pewabic is derived from the Ojibwa (or Chippewa) word “wabic”, which means metal, or “bewabic”, which means iron or steel, and specifically referring to the “Pewabic” Upper Peninsula copper mine where Ms. Stratton’s father worked and where she spent time taking long walks with him.

Pewabic PotteryUnder Mary Stratton’s artistic leadership, Pewabic Pottery employees created lamps, vessels, and architectural tiles. They were known for their iridescent glazes and architectural tiles.

Mary Stratton passed away, at the age of 94, in 1961. In 1964 Caulkins’ son, Henry deeded the Pewabic building and property to Michigan State University, which operated the site as part of its continuing education program until 1979.

This was not a successful venture and eventually a nonprofit, the Pewabic Society, Incorporated was established to help bring back the company.

In 1981 the Pewabic Society took ownership of Pewabic restoring the building and revitalizing Pewabic’s design and fabrication program. At that time the Society also grew the mission to include education and the creation of a museum, archive and exhibition programs.

The overhead wheels drive a system that lies underground stirring powdered clay with water to create the many types of clays Pewabic uses. This system is original to the building

The overhead wheels drive a system that lies underground stirring powdered clay with water to create the many types of clays Pewabic uses. This system is original to the building

After the clay is removed from the mixing area it is run through this giant bladder to separate as much water as possible from the clay to make it a viable product to mold.

After the clay is removed from the mixing area it is run through this giant bladder to separate as much water as possible from the clay to make it a viable product to mold.

Pieces ready to be fired are placed on racks to head to the kilns

Pieces ready to be fired are placed on racks to head to the kilns

There are several different types of kilns at Pewabic

There are several different types of kilns at Pewabic, this large one lifts up as a box so that you can load pottery from all four sides, the box then comes down over the racks, allowing firing.

Many pieces have glaze applied, prior to firing, by a sprayer, this is not only faster, but ensures a consistent color throughout

Many pieces have glaze applied, prior to firing, by a sprayer in this booth, this is not only faster but ensures a consistent color throughout

Today the company is a vital part of the community. The company’s most notable work, which was done under Mary Stratton, is the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C.. The project consisted of arches outlined with iridescent Pewabic tile, huge ceramic medallions set in the ceiling, and fourteen Stations of the Cross for the crypt.

Most of the tiles that Pewabic manufactures are created in molds

Most of the tiles that Pewabic manufactures are created in molds

Just a very small sampling of the molds

Just a very small sampling of the molds

Much of the work at Pewabic is done on potters wheels, the bags on the shelves hold the many different types of clays that are used

Much of the work at Pewabic is done on potters wheels.

Contemporary installations include Comerica Park, home of the Detroit Tigers, Detroit Medical Center Children’s Hospital, and the Herald Square in New York City.

Pewabic also gives classes for budding and professional potters and ceramists.

Pewabic also gives classes for budding and professional potters and ceramists.

The Saarinen House

 Posted by on July 23, 2017
Jul 232017

Academy Way
Bloomfield Hills, Michigan
Saarinen House

A tour of the Saarinen house is an amazing look into the perfectionism of Eliel Saarinen and his design beliefs and senses.  The house combines  Arts and Craft movement ideas with Art Deco elements for a stunning and harmonious work of art.

Saarinen House at Cranbrook


Saarinen House

Decorative elements are integral to the architecture and include patterned brickwork and leaded glass windows with triangles, square and rectangles.

The home was built concurrently with sculptor Carl Milles next door for a cost $140,000 for the two.  The typical cost of a home at that time in Detroit was $6250.

The home was completely restored in 1994, after having been changed by subsequent owners from 1950 to the 1990s.

Saarinen House

The living room is anchored by a rug created and woven by Eliel’s wife and weaving artist Loja Saarinen. The pattern is meant to echo the brickwork of the building.

All of the wooden furniture was crafted at Cranbrook by Swedish cabinet maker Tor Berglund using Eliel’s designs. The woods included greenheart, African walnut, rosewood, and ebony.

Saarinen Living Room

The sofa is based on a Finnish tradition in which rugs were draped onto the floor so they could be folded up over the sitters feet and lap for warmth.  In this case, Saarinen used the rug decoratively rather than functionally.

The andirons were designed by Saarinen are stylized peacocks.

The andirons, designed by Saarinen, are stylized peacocks.

The weaving above the fireplace is, again, by Loja Saarinen.  The tiles on the fireplace were designed by Saarinen but they were made by Mary Perry Chase Stratton of Pewabic Tile Company.


Above the credenza is a painting of Loja Saarinen done by her husband Eliel

Saarinen House

Silver designed by Saarinen

Saarinen Globe TAble

The globe table is the one piece in the house not designed by Berglund, it was, instead, designed by Saarinen’s son-in-law Robert F. Swanson.  The lighting in the house while designed by Saarinen it was all manufactured by Edward F. Caldwell and Company.

Saarinen Book Room

The Book Room is stunningly separated from the living room by a simple change of color on the molding.

Saarinen Dining Room

The table is covered in Saarinen designed silver pieces and pottery for Cranbrook Academy and the various Cranbrook schools

The dining room is one of the more spectacular rooms in the house. It is a square room made octagonal by the four corner niches. The table has an octagonal base but a circular top. The unique thing about the table is the four arch shaped extension leaves that came out from the exterior perimeter that allows the table to remain circular when expanded from an intimate 4 to a large 14.

Gold leaf covered dome lighting saarinen

The light is a gold-leaf-covered dome.

Greta Skogster

The wall hanging on the left was designed and woven by Finnish artist Greta Skogster.  It depicts birds in a tree.  It has open weave panels that mimic the panels of the dining room and allow you to see the birch wood behind the hanging.

saarinenThrough the door is the butler’s pantry with a Monel metal countertops, a Frigidaire and the personal pottery of the Saarinen’s. The kitchen is on the second floor and is not open to the public.

Saarinen upstairs

This small, blue furniture, alcove sits on the landing of the second floor and is where breakfast was brought to Eliel and Loja at 7:30 am by the housekeeper. The second floor contains the master bedroom and bath with four additional rooms and a guest bath. The other rooms have been modified into a small apartment for the use of the museum curator and are not open to the public.

2nd floor saarinen house

The doors on this floor had stencils on them by Saarinen daughter, Pipsan Swanson.  When the home was restored it was impossible to determine what they were so the restorer, Director Gregory Wittkopp,  utilized a pattern that Pipsan designed for the Kingswood School for girls, which is part of Cranbrook.

Saarinen master bedroom

Son, Eero Saarinen was 20 years old when his parents asked him to design the furniture for the bedroom. This would be one of his first commissions and the beginning of a successful architecture and furniture design career.

saarinen Eero

Loja Saarinen’s dressing table, designed by son Eero, the lamp and mirror were designed by his father Eliel.

Saarinen Studio

The Saarinen studio, located on the first floor, is broken into three sections.  The alcove, dubbed the “cozy corner” by Loja, was the main entertaining and work area.

Art pieces by daughter Pipsan

Art pieces by daughter Pipsan

Eero Saarinen

The above photo is the far end of the studio.  The center of the studio consisted of drafting tables and large windows for light.

The exquisiteness of this home and the incredible, masterful attention to detail is found throughout all of the buildings designed by Saarinen on the Cranbrook campus.

Saarinen was the chief architect of Cranbrook.  During his tenure, he designed Cranbrook School for boys (1925-1929), Kingswood School for Girls (1929-1931), Cranbrook Institute of Science (1935-1938), Cranbrook Academy of Art (1925-1942) and Cranbrook Art Museum and Library (1938-1942).  He also served as the Academy’s first president from 1932 – 1946 and headed the Department of Architecture and Urban Design from 1932-1950.

The home is operated by Cranbrook Art Museum and is open for tours from May through October.

The Spirit of Detroit

 Posted by on July 21, 2017
Jul 212017

2 Woodward Avenue
Detroit, Michigan

Spirit of Detroit

This stunning sculpture is the best-known piece of public art in Detroit.  It’s location and presentation was well thought out.

The backdrop was designed by the architectural firm of Harley, Ellington and Day, also responsible for the Veterans Memorial Building in Detroit.

The sculpture itself is by Detroit area sculptor Marshall Fredericks. Commissioned in 1955 for $58,000, the sculpture was dedicated in 1958.

The seated figure represents the spirit of humanity. In his left hand, he holds a gilt bronze sphere, with emanating rays, symbolizing God, in his right hand he holds a group of people embodying all human relationships.

Spirit of DetroitThe plaque in front of the sculpture says  “The artist expresses the concept that God, through the spirit of man is manifested in the family, the noblest human relationship.”

Along the back is the passage “Now the Lord is that Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is Liberty”.

The round reliefs are the seals of the City of Detroit and the County of Wayne.

Marshall Fredericks was born of Scandinavian heritage in Rock Island, Illinois on January 31, 1908. His family moved to Florida for a short time and then settled in Cleveland, Ohio, where he grew up. He graduated from the Cleveland School of Art in 1930 and journeyed abroad on a fellowship to study with Carl Milles (1875–1955) in Sweden.

In 1932, he was invited by Carl Milles to join the staffs of Cranbrook Academy of Art and Cranbrook and Kingswood School in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, teaching there until he enlisted in the armed forces in 1942.

There is now a Marshall Frederick’s Museum in Saginaw, Michigan.

Ringold Alley’s Leather Memoir

 Posted by on July 17, 2017
Jul 172017

Ringold Alley
Between 8th and 9th Streets
Harrison and Folsom

Prior to the AIDS crisis, Ringold alley served as one of the go-to places for gay men to rendezvous after the numerous gay bars along Folsom Street (the “Miracle Mile”) closed for the night. Until the 1990s, Ringold Street continued to play a major role in San Francisco’s leather and gay SOMA scenes. Leather Memoir is a project to honor the history of this area.

The plaque on Ringold Alley at 9th Street

“Leather Memoir” consists of several custom fabricated features.  A black granite marker stone mounted at 9th and Ringold features an etched narrative, which includes a reproduction of Chuck Arnett’s long-gone mural, and an image of Mike Caffee’s Leather David statue.

Ringold Alley

This is the city’s backyard. . . . An early morning walk will take a visitor past dozens of small businesses manufacturing necessities; metal benders, plastic molders, even casket makers can all be seen plying their trades. At five they set down their tools and return to the suburbs. . . . A few hours later, men in black leather . . . will step out on these same streets to fill the nearly 30 gay bars, restaurants, and sex clubs in the immediate vicinity. Separate realities that seldom touch and, on the surface at least, have few qualms about each other. –Mark Thompson (1982) – The first paragraph of the plaque.


Rubble of the Tool Box at 4th and Harrison (1971), Chuck Arnett's notorious mural stood mutely over the ruins for almost two years

The Tool Box, at 4th and Harrison, was the prototypical San Francisco leather bar. Its walls were covered with murals by artist Chuck Arnett, whose work graced many other leather institutions over the years. A photo of the bar with many of the regulars standing in front of the Arnett mural appeared in LIFE magazine’s watershed 1964 photo-essay “Homosexuality in America.”  This photo shows Arnett’s mural overlooking the rubble of the Tool Box. (1971)


The Leather Pride flag, a symbol for the BDSM and fetish subculture

The paving around the granite installations is the Leather Pride flag, a symbol for the BDSM and fetish subculture

The first leather bar on Folsom Street was Febe's, which opened July 25, 1966. In 1967 A Taste of Leather, one of the first in-bar leather stores, was established at Febe's by Nick O'Demus. Mike Caffee worked in and did graphic design for many leather businesses. In 1966, he designed the logo for Febe's and created a statue that came to symbolize the bar. He modified a small plaster reproduction of Michelangelo's David, making him into a classic 1960s gay biker: "I broke off the raised left arm and lowered it so his thumb could go in his pants pocket, giving him cruiser body language. The biker uniform was constructed of layers of wet plaster. . . . The folds and details of the clothing were carved, undercutting deeply so that the jacket would hang away from his body, exposing his well-developed chest. The pants were button Levis, worn over the boots, and he sported a bulging crotch you couldn't miss. . . . Finally I carved a chain and bike run buttons on his [Harley] cap." (Caffee 1997) This leather David became one of the best-known symbols of San Francisco leather. The image of the Febe's David appeared on pins, posters, calendars, and matchbooks. It was known and disseminated around the world. The statue itself was reproduced in several formats. Two-foot-tall plaster casts were made and sold by the hundreds. One of the plaster statues currently resides in a leather bar in Boston, having been transported across the country on the back of a motorcycle. Another leather David graces a leather bar in Melbourne, Australia. One is in a case on the wall of the Paradise Lounge, a rock-and-roll bar that opened on the site once occupied by Febe's.

The first leather bar on Folsom Street was Febe’s, which opened July 25, 1966. Artist Mike Caffee worked in and did graphic design for many leather businesses. In 1966, he designed the logo for Febe’s and created a statue that came to symbolize the bar. He modified a small plaster reproduction of Michelangelo’s David, making him into a classic 1960s gay biker: “I broke off the raised left arm and lowered it so his thumb could go in his pants pocket, giving him cruiser body language. The biker uniform was constructed of layers of wet plaster. . . . The folds and details of the clothing were carved, undercutting deeply so that the jacket would hang away from his body, exposing his well-developed chest. The pants were button Levis, worn over the boots, and he sported a bulging crotch you couldn’t miss. . . . Finally, I carved a chain and bike run buttons on his [Harley] cap.” (Caffee 1997) 

–Gayle Rubin, excerpted from “The Miracle Mile: South of Market and Gay Male Leather, 1962-1997” in Reclaiming San Francisco: History, Politics, Culture (City Lights: 1998)

Granite stones, recycled from San Francisco curbs, were cut, polished and engraved to honor community institutions.

Ringold Alley

*Ringold Alley

This 2016/2017 $2 million project was designed by Miller Company Landscape Architects. A variety of community leaders were consulted on the design, including anthropologist and leather historian Gayle Rubin, Demetri Moshoyannis executive director of Folsom Street Events, and the late Jim Meko, former chair of the Western SoMa Citizens Planning Task Force.

The project,  officially known as the San Francisco South of Market Leather History Alley, was the brain child of Jim Meko, who, prior to his death in 2015, had long pushed for a rezoning of Western SOMA that would honor the area’s leather history. A bootprint honoring Meko can be found near the black granite explanation plaque.

Commemorative plaques

Made from the left and right soles of a pair of Dehner boots owned by Mike McNamee, the founder and former owner of Stompers, the 28 commemorative markers feature the names and short bios of 30 individuals. They can be found on both sides of the alley

If you are interested in learning more about the SOMA leather scene Found SF has written a concise and interesting story of the neighborhood, which you can read here.

Jeffrey Miller (ASLA) is credited as the lead artist on the project.  Miller is the principal and founder of Miller Company. He holds an M.L.A. from the University of Massachusetts School of Landscape Architecture.

Ringold Alley Boot PrintsThe people honored with boot prints are:
1. Jim Kane, community leader, and biker
2. Ron Johnson, poet, and co-founder of the Rainbow Motorcycle Club
3. Steve McEachern, owner of the Catacombs, a gay and lesbian S/M fisting club
4. Cynthia Slater, founder of the Society of Janus
5. Tony Tavarossi, manager of the Why Not
6. Chuck Arnett, iconic leather artist, Toolbox muralist
7. Jack Haines, Fe-Be’s and The Slot owner
8. Alexis Muir, a transwoman who owned SOMA bars and baths
9. Sam Steward, author, and tattooist
10. Terry Thompson, SF Eagle manager
11. Philip M. Turner, founder of Daddy’s Bar
12. Hank Diethelm, The Brig owner
13. Ambush co-owners Kerry Brown, Ken Ferguson, David Delay
14. Alan Selby, founder of the store Mr. S Leather and known as the “Mayor of Folsom Street”
15. Peter Hartman, owner of 544 Natoma art gallery and theater
16. Robert Opel, Fey-Way Studios owner
17. Anthony F. (Tony) DeBlase, creator of the leather flag
18. Marcus Hernandez, Bay Area Reporter leather columnist
19. John Embry, founder, and publisher of Drummer magazine
20. Geoff Mains, author of “Urban Aboriginals”
21. Mark Thompson, author of “Leatherfolk” and co-founder of Black Leather Wings
22. Thom Gunn, poet
23. Paul Mariah, poet, printer and activist
24. Robert Davolt, author, and organizer of SF Pride leather contingent
25. Jim Meko, printer, and SOMA activist
26. Alexis Sorel, co-founder The 15 and Black Leather Wings member
27. Bert Herman, author, and publisher
28. T. Michael “Lurch” Sutton, biker and co-founder of the Bears of SF

Ethereal Bodies

 Posted by on July 15, 2017
Jul 152017

San Francisco General Hospital
1001 Potrero Avenue
Potrero Hill
Parking entry on 22nd Street

Etherial Bodies by Cliff Garten at SFGH

Titled Ethereal Bodies, this piece, done in 2015, is by Cliff Garten. It consists of nine undulating stainless steel sculptures lit by multicolored LED lights. The installation’s stainless steel rods range in height from 14 to 22 feet tall. The surface of each is finely worked to achieve the most interesting interaction with sunlight and the LED lights at night.

Garten received a Master of Fine Arts in Sculpture from the Rhode Island School of Design and a Master of Landscape Architecture with Distinction from the Harvard Graduate School of Design, his studios are in Venice, California.

Cliff Garten at SFGH


Photo courtesy of

Photo courtesy of

Cliff Garten has another piece in Mission Bay of San Francisco that you can view here.

Healing Hearts

 Posted by on July 15, 2017
Jul 152017

San Francisco General Hospital
1001 Potrero Avenue
Potrero Hill

The plaque that accompanies these pieces reads: San Francisco General Hospital is known as the "heart of the city" and the phrase inspired this series o sculptures. Mother with Children in the entry pavilionand the smaller Hearts figures sited along the walkway celebrate the crucial role the hospital plays in preserving and maintaining the community's health and well-being

The plaque that accompanies these pieces reads: San Francisco General Hospital is known as the “heart of the city” and the phrase inspired this series of sculptures. Mother with Children in the entry pavilion and the smaller Hearts figures sited along the walkway celebrate the crucial role the hospital plays in preserving and maintaining the community’s health and well-being

The pieces were all created by sculptor Tom Otterness who was born 1952 in Wichita, Kansas. He is a prolific public art sculptor who has been creating whimsical satirical pieces since the 1970s.

SFGH Heart sculptures

*Tom Otterness

Otterness employs the “lost wax” process to cast his bronze figures, which range from monumental to palm-sized. About his sculptures, the artist says, “I try to make work that speaks a common language that people understand, a visual language that doesn’t intimidate them.”

sculptures at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital and Trauma Center

*Hearts at SFGH

The sculptures are part of the San Francisco Art Commission Collection and cost $700,000.  Otterness has other pieces on a building in the Union Square area that you can see here.

Hearts at SF General Hospital

*Sculpture at San Francisco General Hospital

*Hearts at SF General

Moscone Park

 Posted by on July 11, 2017
Jul 112017

Moscone Park
1800 Chestnut Street
Marina District

Moscone Park SF

This Leatherback Sea Turtle and the Pink Short Spined Starfish in the playground of Moscone Park were gifts to the San Francisco Arts Commission from the Friends of Moscone Park

These bronze sculptures were the work of Jonathan Roberson Beery.


Jonathan Beery is a California native and studied at the California State University in Long Beach.

The tiled seating was also a gift of Friends of Moscone Park and was a joint project between the artist and children of the neighborhood.  The bench cost approximately $9500.

Moscone Park and Playground

*Tile Bench at Moscone Park and Playground

Birds in the Mission

 Posted by on July 8, 2017
Jul 082017

In Chan Kaajal Park
17th and Folsom
Mission District

Condor at In Chan Kaajal Park San Francisco

The plaque that accompanies this piece reads: The California condor is North America’s largest bird. Depicted life-size it has a wingspan of 9 1/2 feet. Now an endangered species, the condor is a scavenger that eats large amounts of carrion, thus playing an important part in the cycle of life. It is a significant bird to many California Native American groups and is featured in many of their traditional stories.

There are two California birds represented in this Mission district park.  They are painted water-jet cut steel panels created by Carmen Lomas Garza.

San Francisco-based artist was born in 1948 in Kingsville, Texas. She attended Texas Arts and Industry University (now Texas A&M) and received a BS in art education.  She also holds a Master of Education and a Master of Arts degree.

She is well known for her paintings, ofrendas and for her papel picado work inspired by her Mexican-American heritage. Her work is a part of the permanent collections of the Smithsonian the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, the National Museum of Mexican Art, the San Jose Museum of Art, the Mexican Museum the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts,  and the Oakland Museum of California, among other institutions.

The plaque that accompanies this panel reads: The great blue heron depicted here life-size, has a wingspan of approximately 6 1/2 feet.  Mission Creek that runs beneath this site historically provided a habitat and hunting ground for the great blue heron in its search for frogs, fish, gophers and other animals.  Here the bird carries a leafless branch, the building materials for its nest.

The plaque that accompanies this panel reads: The great blue heron depicted here life-size, has a wingspan of approximately 6 1/2 feet. Mission Creek that runs beneath this site historically provided a habitat and hunting ground for the great blue heron in its search for frogs, fish, gophers and other animals. Here the bird carries a leafless branch, the building materials for its nest.

In Chan Kaajal is Mayan for our little neighborhood.  Lopez has a second public art piece at the San Francisco airport.  You can read about that piece here.

Esmeralda Slide Park

 Posted by on April 29, 2017
Apr 292017

Winfeld and Esmeralda
Bernal Heights
April 2017

esmeralda slide parkIn the 1970s a group of volunteers, with some help from the city, conceived and created Esmeralda Slide Park.  That volunteer organization later became the Bernal Heights Neighborhood Center.

New York Times article published in 2010 noted that “At the park’s dedication party in 1979, a shrieking Mayor Dianne Feinstein slid down her chute, racing and defeating the district supervisor, Lee Dolson. Mayor Willie L. Brown Jr. enjoyed the plunge at a rededication in 1998, wearing a three-piece suit and a fedora. Tom Ammiano, the District 13 assemblyman and a nearby resident, has also enjoyed gleeful descents.”

Esmeralda Street Stairs and Park

A $14,000 crowd funding project was formed by Joan Carson and graphic designer Nancy Windesheim for the tile installation called The Locator at the top of Esmeralda Slide Park.    The locator was completed in 2017.

The Locator Tile Installation

Designed by Windesheim the tile installation was done by Rachel Rodi. The design features a compass surrounded by “Esmeralda Slide Park” with arrows pointing in 4 directions: Cortland Avenue, Bernal Hill, Downtown, and Mission Street. The color blue signifies the sky, the greens represent open space and trees, and the textured grey rings suggest the surrounding urban landscape.

The view from the top of the slides

The view from the top of the slides

Originally schooled as a painter and ceramic sculptor, Rachel Rodi has been a practicing artist for over twenty five years. Rodi graduated in 1977 with a Bachelor of Arts from Regis University, Denver. She is presently the Senior Staff Instructor at Institute of Mosaic Art in Berkeley, California.

Nancy Windesheim holds a BA in Graphic Design from UCLA, where she focused on typography.

The Locator Tile installation

Civil Rights Monument

 Posted by on March 31, 2017
Mar 312017

Capitol Park
Richmond, VA
March 2017

Richmond, VA

The Virginia Civil Rights Memorial sits on the grounds of Capitol Square in Richmond VA and commemorates the protests which helped bring about school desegregation in the state.

Unveiled in 2008 this $2.8 memorial was designed by Stanley Bleifield.

Civil Rights Monument, Richmond VA

Oliver Hill and Spottswood Robinson

From the Richmond Times-Dispatch: “A Commonwealth once synonymous with defiance of court-ordered school integration celebrated the latest symbol of its often-difficult embrace of equality with the Virginia Civil Rights Memorial in 2008.

It represents a key moment in the history of the civil-rights movement in Virginia.

Civil Rights Monument Richmond VAThe statue spotlights the African-American students in rural Prince Edward County whose 1951 walkout to protest their run-down school led to a lawsuit that was folded into the challenge that triggered the 1954 Brown vs. the Board of Education decision by the U.S. Supreme Court banning segregated public schools.

Among the figures in the memorial is Oliver W. Hill Sr. holding a rumpled legal brief aloft as he stands shoulder to shoulder with law partner Spottswood W. Robinson III. They took on the case of the Prince Edward County students who protested the shabby condition of their school.

Civil Rights Monument Richmond VABarbara Johns was the one who called the school strike in 1951 and she is a key figure in the sculpture. Her statement “it seemed like reaching for the moon” is boldly featured.

The student protests garnered support from the local community, benefiting from the moral leadership of the Rev. L. Francis Griffin, known as the “Fighting Preacher” and is also featured in the memorial.”

Civil Rights Monument Richmond VA

The Reverend Francis Griffin

The article seemed, in my opinion, to gloss over some of the reasons for the strike, here is a very, very short elaboration of the situation. R.R. Moton High School, an all-black high school in Farmville, Virginia, founded in 1923, suffered from terrible conditions due to underfunding. The school did not have a gymnasium, cafeteria or teachers’ restrooms. Teachers and students did not have desks or blackboards, and due to overcrowding, some students had to take classes in an immobilized, decrepit school bus parked outside the main school building. The school’s requests for additional funds were denied by the all-white school board.

Civil Rights Monument in Richmond VAAmerican Sculptor  Stanley Bleifeld (1924 – 2011) was born in Brooklyn, New York, Bleifeld’s many awards included: Sculptor of the Year in Pietrasanta and the World, in 2004, the Henry Hering Memorial Medal of the National Sculpture Society, (he was president of the Society from 1991 to 1993), the Medal of Liberty from the American Civil Liberties Union, the Shikler Award from National Academy of Design, and many others.

He was a National Academician in Sculpture, and was an active member of the National Academy of Design, helping to set policy for the organization.

Regular readers of this blog will recognize one of his statues in San Francisco, The Lone Sailor

Civil Rights Monument in Richmond VA

Reconciliation Triangle

 Posted by on March 28, 2017
Mar 282017

East Main Street
Richmond, VA
March 2017

Richmond VA

Reconciliation Triangle has a fascinating and worldwide story.

The statue represents Richmond, Virginia’s place in slave history.  With the addition of Liverpool, England, and the republic of Benin, West Africa, identical statues by Liverpool artist Stephen Broadbent are in place in each country marking the three points of the infamous slave trade triangle. The statues symbolize a commitment to new relationships based on honesty, forgiveness and reconciliation.

In 1999, President Mathieu Kerekou of the Republic of Benin convened an international gathering at which he apologized for Benin’s part in selling fellow Africans to slave traders. Also in 1999, Liverpool City Council apologized for that city’s prominent role in the trade.

In 2007 Virginia’s General Assembly voted unanimously to express profound regret for the involuntary servitude of Africans, and called for reconciliation among all Virginians.

This is part two of Reconciliation Triangle, part one, the impetus for this project, also has a fascinating back story which you can read all about here.

Reconciliation TriangleStephen Broadbent is a British sculptor, specialising in public art. He was born in Wroughton, Wiltshire in 1961 and educated at Liverpool Blue Coat School. In Liverpool he studied sculpture for four years under Arthur Dooley.


Woodward Garden

 Posted by on February 4, 2017
Feb 042017

Woodward Gardens
Duboce and Woodward Street
Mission/South of Market
Woodward Gardens

On January 19, 1873, 12,000 people showed up at Woodward’s Garden in the Mission District to watch Frenchman Gus Buislay and a small boy soar aloft in a hot air balloon. The man who made it happen was Robert B. Woodward.

Woodward had made his fortune in the grocery store business. In 1849, he opened a store right off the waterfront to serve the ever-increasing number of people flooding into the Port of San Francisco for the Gold Rush.

With the acumen of a savvy businessman, he realized the ’49er economy was moving from supplies to service, and so in 1852 Woodward opened What Cheer House, a hotel and club for men known for its good food, safe accommodations and no alcohol policy.

Two women stand ready to enter the reptile house at Woodward Gardens in 1880. (Photo credit: San Francisco Public Library)

Two women stand ready to enter the reptile house at Woodward Gardens in 1880. (Photo credit: San Francisco Public Library)

Woodward’s family left Providence, Rhode Island, in 1857 to join him in California. Woodward purchased four acres of land and a house that had belonged to General John C. Fremont. The property was located on the west side of Mission Street between 14th and 15th Streets. He and his family lived in Fremont’s house while he worked to construct a mansion on one of the many hillocks in the area.

A year-long shopping trip to Europe would necessitate the construction of a gallery and conservatory on his property. Here he could show off the copies of famous sculptures he had had made, as well as paintings and other curiosities he had collected. But the true show piece of Woodward’s estate was its fantastic gardens.

Woodward began these gardens during the original construction of the house. Supplied in 1861 with plants, animals and artifacts from Europe, soon the gardens came to be referred to as the Central Park of the West. In 1864, he opened the estate to friends and acquaintances.

As the garden’s fame spread, members of the public began to stand outside for hours on Sundays, hoping to get a peek of the grounds. In 1866, with a little nudging from his daughter the grounds were open to the public. Woodward moved his family to the Napa Valley and dedicated his time to expanding his San Francisco Woodward Gardens for the enjoyment of its visitors.

Woodward Gardens Art Gallery 1836 (Photo credit: San Francisco Public Library)

Woodward Gardens Art Gallery 1836 (Photo credit: San Francisco Public Library)

Recognizing the need for a constantly changing array of attractions, Woodward once again headed to Europe, bringing back crates of items ranging from the fashionable to the odd. Sailors he had befriended over the years also brought him curiosities from around the world.

It was said that Woodward Gardens held the finest zoo on the west coast, with camels, zebras, buffalo, deer and even kangaroos. There was also a bear pit that held both grizzlies and black bears.

In 1873 Woodward opened an aquarium with sixteen tanks that held from 300 to 1000 gallons of fresh or salt water. The lighting of the tanks allowed visitors to see marine creatures in their natural environment. Visitors were entertained by the crabs, lobsters, shark, cod, flounders, rays, and the occasional ink-spitting octopus.

An amphitheater-that held 5000 people-presented shows featuring Delhi Fire-Eaters, Japanese Acrobats, Roman chariot races and Major Burke and his Rifle Review.

Camel Rides at Woodward Gardens 1880

Camel Rides at Woodward Gardens 1880

Woodward’s home became the Museum of Miscellanies-a pair of 10,000-year-old mastodon tusks graced the front door. The house contained a mineral display as well as fossils and zoological specimens. At one point park goers could view the “largest gold nugget ever found”  from the Sierra Butte mine, a privilege they purchased with an additional .25 cents.

There were several restaurants on the grounds, and, just like What Cheer House, they did not serve alcohol.

General Ulysses S. Grant visited the Garden in 1879. That same year Robert B. Woodward passed away. Although his sons took over the running of Woodward Gardens, they lacked their father’s showmanship and could never match his enthusiasm for the place.

When the park closed in 1894, all the artifacts were sold at auction. Developers stepped in, graded the land, divided it into 39 separate lots and sold them-to become homes for the working class of San Francisco.

Plaque on the outside of Woodward Gardens Restaurant, now missing. (Photo credit: San Francisco Public Library)

Plaque on the outside of the now closed Woodward Gardens Restaurant, plaque is now missing. (Photo credit: San Francisco Public Library)

While many people have never heard of Woodward Gardens, or could not conceive of a four-acre park filled with such wonders and curiosities in the Mission District, some signs hint to its existence. Today, Woodward Gardens Restaurant sits at the corner of Mission and 13th. Alas, the restaurant has no wandering ostriches or playful seals.

Looking Northeast from Robert Woodward’s house, 1865. (Photo credit: San Francisco Public Library)

Looking Northeast from Robert Woodward’s house, 1865. (Photo credit: San Francisco Public Library)

The Mission Street Entrance to Woodward Gardens, 1862. (Photo credit: San Francisco Public Library)

The Mission Street Entrance to Woodward Gardens, 1862. (Photo credit: San Francisco Public Library)

Woodward Gardens, 1874. (Photo credit: San Francisco Public Library)

Woodward Gardens, 1874. (Photo credit: San Francisco Public Library)

Gus Buisley’s balloon often bumped the windmill when ascending. (Photo credit: San Francisco Public Library)

Gus Buisley’s balloon often bumped the windmill when ascending. (Photo credit: San Francisco Public Library)

Shadow Kingdom

 Posted by on January 27, 2017
Jan 272017

16th at Missouri
Potrero Hill

Dagget Park Public ARt San FranciscoThe plaque at the site reads: This artwork is inspired by the history of Mission Bay, a 5,000 year-old tidal marsh that was once the habitat of a rich array of flora and fauna.  Growth of the city in the 19th century brought shipyards, warehouses and railroads and this part of the bay was eventually filled with sand and dirt from nearby development, as well as debris from the 1906 earthquake. The five panels that form Shadow Kingdom evoke this layered history. Ship masts intersect with topographical and architectural references. Some of the plants and animals that once lived here, like elk, beaver, salmon, sandpipers and pickle weed are also depicted.  When viewed from a distance the sculpture takes the shape of the California grizzly bear, a species that last roamed San Francisco in the mid-1800s. As the sun arcs across the sky, these once endemic species are projected as shadows onto the terrain they once inhabited.

Adriane Colburn Shadows public artAdriane Colburn was the selected artist for this project.  She holds a BFA in Printmaking, from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, 1997 and a MFANew Genres from Stanford University, 2001.

Public Art in San Francisco, Shadows, Dagget ParkColburn describes her work: In my practice I seek to reimagine maps and photographs of places (and networks) that are obscured by geography, scale or the passing of time. At the core of this is a fascination with the way that our attempts to make sense of the world around us through maps, data and images result in abstractions that are simultaneously informative and utterly ambiguous. I create my installations by transforming images through a system of physical removal, cutting out everything except imperative lines, thus creating constructions that are informed by voids as much as by positive marks. Through this cutting and display, an intricate array of reflective shadows results. All of my projects are based heavily on research and have a strong connection to place. My work tends to have a fragile appearance, however, my recent projects are constructed primarily of steel and aluminum, giving them a high level of permanence while maintaining their delicacy.

Grizzly Bears Daggett Park Adrian Colburn San Francisco Public Art *1-dsc_0111The San Francisco Art Commission budget for this project was $193,000. The piece sits at the entry of a 453-unit development by Equity Residential, on the edge of what is now called Dagget Park.

San Francisco Public Art Bear

Mosaics of Balboa Park

 Posted by on December 13, 2016
Dec 132016

Ocean and San Jose Avenue
Mission Terrace/Outer Mission

Tile Bench in Balboa Park San Francisco Public Art

There are several mosaics throughout the new Balboa Park Playground.  This bench sits on the exterior of the playground and explains about the restoration of the park, it also lists all the donors that helped  to make the project possible.

The mosaic work is by Rachel Rodi. 

Tile stairways in Balboa Park San Francisco Public Art

Students from Denman Middle School and Lick Wilmerding helped to design and build the mosaics on the two stairways, under the supervision of Rachel Rodi.

Mosaics at Balboa School in San Francisco Public Art

Rachel received a BA in Ceramics from Regis University, Denver Colorado and studied at the Institute of Mosaic Art in Oakland.  She now has her own studio in Oakland.

These flower mosaics line the entryway walk.

These flower mosaics line the entryway walk.


Balboa Park’s Art Fence

 Posted by on December 10, 2016
Dec 102016

Ocean and San Jose Avenue
Mission Terrace/Outer Mission
Art Fence for Balboa Park in San Francisco Public Art

Balboa Park became part of the San Francisco Recreation and Park Department in 1908.  In the 1950s a swimming pool and baseball fields were added.  Then in 1953 a 3,000 person soccer stadium was included in the park.  The 1970s brought a tot park, and then age and neglect brought about the need for a complete overhaul.

The playground was completely rebuilt by the neighbors, along with tennis courts in 2008, as of 2016, the city is still trying to find the budget to upgrade the swimming facilities, but the park itself is welcoming and well used.

The soccer stadium, Boxer Stadium, is the only public soccer-specific stadium in San Francisco. It is the primary home of the century old San Francisco Soccer Football League, and is also the home stadium of PRO Rugby team San Francisco Rush.

The playground area is surrounded by an art fence by local artists and husband and wife team, Krista Kamman Lowe and  Matt Lowe.

Krista has a BA in Industrial Design from College of the Arts in Oakland, Matt has a BA in Architecture from Kansas State University.  They live with their two children in San Francisco.

Art Fence Public Art in San Francisco Balboa Park

If you have the pleasure of venturing out, there are wonderful picnic tables and chairs amongst the playground.  There is also, Roxie Food Center, a  fabulous local deli, on the corner where you can grab a sandwich.


 Posted by on December 7, 2016
Dec 072016

1600 Owens
Mission Bay, San FranciscoMonarch by Cliff Garten Public Art in San Francisco

Cliff Garten Studio is internationally recognized for creating integrated public art projects which collaborate with urban design, architecture, landscape architecture and engineering to challenge the assumptions of how public places are built and used. Through a diversity of materials, methods and scale, the studio is committed to exploiting the artistic and expressive potential of public spaces and infrastructure in varied urban and natural contexts.

Monarch by Cliff Garten, Public Art in San Franicisco

It is necessary to get close to the sculpture to realize it is thousands of small butterflies

Cliff Garten has a Masters of Fine Arts from Rhode Island School of Design and a Masters of Landscape Architecture from Harvard University GSD. He has served as a visiting critic and lecturer at Harvard University, University of California-Los Angeles, University of Southern California and the Southern California Institute of Architecture.

Photo courtesy of Cliff Garten Studio

Photo courtesy of Cliff Garten Studio

The sculpture references the mating ritual of the Monarch butterfly. The sculpture is 26’ tall and created from approximately 900 laser cut, stainless steel butterflies. From dusk to dark the sculpture is illuminated with changing colors mapped to its surface.

The Park Emergency Hospital

 Posted by on August 29, 2016
Aug 292016

811 Stanyan
Golden Gate Park

San Francisco Emergency Hospital The Park Emergency Hospital is part of a system of Emergency Hospitals that existed in San Francisco during the early 1900s.  There were four of them.  Park, Central (in Civic Center and still functioning), Alemany and Harbor (since torn down).

This particular hospital has been designated City Landmark #201. Built in 1902, at a cost of $8488, it functioned as a hospital until 1978.  It remained an ambulance station until 1991, and it now serves as offices for the Rec and Park District.

San Francisco architecture Emergency HospitalsThe architect was Newton J. Tharp.  The San Francisco ran his obituary on May 13, 1910:

THARP, NEWTON J. An architect, died in New York City, May 12, 1909. He was born in Mount Pleasant, Iowa, July 28, 1867, and with his parents moved to California in 1874. He spent four years at the San Francisco School of Design and in 1896 went to Europe to study. At the time of his death, he was City Architect of San Francisco. Among the public buildings designed by him in this capacity are the Hall of Justice, the Infirmary, and a group of hospital buildings.

Sudden Death of City’s Architect, Newton J. Tharp
Succumbs After Brief Illness While in New York City

Stricken with pneumonia while in the full vigor of manhood, Newton J. Tharp, city architect of San Francisco, succumbed to the disease yesterday at the Knickerbocker hotel in New York city, and gloom now pervades his home in this city, the municipal offices, where he was respected as an honorable and able official, and the Bohemian club, where he had been styled a “prince of good fellows.” Engaged in the study of modern eastern municipal structures, the knowledge from which he was to use for the benefit of San Francisco, the deceased thought little of his own personal comfort or health, and as a result he leaves a widow prostrated with grief, and a host of friends stunned by the news of his death.

It seems like the irony of fate that when he was attacked by the disease which caused his death Newton Tharp was engaged in the work of studying the modern hospitals of New York and gathering data for use in drawing plans for a hospital where San Francisco’s poor could be restored to health.

Studying Hospitals

Having completed the plans for all of the other municipal buildings contemplated, Tharp was sent east by the board of supervisors April 25 to gather data on the construction of hospitals. He was accompanied by his son, Laurence, 13 years of age. Prior to his departure he talked enthusiastically of his plans with friends at the Bohemian club, of which he was a member.

The architect wrote daily to his wife, who remained at their home, 1600 Lyon street until a week ago, when the letters ceased. The next heard from him was a telegram to Mrs. Tharp, received Saturday night, which read:

“Have been slightly ill, but will be all right tomorrow. Do not mind Laurence’s letter.”

The letter referred to was written by his son, and stated that Tharp was very ill. The first warning of real danger came Tuesday evening in a telegram from Ernest Peixotto of this city, but now in New York, to his brother, Edgar Peixotto, well known local attorney and lifelong friend of Tharp.

Widow Is Overcome

Mrs. Tharp was told that her husband was seriously ill and was preparing to go to him yesterday, when messages announcing his death were received simultaneously at the office of the board of supervisors and by Edgar Peixotto. The shock proved too much for the widow’s strength, and she collapsed. She is attended constantly by her sister Mrs. E. M. Polnemus of Los Angeles, who is here on a visit.

Flags were lowered to half mast on all municipal buildings as soon as the news reached here, as well as at the Bohemian club. Grief and astonishment were expressed on all sides.

Edgar Peixotto, at the request of Mrs. Tharp, took charge yesterday of the disposition of the remains. It was decided last night to have the body cremated in New York, and have the ashes brought home.

Newton J. Tharp was born in Petaluma [Iowa] 42 years ago, and was one of eight children. He spent his early years in that town [Petaluma], and was a playmate of Luther Burbank, the renowned scientist. During his youth he went to Chicago, where he took up the study of architecture and painting. Later he went to Paris, where he attended the institute of Beaux Arts. Having traveled in Europe for two years he returned to the United States and practiced his profession as an architect in New York and Chicago, but decided to settle in San Francisco in 1889.

Tharp was married to Miss Laura Hanna in Los Angeles in June, 1892, and is survived by her and their young son.

Well Known as Architect

The deceased architect was first employed by the late Edward R. Swain in this city; and on the death of the latter perfected the plans for the present ferry building. He became the senior member of the firm of Tharp & Holmes and designed the Dewey monument in Union square, as well as the Grant building, the Sloane building, the Whittier residence, the beautiful Martin home in Ross valley and other well known structures. He became city architect in October, 1907, and planned all of the new municipal structures now under course of erection.

Tharp was one of the most beloved members of the Bohemian club, of which he was a prominent member. He acted as sire of the midsummer jinks of 1904, when the “Quest of (unreadable)” was the theme. He was also a member of the American Institute of architects and a director of the San Francisco art institute.

Funeral Services for Newton Tharp: Throngs of Friends of the Late City Architect Crowd Grace Episcopal Church: Ashes Laid to Rest in Columbarium Odd Fellows’ Cemetery

In the presence of a large gathering, which included Mayor Taylor and the city officials, funeral services were read over the remains of Newton J. Tharp, the late city architect in Grace Episcopal church, yesterday afternoon.

Besides the officials there were present many of his old friends from the Bohemian club and from among the ranks of his profession, who completely filled the church and, by their numbers gave evident indication of the esteem in which Tharp had been held.

The funeral oration, delivered by Rev. David Evans the rector of the church, was extremely brief. “He shall be remembered as a man by his virtues and his characteristics,” said the speaker, “and as a laborer and workman by the material monuments of his profession.”

The services opened with the playing of Mendelssohn’s “Funeral March” by H.J. Stewart, the church organist. The Bohemian club quartet sang, “Lead Kindly Light” and “Abide With Me.” The urn containing the ashes was surrounded by a wealth of flowers, among them being wreathes from Mayor Taylor, Tharp’s office and from the classmates of Laurence Tharp. At the conclusion of the services the ashes were removed to their final resting place in the columbarium at Odd Fellows’ Cemetery.

An Ambulance in front of the hospital when it first opened.

An Ambulance in front of the hospital when it first opened.

The hospital after the 1906 earthquake

The hospital after the 1906 earthquake

Anima by Jim Sanborn

 Posted by on August 24, 2016
Aug 242016

1700 Owens Street
Mission Bay, San Francisco

Anima by Jim Sanborn Public Art in San Francisco

This piece, in Mission Bay, is titled Anima, and is by American Sculptor Jim Sanborn (1945 – ). Sanborn is best known for creating the encrypted Kryptos sculpture at CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia, a piece of work that has captured the imagination of cryptologists around the world for years.

He attended Randolph-Macon College, receiving a degree in paleontology, fine arts, and social anthropology in 1968, followed by a Master of Fine Arts degree in sculpture from the Pratt Institute in 1971. He taught at Montgomery College in Rockville, Maryland, and then for nine years was the artist-in-residence at Glen Echo Park.

Anima by Jim Sanborn, Public Art in San FranciscoThemes in his work have included “making the invisible visible”, with many sculptures focusing on topics such as magnetism, the carioles effect, secret messages, and mysteries of atomic reactions.

Anima by Jim Sanborn Public Art in San Francisco

There is a sign near the piece with the translation and the origination of the texts that appear in the art piece.

Texts include part of the Human Genome Project, an excerpt from Dr. Leslie Taylor, ND, a quote from Louis Pasteur, text from Greek Physician Claudius Galen (150 AD), text from Roman historian Pliny (79 AD), and a quote from Qi Bo (450 BC) physician to the Chinese Emperor.

The piece sits in front of a building for biotech companies, which might explain the choices for the quotes.

Central Emergency and Detention Hospital

 Posted by on August 23, 2016
Aug 232016

50 Dr. Tom Waddell Place
previously 50 Lech Walesa
previously 50 Ivy

San Francisco Central Emergency and Detention Hospital architecture

In the alley, somewhat behind the Public Health Building that dominates the corner of Polk and Grove in San Francisco’s Civic Center is a small building that was once the Central Emergency and Detention Hospital.

San Francisco Public Health Building Architecture

The building was built in 1917 prior to the larger building that surrounds it. Notice how the Central Hospital sits by itself in this hand colored postcard.  It is the yellow building on the far left.

According to the 1918 Municipal Record Volume 11 the building included a court room, and also housed the Social Services Department of the Public Health Department.

The architect is not known, although it was most likely a city architect. The contractor was Anderson and Ringrose, they were paid $78,140 for their work.  Other work included J.W. Burtchell, lighting for $1575 and Burnham Plumbing for sanitizers at a cost of $3,575.

The building was opened by Mayor Ralph Jr, with an accompanying band on March 6, 1917 at 2:00 pm.

The Emergency Hospital system was a vital part of the cities health services. 

According to a SF Department of Public Health 1920 report  The “Central Emergency hospital is maintained, which cares for all cases that require detention or restraint, and is also equipped to do any major surgery that may be brought there from one or the other ambulance stations when the case requires special attention.”

A 1924 Report from the Department of Health shows how the building was becoming outdated and over crowded. “We have to recommend that portion of the property extending from the Central Emergency Hospital to Van Ness Avenue as a fit and proper site for an institution adequate to house the activities of the present day and provide against the future when this city will have over a million population.

Our present quarters are damp, dark, overcrowded and unhealthy, and no other business or activity, excepting a Board of Health, would be permitted to occupy a building such as we are compelled to use.”

Today the center is called The Tom Waddell Health Center (or Clinic).  It is still associated with the San Francisco Department of Public Health providing health care to mostly poor, disadvantaged, and homeless persons.

San Francisco's Emergency Hospital System Architecture

Overflow X

 Posted by on August 19, 2016
Aug 192016

1500 Owens Street
Mission Bay, San Francisco

Overflow X by Jaume Plensa, Public Art in San FranciscoOverflow X  is a stainless steel sculpture by Jaume Plensa.

Jaume Plensa was born in 1955 in Barcelona, where he studied at the Llotja School of Art and Design and at the Sant Jordi School of Fine Art.

He has been a teacher at the École nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris and regularly cooperates with the School of the Art Institute of Chicago as a guest professor.

Public Art of San Francisco

This particular design is not new.  Plensa has been utilizing the seated figure created from letters in various installations around the world.  They range in size to as large as 33 feet.

A significant part of Plensa’s production is set in the context of public sculpture with installations in Spain, France, Japan, the U.K., Germany, Canada, and the U.S.A.

Plensa has created numerous public works around the world, including his biggest project, The Crown Fountain in Chicago’s Millennium Park.

Elevators and Marine Engines

 Posted by on August 18, 2016
Aug 182016

235 First Street
Foundry Square

235 First Street Architecture of San Francisco

This wonderful building, sitting amongst all of the surrounding high-rises brings joy to the eye and a question to the mind.

The City of San Francisco has labeled this the H.N. Cook Belting Company designed by Ward and Blohme.  However the American Architect and Architecture Magazine, Volume 113 disputes that fact with this photograph.

The H.N. Cook Belting Company Architecture of San Francisco

The photo was accompanied by a full length article in the January to June 1918 issue.

The Western Architecture and Engineering Magazine – Volume 40-41 states that the building is the home to the B.C. Van Emon Elevator Company.

San Francisco Architecture B.C. Van Emon Elevator CompanyThis 1915 article stated that the B. C. Van Emon Elevator company had been in the building for several years.

Throughout the 1930s the building was occupied by the Thomson Machine Company with ads in Motor Boating Magazine. They left their mark with the ghost sign barely legible above the door.

Unfortunately the architect of the building, and the actual date of construction has been impossible for this writer to find.

None the less, it is a great building holding its own amongst the glass and steel that towers over it.

The Metropolitan Laundry Company

 Posted by on August 15, 2016
Aug 152016

7 Heron
South of Market, San Francisco

The Metropolitan Laundry Company Architecture of San Francisco

The lovely trumpet vine on this building is hiding a lot of the detail of the brick work, but the buildings history is the real charm.

Built around 1907, this was once part of the Metropolitan Laundry Company and Power Plant.

According to the January 8, 1910 Journal of Electricity, this was a modern, cutting edge plant. It was touted as the largest and most up-to-date in the U.S.

The whole laundry facility was housed in two buildings and covered an acre of land. The second building, at the corner of Berwick and Harrison, is now slated for demolition and can be found here. 

There was a tunnel between the two buildings that carried water obtained from five wells, dug 200 feet below the plant.

At the time that SOMA was settled most of it was a marshy swamp, with much completely under water.

Photo from the

Photo from the Journal of Electricity

Apparently the water was very hard, not great for laundry facilities, so the use of soda ash and lime were used to soften the water. This type of system, with a capacity of 30,000 gallons an hour was called a Kennicott type, and was the largest on the Pacific coast, the details of which can be read in its entirety in the article.

The electricity also supplied 50 electric hand irons, as well as, the “washers, extractors, mangles and ventilating fans”.

The building before the trumpet vine took over. Photo from City of San Francisco (2009)

The building before the trumpet vine took over. Photo from City of San Francisco (2009)

The laundry, delivered by wagons, was marked by hand for identification and then segregated into type. This would have been blankets, flannels, toweling and starched pieces that required different treatments. There were 110 washing machines, 40 wringers, 8 manglers, 5 conveyer dryers as well as three lines of shirt machines.

In keeping with the times there was even a collar area with tables, ironers and dampers all operated by machines that were supplied by the power plant.

The November 25, 1905 (page 13) San Francisco Chronicle explained that the building was about to begin construction and that it was to be designed by Meyer and O’Brien at a cost of $50,000 exclusive of the machinery. The building was to house offices, an employee dining room, storerooms and a soap factory on the top floor.

The building now houses Heron Arts

The building now houses Heron Arts

A 1951 law suit between the US Government and The Metropolitan Laundry Company revealed that the Metropolitan Laundry Company was organized in 1903*.  At the time they utilized shares of stock to obtain the routes of 11 laundries, 10 in San Francisco and one in Oakland, the value of which was $155,100.  They later purchased two more routes for $1500.

With the exception of a period following the 1906 earthquake and fire the company operated continuously from 1903 until 1943.

In February of 1943, during WWII,  the United States took possession of the plant for military use, forcing the company to abandon its San Francisco laundry routes. In March 1946  the military gave the laundry back to the company and they resumed operating mainly under a contract with the army.  Despite this business, the inability to regain its regular business forced the closure of the plant in December of 1949.

*According to the 1906 City Directory the Laundry was on Albion Way, by the 1907 City Directory they were shown at this spot, listed as 1148 Harrison. Street.

This is from the 1913-1915 Sanborn Map. Volume 2 Page 180

This is from the 1913-1915 Sanborn Map. Volume 2 Page 180

The Bethlehem Steel Building

 Posted by on August 12, 2016
Aug 122016

Pier 70
Dog Patch

Building 101 San Francisco Port Bethlehem SteelThe Bethlehem Steel Office Building, also known as Building 101, was designed by San Francisco architect Fredrick H. Meyer. The building anchors Pier 70, sitting at its entry on the corner of Illinois and 20th Street. Built in 1917, the building is Classical Revival in style. The three story building consists of 56,268 square feet. There is an iron perimeter fence framing the entrance to the building that originally extended down both 20th and Illinois Streets.

Steel Fence San Francisco Port Bethlehem Steel BuildingBuilding 101 was designed as a new main office building in 1917, at this point Bethlehem Steel was growing by leaps and bounds with two factories, the one at Pier 70 and another in Alameda, just across the bay.

Art Deco Elevator of Building 101 in the San Francisco Port

Photo courtesy of the SF Port

The building was originally intended to house offices for 350 people, including executives, draftsmen, and naval architects, and included blueprint facilities. By 1945, it also included a Navy cafeteria and a private branch exchange for telephone service.

Photo courtesy of SF Port

Photo courtesy of SF Port

Despite not having been used since 1992, the building is in fairly good shape. It contains an octagonal main lobby with cast stone walls over pink marble wainscoting and a pink marble floor. Centered on the coffered ornamental plaster ceiling is an octagonal bronze and glass pendant light fixture. The elevator, has art deco doors and a pink marble door surround.

As of February of 2016 Restoration Hardware has taken a lease on the building. The entire structure will be restored honoring the recognition of the buildings cultural significance and place in San Francisco’s urban landscape.

Peter Donahue, one of San Francisco’s three Donahue brothers, who were known as the “iron men”, established the Union Brass and Iron Works in 1849. It was sold to Bethlehem Steel in 1906 but continued to use the Union Iron Works name until 1917.  Ships built at Pier 70 served the United States military from the Spanish-American War in the late-1800s through the two World Wars and into the 1970s.

The area around Pier 70 is now the Union Iron Works Historic District and has been officially listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

1176 Harrison

 Posted by on August 10, 2016
Aug 102016
1176 Harrison Street, San Francisco Galvanizing Works

San Francisco Galvanizing Works

This 9,796 square-foot building is actually two: the east section was constructed in 1912 and the west section was constructed in 1929. The buildings were unified by the present façade in 1929, This 1-story, steel and reinforced concrete industrial building was designed in the Art Moderne style. The interesting architectural details include an incised sign that reads “San Francisco Galvanizing Works,” concrete beltcourses, a stepped recessed bay, galvanized metal rivets, and a parapet.

Like its neighbor at 1140 Harrison it to sits in the Western SOMA Light Industrial and Residential Historic District.  Also likes it neighbor it is historically significant due to its age, but that does not prevent it from being torn down sometime in the future.

The building it attributed to Charles E. Rogers. According to the 1918 List of Architects Holding Certificates to Practice in the State of California Mr. Rogers had his office in the Phelan Building.

The building is also attributed to Dodge Reidy. If this is the case one must assume that the Charles E. Rogers is the same Charles E. Rogers that is often listed as an architect in San Francisco as Charles E.J. Rogers.

These two gentlemen worked to gather on a few buildings in San Francisco: 256 Willow, a garage, which is part of the Van Ness Automobile Row Historical district, and WPA project, Lawton Elementary School at 1510 31st Avenue

Other than that Mr. Rogers is rather elusive,  buildings attributed to him: Nam Kue School at 765 Sacramento Street in Chinatown, Earle Hotel at 248 Golden Gate Avenue, an apartment building at 1030 Bush Street, 924 Grant and several homes.

Mr. Rogers was also part of the team that developed both the Potrero Hill and Deharo Plaza Housing projects.

Mr. Dodge Reidy is as elusive as his business partner.  Buildings attributed to him are the Garlock Packing Building at 670 Howard Street, the Larkin Street USO Hospitality Center. He is also listed as the City Architect for San Francisco in 1946.

1140 Harrison Street

 Posted by on August 4, 2016
Aug 042016

1140 Harrison Street, San Francisco

This nondescript industrial building is about to be torn down for a giant condominium project.  I thought it time to get it documented before it disappeared.

Part of the SOMA Light Industrial and Residential Historic District, the building has been marked historical due to its age, but that does not prevent it from being torn down, it is simply a designation.

Built in 1907, the building is a 75,625 square-feet, 1-story, brick masonry industrial building in a modified Renaissance Revival style. The rectangular-plan building, clad in smooth stucco on the primary façade and brick on the secondary facade, is capped by a series of 6 multiple-gable roofs.

The building was originally built for the Metropolitan Laundry Company an interesting company with an interesting history.  The building wass first listed in the San Francisco City directory in 1907, just one year after the 1906 earthquake and fire.

Today, the most significant thing about it is the wall on Berwick that has been the home to significant tagging and interesting murals, including one that has been recognized around the world and is included in most circulated shots of great graffiti around the world, a man holding an umbrella with a rainbow of rain.

Rainbow Rain Umbrella Man

The building was built in 1907 and designed by Frederick H. Meyer.

Frederick Herman Meyer (1876-1961) was born in San Francisco. Although he had no official architectural education he began his career working as a draftsman with Cambell and Pettus. He eventually joined the architectural firm of Samuel Newsom, making partner.

The portion of the building on Berwick closest to Harrison Street.

The portion of the building on Berwick closest to Harrison Street.

With Newsom, Meyer designed homes in the Pacific Heights area.

Meyer eventually joined forces with Smith O’Brian in a partnership that lasted 6 years. During this time they designed the Rialto Building , as well as a few residences, again in Pacific Heights.

On his own Meyer designed the Humboldt Bank Building on Market Street, where he eventually moved his offices.

In 1911, after the devastating 1906 earthquake and fire, Meyer was appointed to the team that laid out the plan for the new Civic Center

Over the years Meyer joined with many others in partnerships to design homes, schools and office buildings such as the one at 1140 Harrison.

The portion of Berwick Place at Heron

On Berwick Place at Heron. The side of 1140 Harrison Street

This has always been a large single parcel.  Before it was the Metropolitan Laundry it was a storage area.

This is from the 1905 Sanborn map, showing the building as storage.

This is from the 1905 Sanborn map, showing the building that sat there pre-fire and earthquake as storage.  Mariposa Terrace eventually was renamed Berwick Place.  Harrison Av was renamed Hallam, and Bruce Pl. was renamed Brush.

The building that stood before the ’06 quake and fire was most likely brick as well.  Often brick from previous projects was scavenged for the newer construction, this can be seen with the use of the black bricks and the lack of a unifying pattern in the brick laying.

This is the wall on the backside of the building. Notice the lack of a regular pattern and the black bricks throughout.

This is the wall on the backside of the building. Notice the lack of a regular pattern and the black bricks throughout.

Lily Pond

 Posted by on July 21, 2016
Jul 212016

125 W. Fullerton Parkway
Lincoln Park
Chicago, Illinois

Alfred Caldwell's Lily Pond

Chicago’s official motto is “Urbs in Horto,” which translates to “City in a Garden”, much of the garden aspects of this town can be attributed to Alfred Caldwell and his mentor Jens Jensen.

Lily Pond is the work of Alfred Caldwell. During the depression, Caldwell worked on and off for the Chicago Park District. It was a tumultuous relationship, but it was also steady work. In 1936, under the guise of the Park District and with WPA money Caldwell designed the Lily Pool.

Caldwell suggested that “besides being a nature garden,” the Lily Pool is “a geological statement.”

He explains: “The landscape of all Chicago was once a lake formed by the melting ice of the Late Wisconsin Glacier. These dammed-up waters finally broke through the moraine ridge at the southwest extremity of the area. This surging torrent carved out the underlying strata of Niagara limestone. The present Des Plaines River, in part follows that channel; and the stone bluffs are a veritable statement of the natural forces that created the terrain of Chicago.”

The front gate

The front gate

You enter this small oasis through a stunning wood and stone gate. Originally there was to be a Prairie style lantern at the entrance to the park, placed within the stone entryway, this was eliminated from the original project.

Prairie River Alfred CaldwellThe center of the park is a large body of water, it was called the prairie river by Caldwell. The intent was to emulate the melted glacial waters that had cut through the Niagara limestone. The curved shape gives the illusion of a larger space with views and scenery continuously changing.

On the northwest side, to the right as you enter, Caldwell created a small waterfall out of slabs of limestone. Caldwell suggested that, “A body of water presumes a source. Hence the waterfall.”

Lily Pool Alfred Caldwell

The waterfall

On the southeast side of the river is a circular round bench made of stone called a council ring. Although Caldwell included council rings in many of his park plans, this is the only one in Chicago that followed his exact specifications.

Circle at Lily Pond

The Council Ring

The most prominent feature is the wood pavilion. This Prairie style edifice is often wrongly attributed to Frank Lloyd Wright.

Lily Pool by Alfred Caldwell

Two stone and wood shelters are joined together by a large horizontal wood beam, to Caldwell “The spreading horizontal structure is like a tree, rooted in a rock ledge.”

The Lily Pool in Lincoln Park is the most fully realized surviving example of the work of landscape architect Alfred Caldwell. The disciple of renowned Prairie style landscape designer and conservationist, Jens Jensen, Caldwell “…imbibed deeply of Jensen’s philosophy. A total respect for the processes of nature was the basis. The landscape architect was an artist, or more correctly a poet, who would interpret and reveal nature, by using its materials.” …    Richard Guy Wilson – Commonwealth Professor in Architectural History at the University of Virginia

There are two interesting stories regarding this project by Caldwell. The first is regarding the plantings.

The park service had decided to cut the budget for the wildflower plantings that Caldwell has proposed.

Caldwell later told the story: “So not to be beat, I talked it over with my wife. I had recently taken out an insurance policy for $5,000 dollars. I cashed in my insurance policy. I got $250 dollars. I went up to Wisconsin. I hired a truck. I had three or four people and they worked like mad for a whole day and a half. I loaded all these thousand and thousands of plants. I loaded them and brought them in all the way from Sauk County, Wisconsin. When I got back to the Lincoln Park Lily Pond, it was 6:00 pm on a Saturday night. We spread all the stuff out on the side of the slopes where they were to go. In the morning we planted them all. We finished the whole thing by 1:00 or 2:00 p.m. The lily pond was finished. The Juneberry trees were in blossom. It was like paradise.

Lily Pool by Alfred CaldwellA second story, that comes down through Paul Finfer, a student of Caldwell’s, is of three men that would not only have a impact on Chicago and the world of architecture, but on Caldwell’s career itself.

Caldwell explains that while working on the pool three mysterious men in black overcoats stood and watched. “They spoke in German. The tall one could speak a little English.”

As the men studied the pavilion at the Lily Pool, Caldwell approached. They pointed to the pavilion and asked, “Frank Lloyd Wright?” He thumped himself on the chest and replied, “No, Alfred Caldwell.” Caldwell remembered that one of the men was also intrigued with the way plants were growing between the crevices of the rocks. The three men left, and Caldwell “often wondered mightily about them.” It wasn’t until a couple of years later that Caldwell learned that they were Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Ludwig Hilberseimer and Walter Peterhans, the famous architects and planners who fled Nazi Germany to settle in Chicago to teach at the Armour Institute (now Illinois Institute of Chicago).


Sadly, by 1946 the Park district had allowed the nearby zoo to encroach upon the pool. Exotic birds left droppings in the pool and destroyed much of the vegetation. This allowed invasive plants to take over cutting down on the sunlight, causing erosion and destroying the design created by Caldwell.

In 1997 a non-profit group was formed to raise funds and work with the park department to restore the Lily Pool.

During this period the original entry gate was replaced. White oak barn wood was used to match the original and photographs were carefully studied to ensure accuracy of the elements. Also, during the restoration, the light fixture was recreated and placed as Caldwell had envisioned.

Caldwell's light fixture was added during the restoration. Photo courtesy of the Park Service

Caldwell’s entrance light fixture was recreated and added during the restoration.                                   Photo courtesy of Wolff Landscape Architecture – Chicago.

Alfred Caldwell was born in St. Louis in 1903, he moved to Chicago when he was a young boy. He enrolled in University of Illinois in Champaign- Urbana, but quickly became disillusioned. After a few missteps and thanks to some well-intentioned connections, he found himself apprenticed to renowned landscape architect Jens Jensen. He worked as a superintendent for Jensen for 5 ½ years. During this time he met Frank Lloyd Wright and was asked to join Wright at Taliesen. Caldwell’s wife had misgivings and he turned down the offer, although he did spend a few weeks there.

By now the depression was beginning to rear its ugly head and Jensen could no longer keep Caldwell on. At this point he was hired for a large project in Dubuque, Iowa, this project was to be Eagle Point Park.

Fired in January of 1936, most likely because he just did not fit in, he returned to Chicago.

He decided to sit for the Illinois architects exam and began attending classes. His instructors were the three Germans dressed in black overcoats that watched over him while planting Lily Pond. Caldwell passed the exam without difficulty.

Caldwell designed scores of landscapes, he also taught for more than 35 years at the Illinois Institute of Technology and the University of Southern California and was a visiting professor at Virginia Polythechnic Institute. Despite all of this he remained relatively unknown. In a 1977 article, architectural historian Richard Guy Wilson changed all of that with his article “Alfred Caldwell Illuminates Nature’s Ways,” in Landscape Architecture Magazine.

“…as historians begin to inspect the [1930s] period it becomes increasingly obvious that certain strains of indigenous American creativity have been overlooked. Alfred Caldwell’s work encompasses the broadest definitions of landscape architecture, an activity not simply of plant types and topography, but a vision and philosophy of man and nature that is at the core of the American dream.”

Alfred Caldwell's Lily Pond


Boulder Man

 Posted by on July 19, 2016
Jul 192016

951 Chicago Avenue
Oak Park, Chicago

Boulder ManOn the piers flanking the entry to Frank Lloyd Wrights 1898 architectural studio in Oak Park, Illinois, sit these two pieces, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright and executed by Richard Bock.

“Boulder Man” is the most valuable of Richard Bock’s work.  He originally designed and modeled the piece to top a gate post.  The body, apparently half buried in the earth is stunning from every angle.  These sculptures are reproductions.  They were re-created from photographs.  The originals had disintegrated beyond repair, the replicas were done during the 1980s restoration of Frank Lloyd Wrights home and studio.

The story goes that Wright wanted two sculptures, but could only afford one.  To get reflecting sculptures, i.e. a right and a left, two separate sculptures must be made and then two separate molds and final castings, so he simply turned one of them to a different angle, giving the sense of two different sculptures.

Richard Bock was born 1865 in Schloppe, Germany. He moved to Chicago, with his family as a youth, where he grew up in German neighborhoods.

Frank Lloyd Wrights StudioBock spent three years at the Berlin Academy studying and later at the Ecole des Beaux Arts School in Paris.  In 1891 he returned Chicago to establish a permanent sculpture studio. Almost immediately upon Bock’s return to America, he received three major commissions and for the World’s Columbian Exposition in 1893, he sculpted major architectural works for the Mining and Electricity Exposition Halls.

He created interior bas-reliefs for Chicago’s  Schiller Building, during which time, in the winter of 1891 to 1892, Bock studied under its architect Louis Sullivan. It was in the Sullivan’s office that Bock met Frank Lloyd Wright.

From 1903 to 1913, Bock worked almost exclusively with Wright on multiple projects, The two became close friends and their families often spent time together.

The close working relationship came to end when Wright invited Bock to accompany him to Japan. Bock, a family man, declined. Though they remained friends they were never worked together again or visited much afterwards.

In 1929, Bock became the head of the Sculptural Department at the University of Oregon, he retired in 1932.

In the 1940s, Bock and his wife moved to California where in 1949 he died at the age of 84 of Parkinson’s Disease.

Richard Bock

Standing Lincoln

 Posted by on July 17, 2016
Jul 172016

Off N. Lake Shore Drive near W. North Avenue
Screen Shot 2016-07-09 at 5.00.36 PM

This is one of the two sculptures in Lincoln Park that were bequeathed to Chicago upon the death of lumberman Eli Bates.

This 12 foot tall figure known as the “Standing Lincoln” was the first of Saint-Gaudens’ statues of Lincoln. He received the commission for this monument in 1884 and began work the following year.

Lincoln had made quite an impression on Saint-Gaudens when he saw Lincoln in 1860 . “Lincoln stood tall in the carriage, his dark uncovered head bent in contemplative acknowledgement of the waiting people, and the broadcloth of his black coat shone rich and silken in the sunlight”.

To capture Lincoln’s appearance, Saint-Gaudens relied on plaster life masks made by Leonard Volk of Lincoln’s Hands and face. To achieve the pose Saint-Gardens used Langdon Morse a 6 foot 4 farmer from Windsor Vermont.

As he worked out the design for the statue, St. Gaudens experimented with a variety of poses: seated and standing, arms crossed in front of his body, or holding a document. Art critic Marianna Griswold Van Rensselaer described the decision  in her review of the statue in The Century (1887):

“The first question to be decided must have been: Shall the impression to be given base itself primarily upon the man of action or upon the man of affairs? Shall the statue be standing or seated? In the solution of this question we find the most striking originality of the work. The impression given bases itself in equal measure upon the man of action and the
man of affairs. Lincoln is standing, but stands in front of a chair from which he has just risen. He is before the people to counsel and direct them, but has just turned from that other phase of his activity in which he was their executive and their protector. Two ideas are thus expressed in the composition, but they are not separately, independently expressed to the detriment of unity. The artist has blended them to the eye as our own thought blends them when we speak of Lincoln. The pose reveals the man of action, but represents a man ready for action, not really engaged in it; and the chair clearly typical of the Chair of State reveals his title to act no less than his methods of self-preparation. We see, therefore, that completeness of expression has been arrived at through a symbolic, idealistic conception.”

Standing LincolnArchitect, Stanford White, of the New York firm of McKim, Mead and White, designed the monument’s base. He added the long, curving exedra bench to encourage visitors to sit and enjoy the statue,

This was one of 20 such artistic collaborations between White and Saint-Gaudens who also became close friends.

The monument was cast in bronze by the Henry-Bonnard Bronze Company in New York, and dedicated on October 22, 1887, to a large crowd. Lincoln’s son, Robert, considered this the best sculpture of his father of the many that were done.

After Saint-Gaudens’ death, his wife authorized an edition of smaller bronze copies. These are found in public institutions around the country. Full- size casts of the statue were later installed in London, England, Mexico City, Cambridge, Massachusetts and Hollywood Hills, California. The image of Lincoln used for the commemorative stamp
of 1909, was drawn from the head of this statue.

Saint-Gaudens has been in this site before, you can read about him here.

Abraham Lincoln

Shakespeare in Chicago

 Posted by on July 16, 2016
Jul 162016

N. Lincoln Parkway West and W. Belden Avenue

ShakespeareAccording to the Chicago Parks Department:

“When Samuel Johnston, a successful north side businessman, died in 1886, he left a sizeable gift in his will for several charities as well as money for a memorial to William Shakespeare in Lincoln Park.

A competition was held to select a sculptor. The winner was a Columbia University graduate, William Ordway Partridge (1861–1930), who had studied sculpture in France and Italy after a short stint as an actor.

This commission presented a unique challenge for Partridge since the only known portraits of William Shakespeare (1564–1616) had been done after the death of the famous English playwright and poet. Partridge made an intensive study of Shakespeare and life in Elizabethan England. He visited Stratford and London, reviewed dozens of existing artworks, and examined a death mask that was then believed to have been authentic.

Partridge also consulted with Shakespearean actors including Henry Irving and his costumer, Seymour Lucas, who helped him portray the world-renowned literary figure in authentic period clothing.

Partridge displayed a plaster model of the William Shakespeare Monument at the World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893. He had the work cast in bronze in Paris and shipped to Chicago.

The donor’s grandniece, Miss Cornelia Williams, unveiled the sculpture on April 23, 1894, the supposed anniversary of both Shakespeare’s birth and death. At the dedication ceremony, Partridge said: “Shakespeare needs nothing of bronze. His monument is England, America, and the whole of Saxondom. He placed us upon a pedestal, but one cannot place him on one, for he belongs among the people whom he so dearly loved.” The artist’s remarks offer insight into the sculpture’s unusually low pedestal, which provides exceptional visual and physical access to the artwork.”


On the base is inscribed Shakespeare’s words from Hamlet.
What a piece of work is man! How noble in reason! How infinite in faculty!

On the opposite side are Samuel T. Coleridge’s words,
“he was not for an age but for all time, our myriad- minded Shakespeare….”

William Partridge was born in Paris to American parents. Partridge travelled to America to attend Adelphi Academy in Brooklyn and Columbia University (graduated 1883) in New York. After a year of experimentation in theatre, he went abroad to study sculpture.

Aside from his public commissions, his work consisted mostly of portrait busts. In 1893 eleven of his works were displayed at the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago

Partridge went on to lecture at Stanford University in California, and assumed a professorship at Columbian University, now George Washington University, in Washington, D.C.

He died in Manhattan on May 22, 1930.