This past Saturday…

…I took a break from all the work and walked up the street to the ArchitectureChicago Open House, a city-wide event.

Of course, my sole architectural interests were a mere block and a half walk away!

The Emil Bach House Designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, 1915

The Emil Bach House
Designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, 1915

As much as I wanted to see inside, I passed by because there was no waiting line next door at the Cat’s Cradle Bed and Breakfast, another renovation financed a few years back by Col. J.N. Pritzker of Tawani Enterprises, Inc.

The Bach House sure looked great from the outside, though the renovation is not yet 100% complete!

The Bach House sure looked great from the outside, though the renovation is not yet 100% complete!

As I walked up the steps to Cat's Cradle, I looked back and took a shot of the looong line at the Bach House. It was a beautiful Autumn morning, and the plantings at both properties were spectacular! But, I quickly turned, and entered a structure I've been very, very curious about.

As I walked up the steps to Cat’s Cradle, I looked back and took a shot of the loooong line at the Bach House.
It was a beautiful Autumn morning, and the plantings at both properties were spectacular!
But, I quickly turned, and entered a structure I’ve been very, very curious about.

Love this door which I believe is the original from 1919, and knew I'd also love the interior!

LOVE this door which I believe is the original from 1919, and knew I’d also love the interior!

I almost felt as if I had somehow ‘gone back in time’, to a much gentler, more civilized era.

The Architect was a Mr. Newman, who drew much inspiration from FLW, as evidenced by the amount of fine woodworking, original wood flooring...

The architect was a Mr. Newman, who drew much inspiration from Frank Lloyd Wright, as evidenced by the amount of fine woodworking, original wood flooring…

...and decorative touches such as this lovely lamp atop the newel post.

…and decorative touches such as this lovely lamp atop the newel post.

Cat’s Cradle contains five bedrooms, each with the flavor of that bygone time, yet each is technologically up-to-date.

I’ll title them in the sequence I viewed them.

Bedroom #1

Bedroom #1

*

Bedroom #2

Bedroom #2

*

Bedroom #3

Bedroom #3

*

Bedroom #4

Bedroom #4

*

Bedroom #5

Bedroom #5

* * *

Because I’ve been so busy in the apartment, painting not only walls but also furniture, and doing some fall cleaning in between, I haven’t gotten around to processing any other images from this wonderful tour.

There’s just one ceiling area to give a third coat, and then only the studio remains…I’ll take my time and do that piecemeal, as it is small and requires a lot of shuffling things back and forth—and I’m pretty ‘pooped’ right now!

I did, however, have a fine chat with one of the Innkeepers, Wayde Cartwright, which was both informative and most enjoyable!

If you plan to visit Chicago on business or vacation, give Wayde or his fellow Innkeeper, Bruce Boyd, a call at 1.773.764.9851, or you can visit www.catscradlechicago.com.

The rates are extremely reasonable, especially when you consider the surroundings and all the amenities provided!

(Yes, that was pretty blatant advertising from me, but if I were visiting, I’d surely love staying here!)

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I’ve neglected to give you…

…an update on the Farcroft apartment building long enough!

For about a month, there have been tenants moving in, and here’s a sample of what their spaces look like:

View of the 13 story Farcroft from The Jarvis Avenue "L" station platform

View of the 13 story Farcroft from the Jarvis Avenue “L” station platform

At the entryway is a leaded-glass window, flanked by two caryatids...

At the entryway is a leaded-glass window, flanked by two caryatids…

...one of which is 'the keyholder'...

…one of which is ‘the keyholder’…

...and the other seems to have lost what he originally held! Quite distinctive, aren't they?

…and the other seems to have lost what he originally held!
Quite distinctive, aren’t they?

The original door of this 1928 building was sent out to be restored, and the craftsman did an absolutely wonderful job of it!

The original door of this 1928 building was sent out to be restored, and the craftsman did an absolutely wonderful job of it!

Here's the lobby, about five steps down from street level.  This was taken before the building opened...that's the reason for the still-wrapped furniture.

Here’s the lobby, about five steps down from street level. This was taken before the building opened…that’s the reason for the still-wrapped furniture.

Everything was done right with this gut rehab...all the floors are oak, newly installed.

Everything was done right with this gut rehab…all the floors are oak, newly installed.

All the spaces were reconfigured.  Here is a north-facing wall of one of the highest floors' apartment...

All the spaces were reconfigured. Here is a north-facing wall of one of the highest floors’ apartment…

...and the view from that window!

…and the view from that window!  The thing hanging in the middle is the cordage from white-painted wooden blinds, which are installed at each newly-replaced window.

A typical kitchen, wonderfully appointed, with loads of workspace...

A typical kitchen, wonderfully appointed, with loads of workspace…

...and a typical bathroom--nothing fancy, but larger than those usually found here in Chicago's older buildings.

…and a typical bathroom–nothing fancy, but larger than those usually found here in Chicago’s older buildings.

The view looking south along the lake shore to downtown Chicago, taken from a twelfth floor window.  Oh, what I wouldn't give to wake up to this!

The view looking south along the lake shore to downtown Chicago, taken from a twelfth floor window. Oh, what I wouldn’t give to wake up to this!

If you noticed in the first image, there is a turret at the top of the Farcroft.  This is the entry to the apartment directly below--it's called the 'turret room'.

If you noticed in the first image, there is a turret at the top of the Farcroft. This is the entry to the apartment directly below–it’s called the ‘turret room’.  See that rectangular object in the wall?  That’s a radiator—very new technology and extremely practical, don’t you think?

Enchanting, isn't it...and check out the view to the north and west!

Enchanting, isn’t it…and check out the view to the north and west!

Finally, here is the 'turret room' apartment's kitchen...ready for any occupant who loves to cook! Note that in these kitchens, the stoves are NOT placed next to the refrigerators...that's called 'doing it right', because it ultimate saves electricity as the fridge does not have to run as long as it would being 'warmed' so often by the heat of the stove!

Finally, here is the ‘turret room’ apartment’s kitchen…ready for any occupant who loves to cook!  The fellow on the right is Bill Tentler, the Chief of Maintenance, who graciously allowed me to tour the building before it opened.
Note that in these kitchens, the stoves are NOT placed next to the refrigerators…that’s called ‘doing it right’, because it ultimate saves electricity as the fridge does not have to run as long as it would being ‘warmed’ so often by the heat of the stove!

At some point, I’ll present more details of this beautifully executed gut rehab/restoration of the Farcroft apartments, but for now, just dream of what it would be like to live in the tallest building in the Rogers park neighborhood of Chicago!

They did it right…

REALLY right!

I was extremely privileged to be given a tour of the Farcroft building late this afternoon.

As you may be aware, I’ve been following the progress of the gut rehab since before it began over a year and a half ago.

The Farcrofy is a majestic thirteen story high apartment building at 1337 W. Fargo Avenue here in the Rogers Park neighborhood of Chicago.

The Farcroft is a majestic thirteen story high apartment building at 1337 W. Fargo Avenue here in the Rogers Park neighborhood of Chicago.

Late last Autumn, I met a young man, Bill Tentler, who, it turns out, is the Chief of Maintenance for Rogers Park Vintage Management…a company spear-headed by Mr. James N. Pritzker, among many of his other companies.

Bill and I struck a complementary note in our discussions of the rehab, and I was told he’d let me see things when they were closer to finishing this huge project.

The entire building was tuckpointed, and the stone slabs removed and reset with high-tech adhesive due to many pieces loosening since the original construction in 1927-28.

Above is the main door--original--which had been totally refinished.  Photo taken 11JAN2013.

Above is the main door–original–which had been totally refinished. Photo taken 11JAN2013.

But today, I was invited inside…after doing a little ‘peeking’ through the window, a worker informed Bill, and he came rushing out to ask if I wanted to see the nearly-completed lobby.

Well, of course!

I passed by some excellent restoration work before stepping down into the main lobby, where resides the most wonderful, huge, working fireplace!

The now-fireplace, totally restored, and fitted with a gas log system.

The now-working fireplace, totally restored, and fitted with a gas log system.

Detail of the three figures on the left

Detail of the three figures on the left

A closer look at their faces

A closer look at their faces

The gas logs are approximately four feet wide, just to give you an inkling of the size

The gas logs are approximately four feet wide, just to give you an inkling of the size

It's a few steps up to the north wall windows, as the lobby is several feet below street level

It’s a few steps up to the north wall windows, as the lobby is several feet below street level

The south facade (rear) of the Farcroft on 15JAN2013, just before sunset.  Photo taken from my window.

The south facade (rear) of the Farcroft on 15JAN2013, just before sunset. Photo taken from my window.

I noticed when I took the above photo, there was an addition to the roof of the building.  I thought it might be a warning light pole for aircraft, as there is quite a bit of helicopter traffic from O’Hare Airport…the pilots seem to love flying down along the lakeshore!

But…I was wrong!

A six by eight foot American flag now flies proudly over this lovely structure!

A six by eight foot American flag now flies proudly over this lovely structure!

Thank you, Mr. Pritzker, and thank you, Bill Tentler–you did it RIGHT…and the result is a beautiful renovation of apartments–NOT condos–!

NOTE:  I will be presenting much more of the Farcroft over the next week or so.

Doing it RIGHT does take time!

Chinatown: The Pui Tak Center

The Pui Tak Center during its 2009 restorationPhoto courtesy: Wikipedia

The Pui Tak Center during its 2009 restoration
Photo courtesy: Wikipedia

 

From Wikipedia:

The Pui Tak Center (Chinese: 中心; Mandarin Pinyin: Péidé Zhōngxīn; Jyutping: pui4 dak1 zung1 sam1; Cantonese Yale: Pùihdāk Jūngsām; literally “cultivating virtue center”), formerly known as the On Leong Merchants Association Building, is a building located in Chicago’s Chinatown. Designed by architects Christian S. Michaelsen and Sigurd A. Rognstad, the building was built for the On Leong Merchants Association and opened in 1928. The Association used it as an immigrant assistance center, and the building was informally referred to as Chinatown’s “city hall”. In 1988, the FBI and Chicago Police raided the building as part of a racketeering investigation. The US federal government seized the building that same year.

The building was purchased by the Chinese Christian Union Church (CCUC) for $1.4 million and renamed the Pui Tak Center in 1993. That same year, the On Leong Merchants Association Building was designated a Chicago landmark by the Commission on Chicago Landmarks. The CCUC spent $1 million raised from community donations to renovate and update the building’s neglected interior. The newly-named Pai Tak Center now hosts various religious, community, and educational programs, such as English-as-a-Second-Language courses (ESL).

In the 1920s, Chinese community leaders secured approximately 50 ten-year leases on properties in the newly developing Chinatown.  Jim Moy, director of the Association, then decided that a Chinese-style building should be constructed as a strong visual announcement of the Chinese community’s new presence in the area.  With no Chinese-born architects in Chicago at the time, Chicago-born Norse architects Christian S. Michaelsen and Sigurd A. Rognstad were asked to design the On Leong Merchants Association Building in the spring of 1926.  Moy decided to employ the pair again after Michaelsen and Rognstad’s firm built Moy’s Peacock Inn in Uptown in 1920.

After studying texts on Chinese architecture, Michaelsen and Rognstad’s final design was an example of Orientalism, a Western architect’s interpretation of Chinese architectural forms.  A good substitute for the liu li glazed ceramic found in traditional Chinese architecture, Rognstad designed exterior Teco sculptural accents, a type of terra cotta produced by Crystal Lake, Illinois‘s American Terra Cotta Company.  When the building plans were announced in the Chicago Tribune on July 4, 1926, the building was called, “One of the most expensive and elaborate buildings ever erected in America by the Chinese”.  Construction began in 1926 and was completed a year later for the cost of $1 millon.

In preparation for the restoration work, the structural and architectural engineering firm Wiss, Janney, Elstner Associates completed an evaluation of the building’s eastern and southern facades, focusing on its terra cotta portions.  By using ultrasonic testing, engineers were able to evaluate the state of the terra cotta without further damaging the pieces. Severely cracked or damaged pieces were partially removed and a report was written from these findings.  This report provided recommendations for the masonry facade and terra cotta repair work.  Restoration work began in spring 2009 and is scheduled for completion in early 2010.  All of the damaged terra cotta elements have been replaced on the south tower and parapet, and scaffolding has been erected on building’s eastern facade in preparation for further restoration work.  Fully restoring the building’s exterior terra cotta pieces and clay roof tiles is the first step in a long-range $2 million repair plan.

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Here are a few images of the restored Pui Tak Center’s glazed terra cotta tile pieces, which I took during my short visit to Chicago’s Chinatown:

Pui Tak Bldg Detail-1

A bit of damage has been done here at the northeast corner of the building, because it borders on an alleyway used by delivery trucks.

Pui Tak Bldg Detail-2

The south wall off the doors located in the final image of this post.  This peacock faces his twin, standing regally on the opposite wall.

Pui Tak Bldg Detail-3

Here’s a closer look at the craftsmanship of this peacock.

Pui Tak Bldg Detail-4

Looking up at the ceiling of the entrance seen in the next image.

Not exactly 'tile', but the door handles, rails, and leaded glass of this entrance truly intrigued me!

Not exactly ’tile’, but the door handles, rails, and leaded glass of this entrance truly intrigued me!

Some really ‘good’ news!

From CNN:

Frank Lloyd Wright Home. Saved!

By APizm  |  Posted December 21, 2012

The David and Gladys Wright House designed by Frank Lloyd Wright

The David and Gladys Wright House designed by Frank Lloyd Wright  Photo: APizm

When the sun rises tomorrow we will know two things. One, the Mayans were wrong. Two, the David and Gladys Wright home, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright is SAVED. I am proud to announce that an anonymous buyer has purchased the house and has plans to preserve it.

 I have been inside the house a few times now and believe me, it takes a few times to notice all the tiny design details that Frank Lloyd Wright put into this house. I included a few images of those tiny details for you.

 Here is the write up from the Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy website, SaveWright.org:
“Christmas came a little early this year. Culminating six months of intensive work and many ups and downs, we can finally announce that this unique and important Wright house is safe! The Conservancy has facilitated the purchase of the David and Gladys Wright House in Phoenix through an LLC owned by an anonymous benefactor. The transaction closed on December 20 for an undisclosed price. The property will be transferred to an Arizona not-for-profit organization responsible for the restoration, maintenance and operation of the David Wright House.”

(CNN PRODUCER NOTE     APizm is a photography instructor for the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation at Taliesin West in Phoenix, Arizona, and has been following the story for a while. He first reported on it in early October, when the David and Gladys Wright house was facing demolition.)

 For more information see: www.savewright.org
For more images see: www.APizm.com

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I would love to know who the ‘anonymous’ purchaser is…could it be James N. Pritzker, the owner of the Emil Bach House just a block and a half north of my building here in Rogers Park?  Frank Lloyd Wright built the Bach House in 1915, and much to everyone’s surprise, it is undergoing a very heavy rehab, begun about two months ago.

The Emil Bach House, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright and built in 1915.

The Emil Bach House, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright and built in 1915.  Image taken 15DEC2012, copyright http://www.anotherthousandwords.wordpress.com

 

 

As you see, many of the windows have been removed.  When I spoke in 2007 with Mr. Pritzker’s secretary, who was occupying the house at the time, I was told that they hoped to re-do the windows, as they had obtained Mr. Wright’s original drawings for the Wrightian-style stained glass.  I hate to assume anything but, it does look as if the stained glass windows will be in place soon enough, as will other ‘original’ amenities and some new as well!

Kudos to Mr. Pritzker, who also owns the building at the left (The Cats Cradle Bed and Breakfast) and the tall building behind (The Farcroft, a 12+ story former apartment building which has been undergoing a total gut rehab for over a year now).