Joan Rivers and Del Close at Chicago’s Second City, ca. 1961.
(Image Source)

Joan Rivers and Del Close at Chicago’s Second City, ca. 1961.

(Image Source)

HAPPY BIRTHDAY LOUIS SULLIVAN!
A portrait of architect Louis Sullivan on the cover of Cherry Circle, a Chicago magazine, with his design for a swimming certificate for the Chicago Athletic Association; ca. 1897.
(Image Source)

HAPPY BIRTHDAY LOUIS SULLIVAN!

A portrait of architect Louis Sullivan on the cover of Cherry Circle, a Chicago magazine, with his design for a swimming certificate for the Chicago Athletic Association; ca. 1897.

(Image Source)

On July 25th, 1991, Rosa Parks, Mayor Richard M. Daley, Mamie Till Mobley, and former Mayor Eugene Sawyer attended a ceremony renaming 71st Street with the honorary name of Emmett Till Road on what would have been Emmett’s 50th birthday.

In 1955 14-year-old Emmett Till was beaten, tortured and shot in the head for allegedly whistling and/or flirting at a white woman while visiting his uncle in Mississippi. Although Emmett’s death drew national attention and is considered a seminal event of the Civil Rights movement, his killers were later acquitted of murder by an all white jury. Photographs of his mutilated corpse circulated around the country, including an influential article from Jet Magazine.

When Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat to a white bus rider, sparking a year-long boycott of the public bus system in Montgomery, Alabama, she later said, “I thought of Emmett Till and I just couldn’t go back.”

(Image Source: Jet Magazine)

After the Carson Pirie Scott Department Store, architect Louis Sullivan’s career went into a long decline and he received few commissions. In his early fifties and down on his luck, the remainder of his work consisted primarily of a series of small bank and commercial buildings in obscure, out-of-the-way Midwestern towns. Today these commissions (nine in total) are collectively referred to as Sullivan’s “Jewel Boxes.” The largest is about 4,600 square feet, the smallest well under 1,500 square feet. None cost more than $125,000 to build.

In 1906, Sullivan accepted an offer to design a new headquarters for the National Farmers’ Bank in Owatonna, a small farming town 60 miles south of Minneapolis. Banker Carl Bennett wanted more than a prominent new building to house his family’s business. He wanted a work of art. Together their brilliant collaboration of patron and architect produced what many consider the finest small-town bank in America, the first of Sullivan’s “jewel boxes”. The building is bathed in a symphony of color, as Sullivan described it. Green and brown terra cotta panels and blue and gold glass mosaic bands contrast with the reddish brick walls and the red sandstone base that anchors the bank to its site, giving depositors a sense of security. Two arched stained glass windows designed by Louis J. Millet are mirrored on the interior by murals of dairy and harvest scenes by Oskar Gross. The lavish organic decorative elements, including four 18-foot-tall cast iron electroliers and teller window grilles, were designed by chief draftsman George Grant Elmslie and cast by Winslow Brothers Company (owned by William Winslow, for whom Frank Lloyd Wright designed an iconic house). Today this National Historic Landmark is a Wells Fargo Bank.

I once posted some photos of my relatives at Frank Lloyd Wright’s Lake Geneva Hotel (1911-1970) in Wisconsin. The prairie style design featured a horizontal 360-foot long building with 90 rooms, terraces, and colorful art glass windows. The top photograph, from a 1967 issue of the Milwaukee Journal, shows the swimming pool that had been added next to the entrance. The rest of the photographs, taken by preservationist Richard Nickel, show the building right before demolition, including the large arched fireplace that was located in the lobby. Notice some of the alterations, including a sign for “The Golden Orchid” restaurant. A 1970s style high-rise condo building currently stands on the hotel’s former site at the lake and lagoon between Broad and Center Streets.