29 May 2015

Wilfredo Prieto

I just hate it when I go to Havana and they're showing the stuff
I've already seen in Ghent.
Not really (of course). Still, seeing the Wilfredo Prieto show in Ghent while traveling alone last fall was a very different experience from seeing the Havana version of the show in the midst of the 12th Bienal de La Habana while traveling with about three dozen others. Not only that, I had to try to justify his work to Deb and Barbara. In revenge, they started calling me (Insta)Gram, not sure how they got there, perhaps it's the sonorous "rhyming" of Graham and Sherman?

16 May 2015

H.W. Wachter

It's quite an extravagance but I love getting the volumes of the Buildings of the United States as they are published. The series is published by the Society of Architectural Historians and was inspired by the Buildings of England series by Nikolaus Pevsner and others. The volume I got most recently is Buildings of North Dakota by Steve C. Martens and Ronald H.L.M. Ramsay. You're laughing and the authors do address, in the introduction, the probability that you all don't think about architecture and culture when you think about North Dakota.

North Dakota is one of the few U.S. states that I have not visited so as I was armchair-traveling through the book, I noticed the United Presbyterian Church in Jamestown. I thought that it looked rather like the church I'd seen in Napoleon, Ohio, as I headed West on my March road trip. The North Dakota church was credited to H.W. Wachter, a Toledo architect. I thought "must be" since Napoleon isn't too far from Toledo. According to the Wachter page on digplanet/Wikipedia, indeed the Napoleon church is also by Wachter. Both churches are Craftsman in style but the North Dakota church's steeple looks a bit clumsier. Meanwhile, I edited the Wikipedia page to include the North Dakota church; I think that's only the second time I've edited something in Wikipedia and the other time was years ago. Maybe I'm ready for one of those wiki marathons.
First Presbyterian Church
Napoleon, Ohio
(H.W. Wachter, architect, 1900-1901)

11 May 2015

thanks, HST

When Harry Truman was elected to a full term as U.S. President in 1948, he and Mrs Truman lived at Blair House while the White House interior was being reconstructed. This was necessary because of deterioration but some argued that the house should be demolished and replaced by a new house, perhaps on a bigger lot. (The photo is from a New York Times article on the reconstruction.)

The new Alfred University president's house, here in Alfred, New York, is a 1960s version of McMansion: too big for its britches on too big a lot, not near campus as the former president's house had been. I think it's good for the president to be in the middle of things rather than up in the would-be suburbs. When Ronald Reagan became governor of California in 1967, he and his family lived in the 1877 Second Empire-Italianate Old Governor's Mansion, now a state historic park, for a few months before moving to a Tudor Revival in East Sacramento while a new 8000-square foot mansion was being built in Carmichael.

It's probably more his thriftiness than a devotion to historic preservation but I'm glad that President Truman rebuilt the White House rather than replacing it with a 1950 version of official residence.