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Thursday, June 7, 2012

Running Away to Chicago!

First: the link is to Amazon and Chicago Stories: West of Western because that's the only book I have on Kindle now. But I'm writing this as I revise Along the Ravenswood, the second of my Chicago Stories.

Yesterday I drove to Chicago to get some photos of Louis Sullivan's Krause Music Store for my new cover. Dustin Ashe made me a  great cover, the one you see here, last year. I love it. but in the meantime, much to my surprise, the book has grown and changed and now this great cover doesn't fit anymore. So . . . I went go get some material for Dustin (poor boy scratches a living in California, so sad). The facade of the small store was Sullivan's last known commission, finished less than two years before his death.  the building's listed and discussed on the National Register of Historic Places.

I wanted a good shot of the whole facade and the weather was perfect, one of those crystal clear, cool, sunny days that make site work a joy. When I actually arrived at the store, though, I found the little tree I remembered being in front was now a much larger tree, so unless I wanted a shot of the tree with bits of building peeping through, I was out of luck. I did take some twenty detail shots, and have posted one for you. Dustin will have to check out the Nat'l Register to see the entire facade.

Architect Louis Sulllivan, often called the father of the modern skyscraper, was one of the founders of the Chicago School of Architecture. Sullivan and Dankmar Adler, developed the caisson foundation, making possible steel-framed curtain wall high rises. supposedly Adler developed the foundation and structural elements, Sullivan the facades and ornamentation.

My interest lies more in the small buildings Sullivan designed later in his life when, he was no longer the fashionable architect of the auditorium years. After his death, a friend burned his papers, saying there were personal detail the public need never know. Nor do we know what Sullivan was doing in those years. We have eight small banks scattered around the Midwest (notably the Merchant's Natrional Bank of 1914 in Grinnell, Iowa, the so-called Jewel Box Bank), and the Krause Music Store facade at 4611 North Lincoln Avenue in Chicago. In Along the Ravenswood, Seraphy's old architectural history professor discovers a lost Louis Sullivan church from these years not far from the Krause Music Store and commissions Seraphy to convert the little church to a private library for Sullivan studies. I'm asking Dustin to use bits from the  music store and from the Getty Tomb, an earlier structure with wonderful bronze grills and geometric designs in stone, for the cover.

And I thought you might like to see what all the excitement, at least mine, was all about.

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