Frankfort, Kentucky – May 2019 – A Small Capital City

Even though Kentucky is middle of the pack in terms of states by population , their capital city Frankfort is the 4th smallest of all. There are less than 30,000 people in the city.



For the most part it feels like any other small town. They have a small downtown business district.



Interestingly there is a freight rail line going down the middle of main street.



The town is quite old – it was established in 1786.



There are a few restaurants and coffee shops in town.



In the center of town is the Old Kentucky State Capitol. It was completed in 1830 and used until 1910 as the Capitol.


William Goebel was elected governor in 1900, and served for 4 days before being assassinated. He was known for being a deal maker, and a deal breaker.

He had gained so many enemies that he walked with bodyguards, but to no avail – On January 30, 1900 shots fired from the state capitol building – leading to chaos in the Kentucky state government. He died 4 days later.



As you drive around town you see an interesting mix of old and new, with nearly all the new being the government buildings.



The lampposts have banners celebrating famous Kentuckians – while Johnny Depp was born in Kentucky he was raised elsewhere



We are in Kentucky so we need to celebrate horse racing.



Much like many of the state government buildings, the county courthouse is modern as well.



The original state arsenal however, is not. It dates from 1850 and now serves as a military museum.



Across the river and up a hill is the ‘new’ state capitol grounds. Included here is the Governor’s Mansion – which in it’s Beaux Arts style bears a strong resemblance to the White House.


The new capitol building was completed in 1910.



The grounds look back down upon the town.


An additional annex building is located behind the capitol.


One of the most famous attractions is the floral clock that spells out Kentucky – although without a rise to view it from above it is tricky to see.

Frankfort seems an unusual place to have the state capitol, but politics often leads to unusual deals.




Lexington, Kentucky – May 2019 – Mural City

The city of Lexington, Kentucky like many cities has some murals around town. Unlike anywhere we have ever seen, they seem to have them everywhere – and most are very well done.

In addition they aren’t all the traditional history based murals – rather many have artistic statements. Below is an extensive view of many of the murals – if you are interested in more details behind them I recommend checking out the two links below:

http://www.lexarts.org/participate/public-art/lmp/ using the hashtag #sharethelex

or
http://www.prhbtn.com/murals/

We spent a few hours on a mural scavenger hunt and found most of them. This posting is quite long with around 40 photos in it.






































Maysville, Kentucky – May 2019 – Great Architecture in an Unlikely Place

Maysville, Kentucky was one of the original settlements west of the Allegheny Mountains, as it is situated along the Ohio River about 80 miles upriver from Cincinnati.

We entered the town via the 1931 Simon Kenton Bridge. Spanning the Ohio River for almost 2,000 feet it is a classic old steel bridge.



As with many river towns the flood wall is adorned with murals. Maysville’s are well done – including this one as a tribute to favorite daughter Rosemary Clooney, who from the 1940s until the turn of the century was an actress and fantastic singer (and also well known as George Clooney’s aunt).




The town is in remarkably good condition compared to most of the little river towns of this part of the world.




Much of the center of town has been restored, including this fountain and square.




More of the excellent flood wall murals – horses are a big deal in Kentucky.




This mural depicted the street we were standing on 100 years ago.




For most of the Ohio River valley in Ohio, West Virginia and Kentucky there are steep hills just a few blocks back – Maysville is no exception.




The Washington Opera House dates from 1898 in a Beaux Arts style. It is used today for theater and concerts.




Another great example of the nice restoration done in town.




The main street has some galleries to go with the small stores.




Some architecture is reflective that we are in the beginnings of the south.




The Kentucky Gateway Museum is a new building, but well done and blending nicely with it’s surroundings.




Maysville was once a center of wrought iron manufacturing, and many of the homes show this heritage.




Even a vacant lot has been re purposed as a small park – along with another great ghost sign.



Even the vacant house it very cool – the building in front and most of the house appears to be covered in kudzu, which I haven’t seen this far north before.




Just down the rest are more restored homes.




This row of houses to me is reminiscent of the famed ‘Painted Ladies’ of San Francisco – only at 1/10th the cost.




If you ever get the chance stop by Maysville, Kentucky – it is worth the visit.






Detroit – April 2019 – The Guardian Building

With the auto industry booming in the 1920s Detroit was flush with cash. As a result most of their grand buildings date from that period – which coincided with the Art Deco movement in architecture.

The Guardian Building is the best example in Detroit, and one of the very best in the world. It has made every single list of top 10 Art Deco skyscrapers every published.





In addition to the Art Deco, they use a Native American theme throughout the exterior and interior.





This unique, and stylish mix is fantastic.





The building is asymmetrical, with a taller tower on the north end, with a slightly shorter wing on the south.

The unique custom coloring became so popular that it is now known as ‘Guardian Bricks’.





As you enter the smallish lobby you are greeted by this great mosaic.




The north tower elevator lobbies are unique from any other with the native theme continuing. Note the stained glass window.





A close up of the stained glass. The building was designed by Wirt Rowland, and features the colored materials set in geometric patterns.





A close up of the elevator lobby ceiling shows this detail.





A Montel metal screen separates the lobby from the banking hall.





This close up of the Montel metal screen shows the very cool clock.





The massive banking hall gave this building it’s nickname – the Cathedral of Finance, with it’s strong design homage to the great cathedrals of the world.





The hall is 3 floors high and is flanked on the south end by an impressive mural.





The mural is by Michigan native Ezra Winter, and celebrates all the highlights of the state. Winter also did the mosaic featured above.





A detailed look at the mural shows this industrial side, which compliments an agricultural side (not pictured).





At the apex of the mural is a tribute to finance (after all it was built as a bank)





The newer lighting retains the art deco look.





The ceiling is covered in an acoustical absorbing material, a 3/4″ thick horsehair covering over the plaster ceiling.





This design keeps down the echoing in the great hall, as well as provides a much easier restoration that a 90 year old building requires from time to time.





Even the information sign contains the Native American elements.

The Guardian Building is truly one of the greats, worth a trip to Detroit by itself.







Cleveland – March 2019 – Statuary Faces Are Watching You

Have you ever walked around a city and get a feeling someone was watching you. They are, and I am not referring to the thousands of security cameras – it is the faces on the sculptures and statues all over the older buildings of the city.

Our friends in the 14th Street/8th Avenue subway station in Manhattan apparently have cousins at the Cleveland Library!





The classic Post Office and Library buildings have numerous sculptures all over them.





The Society Bank Building have some of the more intense looks.





Sculptures along the Mall.





The Guardian Building lion.





Another Euclid Avenue building.





Finally this guy is watching over the Colonial Arcade.






Cleveland – March 2019 – Historic Downtown Buildings

Since we were in downtown Cleveland for the Historic Hotel tours, we took the opportunity to check out some other great old buildings.

Most of the buildings are on the National Historic Registry, but interestingly not all.

The Leader Building is a 106 year old, 15 floor structure along Superior Avenue. The name comes from it’s original owner – the Cleveland Leader newspaper. Designed in a Beaux Arts style, it is currently undergoing renovations.








The Main Library was completed in 1925, situated between Superior Avenue and the Mall. Both the Library and the Federal Building next door are on the National Historic Registry.







The Federal Building and Post Office Building was part of the 1903 Group Plan, which built the Mall and a number of the buildings surrounding it. Since it was the first building completed under the plan, it served as the model for others.

The Beaux Arts styling contrasts nicely against some of the newer buildings.







The Society for Savings Building on Public Square was completed in 1889. For 10 years it was the tallest building in Cleveland, eventually being surpassed by the Guardian Bank Building (visited during the Historic Hotel Tour).

The Gothic, Romanesque and Renaissance styles give this structure a lot of character, resulting in it’s inclusion in the National Historic Registry.









The Old Stone Church was added to Public Square in 1855, the oldest significant structure in downtown Cleveland.





The 15 floor building at 75 Public Square was designed by Hubbell & Benes. In use for more than 100 years, there are plans in place to convert the building to apartments.





The Terminal Tower and the Union Station complex. When built in the late 1920s, the Terminal Tower was the tallest building outside of New York when completed. It it part of the massive complex built by the Van Sweringen brothers, who also built rapid transit lines to the suburb of Shaker Heights (which they also built).





The May Company building has been on the southeast corner of Public Square since 1915, designed by the famed Chicago architect Daniel Burnham. As you can see it too is undergoing restoration.





The City Club Building is located on Euclid Avenue. Completed in 1903 as the Citizens Savings and Trust Bank, it became home to the City Club of Cleveland in the 1980s.





Our next stop for lunch was at the Cleveland Trust Rotunda. A recent post featured this building, but it is worth a second look. It has been restored into a Heinen’s Grocery Store.










While it may seem strange to end up at the bus station, in Cleveland it is worth it. The Greyhound Station on Chester Avenue is an Art Deco Masterpiece.










Cleveland – March 2019 – Re purposing Historic Buildings as Hotels

Cleveland has notoriously been divided into two side, the East Side and West Side, separated by the Cuyahoga River. As a promotional campaign the local tourism board was sponsoring an event called ‘Tourist in Your Hometown – Crossing the River’. As part of this campaign they were offering a guided ‘hike’ around downtown checking out old buildings that have been restored and re purposed as hotels.

Our tour started out on the Mall outside of the old Cleveland Board of Education Building, now a Drury Hotel.





Designed by Cleveland architects Walker and Weeks, the building was completed in 1903 as part of the Group Plan. This plan designed a number of public buildings around green space in the middle of the city (The Mall).





The building’s exterior has a number of classic features.





The lobby features two murals by Cora Holden. Completed in 1931 the murals feature historical greats.





One of the first large scale redevelopment of a classic old building into a hotel was the venerable Arcade. In 2001 Hyatt Hotels restored the building to this fantastic state. While I have featured the Arcade in previous postings, you can never get enough of this elegant building.





A close up of the clocks and some of the railings.





Even the light poles have amazing detail.





The Guardian Bank Building was completed in 1896 as Cleveland’s tallest building – towering 221 feet above Euclid Avenue. Designed by Shepley, Rutan and Coolidge it was remodeled by Walker & Weeks in 1939, giving that firm a hand in the first 3 buildings we toured.





Today it has been restored into a Holiday Inn Express, as well as private apartments and the office of an interactive agency called Rosetta.

As with many of the old buildings, the ceilings are amazing. The building was funded by President Garfield’s sons, Harry and James.





One interesting feature of the tours were actors portraying historic Cleveland people. For the morning portion of the tour we met Garrett Morgan.

Garrett was an amazing person, born in Kentucky in the late 1800s he came to Cleveland in his teens where he started working on sewing machines. Having learned about machines, he went on to develop the modern traffic light as well as a breathing apparatus that was successfully used by Garrett and his brother to save more than 30 miners who were trapped under Lake Erie in a fire.





Our morning tour ended at the Metropolitan at 9, a hotel that is a building that was built in the 1970s. While normally that wouldn’t qualify it as historic, they bypassed that rule since it is attached to the Cleveland Trust Rotunda building.

We visited the basement vaults that have been restored into a bar, complete with a demonstration of their signature flaming drink.





The afternoon portion of the tour started out at the Schofield Building. Now restored into a Kimpton Hotel, the building was completed in 1901.

The building was restored in 2013 with 122 hotel rooms and 52 apartments.





The lobby is simple yet elegant.





Our tour took us up to an 11th floor room with a great view down Euclid Avenue.





As well as the Cleveland Trust Rotunda across East 9th Street.





Our last stop was in the Colonial and Euclid Arcades, where a Residence Inn is now located.





The Colonial Arcade was completed in 1898, running the distance between Euclid Avenue and Prospect Avenue. While not as grand as the Arcade, it is still an impressive space.





It was here we met John D Rockefeller, who at times would’ve stayed at the Colonial Hotel, the original hotel in the Colonial Arcade. Rockefeller was the richest person of all time – in 2018 dollars he was once worth over $400 billion dollars. Today’s richest people (Jeff Bezos and Bill Gates) are worth around $100 billion.





The Historic Hotel Tours were a nice way to spend the day, they gave us some tchotchkes, some munchies and even a free drink! The guide was very knowledgeable and informative, and the entire event was free.