As the song goes Route 66 went from Chicago to L.A., going through Missouri along the way. While much of it is gone, replaced by freeways, there are still portions that are intact.
Many unique places remain along these portions of the Mother Road. One such place is just west of Springfield, Missouri. It is a restored Sinclair Gas Station full of cool, quirky things, including numerous ‘vintage’ vehicles.
A very nice lady named Barbara is the current owner of the property, having taken over for her father after he passed away. Barbara enthusiastically welcome all visitors, and the visitors seem genuinely pleased to be there.
On the day we were there one of the old trucks her father had owned was returned to it’s rightful spot at the station.
As noted plenty of tourists make the stop to check it out. I suggest if you get the chance you do the same.
Despite what Fenway Park, Wrigley Field, or even Bosse Field in Evansville, Indiana say, Rickwood Field in Birmingham is America’s oldest baseball stadium.
Opened in 1910 it is in amazingly similar look and condition to the day it was opened.
While it is no longer used regularly for the minor league Birmingham Barons, it still sees some use with a tribute game by the Barons, as well as other use.
Most frequently it is used as a movie set for retro baseball movies, as well as local colleges.
As you enter the stadium you are greeted with old entry gates, not metal detectors.
The lineups are written on a chalkboard.
Going into the box seats you have a fence surrounding the home plate area for protection from foul balls.
The seats are still all wood, not plastic.
For most a large roof protects you from the hot Alabama summer sun.
Looking down the stands towards the press box. The original press box was a tiny 4 person booth on the roof, but this one was added for a period piece movie and it was left as it is more functional.
We were permitted to go onto the perfectly manicured field to check it out. The center field fence seems far away from here.
Also note how much foul ground there is behind home plate – many would be foul balls likely turn into outs here.
Looking down first base toward right field show the unusual cantilevered light towers.
Left field is similar, with a ‘batting barn’ built further off to the left.
A view from home plate back towards the stands again show the foul territory.
Despite it’s minimal use, they keep the field in perfect condition.
The view of the right field stands are far longer than those along left field. When this stadium was built in 1910 Forbes Field in Pittsburgh had just been completed as the standard in stadium design, and the architects here used essentially the same design – albeit with much less seating than the major league stadium.
As we make our way into the outfield you can see the advertising along the outfield fence. This was a common practice in the early 1900s, and the advertising that is there is either period advertising, or new companies with the ads made to look period correct.
The scoreboard has been restored to the early 1900s look, with the scorekeeping done manually.
The teams listed would be those from the 1930s – Atlanta is still in the Southern League, and Brooklyn still has the Dodgers.
Birmingham is happy to see you.
Even the Vulcan is present.
The ads are very cool.
Another sign of the history of the south – there were all white teams, and all black teams. Rickwood Field hosted both Birmingham teams.
This practice ended in the 1950s.
The right field stands.
Rickwood Field is easily one of the best baseball ‘park’s I have ever seen. While it has been made retro for Hollywood , it really works nicely.
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.
The National Historic Registry has over 80,000 places listed throughout the country, with over 3900 in Ohio, of those 159 are in the city of Columbus. This fairly lengthy posting details those along one of Columbus’s primary street, the aptly named 6 to 8 lane Broad Street.
Some of the properties are in excellent shape, while others are in need of some TLC. Through a number of online sources, including the Ohio Historic Places Dictionary, I was able to pull together some highlights of each property.
Our first stop was on the near west side in Franklinton at the Franklinton Apartments. Located at 949-957 West Broad Street the building was completed in 1920, and is still functioning today as an apartment building.
We would’ve had more photos except for the very sketchy looking people hanging out along the sidewalk on the side of the building, despite the No Loitering sign on the building.
William Henry Harrison Headquarters –
W. Broad St
When Ohio became a state in 1803,
there was significant debate on where the capital should be located. Originally
set in the southern Ohio town of Chillicothe, and briefly in Zanesville, it was
decided in 1816 to build a new town across the Scioto River from Franklinton in
the center of the state. As a result the near west side of the city of Columbus
was originally the town of Franklinton.
This house was built around 1807, as one of the few brick buildings in Franklinton. It remains one of the few remaining buildings from the Franklinton era. During the War of 1812 it was used by General (future President) William Henry Harrison as his headquarters for the Northwest Army. Later during the Civil War a confederate spy lived in the home.
A smaller house is locate in back.
House No. 6
W. Broad St
This 124 year old building
served as a fire engine house until 1966, when it was sold and used for a
variety of businesses, as evidenced by the dilapidated sign for Jimmy Rea Electronics.
A non profit historic preservation group, Heritage Ohio, has purchased it with
plans to renovate it as their offices, with retail on the 1st floor.
As with most of the early fire stations this one has a tower attached for drying the hoses.
and Ohio Central Railroad Station
W. Broad St.
This unique former
railway station was designed by Frank Packard and Joseph Yost, both noted
Columbus architects of the late 1800-early 1900s. It was designed in an Art
Nouveau styling uniquely accented with Japanese touches like the pagoda tower.
While the pagoda stands out now, it matched the motif of the Macklin Hotel that
was present next door until being torn down years ago.
Even though it now seems
Japanese in style, it was actually rooted in French and Swiss feudal
architecture. The tower originally had 3 large clocks facing all sides, except
the railroad tracks. Originally the tracks crossed the street at grade level,
but was raised in 1910. The construction of the elevated tracks resulted in a
fire that burned the roof of the depot.
In 1930 the passenger service moved to Union Station, making the stations obsolete. New York Central Railroad then sold the station to the Volunteers of America for $1, since the VOA had lost their building on Front Street to eminent domain for the building of the State Office complex. In 2007 the Firefighters Union bought the station and restored it for their use. After 100 years of service, and multiple floods and fires, it stands proudly as a great architectural wonder.
The older photo shows the now demolished hotel along with the station.
W. Broad St.
Built in 1898 by Daniel Burnham, the famed Chicago architect, the Wyandotte is Columbus’s first skyscraper. As with the other tall buildings of the era, it incorporated the new technologies of steel frame and safe elevators to rise to the dizzying height of 11 floors. The bay windows were to allow as much light as possible in these early days of the electric light bulb.
Building and the New Hayden Building
E Broad St & 16 E. Broad St.
The Hayden Building was completed in 1869, and remains to this day as the oldest building on Capitol Square. Next door is the New Hayden Building, which at 13 floors surpassed the Wyandotte Building as the tallest building in town when completed in 1901. Both buildings are currently undergoing renovation. For this building we have a ‘then and now’ look at it.
E. Broad St
Trinity Episcopal Church is a historic church at 125 E. Broad Street in Columbus, Ohio. It was built in 1866 and added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1976. It continues to serve as a church, as well as a community center including a restaurant in the basement that feeds the homeless.
Athletic Club of Columbus 136 E. Broad St.
The Athletic Club building was
completed in 1915 in a Spanish Renaissance Revival style with Italian influences.
Designed by Richard, McCarty & Bullard, it has changed little in the 100 +
years it has stood in downtown Columbus.
It’s members have included a president (Harding), multiple governors and other business and political leaders.
E. Broad St.
The eight-story building at the corner of Third and Broad is now called the Empire Building. Designed and built by Frank Packard in the 1920s, it has a two-story base faced in stone features Gothic-inspired relief sculpture and ornamental grilles, and the lobby has a vaulted ceiling with decorative plasterwork and ornamental light fixtures,”
Benjamin Smith House 181 E. Broad St.
Built in 1860 and now occupied by the
Columbus Club, it has been the residence of multiple Ohio governors, and it is
listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Built by Benjamin Smith, a
railroad contractor and banker following the Civil War, the home had bricks
that were made in Philadelphia and shipped to Columbus.
Mr Smith lost his fortune over time and was forced to sell the house. Two governors then lived there, however the pay for governor was so low, the second Joseph Foraker, had to vacate the house because they couldn’t afford to heat it. The Columbus Club purchased it in 1886, and retains ownership to this day.
E. Broad St.
Yet another Frank Packard design, the Seneca Hotel was completed
in 1917, with the additional four story addition on the east side of the
building being erected in 1924. It served as a hotel until the late 1950s, when
it became a school called the Nationwide Beauty Academy, with the hotel rooms
One of the unique requirements of living there during this time was ‘Girls living in the dorms must be in by 11 p.m. week nights and 1:30 a.m. on weekends, and men and liquor are taboo in the girls’ rooms, as are bare feet in the lobby or hair curlers in the cafeteria.’
It then served as the headquarters of the Ohio EPA from 1976 until 1987, then at vacant for nearly 20 years before a restoration project turned it into a 76 unit apartment building.
Columbus Gallery of Fine Arts 480 E. Broad St.
The Columbus Museum of Art was built on the location that once was home to the Sessions Mansion. As with the Athletic Club, it was designed by Richards, McCarty and Bulford, and opened in 1931. An additional, much larger building was added in 2005.
Street United Methodist Church
E. Broad St.
This church was opened
in 1885 as a state of the art church in what is known as an ‘Akron Plan’, which
is a design where there were wings radiating from the main church for uses like
Sunday school. It was designed by Joseph Yost, who had done many major Columbus
buildings and churches.
The exterior design
is in a High Victorian Gothic style, using masonry materials, point arch bays,
and numerous gabled roof lines and towers. The highlight is the green
serpentine stone as facing on the brick walls, with limestone and sandstone for
the base. This serpentine was replaced with designer stone in 2008.
The wall that fronts Broad Street has art glass windows that came from the Central Church when it was demolished. The east wall has windows that were installed in 1908.
W.H. Jones Mansion 731 E. Broad St.
The W H Jones Mansion was built in 1889 in the Queen Anne style, with a corner turret, third story ballroom and a matching carriage house in the rear.
Jones modeled the mansion after a home in the small town of Barnesville, Ohio, not realizing that his model house was designed to ward off evil spirits, with a number of sevens and threes in the design. It has seven gargoyles built on his home’s exterior, seven steps going up to the porch, seven posts in one section of the front staircase, three vertical rows of seven horizontal blocks in the interior paneling, and so forth.
Central Assurance Company 741 E. Broad St.
Even though this building was completed at the end of the Art
Deco period, it is one of the few examples in Columbus, therefore a significant
building. This streamlined commercial building is built directly next to another
National Historic Registry building built in a Tudor Revival style, with half
timbered 1920s apartments.
Completing this most unique block is a 1880s Italianate home with a large L shaped porch. While it remained in the same family for almost 100 years, it has been a rental property for the last few decades.
Broad Street Presbyterian Church
E. Broad St.
This church was completed in stages, the first being in 1887, then additions in 1894, 1908 and 1924. Elah Terrell was responsible for the initial design with Frank Packard contributing to the 1908 expansion. It is built in a Romanesque style. As part of the National Register of Historic Places since 1987, it remains a church as well as a community center serving a food pantry open to the public.
E. Broad St.
This apartment building was built in an Old English Tudor Style with a courtyard. The building is in the traditional brick and half timber construction with stone ornaments and diagonal basket weave and herringbone brickwork, terra cotta roping and other touches. It was completed in 1929, after being designed by Galbreath and Leonard.
E. Broad St.
The Joseph Cherrington House is significant as representing the earliest period of residential development along East Broad Street and for it’s Italianate style architecture. The house is the second oldest building out of the five remaining Italianate examples along this street. It displays distinct Italianate characteristics through it’s low pitched hipped roof, tall narrow windows with carved stone segmental arched hood molds, bracketed stone sills and a brick stringcourse under the cornice with frieze windows.
Wilden E Joseph was affiliated with the Patton Manufacturing Company. In 1930 Mr Harold Cherrington and his wife purchased the home. Cherrington was the dramatic editor of the Columbus Dispatch, and later a noted reporter journalist and publicity man.
Paul’s Episcopal Church
E. Broad St.
Saint Paul’s Church was established in 1839, with the first building being at Mound and Third in downtown Columbus being built in 1842. With the growth of the east side, the church moved to the ‘outskirts’ of town in 1904 with this building. As with many of the downtown churches, The episcopal closed in 2011, but now serves the Shiloh Christian Center.
Carrie Lovejoy House 807 E. Broad St.
A two and a half story residence with massing and ornamentation, the Carrie Lovejoy House reflects the residential development along East Broad Street. When this house was build around 1900 E Broad Street was considered the most fashionable street in the city.
This house display elements of the colonial revival style in its classical details including the third floor dormer with palladian window, bracketed eaves, and a multi pane window entrance portico with paired Doric columns.
Carrie Lovejoy was the widow of Nathan Lovejoy, who was in the lumber business. He operated a sawmill in the city in the late 19th century. Carrie moved into this house after his death and lived there until 1914.
E. Broad St.
This Queen Anne two and a half story brick house was built in the late 1800s in a Romanesque Revival style with the massive asymmetrical elements. Other noted features include the para-petted gables with stone, high stepped chimneys and irregular fenestration with the windows capped by cut stone lintels. The porch on the north facade is supported by heavy squat French Romanesque columns. The facade is also defined by an octagonal tower on the west.
Built around 1897 it was the home of C E Morris, owner of Morris Ironworks, who was also a real estate attorney, and president of the Hotel Lincoln Company. They lived there from 1897 to 1924.
W. Schueller House
E. Broad St.
The house was built
for him in 1909 where he lived until his death in 1914. Built in the Queen Anne
style, the house is two and a half stories of brick construction with a slate
hip roof, front bay windows and second story round arched window. Dr.
Schueller’s wife Sara continued to live there until around the mid-1940s when
it was converted to offices. The house had a few other owners. Notable ones
include The Ohio Nurses Association had their offices there in the 1950s. In
the 1980s, the home housed the National Alliance of Postal and Federal
Employees’ local chapter. Their membership declined and they lost tenants and
were unable to maintain it.
When a home restorer
bought the home in November of 2007 it was not habitable. Restoring the slate
roof was the first order of business, as it had over 80 leaks. Using old photos
he was able to restore much of the home to the original look. The link below
has a great article detailing the amazing work it took to bring back this grand
Built 1870 Another Italianate style
with outstanding and ornate carved stone ornamentation. Low pitched roof, tall
narrow chimneys wide eaves supported by brackets, frieze windows, long narrow
windows with carved stone lintels, and bracketed stone sills. Linus Kauffman
was VP of the Kauffman Lattimer Company, wholesale druggists lived here from
1907-1931, with his wife Clara residing there until 1936.
Clara was an active woman, being a supporter of the suffrage movement, the president of the YWCA, as well as active in numerous historic societies.
E. Broad St.
Built in 1928, the Cambridge Arms Apartments was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1986, but was removed in 1987 because of owner objection. They now advertise they are indeed on the Registry.
The concrete building rises 9 floors and has a height just under 100 feet. The building was home to many notable families at the time, including the Wolfe family who owned the Columbus Dispatch newspaper.
E. Broad St.
Another turn of the century residence, this one was built in the Arts and crafts movement style of American architecture (aka FLW) Prairie style through its ribbon windows, high water table, smooth stone stringcourses and horizontal emphasis. Levy was the founder and president of the union clothing company, now the Union, established in the late 1890s.
E. Broad St
This 1889 Queen Anne, one of 16 remaining 19th century single family residences along East Broad Street in original condition. Projecting pediment bays with slate trim and double hung one over one windows, arched windows, rusticated stone lintels and smooth stone sills, an entrance with transom and double doors and decorative wood window trim. An ornate tower with a conical roof on the west side of the house. Built for Dr Amos Sharp and Elmer Sharp (a real estate broker). Today it serves as a women’s health center.
The next few make up a block featured in the old photo below.
957 E Broad Street was the Bible Mediation League building in 1948. Previous owners include real estate agent Perin B Monypeny and Frank Hickock manufacturing agent. It is now an office for the Community Housing Network.
E. Broad St.
The Shedd–Dunn House is also known as Noverre Musson & Associates, Architects. The house was built in 1888 and is of the Queen Anne architectural style. The home originally belonged to Frank J Shedd, who was a partner in E E Shedd Grocers. It later became the home of Eggleston Dunn of the Dunn Taft Store.
Heyne Zimmerman House 973 E Broad Street
This home is a 2.5 story tan brick, and red
mortar structure with Colonial Revival characteristics, but has Classical detailing,
including a Doric columned porch with full entablature and bracketed eaves and
cornice with modillions. The roof is hipped and windows are one over one. A one
story addition was added to the rear of the house.
It was built around 1911 when Carl G. Heyne, president of the American Cash Register Company lived there until 1914. In 1918 Charles Zimmerman, manager of the Ohio Auto Sales Company purchased the house where he lived until his death in the early 1930s. His widow Ottie Zimmerman lived there until the 1940s. It was put on the National Historic Registry in 1987.
E. Broad St
A 5900 square foot house, built in 1900 this buff colored brick on a stone foundation house features a tile hipped roof. Built by James Hanna, founder of the Hanna paint company. The house features carved woodwork, leaded and stained glass windows, a grand staircase and most of the original light fixtures.
Street Christian Church
E. Broad St.
First organized in 1870, this build was designed and built in 1907. It’s architecture is Arts and Crafts with the Mission style through its use of rough faced stone wall treatment and smooth stone trim, bracketed wide eaves, side entrances with bracketed roofs and square corner tower with hipped roof and round corner turrets. Also features round stained glass windows, tile roof and parapet supported by squat Tuscan columns.
In 2009 the church was sold to the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church, serving new generations to this day.
E. Broad St.
Something different – a Georgian and classical influence with rusticated quoins, modillions under project eaves. Tuscan doric columns, round arched windows with fanlights, and chimneys. It was owned by Edward Johnson, president of the Lorain Coal and Dock Company from 1906-1912, and Joseph Campbell president of the National Bank of Commerce for the next 30 years.
Frank J. Kaufman House 1231 E. Broad St
Yet another Queen Anne with the conical roof and irregular massing built at the turn of the century. A two story carriage house with singled gables is in the rear. This house’s current paint scheme makes a statement.
E. Broad St.
The Old Governor’s Mansion was built
in 1904 as the estate of Charles Lindenberg. It was designed by Frank Packard in
a Colonial revival style. Until 1917 the State of Ohio did not maintain a
residence for the Governor, instead they were on their own in finding a place
to live. In December of 1916 Governor elect James Cox thought he had found a
home to rent at 940 East Broad Street, where the outgoing Governor Bushnell
lived. Unfortunately for Cox in incoming Secretary of State W D Fulton also
needed a place to live and beat Cox to renting 940 East Broad, living him nowhere
to live. Cox had to rent a room in a hotel.
Embarrassed by this, the Ohio General Assembly appointed a committee to find a Governor’s Mansion. They eventually settled on the Lindenberg Mansion, with it’s wide staircase and Tiffany glass. Despite the ornate trappings of their mansion, the Lindenbergs actually sold the home to the state of Ohio at a loss.
Photo during the time it served as the Governor’s Mansion
Once the state purchased the home they
began a complete remodel, as well as razing the home next door to make room for
a garden. The furnishing for the home were made by
prisoners at the Mansfield Reformatory. In 1920 Governor Cox was finally able
to move in. He, and 9 subsequent governors
and their families called this home during a 36 year period before the state purchased
another mansion in Bexley for the new governor’s mansion.
This historic site is said to be haunted by an African American woman in a blue dress who is believed to have died in a fire in the mansion. Staff at the site have reported paintings rearranged after hours. Investigators say that the apparition of a female in turn-of-the-century clothing for a housekeeper has been seen multiple times in the mansion. The unmistakable smell of burning hair and skin is reportedly still detected by visitors to the mansion.
Franklin Park Conservatory 1547 E. Broad St.
In 1852, the Franklin
County Agriculture Society purchased 88 acres located two miles east of
downtown Columbus as a site for the first Franklin County Fair. In 1874, that
land was made the official grounds of the Ohio State Fair. Ohio Legislature
passed a resolution declaring the site as Franklin Park and open for public use
With the Chicago World’s Fair of 1893, the city of Columbus was inspired to creature a horticulture building influences by the Exposition’s Glass Palace. That grand Victorian-style glass greenhouse is now known as the John F. Wolfe Palm House, it opened to the public in 1895 as Franklin Park Conservatory.
Our trip across Broad Street was interesting and educational. With so many great buildings on the National Historic Registry I encourage you to check out your town’s contribution to this list.
Our second Chicago Architecture Foundation tour of the day was ‘Hotel Boom – Making Old New Again’. It focused on the current trend of adaptive reuse, taking old buildings that may or may not have previously been hotels, and updating them as boutique hotels.
As with our first tour we headed south on Michigan Avenue, stopping across the street from the Chicago Athletic Association Building.
The CAA members were the movers and shakers of Chicago in 1893 as the World’s Fair was going on. Anxious to impress their out of town visitors, they engaged Henry Ives Cobb to build them a building rivaling anything that anyone would find in the great cities of the world. One would have to agree they did!
In 2015 the building was remodeled into the aforementioned boutique hotel style, as the club membership had dwindled. The results are one of function, but retaining most of the original look and feel.
The upstairs game room features the Chicago Athletic Association logo. Look familiar – it should as the Chicago Cubs bought the rights to use it in the 1800s.
As we made our way to the next stop we passed the Reliance Building. Designed by John Root in 1890 it remained a commercial property until the late 1990s when it was rehabbed into a boutique hotel.
As part of the Chicago School of Architecture it has the famed bay windows throughout.
On nearby Wabash Avenue is the Silversmith Hotel, so named as it is in the restored Silversmith Building on Jeweler Row. The architect, Peter Weber of the Burnham Architectural Firm, completed the design in 1896.
While it is an early example of the Chicago School of Architecture, the remodel has added modern elements to it (the exterior is required to remain ‘original’ per the Historic Registry requirements).
As we made our way back up Wabash we passed the Virgin Hotel Building, another re purposed building. Unfortunately we were unable to explore the interior.
The Chicago Motor Club Building was famously designed and completed in only 265 days in 1928. It is regarded as one of the finest Art Deco buildings in Chicago. The Motor Club used the building for office until 1986, and others used it for commercial use until 1996.
It sat vacant for many years before Hampton Inn (of all corporations) restored the building into a boutique hotel.
The lobby retains the Art Deco look.
A famed 1928 mural of the United States road system adorns one wall. Since the 1926 directive to give roads numbers was not quite implemented yet, this mural still uses the historic ‘trails’ designations such as the Lincoln Highway, etc.
The spiral staircase continues the Art Deco feel. For a company mostly known for small motels along freeways Hampton Inn really came through with this one.
Across the river, and in a different planet from a hotel room price perspective is The Langham. Often cited as one of Chicago’s priciest hotels, the Langham occupies a portion of the famed Ludwig Miles van der Rohe’s famed IBM Building.
It has a mid century meets gaudy feel.
Our final stop was the London House Hotel. The unusual name comes from the building’s original owners, the London Guarantee Company, an insurance company.
It is situated on the site of Fort Dearborn, the first settlement of any kind in what is now Chicago. As such a sculpture of the fort graces the entrance.
The traditional entrance has an impressive ceiling that amazing was covered up for 50 years by a drop ceiling.
Completed in 1923, it was topped with a cupola made to resemble the Choragic Monument of Lysicrates,
The view from the 21st floor outdoor bar is fantastic.
Earlier in the day, and totally unrelated to any of these posts we visited the 9th floor Winter Garden of the Harold Washington Library. It is not historic, but is cool.
Our night ended up with our cool view from the 23rd floor of the hotel down Kinzie Street toward the Wrigley Building, Tribune Building and others.
Our good luck with the Chicago Architecture Foundation tours continued. While the docents all have their unique approach, and you might pass by or go inside a building you have previously seen, you always learn something new. We are looking forward to more tours.
America’s greatest train station is Grand Central Terminal. While hundreds of thousands of people commute through the terminal every day, and nearly every tourist who comes to New York stops by, I had the opportunity (and the zoom) to check out close ups of some of the details.
The feature photo is a closeup of the clock and sculptures that are at the top of Grand Central facing south towards Park Avenue.
Let’s head inside.
The iconic information kiosk clock backed by one of the schedule boards. The information kiosk is reached via an internal spiral staircase from the lower level of the terminal.
The clock was made by the Seth Thomas Clock Company. The clock has made appearances in numerous movies including North by Northwest, The Fisher King, the Godfather and others.
The Beaux Arts Chandeliers frame the Main Concourse, with five on both the north and south side.
The bulbs have a basic look to them, but in reality they were replaced in 2009 with far more efficient fluorescent ones.
Looking up from one of the lower level walkways you see a chandelier, skylights in the ceiling and the famed ceiling.
There are numerous photos on display in the terminal showing sunlight beaming through the side windows – something that is no longer possible because of the tall buildings surrounding GCT.
Also in the lower level are some classic wooden benches. Before a restoration in the 1970s these benches were used for waiting passengers in the Main Concourse.
Since then, their primary use has been in the food court in the lower level, but others are in the corners of the lower level.
In addition the Springfield, Massachusetts train station recently installed some restored GCT wooden benches that were unused. They are currently on ‘permanent loan’ to Springfield, who restored them as part of the deal.
While technically not in Grand Central Terminal, the Graybar Building has been closely associated with GCT since it’s construction in 1927.
The building has the classic art deco mailboxes in the granite wall, as you walk through the GCT passage to Lexington Avenue (more on the Graybar Building later).
Back in the Main Concourse one of the chandeliers accents the departure boards perfectly.
The famous sky ceiling – 125 feet across and hung from steel trusses, the ceiling has 2,500 gold stars.
One of the earliest passengers in 1913 quickly figured out that the sky is ‘backwards’, on the ceiling east is on the west side of the concourse, and vice versa.
Until the 1990s the grime was so bad the ceiling was barely noticeable. As a reminder they have left a black patch to show how dirty it was.
A random look up shows amazing detail.
GCT ‘hidden’ high up on one of the side walls.
A ticket sellers window.
Down in the lower level even the elevator lobbies have amazing detail.
As do the track entrances.
Heading out onto Lexington Avenue we see the main entrance to the Graybar Building. Note the giant reliefs on each side.
Eagles are a recurring them in GCT, and the entire area.
More detail on the exterior of the Graybar Building.
The Graybar Rats – The sculpted rats are depicted as though they are climbing ropes that anchor a ship. In reality it is what is holding up the canopy over the entrance.
Other canopy supports have more traditional artwork on them.
Easily one of the most overlooked vintage New York Skyscrapers, the Graybar is worth spending some time looking up at.
Another building that is closely associated with GCT is the Helmsley Building.
While not quite as famous as GCT’s clock facing south, the Helmsley clock greets the Park Avenue traffic coming from the north.
This building too has numerous gargoyles and other sculptures throughout.
More Helmsley Building detail.
The former Postum Building at 250 Park Avenue is a prewar survivor where all the other buildings of it’s time (circa 1924) have long since been torn down and replaced with taller, newer giant glass boxes.
Finally one last look at another of the famed GCT Eagles.
The small city of Auburn, Indiana was the home of early 1900s auto manufacturers including Cord and Dusenberg. Each Labor Day weekend the town holds a festival and auto auctions celebrating those cars, and others.
As part of the celebration they have a large custom car show on Friday around the courthouse square. With more than 800 cars on display it was an impressive sight.
So come along – just enjoy it.
In addition to the shows there are two very large classic car auctions during the weekend. A massive one is held by Sotheby’s at a grounds outside of town – with hundreds of cars sold.
Another smaller one was held at the historic National Automotive and Truck Museum. We arrived in time to check out the cars during the preview.
This classic 1957 Pontiac Star Chief Custom Safari Wagon is a rare two door wagon.
Among the vehicles was this 1940s car carrier. I guess if you buy enough cars, you need to bid on the carrier to take them home.
Outside the building was this sweet Alpha Romeo.
While back inside we passed by a George Barris custom car. George is famous for designing cars for TV and the movies including the 1966 Batmobile, and the Munster’s car.
This car was originally a 1950 Mercury. Designed by Leo Lyons, with assistance from George, it was displayed at the 2015 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance.
After checking out the auction cars, we headed back to the courthouse square show where we found a brief preview of the Auburn’s we would see far more of on Saturday.
This early 1960s Chevy El Camino had a great vintage bike in the back.
Back in the day the idea of air conditioning was to pop open the windshield a bit.
A vintage Chevy Pickup.
With the arrival of the jet age, fins on cars mimicked the airplane look.
Nearby was the Kruse Auto Museum. Located in a building that seems to being vacated, but they did have some movie cars including a Batmobile.
A Carl Casper creation. Carl was another custom car creator like George Barris.
Our day ended at the Kruse Museum in a collection of Indy Cars. While this was a nice day with some cool cars, we knew the best was yet to come.