Monday, April 30, 2018

Saving an Iconic Building. Why places matter: BK East

Small town are unique places. This is why people want to live there. They have memories there too which is why, maybe more than the fact its historic eligible, people want to save this.

Most small towns had "that place". The place where people went  to hang out,  a place that was maybe their first job, maybe their first date, or first kiss. A place where you would load the kids in the car and go to. The drive in restaurant.

The drive in was a product of the post WW2 era. Our highways were expanding and towns were getting closer together. In Logansport that place was BK East. In most cities and towns those iconic places where the community gathered are long gone. Bulldozed, and only a part of a rapidly diminishing collective memory. For Logansport, that place still stands , but perhaps not for long.

The owners want to sell and apparently there is no one to pass the business on to. So it, a house and some lots they own next to it are for sale. the asking price was over 400,000 dollars.

Apparently they have a buyer . Burger King. Burger King is not an iconic place the community gathers, its a place we speed through on our way home or rush into on a short lunch to get something that resembles food. It is not BK East and its not part of a collective memory.
 Burger King won't preserve it, but rather will Bulldoze it and a 1900 era house next too it and build their usual bland chain restaurant on the site.

Now I can bore you with all the reasons the property is historically significant. "Rare example of a Mid century roadside drive in restaurant", sits in the Riverside Historic District and is a "contributing structure" and eligible for individual nomination  based on architecture" but to the people who grew up in this small town, those things are unimportant. It is, and unless the community shows up at the May 21st zoning meeting, WAS, a place that the community gathered and made memories.

It is just one of those things that make this community special, and since Logansport Landmarks announced its immediate peril and hastily elevated it to number 1 position on the Logansport Landmarks most endangered list for 2018, the community outrage is both mighty and deep. Their Facebook page was flooded with views. Over 24,000 in a little over 12 hours, the announcement was shared by over 300 and shared again and again.  For a community that has stood by for far to long and ignored their history, the thought of this loss, may be the final straw. It's too important to them. People who worked there, people who played there , people for whom the memories are too deep and too personal may not stand by and let this pass by the wayside. The people of Logansport are about to fight a big corporate, unthinking, uncaring, chain restaurant to preserve their history. BK East is not about to fade into history without a MAJOR fight.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Burgman Building: A Treasure trove of History Revealed

A treasure-trove of History Revealed today. So its Wednesday and my day off and I'm working upstairs on the dining room when the phone rings. Its Bill Burgman  (Grandson of Ferdinand Burgman II) on the line and says they are downstairs and didn't realize I was closed today but they had some photos they thought I'd want to see. Took maybe 10 seconds and I was downstairs and opening up the door. And today we now have a treasure trove of Building History.

We figure this view must be early 1889-1892
Not one but two photos of the building, The earlier one "pre saloon" shows the original side configuration  of the building and some things we didn't know... another wider door (probably doubles and another round window ! We can also see the design of the chimneys Given the condition of the upper awning they were well worn so several years after the building was built.  But we know its pre 1893 because the building next door was not yet built, but there was  a wooden structure on the site.

circa 1895-1905
The next photo is later Circa 1895-1905 based one the growth of the tree and we can see Ivy had taken over the fence. Note the changes, Awnings have been replaced upstairs and the trim work façade  and window cornices had been painted a lighter color and instate of three individuals awning across the front of the building there is now one larger awning that spans the entire front of the store.

The interior of the store showed the depth of goods offered by Burgman Bros. Also note the Gas lighting in the front room of the store. The gas fitting is still in the ceiling where this light once was. Ferdinand Burhman I,  is behind the counter. We may be able to date this more accurately based on the products and signage. The store was backed to the brim with inventory!

Here we see members of the Burgman family in the grand  "Persian Parlor' this room must have been very important to the family because most photography was done "in studio" back then and bringing a photographer out to the home was reserved for the "well off" in society and was a bit of a status symbol, note they are quite comfortable on the formal settee.

A view of Burgman family life with the kids in the "Garland Parlor" which was the second floor residence 'reception room'. Looks like a Bradley and Hubbard plant stand.

This is a view outside (later on and looks to show Ferdinand Burgman II (all grown up now) with other family members and shows the Old Well house and Brew Barn in the background.

So to say we are happy to have this kind of documentation is putting it mildly. Its so rare to have this kind of history.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Formal Dining Room: The "Chaos" of restoration !

If you own a old house and are restoring, chaos is your friend. At least for me it is. With about 7 weeks until we have the Burgman building open for our annual progress on the restoration, we tackled the dining room. Or should I say we are re-creating a dining room.

Back in  the day this was the formal dining room of the Burgman, just off the Garland reception room this would have been the formal dining room when built. Of course that was before the growth of the Burgman family because this room was pressed into service as a bedroom. We know this because closets were added ( a late 1800's/early 1900's sort of thing and their depth tells is it was earlier rather than later. Doors were closed in and this room , as often the case with old houses, was re-purposed.

Stripping the cast iron mantle that will house a gas burning insert
Trying to keep this room on the same Formality" as the Garland and Persian parlors requires some thought. Or first step on that journey was last year when we opened up the original doorway and added back colonnades that not only recreated the space but added more light to the dark hallway. We also decided that this room would have a fireplace mantle (to house a future gas insert) and that it would be done in a formal aesthetic.

Colonnades were added back into their original location

So the plan is as follows: we are continuing with the ebonized woodwork in the dining room.

1/4 inch Oak forms the background to the wainscot and trim boards are being routed to duplicate the door trim 

We are installing a wood wainscot.
This gold upholstery (30 yards of it) will make up the primary wall fill

The walls will be upholstered from above the wainscot, with a Aesthetic Rose gold upholstery fabric.

Above the top plate rail will be a stenciled frieze and the ceiling will be stenciled and new medallion  installed.

Hey seven weeks is breeze, right? Well of course not. the ceiling was replaced in this room at some point and they TEXTURED IT! so you might say well "just rip  it down and redo it" , right? Well, no because there is 30 inches of blown in insulation in the attic, and you guessed it , it would all fall down if we tore down that drywall.

Sooooo, we are removing the texture off the ceiling. One of the dirtiest jobs that a homeowner has to do, something hat takes a few minutes to do in the first place takes HOURS to remove, as you can see its a process and I will have to re tape the joints too because they didn't do a great job because they were texturing.

The good news is that with the wooden wainscot and the upholstered walls we don't have as much wall prep to do.

We will keep you posted!

Thursday, March 29, 2018

And the Winner is? LOGANSPORT !

We have always have had a knack for knowing when a place has a future. And people often say where we go, "coolness follows" and much in the way we pioneered in many Indianapolis neighborhoods, restored in old Louisville and in Charleston after Hugo , we have always been able to see the preservation opportunity in places others pass by.

My first exposure to Logansport was in the 1980's when I went to a funeral with a friend of mine and his family and on the way back the route took us through Logansport and , being the architecture nut I am, I was taken by the architecture and I recall seeing the Octagon house and literally said out loud "an Octagon house , do you know how rare those are?"

So Logansport was filed away in the back recesses of my mind and when we began a multi state search a few years ago to relocate our antiques and design business from Indianapolis, well here we are. Everyone knows we found an amazing building, in an amazing neighborhood, that most would not even notice and as usual when we show up the 'gentrification train" follows. People are moving here from Indy, Carmel, Westfield and Chicago. Its noticeable to us, because these people come into our shop looking for an elusive doorknob or stained glass. This migration however is largely lost on many locals who see nothing positive about the place they have grown up in and lament what they see as its demise. They lust for the long dead Mall to revive itself or the "magic factory" to come that will restore the town to some sort of 1960's prosperity.

So while many local people have not been paying attention, things are happening, homes are being bought and restored, new shops are opening all over town like Legacy Outfitters or the Record Farm and lo and behold there are people raising money to reopen an old brewery to be reinvented as a craft brewery.. the trail system is getting better, the farmers market is improving. You have great venues like the State Theatre, and a out of town developer is building market rate apartments in the old Logan hotel building downtown. Things are happening so against this backdrop? makes the announcement that Logansport Indiana is the Number 1 small city in the US being selected out of 500 small cities !

Some people are stunned and amazed their town was selected, but it makes perfect sense to us. It's the beginning of major changes. It means real estate prices go up, It means more new people and it means change is about to happen.

Yes the gentrification train is coming. There is a reason why our neighborhood fought a low income house project a couple of years ago. Logansport deserves better than "development for development sake". We have an ability to chart our future, control sprawl and  keep the quality of the city high. Will local leaders understand this? I hope so, because the next 5-10 years are going to be exciting and I'm personally glad we are here to be a part of it.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Burgman Building : Design project

Thought I'd share our Drapery cornice design for our library. This was a small kids bedroom that was off our Garland Parlor. Its really more like a "nook room" at 8x12 feet but it has a number of design problems because the window is not centered there is a protruding bumpout on the right from a chimney that services a old wood stove in the past. We are doing a Turkish theme in the room so I've come up with this wooden moroccan drapery cornice that will be anchored by a column on the left and cover the brick bumpout on the right. We will be designing some elaborate Turkish drapes so this will resemble a larger window with the drapes pulled back to one side and we plan on putting stained glass in the window. Now comes the fun part of building it. Stay tuned for updates.

Friday, December 1, 2017

Small towns: Real life, it is always personal

It’s been a transition from the urban environment to living in a small town. Small towns are different and they are very personal.  Unlike the big city, you make real friendships and you learn to care about your friends and their day to day experiences

We have embraced small town living and though that made many great friend s and small town relationships that are very enduring and, I hope, long lasting, but real life rears its ugly head from time to time.

About a year ago one of my most creative small town friends, an internationally known photographer introduced me to one of his childhood friends. He came into the shop and because of our creative commonality, we talked at length about out creative processes and how we did our craft. Given the opportunity of time, we likely would have become fast friends. The next day he went back to his home and was killed by a hit and run driver. A brilliant, creative career wiped out far too soon and I was left with helping a dear friend deal with that loss. Something no one is really equipped to do.

Today, some of our very dearest friends, who own a local business we often patronize, lost their god daughter, a young woman whom I had the chance to meet when she came in with our friend to see the  shop a  few months back. Full of life, she was having a great time and I enjoyed talking with her about our antiques and all the “cool stuff’ we had.

Sadly tonight, she took her life, for reasons only known to her, her family now grieves, and we grieve for both her and for our friends who must face an insufferable loss and try to process this loss.
There is a humanity to living in a small town that is sadly lacking in big cities.

Small towns are real world, not a sound bite on TV.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Indiana landmarks Northern Treasure Hunt

The Kizer House
We had a great day on the 22nd at Indiana Landmarks Northern Treasure Hunt.

The grand mantle made for a great backdrop for our display
Our display in the Formal Dining room of the Kizer House in South Bend.
We brought a selection of architectural items

A table full of antique lighting

This Grand old mansion is undergoing major restoration by Indiana Landmarks and is an excellent example of Richardson Romanesque Architecture. We had an excellent day and expect we will be seeing more and more South bend residents making the pilgrimage to our shop.

This mansion is incredible and well worth a visit
The History Museums Hold House is right across the street form here and there were events and yard sales going on throughout the area.

Am interesting tower on this home
The neighborhood we were at had many great restored old homes in it. We definitely plan on returning the next time they have this event.

The neighborhood is filled with great homes like this.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Burgman Building: New project: Our Library/study

I admit I have been putting off starting this project, there were more pressing agenda items but it's time to start the Library/study. So we open the door on our next project.
Right of the Garland Parlor lies a bland white box that will soon be our new Library study

This room was used as the Children's bedroom back in the day. In the Victorian era bedroom were simply to sleep so they tended to be rather utilitarian....and they were small. This room is a scant 8' 6 x 11' 8" and its off the garland parlor so it's use as bedroom right off the parlor is just not good.

It looks like the trim was painted directly over the shellac as its heavily cracked
The room was originally painted tan, followed by a  green, followed by SEVERAL coats of white paint and the trim inside, is painted the most horrid pea green, which must be stripped.

To add further insult to injury, the ceiling has been dry walled AND textured. Hopefully the texture comes off easily and we can re-skim The only major issue is with the exterior wall near the old chimney (now gone and capped) resulted in a wet exterior wall at some point in its history (might have been a leak too, before the new roof) so I have some plastering to do.

So given the layout and small size of this room one might be tempted to take out the wall entirely and make the garland parlor larger. HOWEVER the garland parlor has its original frescoed and stenciled ceiling and frieze (currently under restoration), so that is NOT an option.

The layout as it is awkward with a door to one side like it is and with only one small window it is claustrophobic.

So the plan is  eliminate the current door and replace it with a  wider 5 foot wide door which will have fretwork at the top centered to the room. This accomplishes two things , one it lets the Garland Parlor and the new Library/Study act as one space, and two, we do not damage any original stenciling.

In terms of room flow this will be a great improvement. The new Library will have its East wall turned into a period designed bookcase and the west wall will get a new decorative fireplace that will have a register from the new gas fireplace going in the Persian Parlor which will help distribute heat more evenly.

In terms of interior décor all I can say is it will be "over the top", likely done as a Victorian Moroccan/Turkish themed space with lots of decorative stenciling and ceiling work. more to come.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Rarest of the Rare: A Neo Grec Parlor Set

Classic Neo Grec Design
Sometimes you come across stuff that you know is special and sometimes you do not know how special. Such is the case with our most recent acquisition a Neo Grec Parlor Set.

Great bronze mount sets this apart from most Victorian settees
We found this because we search for sale websites by common terms like Victorian Sofa or Vintage Sofa and we found this categorized for sale as a 1900 era item and not the 1860's/early 1870's item it is. Antique hunting TIP: Do not do specialized searches like "Neo Grec Parlor Set" because the average person has no clue what that is. Look for Victorian settee.

The Chair follows the same design
So the obvious question is " Who made it?"  and one might expect to see this for sale with an "Attribution" of Herter Bros or Pottier & Stymus and frankly that was our first guess but our desire to know brought us in a different direction and a Firm with equal quality built more limited production so here we have a Jacob Ziegler & Co Neo Grec Parlor Suite and only the second one I have been able to find. Rarest of the Rare.

Gilding inlay and Ebonizing shows a masterful designer
In our research we find several interesting things about this little known firm. . Ziegler & Co were established in 1849, and remained in business until 1878. The firm offered "a large stock of plain and artistically rich furniture, all of their own manufacture..." and were also decorators. “J. Ziegler & Co./Manufacturers of Furniture and Decoration/ Rich & Plain Furniture/Curtains & Draperies/Hardwood Doors, Trimmings, Mantels,/Pier and Mantle glasses/Cornices, ETC. Warerooms 32 Bleecker Street, East of Broadway, Factory 311 Mott Street.
Ziegler used the same wheel mounts as Herter and Pottier & Stymus
It is notable that from 1865 to 1870, William Baumgarten was employed by Ziegler "(assisting) in making the designs and in the general management of the business." Baumgarten left the J. Ziegler and Co to become Christian Herter's assistant at, and eventually the head of Herter Brothers. This may well explain the similarity to Herter produced furniture. As you may know Herter Brothers has set auction records as far as Victorian Furniture goes.

The scale of this set can really only be appreciated in person
Jacob Zieger  was born March 8, 1825, in Gieslingen, Württemburg, Germany and died on March 20, 1897 in New York City. He was the brother-in-law of William Steinway. Jacob Ziegler was a successful cabinet maker and suitable match for William's sister Doretta. While active in some Steinway & Sons business dealings at William's request, Jacob Ziegler also continued to run his furniture and interior decorating business and his dealings in real estate.

Steinway and Zieger
He married Doretta Steinway on March 18, 1851, according to a date given in the diary. The marriage produced four children; Anna Louisa, Charles Jacob Theodore, Julia , and Henry Ludwig. Several of the children were involved in the Steinway & Sons business. Charles managed Steinway's business in London until his death in January of 1893. Henry Ludwig, who had begun working in his father's cabinet-making business, caught the attention of Theodore Steinway, who trained him in piano design. Henry became Theodore's successor in the Steinway & Sons piano business, continuing to apply innovations to Steinway instruments until his death in 1930.

The Steinway Mansion: could this piece have been there?
We also know Jacob Ziegler was involved in several projects. In 1862 William Steinway bargained with Ziegler to purchase parlor furniture for William’s new household after his marriage to Regina. (perhaps this set is from that parlor?)  In 1875 Ziegler had an agreement with a New York City developer Van Vankenburgh to build interior woodwork for seven houses “uptown” (near 66th St. and Madison Avenue). Jacob Ziegler maintained his own business, but was also an active participant in some of the Steinway family business affairs.  In 1862, William used Ziegler to help negotiate the purchase of additional property on 14th street, adjoining the property that he had just closed on with a third party.  This would be where Steinway Hall would be built

The only other known sofa. This one is button tufted
So in collector terms we have the rarest of the rare with only one other settee ever surfacing back in 2009 (above). Will more be found? Perhaps, but given the limited production of this company its doubtful many were built and in terms of true rarity this is far rarer than most Herter or Pottier pieces

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

We opened up the residence for tour time again

Explaining the stenciling project in hall
We recently hosted the Logansport Landmarks 2nd annual Tour and Preservation picnic on the grounds of the Burgman. We conducted tours of the upstairs rooms and it was an excellent push for us to get more done.

The Persian Parlor: Tour-goers were fascinated by the history of its design.
A great friend of ours Rich Voorhees took some great photos before the tour
The dining room space is an under restoration room
This was a great opportunity to see the phases of the stenciling project in the hall
We had a huge collection of Logansport memorabilia down in the shop
The event was well attended and we were able to do some planning for Preservation in the coming year.