Sunday, May 3, 2015

Burgman Building: Commercial "un-muddling" begins

The front storefront has few changes
While one could justifiably argue that the front commercial space is 'period perfect' down to its wainscot , period storefronts and beaded-board ceiling, the side street unit is not.

The back storefront is a 'different' story
In fact this was the area of greatest re-muddling, undertaken by the prior owners who were trying to... who knows what? What they did do is install the "Great wall of kitchen" as we call it, drop ceilings, install florescent lighting and put in crappy carpet.
There should be a law to prevent this!

These "periscope ceilings' do nothing to show off the large windows and period trim.

The new floor plan works better for our use
Of course it ALL has to go! We will be reconfiguring the back 2/3 of the space as additional shop space connected to the front shop and the front 1/3 will be turned into a formal entrance for the upstairs, with a large pocket door between this entrance and the commercial which can be opened up for large events where we might need to use multiple entrances.

Amazing detail on this capital
This back space was originally built as a saloon and it had been updated a few times over the year so little is known about its original paint colors. However when  we began removal of the dropped ceiling we exposed the original support column with its polychrome paint. Faded and chipped but enough to go by.

And there is the round window and 13 ft ceilings!
We also exposed the circular window along the back wall which makes a big difference! Still have lots of drop track to remove, and we now have a 7 ft high tall stack of acoustic ceiling tiles and we filled 30 bags with fiberglass bat insulation.

This short wall will come out and a full height wall built to house  a pocket door with a large arched window over it to let in light
Coming soon will be the old duct removal and patching any holes cut in the ceiling with some matching bed board.

Of course now that everything is out of the Persian Parlor, I just had to throw down an oriental rug which has some blues that compliment the wall nicely.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Burgman Building Restoration: Upstairs Hall: Bye Bye 1980's

This may have been trendy in the 1980's but it does not belong in the 1880's and HAD to go
When the window and wall company had its offices upstairs they made some , well lets say "unfortunate" decorating decision that I am sure were cutting edge in the 80's..thats 1980's not 1880's. One of those unfortunate decorating decisions was row of brass track lights and a dropped ceiling of lattice.

no more brass track lights
Now we have long held that Victorian should look like a Victorian and this "Italian restaurant" look had to go and did not belong in a 40 ft hallway leading to impressive Victorian parlors. First to go were those Brass track lights.

And we have ceilings again!
Next was removal of the lattice and the 1980's were banished! We love the ceiling height and now the challenge will be to determine how best to light it most likely this will be a combination of wall sconces and a couple of overhead Gasoliers. Needless to say that wallpaper must go as well.

I envision this as  gallery space for our private art collection some top crown molding will be called for. A proper hanging rail and a chair rail.  Wallpaper with gold inks in them or stenciling but this space calls for something with a gallery like formality.

Front Page!
Well we knew the local paper was doing a piece on the acquisition and the reporter emailed me to let me know the article was out online and would be out today. What I didn't expect was 2/3 of the front page of the paper and 1/2 a page on another!

Well today was the last phase of removal of the 'closet thing' in the Persian Parlor.

And now its gone! More updates as they happen.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Burgman Building : Weekend Update: The Garland Parlor and fabulous finds!

A quick dose of "ugly removal" and the Garland Parlor its on its way back
The Garland Parlor is now back to its original size now that we have removed an addition done back when this was a drapery shop. the garland room is named such do the garland frieze stencil work. This room and eth long hallway both had evidence of a hanging rail and we presume this The Garland room might have been where the family hung Artwork. The removal  of the workspace involved removal of a built in box, workbench and some shelving and a partition wall.
I have no clue what they were thinking here, but this will be gone VERY SOON!
We cannot explain the "lattice work" hanging in either the Garland Parlor or the entrance hall, other than is tack and poorly installed, but that makes it easier to remove. Soon we will be back to original ceiling height in the  entrance hall.

Tucked away we found this treasure
Four days since close and so many changes and finds.! Tucked away was this Antique Zither, while it needs restringing , we are amazed anyone would just leave it.

Mapping it out is a must do when planning a kitchen
Today we mapped out the new kitchen. At 12x 19 feet its not the largest kitchen but will have room for side by side fridge, Large sink dishwasher and a commercial gas chefs range and plenty of storage due to the 12 foot ceilings. The island will be 42 x 72 and have bar seating and we sill have room for bistro table. The kitchen cabinets were put in about  a year ago and are of good quality with 42 " uppers. Our plan is to have them re-sprayed (they are currently a light oak) and we will reuse the green quarts counter top and be adding an extra 6 feet over what is already there. Fortunately we can get a perfect match for this counter top. The cabinets will be done in Antique Black and the island will be custom built as a free standing unit and in a different finish. Not sure if we will do a butcher block or some sort of copper top. We will use salvaged wainscot on the walls. With the additional trim work we will do we are going for a 'butlers pantry" look.
We knew this area was the most damaged
On Friday we met the director of the Cass County Historical Society who stopped by and we were interviewed by a report from the local paper who brought a photographer with here. Lots of questions and lots of photos and I guess the piece will come out in a few days. They photographed  the removal of the awful retail hanging board that was in the parlor revealing what I knew was the worst part of the Persian Parlor wall and this weekend I started removing the awful corner cabinet.

Fortunately this is where the new Valor gas fireplace , slate mantle and renaissance over mantle mirror will be
Fortunately this is the area where we will bump out slightly for the gas fireplace and the Slate mantle and Renaissance over mantle mirror will take up most of this heavier damaged area leaving me with only some repaint/re-creation work

Things are moving right along!

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Burgman Building: Initial Assessment & the mystery of the blue flower

Our first day onsite was initial assessment and refining some plans on the building. We wanted to signal the change in the building and the first thing we did was fill one of the store windows with antiques and remove the totally inappropriate vinyl blinds.

I am impressed by the level of detail in the residential part of the building , the mid trim decorative blocks are amazing.

Also the hinges and hardware are exceptional.

The Persian Parlor is  a true decorative find and the fact it is still there and not covered by layers of paint is  a miracle . I am looking forward to paint testing in the other rooms to see what might be there. Now that we have the junk out of this room the size and scale is impressive.

I am always impressed with other artist work and I wonder about the 'blue flower". In the entire room over 85 Linear feet of mural and stencil work there is but one  blue flower cluster. I am sure it has a special significance known only to the artist who did this fine work.

Tomorrow we have newspaper interviews

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

New Project: The Historic 1884 Burgman Building

We are pleased to announce that we have acquired the historic Burgman Building, an 1884 commercial Italianate building in Logansport Indiana.

The building was listed on that cities historic preservation inventory but had been 'delisted' at the request of a former owner . The last owners had been 'remodeling it' but fortunately nothing irreversible was done.

The building is a period perfect example of a Commercial Italianate corner building and was built for the Burgman family who operated a corner store on the 15th street side and a saloon on the Smead St side.

Of critical importance historically is the second floor residence of the Burgman family. This second floor has only had minor alterations over the years and still retains its high ceilings , original Eastlake woodwork and a rarest of the rare "Persian Parlor" with its hand painted and stencil designs. That room will be restored to its original excellence

The building will undergo a complete restoration to Secretary of the Interior standards for Historic preservation with the goal of a local state and national ,historic status.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Antique of the week: A English Victorian Aesthetic Recamier

So beautiful it will make you swoon! Fainting sofas (recamiers) were a part of Victorian Society and were handy in case Women , confined in those corsets , needed to rest.

Today they are a "must have" display piece in most parlors, most antique dealers charge thousands for restored ones and good ones are hard to find.

This one is one of the best we have had. Wonderful Aesthetic Movement "Persian inspired" fabric upholstery, Tassels and fringe complete the exotic effect. Most importantly, its priced affordably!

You can find this Recamier and other items on our Ebay site: Ebay Inventory
This is our annual spring cleaning sale and many items are one week only listings.

Friday, March 13, 2015

OPINION: Urban Inversion, coming to Cincinnati Neighborhoods near you

Communities like Knox Hill may well see their return as upper middle class neighborhoods
The dynamics within Cincinnati are on a pathway of rapid change. "Urban Inversion" , demographic changes are  returning cities to their old socio economic pattern, pre 1960's 'white flight". The inevitability of inner core communities being one of increasing wealth and prosperity and the decline of "old ring" suburbs built in the 1950's which will become more poor and crime ridden is not far in our future.

Some, call this "gentrification" but in reality it's just a change in market forces, fueled by  desire among the middle class and wealthy to live a more "urban lifestyle". There is no denying its happening in Over the Rhine as condos push the 300.00 a square foot build out, and ironically early "urban pioneers" (hipsters) are starting to see them selves 'priced out' of actual downtown and OTR, living and are trying to figure out where to go and their options are getting limited.

Areas like Covington and Newport are getting increasingly more expensive and unaffordable to those on the typical millennial salaries.

Developers want to historic redevelopment before they take the risk on new construction projects
Part of the problem for Cincinnati is it has largely "shot itself in the foot" by exercising  large "Blight Abatement Programs " which have wiped out large quantities of restorable historic housing stock in the city and ignored Historic Preservation as an economic redevelopment tool.  Literally, the city threw out the baby with the bathwater, unable to see the increasing demand for living downtown, the fact it will get only more expensive and being or close to it with a more affordable neighborhood alternatives will be in demand as well. Part of this caused by bad policy of the last administration, but it is compounded by the fact the new administration isn't yet thinking "Big Picture" yet.

I actually had a long time city employee, a building inspector, tell me with a straight face that if we empty out these blighted neighborhoods we can create proper suburban lots that developers will want to build on. This represents a misguided idea that people do not want to live in anything but ranches and do not desire urban density.

As we all know suburban models are the last thing people want these days and one can reasonably make the prediction that older suburbs will look more like the old downtown; poor, high levels of rentals and with high crime. This has already happened in cities like Indianapolis, St Louis and Chicago where the poor have been pushed out to old burbs and those areas are now the "high crime" areas, with gangs, educational challenges, drugs, high crime and must struggle with 'what to do'  with these areas as Shopping Malls die, check cashing stores and pawn shops move in. Ferguson MO is a prime example of a community that went from majority white to majority black and from middle class to poor, from low crime to high crime almost overnight.  Those issue s and problem will happen here as well.
We know new Historically inspired infill is desirable in other cities but it comes AFTER restoration of existing housing stock
As often happens, Cincinnati is not moving fast enough, still clinging to a failed "blight abatement" model and not realizing that before developers come in and build new construction , historic restoration typically has to come first. Developers want to invest in communities that already have invested individuals in them.

 There is also the mistaken belief that we must maintain more low income housing in these neighborhoods, but not realizing that demographic is already moving on. The poor move to where they feel comfortable and to be near family and friends. They have no desire for foodie restaurants and coffee houses on every corner and resent being a small minority in an upscale neighborhood, that is often looked down upon. Also we know developers use low income as "place holder" housing initially and once that federal funded requirement expire they will move that former low income housing  to "market rate".

Who are the winners and losers here? Well, near urban neighborhoods, areas like Incline District, Knox Hill, Camp Washington, West End, Walnut Hills, Mt Auburn and Westwood would seem to be the ultimate beneficiaries  and we are already seeing patterns emerge as restoration takes hold. The losers may well be those once considered 'safe' neighborhoods in the townships which will look more and more like the old urban city did.

The city has to start figuring out new models. For example building bigger roads to get people from suburbia to downtown everyday may not be the best model, long run. There may need to be a look at how do we expand public transit (bus services to service the poor in township areas) who can't afford to drive to downtown or to the far burbs which will be an expanding center of service jobs and commerce.

New methods of car storage need to be embraced now as part of future development

Other cites are embracing more neighborhood friendly car parking solutions and not pretending cars are going away. parking is being incorporated into new development
We also have to understand that the city is about to get more congested. As it becomes more wealthy, more settled, so come cars. While Millennials may not like cars, the rich do not give up there cars and there will be a need for more parking garages, off street parking, increased taxi and Uber services. In short there are going to be more cars downtown in the future, not less, and we need to accept that inevitability and we need to alter our idea of building code and design to accommodate stacked garages, underground parking and condo parking lots and not follow the advice and wants of people who will be priced out of neighborhood that will have this problem.


Corporate owned commuter buses may be the solution for Millennials in near downtown neighborhoods
Millennials (who are not car friendly) may find themselves living in neighborhoods without good public transportation and the city may need to rethink how we will get people from Price Hill, Fairmount and Walnut Hills to the downtown in an efficient manner and its not by building more roads to the far burbs but may involve public private partnerships with local corporation to provide shuttle services for employees from close in neighborhoods.

The challenges are many, and the city need to start focusing on its future and stop looking at its past assumptions of what things would be like. Clearly this effort will require greater cooperation with county agencies and the ability of city leaders to think "out of the box" and "big picture."

Friday, February 20, 2015

Victorian Design: A Neo-Grec Newel Post light Restoration Project

Period Newel Lights are a vanishing breed, either scraped or turned into table lamps
The 'fun ' part of restoration is taking something that most might pass by and bringing it back to something that epitomizes Victorian Decorative arts.
The lamp had a lot going on but the one color paint did nothing to bring out the details

This newel post light didn't have much going for it when we started. Turned into a table lamp it had multiple coats of gold paint a frankly looked tired.

The use of proper placement of color bring out those details and the faux marbling creates a jewel like quality. 
However it was the details that make  a piece and this was in fact a higher end Neo Grec Newel Post "mansion grade" light. We had to carefully strip the layers of paint, repair hairline cracks and then select a period polychrome scheme  that was appropriate for the era of this piece.
Use of color again defines the 'architectural' component of the design

So we turned an ugly ducking back into a swan.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Indiana Landmarks nears deadline on saving Historic Owen Block

Indiana Landmarks needs to raise an additional 110K to save the historic Owens Block in Evansville Indiana.

 Indiana Landmarks took an option on the rare 1882 row house and spent money on an engineering analysis. The discouraging verdict means that to save the place, Indiana Landmarks must raise $440,000 to cover stabilization of the fa├žade and partial rehab, an amount that could not be recouped by a developer.

 “If we can cover the immediate stabilization required by the city to insure public safety and make a start on the rehab, we’ll be filling the financial gap that has caused developers to walk away,” Davis says.  Two Riverside residents offered $10,000 each as a challenge to kick-start the fundraising, and another increased the challenge by a $20,000 contribution. An Indiana philanthropist pledged $100,000. The City of Evansville will invest $50,000 to save the historic corner, an amount less than it would have spent to demolish the structure.

On January 22, the Evansville Building Commission voted to postpone a decision on the Owen Block until its March meeting, giving Indiana Landmarks additional time to raise the $440,000 necessary to allow the project to move forward .With the generous Support of preservationists they hae secured pledges totaling $328,28.

They we are still more than $110,000 short on our goal. We hope to have the full amount by February 18, when Indiana Landmarks’ Executive Committee meets to discuss the project.

People interested in preserving this structure who would like to make a donation, should contact Indiana Landmarks


Monday, February 2, 2015

Just In: February Finds. Great antiques for your home.

Just in! A pair of Renaissance Revival Chairs! Matched sets are very hard to find. These have great upholstery and large larger size and very comfortable. Priced to sell, contact us for details

It doesn't get better than this rare Victorian Giltwood spindle CORNER CHAIR! Lovely red seat with tassels this is perfect for that Turkish Corner!

This is fine Organ or Piano stool with new Upholstery with Fringe detail.

A great wall sconce with two glass globes. One globe has a crack but can be turned to face the wall so its not noticeable. We have lots of great gas globes in as well. Contact us for details.

For info on any of these contact us at