Friday, June 17, 2016

Facade restoration continues: Burgman Building

Some quick updates: working on the fa├žade, no major surprises and the colors are going on nicely.

As color is added the building seems to get taller.

Elected to use black on the doors. Still trim detail to do there.

More info as it develops.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Small town living: Reverse Urbanism "The Leap to Logan"

As someone who has lived in large metropolitan areas most of my adult life and as a Historic Preservation Consultant working mostly in large cities, I am routinely asked "why Logansport"?

My response is why not?

I have learned of late that I am not the only one making this "urban exodus", we have people coming into the shop and I make of point of asking where they are coming to us from. Increasingly more and more people say Logansport but they are recent transplants from Chicago or Indianapolis. It's not hard to figure out why, just this last week, 6 Dead, 63 Wounded In Memorial Day Weekend Shootings in Chicago.  In Indianapolis Three men were arrested in connection with a shooting early Sunday at a Downtown parking garage that hospitalized four people, another four people shot on memorial day as well in other instances.

For all the "allure and hype" of Urban living in major cities ,the facts are major violent crime is on the rise in big cities and now commonplace and many are looking to get out before they become a statistic.

As someone who grew up in the 1960's we rode our bikes anywhere we wanted, we might go to the store by our self, we didn't see crime on our streets and we knew people were keeping an eye out for us. If you are kid riding your bike or taking a walk in a major city today you are likely to be pulled over by the  police concerned for your well being. CPS will be called and your parents will be investigated for "negligence" letting you be on your own.

Why Logansport? Kids can still ride their bikes or walk down the street...they can be kids. Now some negative locals will talk about crime, but if you press them they have never lived anywhere else. I can mow my lawn without the need to carry a sidearm as I did in Cincinnati, I can walk down the street without worrying about fighting off a thief as I did one morning walking to work in Louisville and I'm not worried about someone unloading a gun clip in the side of my house as they once did in Indianapolis because I reported their drug dealing

Urban pioneering had risk and rewards years ago. You would buy a historic home fix it up, organize your neighbors and have progressive dinner parties and before long the neighborhood was reborn. Urban pioneering in some cities today means putting you life at risk and at some point even the most dedicated preservationist finds one self asking the question "Is it worth it"? We  now have a great historic building, in a great neighborhood, surrounded by sane, normal people here in Logansport and I wake up every day with an optimism that has replaced the stress I felt before.

Yet you get the inevitable comment...must be boring. Well hardly, for a city its size Logansport has many of the amenities of big cities. Excellent parks, walking trails, farmers market, weekend concerts in the park.  The restaurants are good, the waits are short and you have cool things like the State Theatre, arts events, classic car shows, theatre productions, the list goes on and on and frankly you couldn't get to every event out there if you tried because there is that much to do.

Throw in antique shops (like ours), places like The People's Winery, The Record Farm and all sorts of small craft and gift type shops.. if you can't find something to do you are not really looking, or trying.

I've met people who moved here from Chicago, Indianapolis,  Dallas, Grand Rapids, Toledo, Washington DC, Santa Fe and other places attracted to the incredible historic architecture and small town living. Small towns are making a comeback. I've met people who have left Logansport and moved back because they realized, when they went out in the world, it wasn't as great as they thought it would be and small towns really have a lot to offer.

I can buy Thai food in Logansport (who would have thought)  and the steak at Amelios on the River is just as good as any eatery in a major city.

Small towns are making a comeback, Logansport is making a comeback...its just that some of the locals haven't figured that out yet. As more and more people are attracted to Logansport for its great architecture and small town life they will figure it out. Reverse Urbanism is real, I see it every day now... we made the "Leap to Logan".....and I'm glad we did

Monday, May 30, 2016

Logansport Landmarks Tour and picnic a success. Back to the restoration.

Courtesy of Rich Voorhees Studio: All rights reserved

It's been a week since the Logansport Landmarks tour and things are starting to get back to normal, basically I'm back to working my priority punch list. But I thought you'd enjoy some photos taken by our good friend, Rich Voorhees of Voorhees Studio Inc. here in Logansport during the event. His work is amazing and he has that unique Old house eye for catching the details. It was great to show our "in progress" work and hopefully inspire others to start their own restorations.
Courtesy of Rich Voorhees Studio: All rights reserved
The images of the Garland room even in its unfinished state take me back to the era of the Burgman's.

Courtesy of Rich Voorhees Studio: All rights reserved

Of course we had things that didn't get done , like the medallion installs but it gave us an opportunity to explain "order and process' to people on the tour.

Courtesy of Rich Voorhees Studio: All rights reserved
We had a good turnout and received some excellent feedback on focus of Logansport Landmarks and what people felt were important. We were glad to open up the shop, and the residence for this worthwhile event.

Of course now, its back to that punch list of "warm weather" stuff to do.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Decorative finishes/Medallion Work continues in Persian rooom and Dining room

Just a quick update the first of the two medallions is painted, one more to go, Colors were chosen to match colors used on the frescoes in the room.

Lots to do still but we also have painted the medallion for the dining room. Again to match the colors used in the room:

Updates as time allows.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Frescos work updates and did I mention we have tour coming up?

We now have enough to pull corner stencils
Lots of time spend exposing the ceiling fresco hour here and hour there but its starting to reveal itself and I am now confident we have enough to get good stencils of the banding.

The ceiling banding is almost exposed now
 We should be able to restore the floral work with no problem.

So this is the poster for the event
Oh and we have this tour thing coming up for Historic Preservation week in conjunction with Logansport Landmarks we are opening the upstairs up for guided tours of the restoration work in progress from 3-5 on the 22nd, in conjunction with a Preservation Picnic that goes on until 7 PM that will be held "on the grounds"

Hoping to get the gate and pergola done and then just a few more sections of fence and the future raised bed veggie garden will be ready to plant
This of course means lots more landscape work outside, we got some more fencing up and have been working on the beds.
Transplanting day lilies that were in the shade before is an every day task
This is not an easy task when you have almost an acre sized "private park", we have found huge old Viburnums which are now in bloom (snowball bushes), we have been  dividing and moving Hostas and Daylily's which are huge now and everything is just doing much better since we got some of the choking English Ivy off things.
Can you see the several ton boulder? NO, because the English Ivy covers it. Coming off in the next couple of days
Of course there is still more to do.

Two of these to paint to match the Persian Parlor
This week we got our pair of ceiling medallions for the Persian Parlor which I hope to have painted and up by tour time...hey, sleep is highly over-rated.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Burgman Building Restore: More Frescos and Landscape restoration continues

Well you know me, never satisfied. It kept bugging me that the ceiling in the Garland Parlor seemed too simple given the artistry on display elsewhere. The simple blue sky seemed well, just too simple, so off on another 'investigation.  In looking at the ceiling the paint seemed thicker in one corner and dental picks and blades in hand I began to carefully check the crackling that was evident in that area and they we go again.

As I suspected there was a top bordered wall design panels, It has a floral theme similar to the frieze. Still more conservation work to do, but it looks like I can get enough to create pattern that will allow me to replicate this detail. It appears they had a paint failure in the ceiling at some point, maybe a leak and the ceiling was scraped and the blue ceiling put on, for whatever reason , laziness perhaps, the painter didn't scrape one corner which  probably had firmly attached paint , or MAYBE they felt someday someone might come along to restore/recreate this feature?

So now we have another project.

Meantime outside we have been busy transplanting flowers and bused and starting the fence install around the area where the vegetable garden will be. We plan on replacing the brick edging with stone.

We also added a dry creek with a dry well under it because we are installing gutters on the carriage garage which will direct water away from the side wall of the garage.

Busy times around here.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Burgman Building Restoration : It's in the details, "The Garland Parlor"

As everyone knows, old house restoration is a process, often incremental and often a compromise and stop gap measure , however it doesn't have to be an obvious one.

Such is the case in  the "Garland Parlor". Originally there was a Pot bellied stove in that room as it was somewhat centrally located to four rooms . Of course as it was available, the Burgman's updated to a more modern system. However the old stove pipe hole was still there and while the obvious repair would be to remove it and drywall it, I did not want to rule out the possibility of eventually installing a small pot belly stove in that location, so for now what to do (especially with a tour coming up).

I had a small cover but it was slightly smaller than it should be to complete cover the offending pipe but it would work. The key was to make it seamless and mot have it stand out too much as we want the focus to be on the fresco work in the room. So while we were repainting the lower part of the wall its original color we also painted the pipe surround .

We decided to paint the cover the same color but the question was what to do with the center which normally has an ad or a design in it?  As luck would have it I had an old periodical cover from the period that was in ratty condition except for part of the artwork.

First we make  blank piece of light weight art board  which we attached with a spray adhesive. This acts as a base for the artwork. A little photography mount adhesive on the back and then it is mounted.

So back on the wall again it serves its purpose...problem solved until I find that stove!

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Burgman Building Updates: Kitchen removal and landscape restorations

It's been a while since we posted updates because we have just been too busy.  The latest big thing has been stencils in the hallway and we now are adjusting paint colors to get the correct shades, but soon we begin stenciling

Warmer weather has meant we can now work outside and we have been at it every chance we get. We have started uncovering the foundation of the old carriage barn and for now at least it will make a great patio.

We are also trying to get the beds in order and we have divided and transplanted  over 70 Hostas and hundreds of daylilies and tulips that were so tightly packed together they had little room to grow and we hope to finish excavation of the pond and stream and have it ready soon.

The "great wall o kitchen" is now history! The cabinets are gone and now we have some plaster repairs and painting to do but the rear showroom looks better and we gained a couple hundred square feet of  floor space.

Just a little over month until the Logansport Landmarks Preservation Pitch-in Picnic (May 22nd) and our open house/tour of work to date upstairs

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Persian Parlor: Restoration Continues

Restoring a room is often compared to restoring piece of art, however, when the room IS a piece of art, the complexity of its restoration is magnified by a power of 10. This room is "the room" in the house that truly makes the building special and the fact I waited several months to begin it speaks to that level of complexity and my desire to get it right.

The "Persian Parlor" was a bit of a statement, some might consider it a folly, by Ferdinand Burgman for his home. The Burgman's were involved with a local church and hosted an artist brought in to do work on the church. He stayed with the Burgman's and history has it did this room, the Garland room , Dining Room and hall while he stayed with them in the 1880's shortly after the building was built.

This Greek key design is clearly not Persian and  an example of some "Artistic license" on eth part of eth original artiist.
The parlor clearly exemplifies the Victorian fascination with the exotic. Yet there were , shall we say "artistic license' taken here and there. For example there is a Greek style stencils at the top and bottom of the room, clearly not a Persian design. Also some of the flowers are not representative of those found in that part of the world. However, the overall design is a artistic interpretation of an exotic land and  that was its purpose.

This existing wall panel is our model for the ceiling design
The room is designed in a series of alternating  wall panels, some smaller and some larger. These panels are designed to almost hake it look as it one was standing in a room looking out through a series of windows or on a porch. What we do not know is what the artists plan was for the openings. They were painted a solid color. Normal experience would suggest that there would have been a mural panorama of perhaps a desert scene or maybe the plan was for display of family portrait's and art. We don't know and it not our purpose to speculate and complete that 'vision' but rather to conserve what is there and lightly restore where appropriate. For example a shelf with printer had been unceremoniously screwed into the wall and when the 2nd floor was used as showroom space for the window shop, "slat board" was crewed to one wall causing damage. So as far as the walls go we want to preserve  a level of aging and not make it look like a new room but clearly restore where appropriate.

Key elements of the stenciling have been traced and digitally expanded to the new ceiling size

The biggest loss was the ceiling which was torn out at some point in the properties existence. May have been a leak  or could have been an unwise modernization taken on by a later owner, we do not know. So a major piece of this art is missing. However thanks to the recollection of several people in the building years ago  (invited to parties at the home) we have guideline as to what it looked like and that was essentially a much expanded version of the  north wall panel. This panel was large enough to encompass both ceiling lights (which were gas lights) and the medallions which we estimate were likely the same size as the one missing in the garland room where we can measure the 'ghost' of it on the ceiling 25 inches. Taking the measurements of the original wall panel and the other stenciling we were able to calculate just what the size of this panel would have been.
layout process

Using a large protractor we were able to expand and duplicate the correct curvature of that panel. Likewise careful tracings have been made of the stencil borders and "palm fronds' to aid in proper duplication. These have been scanned and digitally enlarged to the correct proportions. We carefully duplicated the wall paint color at a point of its' best "unfaded" color for application to the ceiling. Once this is applied it will be "aged' to take into account the natural sun fade that would have taken plans as well as to account to smoke buildup that would have naturally occurred in the corners. The paintwork is being done in the same manner as original. The center panel is being duplicated based on multiple accounts that is was a sky with clouds.

I am also "on the hunt" for matching pair of gasoliers and medallions have been ordered and I will start on a proper polychrome for them once they arrive.

More to follow.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Victorian Advertising: Cabinet Card Collecting: A Chicago Collectible

While some collect  cabinet photo cards for their images or for examples of Victorian Dress often the value in these cards is not necessarily the image on the front but rather the advertising image on the back.

Such is the case with this cabinet card photo we got in. Its a usual pose of a young gentleman on the front and inscribed Louis H Rudolph (photographer)  957 Milwaukee Ave. Chicago. However the back is an exceptional architectural example of the photographers studio and Chicago's grand 'lost architecture.

Talk about "Victorian excess" The building has every form of grand ornamentation with classical and beaux arts ornamentation. This was Victorian marketing in its purest form. Unlike many simple cabinet photos this photographer artfully incorporated advertising on the back of the card so when asked "where did you acquire such a fine photograph", one only had to flip the card over.

So when you are out looking at old cabinet card photos, turn them over and you might find a treasure like this one.

We always have a collection of cabinet cards in the shop, but this one is pretty special.