Sunday, July 22, 2018
Mid Century Modern has been hyped by so called antique dealers for over a decade now. Dealers in it have done a good job of convincing the buying public (mostly Millennials) that , "Its only going up in value". But as I watch the purveyors of this , one by one, closing their doors, its clear to see that hype, and reality, rarely are the same.
The problem with hype and trends is that it gets copied, and the early market in "good MCM" and their was some made by well thought of designers of that era, did deserve its due as a collectible. The problem became the hype and before long 'so called "designer/dealers" (bored housewives with a husband looking for tax loss write-off), went far and wide to every second hand store, Goodwill and Salvation army buying any and everything including 1960's mass made junk furniture and put outrageous tags on it, reupholstered in it orange and lime green and it was the new 'hot thing'. 20 dollar thrift store blond dining room chest being tagged for thousands as "Designer mid century credenzas" and there was a willing market of Millennials and 'style unconscious people' thinking they were buying 'real antiques' that would go up in value and impress their friends.
If that wasn't bad enough the manufacturers got into it and Ikea, Target, Wayfare, Hayneedle and every low end furniture maker flooded the market with cheapo copies. Now years later, Millennial's, who now have real jobs and looking at this stuff with different eyes, and the fact all their friends have the exact same furniture are tossing it 'literally' to the curb. Like Black Chain beaten distressed farmhouse furniture in the 1990's and white cottage shabby furniture 2000's its all going on the bonfire of "bad taste" fueled with shiplap and pallets from HGTV. It's OVER, let it die, put it out of its misery.
So what is happening? People are buying real antiques again, even Millenial's, who serial watch re-runs of Downton Abbey and play video game set in mythical land with houses that look like Gothic castles and dress in steampunk cloths, have come to be intrigued in fine antiques again, even Victorian.
Millenials however don't decorate in it, they "design" with it, treating that Victorian Gothic chair as a piece of art to be displayed. Millennials travel too (vacations are their thing) and they are looking for that piece that reminds them of those travels. After all their phone is filled with photos and selfies but you can't display them in your home and unless we intend to bring back the old fashioned slide show where you endlessly bore your friends with photos of your travels, buying an antique that reminds you of your trip, appears to be the latest thing to do. That trip to England? Say a hand colored 19th century engraving or a Gothic chair. A fine marquetry side table that reminds you of France, or a antique Syrian inlayed table that reminds you of your trip to the Middle East. People are becoming interested in buying things that "remind".
So as we all watch the death rattle of MCM and the desperate hype of dealers exclaiming " No..this is a real investment". Go buy what you like, what strikes you...buy the things that remind.
Sunday, July 1, 2018
This week an Empire Game Table circa 1845-1850. Nice original Cherry Finish. Classic lines. Contact us if interested this will not last long.
The biggest things that keep small towns from being a strong town is lack of vision, or having it, and being fearful to use it.
While I love the small town of Logansport Indiana that I have both my business and home in. I have realized there are issues that prevent it from becoming all it could be. Part of it is a culture of people waiting for the ”Magic Factory” that will come and provide all those good paying jobs lost in the 1960’s and 70’s and local government relying on “Consultants” and a inexperienced city planning department, to guide their future rather than use ‘vision’ and feel confident in their ability to understand the basics of doing what will have positive outcomes rather than being fearful of attempting the unknown.
Case in point our local historical society. There was an offer from the owners of a local bank to ‘donate’ a 4 story commercial property sitting on a prime piece of real estate in the downtown (essentially 3/4 of an entire city block). The building was built decades ago and shows it age and it was built on the “car centric model “ 4 story density office building/bank with huge parking lots to service it. BUT it is essentially an entire city block opportunity. Bounded by 3rd and 4th street and Market and Broadway, it is a key essential block in the downtown's future.
If you look at the 1898 map you can see the urban density of the site. Multiple separate buildings with a variety of businesses insured that if one or two failed that there was sufficient retail mass to attract replacement.
The only building left remaining of this entire city block is this 1800 era multi story that is home to a local restaurant. Note the 'thumbnail park' the local governments answer to everything.
The property is across from the first major downtown investment in decades. A 3 million dollar investment in an old hotel turned offices, back to a mixed use first floor retail will be reopened to the street with market rate apartments on the upper floors. This development represents a “game changer” and occurred only after the failure of developers (needing grants from other sources) to do low income housing. In the scheme of things, housing costs are so low here that ‘low income housing' is frankly, not needed. This new developer, from out of town, has come in to do market rate. This market rate housing will bring a demographic to downtown that is sorely lacking and represents the return of “over the shop housing” and a key component to downtown rebirth
There is no denying the issues are complex. The Historical Society runs a Museum house, a dying breed in itself; they have a large collection that they cannot display in the current facility, but lacks the ability to generate community interest to keep it relevant. Some generous donors have stepped forward with grants/gifts to make this project happen, but even with that, there is not enough support among the board to take the leap and get outside their comfort zone. So what could be a game changer becomes another missed opportunity.
|A once vibrant downtown decimated by parking lots and one way streets|
What should happen with this site? Well the city could have been a partner with the nonprofit historical society in redevelopment, but the city officials lack an understanding of the inherent value of the site. A series of action and lack of action by the city has resulted in a downtown of parking lots and scattered thumbnail parks, that not only create no destination, but provide no residential housing downtown to have a vibrant downtown.
The problem is the city plan? One of several 10 and 20 year plans calls for nothing more than another downtown park/plaza on land to the east of this site. Another "town square“ type of proposal with the obligatory small convention center, and lets not forget a parking garage, done by ‘consultants’ that generates no revenue and no tax base but is somehow suppose to be a catalyst for change and rebirth. If that sounds like the failed pedestrian mall effort of the 1980’s to make downtown relevant? This is the modern iteration. A failed idea, doomed from the start that would also involve the demolition of more buildings too. Simply replacing pavement with green space does not revitalize the downtown. What is does accomplish, is, it locks an entire block of downtown into no future development, no new housing or business and becomes a liability to maintain.
What is needed here is an understanding that for the town to be vibrant and to grow it needs a return to the pre WW2 density. In this case retail, small scale, with residential above. Not the current new urbanist large box first floor type of model, because, large retail is not returning to the downtown. What is needed is 750-900 sq ft retail, with maybe one anchor 2000 sq ft tenant on the corner. This insures long term stability of the streetscape.
The quadrant on the South could be developed first and it would sit on a block with a long established restaurant and across the street a classic Art Deco Theatre acquired by a nonprofit that is working towards its restoration, it is the type of event venue that will bring and retain younger people in the community.
Once that first phase is built, one can gauge the value of it and obviously the next phase down the road would be the NE quadrant (corner of 4th and Broadway) that could have more of the same, (or could have been a new county historical society museum),with the ultimate goal the renovations of the Bank/office building into more street retail (restaurant/bar and shops) with higher end condominiums on the upper floors and the construction of a smaller parking garage to accommodate resident parking.
This site, sitting where it does, has views of both the Wabash and Eel Rivers and historic Bankers Row and could be potentially be the most valuable property in town.
Impossible? No it’s done all the time and is a proven model of re-urbanization of downtown surface lots everywhere with success. The obstacle is finding the Politician's and a planning department to get out of their comfort zone. Yes, I just made a lot of people at city hall even more out of their comfort zone with this blogpost, but without a community dialog and bringing these systemic issues/problems to light? Nothing ever changes
Monday, June 25, 2018
The first of these workshops is on Stenciling . The dates are July 14th and 15th. Classes will run from 12:30 to 2:30 and will cover a variety of topics including history and use of stencils (especially in the Victorian Era) how to place and use stencils as well as the "hands on" part of the workshop where participants will get some hand on experience with how to actually use stencils. Materials are provided for the class.
Workshop cost is 35.00 and class size is limited to 8 per class so you need to register as soon as possible as we expect both sessions to sell out.
Monday, April 30, 2018
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 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
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.
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.
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.
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.
|We figure this view must be early 1889-1892|
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
|Stripping the cast iron mantle that will house a gas burning insert|
|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.
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
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?
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
Friday, December 1, 2017
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.