Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Introducing the National Building Arts Center

Our National Building Arts Center initiative has a new brochure that provides an overview of the project: the long-term goals, ongoing activities, collection highlights and project history. We are proud to share our project with the public through this illustrated guide, and welcome your feedback and participation. Credits: Lydia Slocum designed the brochure. BAF Board Members Larry Giles, Mimi Stiritz and Michael R. Allen organized and created the content.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Highlights of Recent Acquisitions


During the past few years the Building Arts Museum has acquired significant additions to its Collections and Research Library:

Architectural Artifact Collections:
1. ) Our purchase of two carved stone statues, nine feet tall, representing the classical goddesses, “Minerva” and “Urania,” came to us with a fascinating provenance.  Originally, our statues were two of 25 colossal sculptures that once embellished the roofline of the St. Louis Mutual Life Insurance Building at the northwest corner of Locust and Sixth Streets in downtown St. Louis.  This lavish, six-story office building costing $700,000 was dubbed the ‘Palace of Insurance’ when it was completed in 1872 to designs of George I. Barnett. The building was demolished in 1956.  The statues, however, already had been removed from the roof seventy years earlier in 1884-86, when the building’s new owner, Equitable Life Insurance Co. (New York), took them down in order to increase the height of the building by five stories. At that time, it was reported Jay Gould, the famed railroad financier with offices in the building, recognized the artistic value of the sculpture.  Gould sought to preserve the statues, but he was unable to find a St. Louis institution willing to accept them.   Over the next 125 years, the whereabouts of the statues generally became forgotten and remained somewhat a mystery until three were identified in Ironton, Missouri, where, since the mid-1880s, they had graced the grounds of a 19th century estate.

The design of the entire group of statues had been commissioned to St. Louis artist Leon Pomarede (ca. 1807-1892), a native of France, and executed by a collaborative team of seven sculptors trained in Europe. Our “Minerva” figure was carved by Henry Marquardt from Stuttgardt, Germany; the statue of “Urania” (representing ‘science’) was executed by William Ross of London, with finishing work by Serephin Cottin from Grenoble, France.  For a time, after completion of the St. Louis Mutual Life Building, the three sculptors were associated in St. Louis under the title, Henry Marquardt & Co.  The H. Marquardt Marble & Granite Co. continued into the early 20th century.

2.) PAIR OF CAST IRON LIGHT STANDARDS (ca. 1880s), from the St. Louis foundry, MCMURRAY-JUDGE ARCHITECTURAL IRON CO.  This purchase, exhibiting superb casting and distinctive design, is of undocumented provenance.

3.) ARCHITECTURAL ARTIFACTS from THE BROOKLYN MUSEUM.  This donation (2012) is part of the on-going partnership we are privileged to enjoy, and is the third major transfer from the Brooklyn collections.  We received 176 objects (37,000 lbs.) featuring a large selection of carved brownstone and limestone elements, architectural terra cotta, three Bishop’s Mitre NYC light posts from Grants Tomb, and cast iron light standards from the entrance of the 149th  Street elevated. The majority of artifacts came from mid-to-late 19th century residential and commercial buildings.  Like the other Brooklyn Museum artifacts we’ve received over the past six years, most were retrieved from demolition sites around New York by the “Anonymous Arts Recovery Society,” founded in 1958 by New York art dealer Ivan Karp.

 4.) THREE FIGURES OF NURSES, nine feet tall, carved in Indiana limestone, donated by the DEACONESS FOUNDATION.  The sculpture was recovered from the old Deaconess Hospital Library Addition at 6150 Oakland (built ca. 1965, Hammond, Charle & Burns, architects).  The building is slated for demolition as part of the St. Louis Zoo expansion.

5.) DONATED BY CHERYL and NORM BLUM of Cedarhurst, New York. This collection comprises more than 800 examples of door knobs and related hardware in bronze, brass, glass, and ceramic materials manufactured by numerous New England firms between circa 1860 and 1930. The Blums were long time members of the Antique Doorknob Collectors Association and had amassed one of the finest collections in the United States.

Research Library Acquisitions
1.) Donation of large holdings of the AMERICAN PRECISION MUSEUM in Windsor, Vermont. Featured in the donation, the former research library of Brown & Sharpe Tool Co. includes a run of the U. S. Patent Gazette and related periodicals.  Brown & Sharpe holds a dominant position in “Precision Valley,” the area of Windsor, Vermont regarded as the Silicon Valley of tool making in the United States.

2.) Donation of archive of HYDRAULIC-PRESS BRICK CO.  This important collection includes histories, photographs, board minutes and other financial records dating to the firm’s beginnings in 1866.  HPB was the largest manufacturer of face brick in the world, with 6 plants in St Louis and 23 plants located throughout `the United States.

3.) 1920s period architectural books from the library of St. Louis architect ERWIN W. H. KNOESEL (c.1912-2003), donated by Richard Knoesel, his son. In 1934, ‘Erv’ Knoesel received a B. A. in architecture from University of California, Berkeley, after influential work with Frank Lloyd Wright at the Art Institute of Chicago. His office in suburban Webster Groves produced designs for numerous churches and residences in the area.

4.) Donation from BRACEWELL & GIULIANI, of research materials associated with the firm’s litigation against American manufacturers of lead paint heard in the state superior courts of Missouri and Rhode Island. The donated items dealing with the history, manufacture, and advertising of lead-based coatings, as well as actual cans of lead paint, made a significant contribution to our large collection of manufacturer’s catalogs and related history.

 5.) The growth of our library over the past several years is due in large part to the generous contributions made by the libraries of the various institutions listed below.
We wish to thank the many librarians and staff who have lovingly packed and shipped a combined total of over 24000 volumes to us.
Our goal is to develop the foremost information resource on the history of the built environment.

Allegheny College - Meadville, PA
Auburn Univ MRI Research - Auburn Univ, AL
Benedictine College - Kansas City, KS
Black Hawk College - Moline, IL
Bluffton University - Bluffton, OH
Boston Architectural College - Boston, MA
Camden County College - Blackwood, NJ
Central Ohio Technical College - Newark OH
Central Oregon Community College - Bend, OR
Colgate Univ – Hamilton, NY
Concordia Univ - Seward, NE
Corban Univ - Salem, OR
Embry - Riddle Aeronautical Univ - Daytona Beach, FLA
Emmaus Bible College - Dubuque, IA
Fairmont State University - Fairmont, WV
Faulkner University - Montgomery, AL
Franklin Pierce Univ - Rindge, NH
Friends University - Wichita, KS
Hardin - Simmons Univ - Abilene, TX
Hobart and William Smith Colleges - Geneva, NY
Holy Family University Library - Philadelphia, PA
Illinois Wesleyan University - Bloomington, IL
Kennedy Space Center Library - Cape Canaveral, FLA
Lee College - Baytown, TX
Lehigh Univ - Bethlehem, PA
Manchester College - North Manchester, IN
Milwaukee School of Engineering - Milwaukee, WI
Monmouth College - Milwaukee, WI
Monroe Community College - Rochester, NY
Northern Michigan Univ - Marquette, MI
Pennsylvania State Univ - University Park, PA
Pittsburg State Univ - Pittsburg, KS
Principia College - Elsah, IL
Purdue Univ - West Lafayette, IN
Rosenberg Library - Galveston, TX
Savannah College of Art and Design - Savannah, GA
Seattle Public Library - Seattle, WA
Skokie Public Library - Chicago, IL
Southeastern Oklahoma State Univ - Durant, OK
St. Mary's School - Raleigh, NC
Stetson Univ - Deland, FL
Sul Ross State University - Alpine, TX
Texas A & M Univ - College Station, TX
United States Coast Guard Academy Library – New London, CT
Univ of Arkansas - Fayetteville, AR
Univ of Central Missouri - Warrensburg, MO
Univ of EvansvilleEvansville, IN
University of Hartford - West Hartford, CT
University of Louisville - Louisville KY
Univ of Massachusetts - Dartmouth, MA
Univ of North Dakota - Grand Forks, ND
Univ of Prince Edward Island - Charlottetown, PE, Canada
Univ of the Pacific - Stockton, CA
Univ of Virginia - Wise, VA
Univ of Washington - Seattle, WA
Univ of West Georgia - Carrollton, GA
Univ of Wisconsin - Green Bay, WI
Univ of Wisconsin - Milwaukee, WI
Univ of Maine - Farmington, MA
Univ. of South Alabama - Mobile, AL
Ursinus College - Collegeville, PA
US Bureau of Reclamation, Mid Pacific Region - Sacramento, CA
Walla Walla University - College Place, WA
West Valley College - Saratoga, Ca
Western Wyoming Community College - Rock Springs, WY
Wiss, Janney, Elstner Associates - Northbrook, IL