NOTE: IN ORDER TO BETTER SEE PHOTOS IN THEIR FULL 1600 PX. RESOLUTION, VIEW THEM IN THE ALBUM FORMAT BY CLICKING ON THE LEAD PHOTO OR ANY PHOTO IN THE POST. This is especially true for landscape shots. Thanks to Mark for the idea of adding this alert so the photos can be seen at their best!

Friday, June 15, 2018

Glittering Crystal and Golden Cherubs at the Westgate


Designed as a re-creation of an anteroom in the Palace of Versailles, the Grand Lobby of the Westgate Hotel in San Diego hosts afternoon tea on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.


My mother had to go for the tea...I had to go admire its Baccarat crystal chandeliers, Flemish and French tapestries and Persian carpets.


High tea is one of my mother's cherished rituals, and the menu did not disappoint.


Martin's suggestion of a glass of champagne was not declined, and the melodious sounds of a harp playing added to the relaxing atmosphere.


Mom was in her happy place, indulging in an array of delicious tea sandwiches, sweet pastries, scones and seasonal berries.


I was in my happy place admiring the decor, including this light fixture featuring Hermes if I'm not mistaken.


Golden beauties were everywhere including this urn...


...and the table it sat upon.


What would you expect when modeling your decor on the Palace of Versailles?  Hopefully someday I will get there and see that spectacular Hall of Mirrors for myself.


In the meantime I was happy to make do with the golden cherubs adorning the mantels and tabletops at the Westgate before I headed out to the sunny streets in search of my own cherished ritual of peeking in doorways for architectural treasures.



Still, the little clock-holding cherub sitting on a desk in the Grand Lobby might have been my favorite find of the day!


Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Crazy Hat Ladies

A couple of weeks ago I made a last minute decision to join my mother on a trip to visit San Diego.  My father was in the Navy and we were stationed there when I was a child but neither one of us has returned in 41 years.  To top it off we were here for my 50th birthday yesterday!


There will be lots of photographs to come from San Diego, but of course I've been too busy to get much photo editing done.  In the meantime, here's a couple of crazy hat ladies getting silly in a shop in the nearby town of Ramona.


And do you all know what a "fascinator" is?  Think of it as sculpture for the hair, not technically a hat - like the blue one my mother is wearing below and the concoction I am sporting above.  Which hat or fascinator do you think I wore best?


And for those of you who are familiar with the area...yes we stopped in Julian and had pie for my birthday instead of cake!

Great birthday with Cousin Chris and Mom's friend Martha 




Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Sullivan's Jewel Box - Farmers and Merchants Union Bank in Columbus

The Farmers and Merchants Union Bank in Columbus, Wisconsin is eyecatching, but it was the words "Louis K. Sullivan Architect" that really caught my attention when I was in town back in April.

A terra cotta eagle perches at the top of the building

The bank was named to pay homage to Abraham Lincoln and his efforts to preserve the Union when it was opened in 1861.  In 1884 the name was expanded to Farmers & Merchants Union Bank.  When a new bank building was needed Mr. and Mrs. J. Russell Wheeler chose Louis Sullivan to build it.  If you're not familiar with the name, he was the mentor of Frank Lloyd Wright and was among the first to reject re-using classical architectural style and set the path for a new "American" style of architecture.

Bank founded in 1861 - current building finished in 1919

As I mentioned in my last post about Columbus, most of the buildings and homes built there were made of cream city brick so Sullivan purposely chose a red brick with shades of blue mixed in.  The terra cotta ornamentation is pale green mixed with specks of brown, and the archways over the door provide a frame for stained glass window.  Don't worry, we'll get to that!


The marble lintel flanked by lions is what caught my attention.  Pretty fancy stuff for a country bank!


Inside I was just as delighted to discover that they had hung on to a variety of office equipment over the years.  Typewriters and Dictaphones?  Heck yeah!  Every once in a while someone's hoarding tendencies pay off.


Below is an early dictaphone that recorded to a wax cylinder. The rounded shelving on the bottom of the stand was for storing either blank or already recorded wax cylinders. To "erase" a cylinder already used, you had a little peeling unit that simply shaved the wax off the outside of the unit. Eventually, the cylinder wasn't any good because too much wax had to be peeled of it. State of the art for the time, but very expensive and one wonders why the executive wouldn't just dictate the letter directly to his secretary at a much lower cost?  An object of status, perhaps? It was most likely an addition to the bank right before or right after the Sullivan building was built.


Of course the main vault was on display, and when I inquired about information on the bank's construction I was even given over to my own personal tour guide.


And look at this "automatic cashier".  Old equipment wasn't just functional, it was beautiful!  And this particular piece was invented in the 1890's by Edward J. Brandt, a cashier at the Bank of Watertown in Watertown, Wisconsin. In those days a machine that could dispense change automatically was needed because most employees were paid in cash.

Brandt Automatic Cashier
This nickel plated model was built in the 1920's.


Another Dictaphone was tucked into a corner, perhaps Mr. Russell was a fan of new office technology and just couldn't help but buy the newest thing to come on the market, much like we do with our smartphones. The one below still used wax cylinders but was probably added to the bank in the 1930's.


The stained glass was breath taking.  Honestly I've seen windows in downtown Chicago that didn't even compare. I was taken to the second floor veranda by my guide for this stunning view.


This bank is the last one of 8 "Jewel Box" banks designed by Louis Sullivan. Oddly enough he fell on hard times and these were the works he was able to get during his later years. He died bankrupt in 1924, which leads one to wonder what was the story there?  The other buildings are:
  1. National Farmers Bank in Owatonna, MN - opened 1908
  2. Peoples Savings Bank in Cedar Rapids, IA - opened 1911(now a restaurant)
  3. Land & Loan Office in Algona, IA - opened 1913 (now the Chamber of Commerce)
  4. Purdue State Bank in West Lafayette, IN 
  5. Merchants National Bank in Grinnell, IA - opened 1915 (now the Chamber of Commerce)
  6. Home Building Association in Newark, OH - opened 1915
  7. Peoples Savings & Loan in Sydney, OH - opened 1918


I don't know about the other banks, but this one has done an amazing job at preserving its history, right down to pieces of terra cotta in the bank's second floor museum.


Most of the museum information is related directly to the bank and its history, which would mean more if you were a local...or into banks in particular and not just an architecture groupie like myself.  I did enjoy the little banks that were probably giveaways at some point in their career.  Simpler times!

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

A Different View

On my most recent trip to Sturgeon Bay in Door County I decided I wanted a different view and walked beside the bridge instead of on the bridge.


There is a little marina that I accessed across the street from the Door County Maritime Museum and I was able to bend down and peer underneath the bridge at the tugboats lined up outside the museum.


On the piers a few boats were getting geared up for the summer sailing season, including this beautiful wooden one that Wayne would have loved to climb aboard.


But I'm thinking that maybe next time we come up to Door County we should bring the kayaks and go for a paddle through the Sturgeon Bay Canal.  Who knows what views we could encounter? Like the shipwrecks just down the way that we've never made our way over to perhaps.

Benches by the Bay

Paddlers were featured on one of the 25 "Benches by the Bay" that are located around town.  Click this link to see them all and a map to find them on your visit.

Sideview mirror kitty

Back at home Miss Jewel got a different view out the car window when I left her leash and harness on and tucked it under my leg.  Don't worry, when we toot around the neighborhood we only go about 10 mph!  She loves a little spin down to the lake where we get out for a few minutes and then head back home.

Sunday, June 3, 2018

3rd Street Murals

Here's a few more murals from that run I took a few weeks back in Wausau.  Murals on the fence and on the building!


I have to agree with the question marks here, as in what the heck is this about? The planets on the fence are much less enigmatic.


Linking up to Monday Mural.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

All Aboard the Wausau Mural Trio

Some more murals from my morning run in Wausau


Giraffes were waiting in line next to the railroad tracks.


This guy was waiting to board a train also.


Linking up to Monday Mural.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Spring Shopping

My mother and I had 4 days together on the road - starting in the southeast in Twin Lakes we made our way north to Wausau, then east to Sheboygan and then north again through Green Bay and up to Sturgeon Bay.


Things are starting to get rolling for the tourist season in Door County, including the addition of the sparkly tree in front of Main Street Market in Egg Harbor. Sorry it is sideways, I didn't lie on the sidewalk for a unique perspective, though I have done so on other occasions.


We had a little time to do a bit of shopping along the way, and I fell in love with a dress I would have bought a decade ago but that I was afraid to try on these days.  If it's still there when I go back I may get brave enough, though I really have nowhere to wear it.


Could you see me in the woods in that? Probably better to stick to yoga pants and tee shirts!


The garden shops are open but it was a week too early to be setting out flowers in my opinion with temperatures only in the fifties during the day and colder at night.  Today it's hitting 80F in most of Wisconsin, even higher than that through the holiday weekend.  Thank goodness I saw those Trillium at Potawatomi State Park because all the spring ephemerals will probably wilt in that heat!