Category: architectural history

Late 18th century log cabin and pre Civil War stone house, Maryland

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Late 19th century textured architecture

In the Adams Morgan section of Washington,DC, an upscale bohemian neighborhood of row houses and distinctive restaurants featuring international tastes, there is equally impressive architecture.

This late 19th century large residence (now residences) shows variety of materials (brick and copper), range of colors (yellowish brick and nearly black copper), and narrow brick with tight joints suggesting weaving, and visual interest through the detailed panels and contrast between various rounds and flat surfaces and roofline.IMG_3629.jpgIMG_3631.jpg

 

Unexpected consequences that can occur with photo-editing.

Applying an old principle of black and white film photography that it is better to get the image right at the time of shooting, rather than depending on manipulating in the darkroom, I limit my editing of digital images.

For a photo of an early 19th structure along the C & O canal I could not get far enough back and I had to tilt the camera up, resulting in considerable converging of vertical lines.

I used software to straighten the lines resulting in, unfortunately, cropping of the building.

But much more disturbing was the distortion of the second story windows.

At least I was able to get undistorted images of the end and canal side of the building by crossing the canal.IMG_3410_DxOVP.jpg

 

Mies van der Rohe’s only building in Washington,D.C.

Late in his career, Mies was commissioned to design the main D.C. public library, named in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr.  In contrast to Mies’s better known projects such as the Seagrams Building, a moderately tall skyscraper in New York City, and 860-880 Lake Shore Drive, Chicago, upscale housing towers, the library is only four stories above ground.  But all three projects display Mies’s trademark emphasis on a highly visible gridded facade.  In Seagrams and MLK Library the facades had a strong vertical emphasis created by steel i-beams welded on to the frame.

Mies, who was awarded the AIA Gold Medal and Royal Gold Medal, among numerous other recognitions as a leading Modernist architect, designed the building from 1965-1966, ground broken July 1968, and the library opened either August or September 1972. (Various sources site different key dates for this building.)

The building very recently closed for renovation (including roof garden and floor plans) and will only reopen in 2020.  Washingtonia Collection is at the DC Historical Society’s space at the Carnegie Library.

The architect for the renovation is Martinez and Johnson.  The architectural historian is Traceries.

Top photo shows G Street (main facade at left) and 9th Street side.  Bottom photo showing I beams detail on 9th Street.  photos copyrighted by Bill Lebovich, 2017MLK Library06072017 (2).jpgIMG_3377.jpg

Kemp Hall and the possible secession of Maryland from the Union

Kemp Hall and the possible secession of Maryland from the Union

On April 13,1861, U. S. Army Major Robert Anderson surrendered Ft. Sumter, Charleston,South Carolina, to the Confederacy.  On April 27th, the Maryland Senate and House of Delegates convened at Kemp Hall, corner of E. Church  and N. Market Streets, Frederick, to discuss whether Maryland should follow the southern states and secede from the Union.  The senators and delegates never voted on the issue.  Lincoln had his troops arrest the pro-Secessionists members of the Maryland General Assembly, preventing the august body from having the necessary quorum for taking a vote.

The building is a distinctive revival building of approximately 1860 with arched window heads and wide, bracketed cornice.  It is connected by a lower, setback hyphen with circular window to the third building, along Church.  This building is slightly lower than the hyphen building, which in turn is slightly lower than the main building.  Only the main building has arched windows.  The glass store front covers the N. Market St. facade and part of the Church St. facade, which has later brickwork.

The Exquisite Thomas T. Gaff House

Built for a Cincinnati industrialist in 1904 and designed by the prominent NYC society architect Bruce Price and the equally prominent Washington,DC society architect Jules Henri de Sibour, this house is strikingly beautiful with its steep Mansard roof, strong visual contrast between the deep red brick walls and white stone quoins, and compact yet soaring massing.

As architecturally impressive as the exterior is, it is outdone by the interior with its rich wood paneling and the sense of movement from space to space, and grand ballroom.

The building is now the Embassy of Columbia’s ambassador’s residence.

De Sibour designed many grand residences in the Embassy Row neighborhood, including 1785 Mass. Ave.,the former headquarters of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. (photograph by (c) Bill Lebovich,2016)Thomas T. Gaff House (1).jpg

Georgetown’s late 18th, early 19th century domestic architecture

One of the most popular rows for tourists is also one of the best rows.  The power of simple motifs repeated down the row creates a sense of harmony, rhythm, and horizontal and vertical movement.  No American architectural style achieved so much with such restraint.  In most periods, such as classical revival, Richardsonian Romanesque — all great styles, and the post modernismGeorgetownIMG_5488_DxOVP (1).jpg, architects depend on bold statements to say their design is important architecture.

1785 Massachusetts Ave.,NW

Designed by Jules Henri deSibour, one of Washington,DC’s finest architects of the early 20th century, 1785 was home to Andrew Mellon when he was Secretary of Treasury. It is believed he occupied the entire top floor.  The British Art Dealer Lord Duveen rented the floor below and displayed his art collection.  He invited Mellon to view it and the approach worked.  Mellon bought the collection, which became the basis of National Gallery of Art.

The building was the headquarters of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.  As the Trust was selling the building, the Trust hired me to photograph the building for the HABS Collection at the Library of Congress.  I took more than 200  4 x5 black and white archival processed negatives and an archival print of each negative.

The American Enterprise Institute bought the building, joining Brookings, John Hopkins,and Carnegie Institute as some of the think tanks along this section of Massachusetts Ave., between 17th and 18th Streets.

The first photo (black and white) is from April 2014.  The second photo is from November 2016.DC-265 7.jpg1785 Mass AEI.jpg