Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Mystery Architect no more

It really amuses me to some extent that this neighborhood doesn't have the common sense to protect and restore one of the best pieces of rare and fine Architecture it has. Of course, I'm talking about the "Midland Terrace" again.
It just goes to show you that you can lead the horse to water but you can't make him drink. I'm now getting deluged with e-mails asking me about the Rowhouse. There is nothing I can say, but we live in a heartless city.
Or maybe I should say hopeless.
Today I was forwarded this message: It came to me from a Librarian in Texas of all places. I suggest you go to this site and read more about the King and his Architecture. This book about early "notable" Clevelanders had to be printed before 1925, because it is printed in the "past" present tense, so in other words it was published sometime before December 1925, because George died December 21, 1925.
They are only alive in our hearts at the moment as we pause to say a prayer for the man and his buildings. Click on:

http://www.heritagepursuit.com/Cuyahoga/Cleveland1910VIIP150.htm (Scroll through about to the 4th notable)

Okay the material is a little dated, but it clearly indicates that George S. King worked on Hotels, buildings and residences all across the country! The whole United States!! Can you believe that! What's even more exciting is that we have one of his very first buildings right here on Denison Avenue, as grungy and dirty as it looks, it was this Architects very first vision! This Building deserves to be rightfully restored right down to a bronze plaque with his name on it!!

Another example of his work can be viewed here, if you click on this site: http://www.texasbnb.com/

This graceful Texas mansion was built in 1919 by the King. Our King was George Samuel King and he built this opulent mansion for George Smith King, who was a Houston Attorney and County Auditor. Ironically both men were born in 1876 and affluent figures of their day in two different cities miles apart.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Shaker Heights ----Brooklyn Centre Connection

Believe it or not, Shaker Heights, the inner ring suburb that once was the most affluent city in the country during the early 1900's and was the home of Millionaires, Doctors, Attorneys, and Architects, also had one Architect that strayed a few times over to the West side of the Cuyahoga. (If you never been to Shaker, I suggest you go)

And what a better place to come, but to what we now refer to as Brooklyn Centre. For those of you that don't understand how or why we call it that, one needs to understand that during the Ohio settlements in the pioneer days, everything West of the Cuyahoga River was referred to as Brooklyn Township. While the Western Reserve made up most of Northeast Ohio, the settlements were scattered. Brooklyn Township had many spin off towns, while some lasted others fizzled out and were hogged up into Cleveland. West Park, Linndale, Brighton, South Brooklyn Village and somewhere in all that colonial bureaucracy was what we now refer to as Brooklyn Centre, let us pause as I get back on track.

Anyway, while the bulk of this neighborhood in it's early days was a dirty, gritty place to be, sort of like it is today, there was an occasional success story and an occasion glimmer of better days on the horizon. Even though much soot and ash spat up into the air from the factories of the Cuyahoga river valley, Brookside Park was hailed across the country and many people who wanted to escape the central closeness of the dirty city would travel on horse and carriage as far away from the City as they could. And our drifter Architect who braved the raging Cuyahoga River over rickety wooden bridges, and it was raging back than you know; the River, it wasn't as tame and calm as it is today. (Global warming??)
Where was I, Oh yes, this young Architect was only 29 years old had just finished completing two of his very first jobs in 1905. (Both of those structures have been destroyed since than) He knew that he must promote his work somewhere, so as records show, our Architect, George Samuel King, desperate to make a break as an Architect tied up with the Midland Realty Company and blueprinted and designed the stunning "Midland Terrace" in 1905. This now proves to be his earliest work that still stands. The "Midland Terrace" at (1914-1924 Denison) though designed as a Colonial, to a novice such as myself, one might look at it as having subtle hints of a French Chateau. And in researching George Samuel King's genealogy I discovered that his Father came from France, his Father's name was, Francis Xavier King. So somewhere in the deep recesses of his creative mind was FRANCE! Cri d'amour!!

It was later, in 1923 that George Samuel King would go on to build and design his very own Shaker Heights mansion, at 02975 Claremont Road. While his quarter of a million dollar mansion still stands, his very first works face the tragedy of demolition. Yes, this is where gritty, dirty little Brooklyn Centre has a connection with one of the top Shaker Heights elite!!
While Shaker Heights grew into a world famous location in the early 1900's -- the 1920's, George Samuel King one of the Shaker Heights prolific Architects of that day, got his feet wet-- right here, in gritty Brooklyn Centre.

Think, imagine, one can only imagine the hustle of the horses and carriages along Dennison "Street" the word "Avenue" was not yet a regular term, the horses, clopped down the brick covered Street. Maybe it was a misty morning or a muggy hot afternoon. Imagine the foreign immigrants from places such as Poland, Hungry and Germany as they bustled, struggling with their English, and working diligently at unloading horse pulled carriages of the finest hand cut sandstone blocks for foundation and window sills and crowns. Many endless loads of firebrick and many man hours of digging in preparation to place the very first stone footers, there we're no gasoline powered backhoes. Imagine as George jumped down off his horse, carefully unlacing his blueprints from the side saddlebag of his horse, looking at the hard working laborers as they spend many hours digging by hand and bickering in foreign tongues, digging, sweating, and breathing life into a young man's creation, the very basement that would now be the beginning of Brooklyn Centre's one and only: "Midland Terrace." A building designed by George Samuel King, oh so many years ago.

Brooklyn Centre has other "potentially" historic structures, but not one as rare as we have here and now. The "Midland Terrace" is a very rare and one of a kind example of one of the first works of George S. King, the Architect, a true master of his craft still in the making. A rare and unusual Row house style structure with many special tributes to fine historical Architecture.

To a man who mingled with high society of the 1900's, a man who's work will soon fall and be crushed by a cold cruel City of Cleveland, I say a prayer vigil for you Sir, and your work. To a man who mingled with the Van Sweringens of Shaker Heights -- to the immigrant laborer on the dirty streets of Brooklyn Centre over one hundred years ago; I'm forced to bid your art, your earliest chef d'oeuvre, an adieu as it will be smashed before our feet, by a shameless City. The City of Cleveland is prideless and holds no appreciation for what real historical Architecture is. While the City of Shaker Heights has nearly 70% of it's architecture protected under the National Register of Historic Places, Brooklyn Centre has very little on the Register. While history is protected in City's like Shaker Heights, here, a master artist's very earliest work cannot be protected because of a City Hall without passion and no intellectual insight for preservation and restoration.

Friday, July 24, 2009

12 Down 7 More to Go!

After clicking on the previous screen to enlarge we see that our sturdy Row House, scratch that, I'm going to "coin it" now for the sake of History, "Midland Terrace" was indeed built in 1905 and we also see that it is only one of seven buildings that still grace our Cityscape;
built by George S. King. It is to bad that for a man who made Cleveland his home, his life, his works are slowly being demolished one by one. That City is Cleveland, a torturous and dirty corrupt City. What kind of City would treat one of its own artists, a hardworking and creatively minded local architect with such disgrace? Only Cleveland.

Of a total of nineteen buildings built in Cleveland, twelve have been demolished and only seven currently remain standing. Our lovely "Midland Terrace" Row House (soon to be demolished) will bring that slow treading drumbeat to six. While Mr. King was noted for apartments and "Terrace" style structures like the one he created for the Midland Realty Company in 1905 that currently looks like a raggedy mess along Denison Avenue, that will now dwindle down to a lonely One that will remain. Otherwise, Four Commercial buildings still stand and One home on West 41st. Ironically, many of the structures that have been demolished are on the East side of Cleveland, the side of town the Architect was from.
With all this depressing news, comes some new era sunshine, one needs to ask the following:

Why do we have a Landmarks commission in this City if it fails to do the job of preserving Cleveland history and the memory of those designers of the Architecture that made this City a once great City!! Only in a City like Cleveland can we destroy restored historical buildings on Public Square like the Cuyahoga and Williamson Buildings. I was there with tears in my eyes perched like a bird watching as they were imploded and came tumbling to the ground. Absolutely, disgusting to say the least. I think the landmarks Commission of Cleveland just needs to disband, after all Mr. Mayor, think of the money you would save by getting rid of the Cleveland Landmarks Commission. With the offset you could hire more police, to deal with the higher crime you are going to have with all this new condensed public housing. I wonder how George S. King would feel if he knew that his last standing first creation as an Architect at the young creative age of only 29 years, truly a hidden crown jewel of Brooklyn Centre, was soon to be replaced with public housing? What kind of world are we living in anyway? Is there not any honor in "honor" anymore?

The Works of George S. King (Click on image below to enlarge)

Friday, July 3, 2009

Brooklyn Centre Looses another Historical Structure (UPDATE #2)

It's great to know who our elected officials are at voting time and who are the ones that don't wish to see Brooklyn Centre prosper as a "historic" renaissance neighborhood. I wonder if Brian Cummins record that is so impeccable will be able to follow him into his new ward without some sort of smudge? With no help from Mr. Cummins, who already had two other "potentially historic structures" demolished along Denison Avenue, we are now poised to tear down a "hidden gem" of Brooklyn Centre history. A six unit Rowhouse built in 1905 with a frame and fire station red brick design that also has such rare oddities as hand cut sandstone foundation, window sills and window crowns. The second floor trims out with a full unique frame Apron and full-lovely intact rake mouldings and rake moulding returns, all still in place. A truly unique extra large 12/12 pitched roof line all with six individual units with firebrick separator walls. What a waste!! This building should be restored, celebrated and be given historical period upgrades not destroyed. To add insult to injury the owner of three of the units, a local slumlord was given 750.000 thousand dollars of our tax dollars to relinquish ownership. It is so disgusting I just want to puke on Brian Cummins desk! Thanks to Brian and the City of Cleveland for another "wham bam thank you ma'am" done deal that ______ our neighborhood in the process! I certainly hope that our new Councilperson, whom ever that may be will have the common sense and the tenacity to see right from wrong and help move our neighborhood forward, not backward.