Charleston is known for its rich history, an important piece of which are its well preserved, glorious mansions-turned-into-museums, bringing joy to architecture & history enthusiasts and large numbers of visitors to the city.
Be prepared for some awe inspiring historic house hopping when you visit Charleston, there’s no escaping that (not that you’d wish to escape it, I’m sure).
So, following our visit to the Aiken-Rhett House, most features of which have been lovingly preserved to their original style, today we tour the Joseph Manigault House, where almost all the rooms have been restored to their original colour schemes and feature historic pieces from the Charleston Museum’s collections.
Descending from French Huguenots who fled religious persecution in Europe in the late 1600s, the Manigaults prospered as rice planters and merchants during the 18th century and became one of South Carolina’s leading families. Joseph Manigault inherited several rice plantations and over two hundred slaves from his grandfather in 1788, and also married well. Arthur Middleton, father of his first wife, Maria Henrietta Middleton, was a signer of the Declaration of Independence. Following Henrietta’s death, he married Charlotte Drayton, with whom he had eight children. The Charleston Museum purchased the house in 1933, and has preserved and interpreted it ever since. [source: The Charleston Museum]
Joseph Manigault House
April 10th, 2018
As I mentioned earlier in this series, you’d have to work hard to escape SCAD when you visit Savannah. But every site being so interesting, bursting with fresh ideas, thought-provoking art or simply delicious scones, you’d probably wouldn’t want to miss it, anyway!
So, here we are, after an extensive look at the SCAD Museum of Art, a refreshing afternoon tea at the Gryphon, and some fun time with snooty ceramic faces at the shopSCAD, entering the place were it all started: the Poetter Hall, the first building that SCAD acquired in 1979, now home to their Admissions & Welcome Center, occasionally doubling up as an exhibition & event space. This is SCAD, after all.
May and Paul Poetter, founders of the Savannah College of Art and Design (along with Paula Wallace and Richard Rowan)
Un Petit Tour de Lacoste
Digital print from original illustration
April 5th, 2018
Remember the third site of the Telfair Museums, which we had yet to see? Here it is, in all its grand splendour, starting from the humblest, the slaves’ quarters, walking our way through the garden and into the mansion.
We enter through a magnificent entrance hall into the largest room of the house, which is none other than the formal dining room; we work our way up an elegant staircase which rises to a landing, splits into two flights and, most interestingly, forms a bridge that connects the front and rear portions of the second floor – a rather unique feature, one we have never seen before (or since) in any of the mansions we visited; we peek into the various, lavishly decorated rooms, and the less-than-lavish service ones, in the front and rear halls of the second floor.
The two quarters could not have been more different.
You can find more information about the history, architecture and owners of the Owens-Thomas House, on the museum’s website.
April 5th, 2018
First two images: Pia Camil ‘FADE INTO BLACK’
For the exhibition “Fade Into Black,” Camil presented the latest and largest iteration of her ongoing interest in T-shirts as repositories of cultural information. Specially commissioned by SCAD, one colossal fabric mass made of hundreds of repurposed T-shirts was hanging from the ceiling as a single soft sculptural work. As an object that might resemble a curtain or a theatrical backdrop, the piece featured a gradient leading the visitor from black to white or vice versa.
SCAD Museum of Art – Savannah, GA
April 4th, 2018
Aka The Hard Rock Hotel – although that was about to change. We didn’t know it at the time, but a month later, the hotel would close for renovation; it now operates under a new brand, as the St. Jane Chicago. But the exterior, covered in polished black granite, topped by a tower dressed in dark green terracotta with gold leaf ornaments, must surely remain as impressive as it has always been, since the day of its completion in 1929.
Then, there is the dazzling lobby, all bronze and dark Belgian marble and Art Deco features – minus, I guess, the guitars which will have probably found a new wall to grace.
The building was designed by the Burnham Brothers, a commission by the Carbide and Carbon Company to house their regional headquarters.
November 3rd, 2017
The Monadnock was conceived primarily as a business centre; in fact, upon its completion, it was the world’s largest office building. Architects Burnham & Root designed the north half (built 1891); Holabird & Roche designed the south half (built 1893). Names that are becoming strangely familiar, by now.
The ground floor is purely commercial; a café, a restaurant, various retail shops, a ”shoe hospital”, every single one of them oozing old-school elegance. I am sure their interior design, unique yet totally coordinated, is a prerequisite and constitutes a lengthy clause in their leasing contract.
Whatever the cause, the result is the most atmospheric commercial gallery I have ever encountered.
November 2nd, 2017
There are so many buildings of architectural interest in the Financial District of Chicago, you’d probably need to join a guided tour to visit them all and learn about their history. But if you are a casual visitor – and a first-time one at that, just walk around, spot an interesting-looking building and then step inside its lobby. You’ll soon find out that these lobbies are not simply entrances to commercial or office spaces; they are, in reality, stunningly beautiful Art Deco treasure troves; and they provide excellent shelter from the rain, too.
Walk, for instance, inside the Field Building, built in 1934 by Graham, Anderson, Probst & White; another wonderful example of the Art Deco style:
Or enter the Marquette Building’s hexagonal lobby and be captivated by the exquisite mosaic panels depicting the journey of Father Marquette, a French missionary and explorer, first settler in the area we know today as Chicago, in whose honour the building has been named.
The mosaics are designed by Louis Tiffany, son of Charles Tiffany, the famous jeweler; and Jacob Adolph Holzer, a Swiss artist who worked for Tiffany as their chief designer and art director.
November 2nd, 2017
Built in 1930 by John A. Holabird and John Wellborn Root Jr. (son of John Root Sr., one of the architects of the Rookery), to become home to the world’s oldest futures and options exchange, the Chicago Board of Trade, which had already been established in 1848 – year that the first railroads arrived in Chicago.
From John Storrs’ faceless statue of Ceres, Roman goddess of Agriculture, presiding over Chicago’s financial district from its prominent position at the rooftop, down to its lobby with the sleek brass elements contrasting blindingly against the darker surfaces, and even further down to its subterranean vault, the Board of Trade Building is one of the finest – and best preserved – examples of the Art Deco style, popular in Chicago in the early 20th century.
November 2nd, 2017