Thursday, August 29, 2013

Art Deco Delights: First Trust & Deposit Wolf Street Office

Syracuse, NY. former 201 Wolf Street. Wolf Street Office, First Trust & Deposit, 1929. Photo: Samuel D. Gruber 2013.

Syracuse, NY. former 201 Wolf Street. Wolf Street Office, First Trust & Deposit, 1929. Photo: Samuel D. Gruber 2013.

Syracuse, NY. former 201 Wolf Street. Wolf Street Office, First Trust & Deposit, 1929. Photo: Samuel D. Gruber 2013.

Art Deco Delights: First Trust & Deposit Wolf Street Office
by Samuel D. Gruber

As a follow up to my recent post on the Art Deco Grant School, let me bring attention to a much smaller, but more charming example of Northside Deco at 201 Wolf Street, on the NW corner with North Salina. This is the Wolf Street Office of the First Trust & Deposit Co., the last in a series of branch offices the bank opened in different neighborhoods across the city after its creation in 1919 through the merger of The First National Bank of Syracuse and the Trust & Deposit Company of Onondaga.  These branch offices were an early version of what we now recognize as chain stores - where each store or office has similar architectural features to create brand recognition. Drugstores and Five and Dimes were doing the same thing - but in a different style.

Generically, almost all banks of the first decades of the 20th century had this branding feature - since they favored the stately classical style that linked banking to the broader civic culture. Government buildings, libraries, and schools also often adopted classicism, especially after the success of the 1893 Chicago Exposition (the White City) and the spread of the "City Beautiful" Movement.  Architectural "branding" was nothing new. The main building of First Trust & Deposit is also classical - a huge Downtown Roman temple at 201 South Warren Street; now Key Bank.  The building was erected in 1915 and then doubled in size in 1928.

As far as I can tell the establishment of First Trust & Deposit offices in neighborhoods - taking banking to the people - was something of an innovation in Syracuse at the time, though Melvin L. King also designed at least one branch (is it still extant?) for the City Bank Trust Company (see photo below). Elsewhere in America branch banking - with scores of branch buildings - was common for big banks in the period after World War I.

 Syracuse, NY. former 201 Wolf Street. Wolf Street Office, First Trust & Deposit, 1929. Photo: Samuel D. Gruber 2013

Syracuse, NY. former 201 Wolf Street. Wolf Street Office, First Trust & Deposit, 1929. Photo: Samuel D. Gruber 2013

The first four First Trust & Deposit branch offices are all designed as nearly identical classical style structures by leading local architect Melvin L. King, but the Wolf Street branch takes a stylistic departure. It is built of brick and glass, with its facade and especially its entrance portal decorated with lively Art Deco motifs.  Is it also a product of King's office - but just a stylistic upgrade? I hope a little research in the archives of King + King will tell. 

Syracuse, NY.  First Trust & Deposit East Side Office (still extant facing Loguen Park). Photo from Melvin L. King : Architect. (Syracuse: Architectural Catalog Co., 1925).
Syracuse, NY.  City Bank Trust Company, West Side Branch. Photo from Melvin L. King : Architect. (Syracuse: Architectural Catalog Co., 1925).

We are fortunate that the building found new life as Brian's Fine Art Gallery & Custom Framing, operated by Brian Wood who has beautifully maintained the building - inside and out.  Other 1920s banks have not fared so well.  Word is, however, that the building will soon be listed for sale.

The little bank sits on the center of an historically and architecturally rich intersection.  This was the heart of the old commercial area of Salina - first the village laid out by James Geddes, beginning in 1798, and then later, after its merger in 1848 with Syracuse to create the modern city, of the old First Ward.   By the late nineteenth century the are was more industrial.  The Moyer Carriage Factory (now the Penfield Building) was located just behind the bank site, and Kearney's Brewery was across North Salina (where the new Family Dollar recently opened).  Streetcar lines ran on North Salina and Wolf Streets and the main terminal and car yards of the People RR company of Syracuse were at Wolf between Fourth and Fifth North Streets. 

Syracuse, NY. North wall of former Wolf Street Branch of First Trust & Deposit, with view of Penfield (former Moyer Carriage) building in rear.  Photo: Samuel D. Gruber 2013.

Syracuse, NY. 200 block of Wolf Street looking north. In the center is former Engine House #4. Photo: Samuel D. Gruber 2013.

The 1600 block of North Salina Street and the 200 block of Wolf Street still preserve some of the oldest non-residential structures in the area. Some of these buildings date to the last quarter of the nineteenth century once housed grocery stores, dry-goods establishments, taverns, and cooper shops. Immediately to the west and north of this intersection Harvey Moyer developed his carriage factory (in what is now the Penfield Building), and then later his automobile works in three large buildings erected on with side of Park Street between Hiawatha Boulevard (formerly Free Street) and Wolf Street.(see below).  Visit Brian's Art Gallery, the nearby Antiques Exchange on North Salina Street, and take a walk up Wolf Street. Then head a block east to Washington Square and look at the Kirkpatrick Monument, or head west to the Regional Market.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Italianate Style Houses on Syracuse's Eastside

Syracuse, NY. 909 Salt Springs Rd., Italianate house, mid-19th century.  The bifora windows in the attic level are unusual. Photo: Samuel D. Gruber 2013

 Syracuse, NY., 2800 East Genesee Street. Italianate house, probably built in the 1850s.  Photo: Samuel D. Gruber 2013

Syracuse, NY., 2800 East Genesee Street, Italianate house, probably built in the 1850s.  Photo: Samuel D. Gruber 2013

Italianate Style Houses on Syracuse's Eastside
by Samuel D. Gruber
I didn't make it to Italy this summer as I had hoped, so instead I've kept my eyes open for Italianate style houses around Syracuse.  These include some of the oldest and most distinctive structures on the Eastside of Syracuse; cube-like houses that are still scattered throughout the thousands of other later residences.  

These houses, built mostly in the third quarter of the nineteenth century, pre-date Syracuse's suburban expansion to the East and the laying out of the new residential grids that mark the first new residential developments.  Thus, the Italianate houses quickly tell us where the old roads were.  The houses mostly faced major travel routes, and these also often indicate the locations of prosperous farms, all of which, like the Scott Tract (later developed as Scottholm) were subsequently built over, especially from 1880 through 1930.  

This phenomenon is hardly unique to the Eastside; the process can be traced on all sides of Syracuse.  The further one travels from the modern city on the old pre-automobile routes, the more Italianate houses one finds still in relative pristine isolation. To my knowledge there is no list of all of these buildings, and certainly no detailed architectural or photograph record.  When the historic preservation movement began in Onnodaga County in the late 1960s and 1970s some of these buildings were noticed and celebrated, but more attention was given to the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century buildings in Federal and Greek Revival style.  While many of our local historical societies have information on their Italianate houses, these have not been collated.  there are probably several hundred Italian houses still extant throughout Onondaga County.  While most of these houses are not designated either local or National Register protected sites, a good number are well preserved.  In areas like the Northside of Syracuse where the largest number of urban Italian houses survive, these are mostly owned by absentee landlords, and many (like the Catherine Murray House) are not well maintained.

On the Eastside, where we find Italianate houses on East Genesee Street, Salt Springs Road and South Beech Street - all old roads - the buildings (or at least their exteriors) have fared better, though the landscapes over which they once presided have been very much compromised.  Streets have been widened and so the houses sit closer to the road than originally intended.  In some cases (1924 East Genesee) there are now paved parking areas instead of front lawns or walkways, and the Italianate at 309 Columbus is hardly recognizable beneath its recent vinyl siding.  Many of the Eastside Italianate houses still have their distinctive square cupolas.  Additions to buildings, however, have changed appearances somewhat.  But even early on many Italianate houses were enlarged, usually with front porches and rear additions, as can be seen on the Scott House at 2686 East Genesee Street.

What we now call the Italianate Style evolved from the earlier Italian Villa Style, a widespread  American rural and suburban residential architecture popularized by Alexander Jackson Downing. A popular residential style, it was the most common architectural “high” style for a well-designed house in the mid-nineteenth century, especially in the 1850s and 1860s.  Urban versions more closely copied Italian Renaissance palazzi while rural and farm versions were loosely based on Italian (mostly Tuscan) villa forms. 

Italianate houses could be built of wood, brick and even stone, and are easily recognizable by their distinctive cube-like shape, and their overall formal regularity of fenestration and applied architectural ornament. Italianate houses are usually two and occasionally three stories high, square or rectangular in plan, with low-pitched hip, gable, or shed (roof with one slope) roofs. Ornamentation can be of pressed metal, stone, or wood ornamentation, or wood with wood ornamentation. The most distinctive feature of nearly all Italianate houses is a cornice supported by brackets ("bracketed cornice") and decorative, projecting window "heads" (above openings). Ornamentation of more elaborate brick or stone houses, sometimes includes quoins and window decoration that varies from floor to floor. A recessed doorway is common.

Later versions of Italian houses could be more rectangular in plan (with the shorter side facing the street), and these could also be slightly taller, and often included projecting side window bays - all elements that lessened the geometric purity of the cube, and added some variety and a hint of dynamism to the plan and exterior elevation. In some cities (but only rarely in Syracuse) these were built in rows creating blocks of urban multi-story connected town houses. 

Italianate houses are especially common in Central New York, since so much of the region underwent rapid and prosperous development during just those decades when the style was most popular.  These houses once filled the downtown residential streets of Syracuse, and fine examples can still found on many of the roads leading into the city and on the main routes between towns and villages. Italianate farmhouses stood close to the road (though not as close as they often seem today, since so many old highways have been widened). They opened onto lawns, gardens on the sides and farm fields and pastures in the rear.   Carriage houses were often in the rear of more urban Italianate residences, while barns and other buildings were in the vicinity of the rural houses.

Italianate houses exuded a sense of solidity and dignity typical of the pre-Civil war era that emphasized civic-minded striving and persona modesty and family thrift. This regularity of form – some would same predictability – would be upset in the economic boom period of the next generation with the often exuberant experimentation of the Queen Anne style when asymmetrical forms, varied roof lines and mixed siding material and colors created a dizzying array of houses forms. 

Italianate was also favored for commercial buildings in the late 19th Century.

Syracuse, NY.  Scott House, 2686 East Genesee Street, ca. 1860. Photo: Samuel D. Gruber 2012.

 Syracuse, NY.  Scott House, 2686 East Genesee Street, ca. 1860.  Photo: Samuel D. Gruber 2012.

The Italianate style Scott family farmhouse, built ca. 1860, is located at 2686 East Genesee Street at the southwest corner of the intersection of Scott Avenue and East Genesee Street.  The homestead was owned throughout much of the 19th century by Benjamin Scott, and he lived in this house until his death in 1910.  Amon Sanderson of the East Genesee Extension Corporation bought the entire tract and developed it as “Scottholm Estates.” The house is what is left of the farmstead for which the subdivision was named. 

According to a 1916 newspaper article, the Scotts used the house as an inn for travelers on the Genesee Turnpike (now East Genesee Street). The house was sold to Amon Sanderson in 1914, and then sold to and remodeled by E. A. O'Hara in 1915. O'Hara's father was publisher of the Syracuse Herald and the younger O'Hara eventually became publisher of the Herald-Journal. O'Hara electrified and “modernized” the house, which stayed in the family until 1969.

Syracuse, NY. 1924 East Genesee St. The original lawn of this house has been paved over for parking. Photo: Samuel D. Gruber 2013

Syracuse, NY.  726 South Beech Street. Photo: Samuel D. Gruber

Syracuse NY.  309 Columbus Ave.  This Italianate house lost most of its original look in an unfortunate "remuddling." . Photo: Samuel D. Gruber
Syracuse NY. 1124 East Genesee St. Photo: Samuel D. Gruber

Syracuse NY. 1106 East Genesee St. Photo: Samuel D. Gruber 

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Art Deco Delights: Northside's Grant Middle School

 Syracuse, NY. Grant School (1931-32).  Photo: Samuel D. Gruber August 2013

 Syracuse, NY. Grant School (1931-32).  Photo: Samuel D. Gruber August 2013

Art Deco Delights: Northside's Grant Middle School
by Samuel D. Gruber

(n.b. This post was updated on January 29, 2014.  The names of archtects were added).

When one thinks of Syracuse's architectural contributions to the Art Deco or Art Moderne styles, the Niagara Mohawk (now National Grid) building always demands first (and sometime only) attention.  It is our most spectacular building, and one that perfectly melds style to message.  Like the Chrysler Building in New York, it is one of a handful of iconic American commercial buildings of the 1930s.  

But Syracuse has much more to offer in Art Deco and Art Moderne.  During the boom years of the late 1920s and even in the first years of the Great Depression, private and public projects continued - albeit at a much slower pace and often plagued by funding and labor problems.  Building really didn't peter out in Syracuse until about 1932-33 when previously planned projects were completed, and no new projects were begun.

I've been looking at a lot of these buildings and will attempt to post about them to make them better known.  Few are included in any architectural guides, so local residents, visitors and scholars are hardly aware of their existence - or hardly give their history and architecture much thought.  

For me, the greatest - or certainly the biggest - of these Art Deco delights is the Grant School on Grant Boulevard and Kirkpatrick Street on the Northside.  Completed in the fall of 1932, it was one of several schools built or planned to alleviate massive school overcrowding at the time, but budget constraints kept it closed until the new school year began in September, 1933.  The new Grant Junior High School, built in a very modern style we now call Art Deco, replaced the former Grant School on 2nd North Street between Danforth and Kirkpatrick, that had opened in 1898 (and still stands). Charles Colton was the architect of the earlier school, and prolific school architect James A. Randall designed the new Grant School.

Syracuse, NY. former Grant Elementary School on 2nd North St., opened in 1898.  Now the Neumann Hall Residence (n.b. the entrance has been drastically changed). Photo: Samuel D. Gruber August 2013

Syracuse, NY. Grant School (1931-32).  Photo:  Samuel D. Gruber August 2013

In the late 1920s and early 1930s the Syracuse City School District was overwhelmed with record enrollments. Despite new buildings erected in the 1920s (such as  Nottingham High School opened in 1924), every school at every level was overcrowded by 1930.  Publicly funded school construction was one area where building was needed and continued after the 1929 stock market crash.  Mayor Marvin saw school construction as a way to alleviate unemployment - and even advocated hiring two separate crews to work alternate weeks at Grant - but was overruled because this would be more expensive.  Preference was given to local contractors.

 Syracuse, NY. Grant School (1931-32).  Photo: Samuel D. Gruber August 2013

 Syracuse, NY. Grant School (1931-32).  Photo: Samuel D. Gruber August 2013

The new building was of brick and what appears to be cast stone combined in a warm color pattern of orange and beige.  The three-story building is framed with two heavy tower-like corner pavilions and has a large projecting entrance bay, all of which are articulated in what appears to be cast (concrete) stone resembling carved limestone blocks.  The tops of these and the central entrance bay are decorated with lively relief work, combining geometric shapes and patterns with stylized floral designs - all typical of Art Deco architectural decoration of the period.  In between are flat walls of brick punctuated by large classroom windows.

 Syracuse, NY. Grant School (1931-32).  Relief of monkey gathering nut. Photo: Samuel D. Gruber August 2013

 Syracuse, NY. Grant School (1931-32).  Photo: Samuel D. Gruber August 2013

To the sides of the main entrance are carved brackets supporting window lintels.  These depict a monkey wearing clothes gathering nuts or fruits which could be symbolic of children gathering knowledge or a sly reference to the theory of evolution and the 1925 Scopes (monkey) trial. On another bracket is an eagle with a small nestling (?) at its feet, also by a similar nut or fruit tree.  These and other decorations of the school building deserve closer scrutiny.  Go take at look!

see: "Economy in School Budget May Keep Grant School Closed Till September, 1933," Syracuse Herald (October 9, 1932).

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Ward Wellington Ward's 1909 (H. A. Moyer) Automobile Factory Among Syracuse's Top Industrial Buildings

Syracuse, NY. Former H. A. Moyer Automobile Company factory. Ward Wellington Ward, architect (1909-10). Photo: Samuel D. Gruber 2013.

Ward Wellington Ward's (H. A. Moyer) Automobile Factory Among Syracuse's Top Industrial Buildings
by Samuel D. Gruber

Recent attention to the former Penfield Building at the corner of North Salina Street and Hiawatha Boulevard (take video tour with the new owner here) suggests the we should look more at the surviving industrial buildings in close proximity - most of which were once part of the H.A. Moyer Carriage Company, and from 1909 the H. A. Moyer Automobile Company.  Presumably, all of these buildings once had "houses" like the one on the Penfield building, as shown in an idealized view on an historic postcard, and this is what regularly brings media attention.  It should be noted, however, that the postcard misrepresents the automobile factory and other features and therefore cannot be taken as entirely reliable).

Syracuse, NY. Former H. A. Moyer Carriage Factory / Penfield Bldg seen form Wolf Street. Photo: Samuel D. Gruber 2013.

Syracuse, NY. Idealized view of H. A. Moyer Carriage and Automobile Factories.  Penfield Bldg on far left, Moyer automobile factory on right.  There is however, no large street on the north facade.  Photo: historic postcard.

But the building complex has more than this curiosity.  It has the history of several distinctive Syracuse manufacturing companies, notably H. A. Moyer, and then Porter-Cable, the innovator in American portable power tools that occupied the Penfield Building for several decades until 1960, when the company was bought by Rockwell International, stripped of its assets, and moved to Tennessee (sound familiar for a pioneering Syracuse company with a national reputation?).  

Architecturally, the best building of the complex is the last built, the H. A. Moyer Automobile Factory on the northwest corner of Wolf and Park Streets.  The four-story building went up in 1909, designed by Ward Wellington Ward, the son-in-law of H. A. Moyer, who had recently moved to Syracuse from New York City with his wife Maude.  I've written about Ward's Arts and Crafts style houses on the blog before, but few people (except Cleota Reed) know that Ward designed this building, too.

A notice in the Syracuse Herald (June 19, 1909) announced:


H. A. Moyer Company Awards Contract for New Automobile Factory

The H. A. Moyer company has awarded to David Nicholson of this city the contract for the erection of the five-story manufacturing building which it will erect at once on Park street, near Wolf, to house its new automobile factory. The building is to be equipped completely with modern appliances for the manufacture of autos. In addition to the five-story building, it was announced .yesterday by Mr. Moyer that the company will build at once a blacksmith shop 30 by 125 feet in dimensions. This building will be one story high and of brick mill construction. The plan for both buildings were prepared by Architect Ward W. Ward.
We know the building went up quickly, though with only four stories instead of five.  Less than six months after the initial announcement The Post Standard mentioned the new factory in two separate articles on the same page in the same New Year's day edition (January 1, 1910). 

“Many New Factories Under Contemplation"
Harvey A. Moyer has entered the automobile business and will begin the manufacture of cars next week in his big, new factory in Wolf street. This factory, in connection with his carriage industry, will make Mr. Moyer one of the largest employers of skilled labor in Syracuse. Mr. Moyer's new automobile factory involves an investment of $75,000 and he proposes to turn out 200 cars this year.
Syracuse, NY. Former H. A. Moyer Automobile Company factory. Ward Wellington Ward, architect (1909-10). Detail of brick work and rounded pilaster. Photo: Samuel D. Gruber 2012.
A Bigger and Better Syracuse is Planned”

North of the Erie canal there is the new factory building for H. A. Moyer, which will be used in the manufacture of automobiles, and in this section of the city bier factories will be built this year for Grouse-Hinds Company and I-I. H. Gray's Son.
Syracuse, NY. 1911 Moyer Touring Car in front of H. A. Moyer automobile Company factory on Wolf Street, whic opened the previous year.  Photo: H. A. Moyer Facebook page

The optimism surrounding the factory opening was misplaced.   Soon, the H. A. Moyer Automobile Company's fine hand-crafted cars could not compete with the many more models produced faster and cheaper by other companies, especially Henry Ford's Model T, introduced in 1908 and coming off the moving assembly line fast and cheap from 1913 to 1927.  Moyer tried to make cars like he made fine carriages, but the production and sales model did not work. By 1924 the automobile factory was occupied by the Owen-Dyneto Corporation.

We don't know Ward's sources for his design.   Little is known of his work before coming to Syracuse where he seems to have discovered - or at least fully digested the Arts and Crafts aesthetic - and worked almost exclusively on residential projects.  But good examples of industrial work were readily found in Syracuse, such as the 1897 typewriter factory now known as Mission Landing at the redeveloped Franklin Square.  And I bet that Ward took a good look at the O. M. Edwards Building designed by Gordon Wright and built in 1906 for the manufacture of railroad and trolley windows, now redeveloped as the Lofts at Franklin Square.  Like the O. M. Edwards building, the Moyer factory has fine brickwork and employs an exterior system of tall pilasters with rounded corners to separate the window bays. 

 Syracuse, NY. Former H. A. Moyer Automobile Company factory. Ward Wellington Ward, architect (1909-10). The main entrance and first floor windows have been changed since the 1911 photo, but the second floor windows may be original. Photo: Samuel D. Gruber 2013

Ward's articulation is different the Wright's.  Ward put his main entrance on the short Wolf Street facade, which is divided into four bays, three with large windows, and the fourth presumably for loading dock, stairs and elevator.  I have not been in the building, but look forward to an opportunity for a closer look.  The building appears to have load bearing masonry walls, but the large windows suggest an internal metal support system.  Were the floors carried by thick timbers as was the norm in Syracuse factories and most mill type buildings, or is there structural steel?  After all, this was a car factory.  Should we expect the most advanced structural techniques? 

Some Stickley and Arts and Crafts Movement Sites - actual and online

Some Stickley and Arts and Crafts Movement Sites - actual and online
by Samuel D. Gruber

Thanks to everyone who came to my talk at Petit Library on Monday, and especially to Marilyn Smith for inviting me to speak.  Thanks to Quinn for helping set up - and with managing the large turnout.  I love my local library and all the great programming done there.  It was a good turnout and I hope everyone found it informative and entertaining.   As promised, I'm posting just a few of the many resources you can use to further explore the Arts and Crafts experience in Syracuse and Central New York.

This is a short list – hardly exhaustive– but I invite readers to send me new sites – real and virtual – worth visiting! 

Arts and Crafts Society of Central New York

The Arts and Crafts Society is the go to group for experts and enthusiasts for local (and beyond) Arts and Crafts information.  The society organizes talks, seminars and tours encourages documentation and research.  You can follow the society on Facebook or follow Joann Capella's blog here.   Become a member and get involved. 

The Everson Museum of Art is always the place to Arts & Crafts (and much more). Now, through September 22, see the exhibition "An American Look: Fashion, Decorative Arts, & Gustav Stickley" curated by Jeffrey Mayer, associate professor in fashion design at Syracuse University and Deb Ryan, Everson curator. 

 Everson Museum of Art, An American Look: Fashion, Decorative Arts, & Gustav Stickley
Sarah Lanigan, Director of The Stickley Museum will be giving a free lecture at the Everson on Sunday, August 11, 2013, at 2.00pm.  The walking gallery tour of the exhibition will include a discussion on the impact of the Stickleys on American design and home life.

Don't stop at the exhibition. By sure to visit the ceramics collection in the basement where beside more work by Adelaide Alsop Robineau (who is well featured in the exhibit) there is always a wide array of early 20th century American Art Pottery on view including work by Grueby, Rookwood, Marblehead, Tiffany, George Ohr, and many others.   

Stickley Museum, Fayetteville

300 Orchard St., Fayetteville 

The Stickley Museum is located in the former L & J Stickley Factory in Fayetteville, the downstairs of which was converted into the local library (a fine work of adaptive reuse by Julia Marshall and the team at Holmes, King, Kallquist, architects). The museum presents a full array of work by all the Stickleys, and historical and technical information in the permanent exhibition A Well Crafted Legacy, that explores over a century of furniture making excellence.  
Visit the museum website for informative videos of contemporary craftsman at work and other relevant material. 

1931 James St. (Eastwood), Syracuse 

Syracuse is blessed to have in our midst, since 1980, one of the premier stores for the exhibition and sale of fine Arts and Crafts furniture, textiles and other works, presided over by David Rudd, one of the county's authorities on Stickley, the Arts and Crafts movement, and especially the unique qualities of fine Arts and Crafts furniture. (David was very kind and patient in Monday's audience with some of my broad and less-refined remarks on the subject). 

Several pieces from the collection of Dalton's principals David and wife Debbie Goldwein are in the Everson exhibit. The store is very much a museum-quality gallery, and since things sell, the display is always changing. Despite the prices paid for unique Stickley pieces high-rollers, at Dalton's there are also pieces affordable for most pocketbooks.  David an Debbie are very kind to lookers as well as buyers. Dalton's is an destination stop for Arts and Crafts trekkers from around the country (check hours here).  If you can't make it to the store you can browse Dalton's Arts and Crafts inventory here.

Dalton's regularly exhibits and sells works by Gustav Stickley, L & J G Stickley, Roycroft, Limbert, Rohlfs and other Arts and Crafts producers of mission oak furniture as well as items from the American Arts and Crafts Movement including Grueby, Newcomb, Marblehead, Rookwood, Roycroft, Dirk Van Erp and others. In addition to furniture and art, Dalton's sells a large selection of specialized publications about the Arts and Crafts movement.  See the list here.

438 Columbus Avenue

Syracuse, NY. Gustav Stickley House, 438 Columbus Ave. Photo: Samuel D. Gruber 2012

The house is not open to the public, but plans are getting started for its transformation to an Arts and Crafts and exhibition center, a partnership of the Everson Museum of Art and the L. and J.G. Stickley Company.  Meanwhile you can drive or walk by and get some sense of Gustav's neighborhood.  The house when built and purchased by the Stickleys in 1900 was one of the first on the street, but by the time of Gustav's death in 1942, all the houses you now see were up and occupied.  The script for my walking tour of the area can be downloaded here.

Ward Wellington Ward Houses

Syracuse, NY. 309 Allen street. Former Roy Carpenter House. photo: Samuel D. Gruber 2013.

There are many Ward Wellington Ward designed houses around the city and region, but all are privately owned and few are publicly accessible. Still, you can see can some sense of their exterior appearance. You can find a partial list here. I've posted about a few Ward houses, such as those on Walnut Avenue. I'll put up some galleries of Ward houses in the coming weeks.  The former Estabrook Estate at 7262 East Genesee in Fayetteville is now the Wellington House, open for catered functions, but you often arrange to visit.   Designed by Ward in 1922, the exterior and interior are mostly intact and give a great impression of Ward's aesthetic (when he had the budget).  You can see pictures here.

Many of Ward's fine presentation drawings – plans and elevations – are preserved at the Onondaga Historical Association. This can be viewed by appointment. There may be a fee for using the Research Center involved. Call in advance to arrange this and for details. 

Online Resources

The Craftsman magazine can now be read online (or printed) in its entirety thanks to the University of Wisconsin which has digitized the entire run. This is an amazing research resource, but also just a lot of fun to allow you to dip into the Arts and Crafts aesthetic (surprisingly eclectic) of a century ago. 

Stickley Catalogs

The Winterthur Museum and Library has one the best – or perhaps the best- collections of decorative arts in the country, as well as extensive collections of trade catalogs and other print resources. Now you do not have to go to Delaware to use many of these.  Many furniture catalogs have been digitized including a wide range of Stickley related catalogs. look at some here:

 Handmade furniture from the Onondaga Shops. - L. and J.G. Stickley Inc.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Brewing History: Zett Traces on Danforth and Lodi Streets

Syracuse, NY. 700 Danforth St., former Charles Frank House. Archimedes Russell, arch., 1899.  Photo: Samuel D. Gruber (2013)

Syracuse, NY. 700 Danforth St., former Charles Frank House. Carbon St. facade. Archimedes Russell, arch., 1899.  Photo: Samuel D. Gruber (2013)

Syracuse, NY. 700 Danforth St., former Charles Frank House. Releif affixed to Carbon St. facade. Archimedes Russell, arch., 1899.  Photo: Samuel D. Gruber (2013)

Syracuse, NY. 702 Danforth St., former George Zett House. Archimedes Russell, arch., 1899.  Photo: Samuel D. Gruber (2013)
Brewing History: Zett Traces on Danforth and Lodi Streets
by Samuel D. Gruber

I have recently posted about the neglect of important North Side houses, including the Catherine Murray House on Danforth Street.  There are, however, many bright spots in the neighborhood, especially a few blocks up Danforth Street where two impressive houses designed by Archimedes Russell for local brewer George Zett still stand in excellent condition.  In addition to their architectural merit, these houses are important markers of German history in Syracuse, and of the history of local beer brewing.  They are among the best of Archimedes Russell's surveying residential structures - of which there were once many more in the city - and show Russell at the top of his game - with a good site, big budget and successively adapting to the new Classically inspired style.

Syracuse brewing activity peaked in the 1880s with approximately 40 operating breweries, many located on the Northside and run by and serving the large German immigrant community. In 1890, nearly one third of Syracuse residents – approximately 30,000 people – identified themselves as having German ancestry.  In 1896 Syracuse breweries employed about 400 workers.  George Zett was one of the city's most successful brewers in the two decade before Prohibition killed off the industry.  A portion of the old Zett brewery still stands in ruined condition at the corner of Court and Lodi Streets.

Syracuse, NY. George Zett Brewery letterhead showing plant at corner of Court and Lodi Streets. from the collection of Richard N. Alonso, courtesy of Richard Alonso. See more Syracuse brewery letterheads at

Syracuse, NY. Remains of former Zett Brewery, corner of Court and Lodi Streets.  Photo: Samuel D. Gruber (July 2013)

Xavier Zett (1822-1881) established a brewery and malt house at the corner of Lodi and North State Streets. According to the website,  the brewery went through several name changes between 1858 and 1937; Xavier Zett (1858-1877), Xavier Zett & Son (1879-1882), George Zett (1882-1898), George Zett Brewing Co. (1898-1902), George Zett Brewery (1902-1920), George Zett Brewery, Inc. (1933-34), and Syracuse Brewery, Inc. (affiliated with Genesee) (1934-1937) 

Xavier's son George Zett (1843-1911) he inherited the brewery after his father's death.  In 1908 Zett was offering "quality brews" including lager, ales and porter from their plant. Prohibition, however, forced the brewery to switch to the production of soft drinks. The main building was destroyed by fire in 1943, and only the annex (designed by Louis Lohman, 1887) remained and in recent years most of this has been demolished, too. 

Syracuse, NY. George Zett Brewery label from the collection of Richard N. Alonso, courtesy of Richard Alonso. See more Syracuse brewery labels at

Syracuse, NY. 702 Danforth St., former George Zett House. Archimedes Russell, arch., 1899.  Photo: Samuel D. Gruber (2013)

George Zett had his house and that of his daughter designed and built by architect Archimedes Russell at 700 and 702 Danforth Street in 1899. These two houses are still in good condition and well maintained.  Zett built 702 for himself. It is one of Archimedes' finest surviving houses. Stylistically, it is transitional between Queen Anne and Colonial Revival.  It has a rusticated base and big round corner tower with a conical roof, typical of the late Queen Anne houses of the time (see the Babcock-Shattuck House, for example), as well as a high thin chimney. The Roman brick work and many classical details, however, are more in tune with the developing Colonial and classical motifs which grew in popularity after the Chicago Exposition of 1893 and cam to dominate residential architecture in the first decade of the 20th century.  The house is owned, occupied (still?) and well maintained by the Sisters of St. Francis Franciscan order of the Catholic Church.  A modern addition it on the rear.

Next door, on the corner site, Zett had Russell design a house for his daughter and her husband, Charles Frank. This house is a better example of Russell's take on the Colonial Revival style, popular in 1899. It is built of Roman hydraulic brick with a base of blue Warsaw stone. The the use of brick and the gambrel roof, vaguely suggests the Dutch Colonial style, and the roof is covered with Spanish tiles.

Evamaria Hardin described the building thus in 1980: “The main facade is symmetrical with a slightly projecting central part, vertically combining a semicircular entrance porch supported by paired columns, a Palladian window, and a classical pediment. Heavy quoins emphasize the corners. Stained glass windows were imported from Germany; bathroom tiles have eighteen carat gold decorations; there is finely carved woodwork on balusters and newel posts and an oval painting on the ceiling of the stairhall. Mosaic tiles form the initial “F” on the floor of the entrance way.” [Archimedes Russell: Upstate Architect (Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 1980)].

Babcock-Shattuck House (former Jewish War Veterans' Post) Work Progresses

Syracuse, NY. Babcock-Shattuck House restoration. Photo: Samuel D. Gruber July 31, 2013.

Syracuse, NY. Babcock-Shattuck House before restoration.  Photo: Samuel D. Gruber January 2012.

Syracuse, NY. Babcock-Shattuck House restoration. Rebuilding front porch. Photo: Samuel D. Gruber January 2013.

Syracuse, NY. Babcock-Shattuck House restoration. Photo: Samuel D. Gruber July 31, 2013.

Babcock-Shattuck House (former Jewish War Veterans' Post) Work Progresses

With every passing day the Babcock-Shattuck House (former Jewish War Veterans' Post) looks more like a house and less like a wreck.  After more than fifteen years of plans, false  starts and waiting it is good to see the transformation of this important Eastside landmark, which has been designated a local protected site and listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  The restoration project - which will create four distinctive condominium apartments inside (click here for floor plans) is a project of the University Neighborhood Preservation Association (UNPA) assisted by Home HeadQuarters.  For many months structural and other important work has been done that is hardly visible - but is labor intensive and essential to the building's use and survival.  Crawford & Stearns are architects for the project.

As a neighborhood representative on the advisory committee, I had a tour of the inside earlier this summer.  Now, however, the final work on the exterior - the visible pieces including windows and and repaired and new moldings and siding are begin put in place.  The results are thrilling.  Once again this fine Queen Anne style house will be a worthy gateway to the Westcott Neighborhood. Plan are for the exterior restoration to be completed in time for the Westcott Cultural Fair in September.  Interior construction of the residential units will begin soon afterward.

Syracuse, NY. Babcock-Shattuck House restoration. Photo: Samuel D. Gruber July 31, 2013.

Syracuse, NY. Babcock-Shattuck House restoration. Photo: Samuel D. Gruber July 31, 2013.

Syracuse, NY. Babcock-Shattuck House. Back porch before restoration. Photo: Samuel D. Gruber January 2012.

Syracuse, NY. Babcock-Shattuck House restoration. Rebuilding back porch/ Photo: Samuel D. Gruber June, 2013.

Syracuse, NY. Babcock-Shattuck House restoration. Photo: Samuel D. Gruber July 31, 2013.