Bakewell & Brown’s Pasadena City Hall

Pasadena’s City Hall is one of the most photographed buildings in Southern California.

When standing at the base it’s like a huge monument to democracy.

It’s hard to get the whole building in one shot.

This is the best I could do. I was crazy even to take this shot because I was standing in the middle of the street and we all know what California drivers are like.

Inside the entrance is a vestibule.

The vestibule contains this clock which sits at the entrance to the exterior courtyard.

The vestibule has a barrel ceiling with rosettes. It also contains numerous light fixtures like the one above. Notice the medieval towers above the fleur-de-lis on the light fixture.

The courtyard contains a large fountain.

The courtyard is beautifully designed with towers and an arcade.

This is the view from across the street looking at the back of city hall.

Yet, it wasn’t always intended to look like this. Below is the competitive drawing that won Bakewell & Brown the city hall commission. The firm had already designed San Francisco’s City Hall, which was completed in 1916, so that probably gave them a leg up on the competition.

The original design was influenced by the missions. I don’t like it. Image courtesy Architect and Engineer.

John Bakewell, Jr. wrote an article for Architecture and Engineer. In it he described the process in which his firm, Bakewell and Brown, were selected as the firm to design the city hall. According to Bakewell, Pasadena contacted ten firms and asked them to submit plans. Each plan was “keyed” and then the drawings were submitted for consideration anonymously. The selection committee was comprised of George Ellery Hale, Stuart W. French, Ernest J. Batchelder, Robert D. Farquhar and Pierpont Davis. After the selection committee made their decision the firms not chosen were given payment for their submissions.

The Chicago firm of (Edward) Bennett, (William) Parsons and (Harry) Frost were the men behind Pasadena’s Beaux-Arts civic center plan which was drawn up in 1923 and included three buildings. The city hall was at the center of the plan. The library was the second building in the configuration which was north of city hall and designed by Myron Hunt and H.C. Chambers. The civic auditorium was the third building and was located south of city hall and designed by Edwin Bergstrom, Cyril Bennett and Fitch Haskell.

A call for construction bids went out on January 4, 1926 and by this date an ornamental observational dome (referred to at the time as a tower) was already part of the new city hall design. Two months earlier the dome had tentatively been approved but it was quickly rescinded when citizens complained about the cost. While a bond issue had raised over $3 million for the construction of the three buildings it wouldn’t be sufficient to erect all three. Yet, in the end the city decided to spend the money for the dome which would raise the cost of the building.

The following images are all from Architect and Engineer.

Bakewell explained the change in design for city hall:

“In the original, or competition design for this building, an entirely different central motive was used from that finally adopted. A comparison of the two designs is interesting. The first, or abandoned design, was strikingly original and apparently of great promise. However, it is easy to imagine that its study would offer many difficulties. In order to make its mass truly impressive, as was very necessary on account of the size of the building and the scale of the whole civic center scheme, it would have to grow much larger than the original drawings showed it.”

Bakewell also wrote,

“The fact that it was not the front piece for a building but the central motive of a long façade made it questionable whether a pierced wall design, no matter how massive that wall should be made, could fulfill its purpose. The perspective effects might have been very picturesque, but on the other hand they might readily have been grotesque when seen from certain angles. The design of the dome that was actually used has the great advantage that its mass is preponderant and consequently counts from every point of view. It actually forms a marking point for the center of the city and a fitting termination to the broad avenue of approach to the civic center.”

Bakewell continued,

“However, the idea of a portal has not been lost and the present design probably owes it openness to the earlier idea. It still remains as an open portal leading into the patio and converts the patio into a veritable garden vestibule for the whole building, instead of an inclosed [sic] court. This feeling of airiness and openness has been preserved in the dome that the central mass supports.” From Architect and Engineer, pages 37-38.

Bakewell saw the arcade that runs along the east side of the patio as a stop gap measure.

“The scheme consists of a large single court, or patio, with a narrow ribbon of a building running completely around it, the whole forming a hollow rectangle. The rear of this rectangle is at present left open and the scheme cannot be considered as completed until it is closed in by the future extension of the building across this side, for which provision has been made. While the garden court, or patio, will not be completed until the extension of the building along Euclid Avenue entirely closes it in, a temporary arcade has been built along this street connecting the circulations of the first and second floors. This arcade is, perhaps, a little uninteresting as it stands today and it is to be hoped that its monotony will be broken in time by judicious planting. However, it serves a very useful purpose that justified it until such time as the scheme is finally completed.” Architect and Engineer, page 38.

The northeast corner of the patio showing the arcade and one of the towers.

The viewpoint from the patio looking west into the vestibule.

Construction started on January 21, 1926 and the building finally opened on December 27, 1927. The final cost of the building was $1,337,365.39.

Bakewell wrote that the style of the building was Renaissance.

The building is located at 100 North Garfield and has a frontage of 374 feet. The wings are 238 feet deep. The building covers an entire city block. The main story and the wings are three stories in height. The dome rises to a height of 205 feet and is 52 feet in diameter.

Arthur Brown, Jr. attended the École des Beaux-Arts and graduated in 1901. Bakewell also attended the École and graduated in 1901. The two men must have know each other in Paris and reconnected in San Francisco. They became partners in 1905. The San Francisco earthquake in 1906 was a boon for their business and provided numerous commissions for the young firm including the Green Library at Stanford and the Palace of Horticulture at the Panama-Pacific International Exposition held in San Francisco in 1915.

Bakewell was born August 28, 1872 in Topeka, Kansas. He received a B.A. from the University of California in 1893 then was off to Paris. He served with the Red Cross in 1918-1919 in Lyons, France. He married Hazel King in 1922 when he was 50 years old. His home address was 855 Chestnut Street in San Francisco.

Brown was born on May 21, 1874 in Oakland, California. He received a B.S. in civil engineering from the University of California in 1896 and then attended the École. He married Jessamine Garrett in 1916, when he was 42 years old, and the couple had two daughters: Victoria and Sylvia. Brown lectured at Harvard in 1918 and was a professor of architectural theory at the University of California in 1918-1919. He was also a member of the architectural committee that oversaw the design of the Chicago World’s Fair in 1933.

According to SNAC Brown was the principal designer in the firm while Bakewell ran the office and attended to the finances. The firm’s office was located at 251 Kearny Street in San Francisco. The partnership continued until 1927. After the dissolution, Brown designed one other notable San Francisco landmark: Coit Tower.

Arthur Brown, Jr. died July 7, 1957. John Bakewell, Jr. died on February 19, 1963.

Arthur Brown, Jr. circa 1912. Courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

From left to right are John Bakewell, Jr., Arthur Brown, Jr., Jean-Louis Bourgeois and John Baur. Courtesy of UC Berkeley.

Here’s another photo of Bakewell & Brown with Percy Young around the time Pasadena’s City Hall was constructed. Courtesy UC Berkeley.



Arthur Brown, Jr. photo from Wikimedia commons.

Ask bids for new city hall at Pasadena. (1925, November 25). Los Angeles Times, A10.

Ask bids to build city hall. (1925, September 28). Los Angeles Times, A8.

Bakewell, John, Jr. (1928, June). The Pasadena City Hall. Architect and Engineer, 93(3), 35-39 & 67, 69, 71, 73, 75, 77, 79, 81-83.

Detwiler, J. B., (Ed.). (1929). Who’s who in California. San Francisco: Who’s Who Publishing Company.

Drawings for center chosen. (1924, March 29). Los Angeles Times, D8.

Ground breaking for new city hall. (1926, January 22). Pasadena Star-News.

Harper, F. (Ed.). (1913). Who’s who on the Pacific coast. Los Angeles: Harper Publishing Company.

John Bakewell, Jr., Arthur Brown, Jr., Jean-Louis Bourgeois, John Baur photo courtesy of UC Berkeley.

John Bakewell, Jr., Arthur Brown, Jr., and Percy Young photo courtesy of UC Berkeley.

Pasadena Public Library. Accessed on 2/7/2020 at,

Rasmussen, C. (2007, May 6). One of Pasadena’s architectural jewels gets a polishing. Los Angeles Times, VCB2.


Start city hall this fall. (1925, August 31). Los Angeles Times, 7.

Special thanks to Wei Zhang, a reference librarian at the Pasadena Public Library, who helped me track down when construction began.


My book from The History Press, Architects Who Built Southern California, was released on March 11, 2019. It’s 10 chapters with each chapter devoted to a different architect (or architectural firm) including: Harrison Albright, John Austin, Claud Beelman, Elmer Grey, Hudson & Munsell, A. C. Martin, Meyer & Holler, Julia Morgan, Morgan Walls & Clements and Alfred F. Rosenheim.

Library Book Events 2020

I have some library book events scheduled for this year. All deal with presentations regarding my book Architects Who Built Southern California.

My very cool book.


March 6, 2020

The West Hollywood Public Library

My presentation is from 7pm-8pm. It’s on a Friday night and being held in the community room.

The library is also having a reception following my presentation for an architectural exhibit concerning historic properties at 8pm-9pm upstairs.

The West Hollywood Public Library is located at 625 North San Vicente Boulevard. The architects were Steve Johnson and Jim Favaro.

The library is across from the Pacific Design Center so when you look out the windows you see this.

The library created this wonderful brochure for the event. You have to RSVP though. See the red box. There is free parking attached to the library and there will be a substantial amount of food at the reception.

The event went Great! This was the line before the event. Photo courtesy of the City of West Hollywood.

This was the crowd inside the event. YAY, a full house. Photo courtesy of the City of West Hollywood.

The start of my presentation. Photo courtesy of the City of West Hollywood.

Future WeHo library events!


March 19, 2020

The Los Feliz Public Library

It’s part of this library’s Architecture and Beyond series.

My presentation is from 6:30pm-7:30pm. It’s on a Thursday night.

I’ve gone to many of these presentations and they always get a good crowd.

The Los Feliz Public Library is located at 1874 Hillhurst Ave. in Los Angeles, California.

The library has a nice little patio in the back.

I’m so looking forward to this because I’ve been to many of the previous ones. They usually get a good crowd.

Oh, they also have my book in the display case. YAY!


August 22, 2020

The Woodland Hills Public Library: Platt Branch

My presentation is from 11am-12pm. It’s on a Saturday morning.

The Woodland Hills Platt library branch is located at 23600 Victory Blvd. in Woodland Hills, California.

There is a nice plaque at the entrance.


September 24, 2020

The Westwood Public Library

My presentation is from 6:30pm-7:30pm. It’s on a Thursday night.

The Westwood Public Library is located at 1246 Glendon Avenue in Westwood, California. Steven Ehrlich was the architect.

The library is only 15 years old. I thought it was built in the 1960s.


October 28, 2020

The Atwater Village Public Library

My presentation is from 4pm-5pm. It’s on a Wednesday afternoon.

The Atwater Village Public Library is located at 3379 Glendale Boulevard in Los Angeles, California.


My book from The History Press, Architects Who Built Southern California, was released on March 11, 2019. It’s 10 chapters with each chapter devoted to a different architect (or architectural firm) including: Harrison Albright, John Austin, Claud Beelman, Elmer Grey, Hudson & Munsell, A. C. Martin, Meyer & Holler, Julia Morgan, Morgan Walls & Clements and Alfred F. Rosenheim.

Flintridge Bookstore

The event at the Flintridge Bookstore was great.

It was a cold day and eventually it would rain!

The event took place on November 30, 2019 in conjunction with small business Saturday. It was a cold day and eventually it would rain!

There were lots of things going on that day. I like this group. They're called the....

There were lots of events going on at the bookstore that day. They had music and I like this group. They’re called the JNJ Band.

The La Canada Flintridge Choir.

These singers were from the La Canada High School Choral Music Department.

And other authors too.

There were other authors too. This is Shonda Buchanan and you can just see a part of Paula Finn in the bottom right corner.

The best part of the day was I got to spend two hours talking with Robert Inman who wrote the latest edition of An Architectural Guidebook to Los Angeles. The hours flew by. It was like we were old friends talking non-stop about architecture.

Me being advertised with “an appearance.” My ego inflated when I saw this. 🙂

Gail Mishkin organized the event and she was very kind to me. The Flintridge Bookstore is located at 1010 Foothill Blvd. in La Canada Flindridge, California.


My book from The History Press, Architects Who Built Southern California, was released on March 11, 2019. It’s 10 chapters with each chapter devoted to a different architect (or architectural firm) including: Harrison Albright, John Austin, Claud Beelman, Elmer Grey, Hudson & Munsell, A. C. Martin, Meyer & Holler, Julia Morgan, Morgan Walls & Clements and Alfred F. Rosenheim.


Stiles O. Clements

I was looking through a 1925 issue of Pacific Coast Architect and stumbled onto this. I like it because it’s at the beginning of Clement’s career and he has all his great work ahead of him.


My book from The History Press, Architects Who Built Southern California, was released on March 11, 2019. It’s 10 chapters with each chapter devoted to a different architect (or architectural firm) including: Harrison Albright, John Austin, Claud Beelman, Elmer Grey, Hudson & Munsell, A. C. Martin, Meyer & Holler, Julia Morgan, Morgan Walls & Clements and Alfred F. Rosenheim.

Flintridge Bookstore Event

I have an event regarding my book, Architects Who Built Southern California, at the end of the month. The flyer regarding the event is below.

It’s November 30, 2019.

I  won’t be giving a presentation. Instead, I’ll be sitting behind a table but there will be a live folk-pop-vocal band, a poetry reading and a Where’s Waldo contest. It all sounds very small town. Flintridge is between Burbank, California and Pasadena, California.


My book from The History Press, Architects Who Built Southern California, was released on March 11, 2019. It’s 10 chapters with each chapter devoted to a different architect (or architectural firm) including: Harrison Albright, John Austin, Claud Beelman, Elmer Grey, Hudson & Munsell, A. C. Martin, Meyer & Holler, Julia Morgan, Morgan Walls & Clements and Alfred F. Rosenheim.

Building Styles

I’ve always been interested in building styles. Sometimes, the style isn’t initially clear to me but I can usually come to some determination.

An Italianate house at 1036 3rd Avenue in Rock Island, Illinois.

Over the past thirty years I’ve taken photographs of houses that I like in the city where I grew up: Davenport, Iowa. Now, whenever I go back and visit my parents I drive by particular houses and snap a photo or two. Below are three houses that I’ve documented over the years.

Note: Some of the images are scans of photographs that were originally printed out at the time they were taken. That’s what people used to do. They would take photographs and then print them out and have a tangible copy to hold in their hands. If someone told me 35 years ago that it would be wise to keep the negatives of these pictures because “in the future” I would want to use them on something called “a blog” that I would construct on “my own personal computer” I would have laughed and thought the person was intoxicated.

Egbert Storr Barrows House

Dr. Egbert Storr Barrows was a doctor who was born March 26, 1799 in Middlebury, Vermont. He was six feet tall and weighed the same weight (225 pounds) for fifty years. That’s what he claimed. He moved to Iowa on July 6, 1836 after Iowa was opened for settlement. Barrows was the first doctor to practice in the state. He served in the Seminole war and married on his way out to Iowa from St. Augustine, Florida. Mrs. Barrows would die in 1891. E.S. Barrows died March 8, 1892. His death was the result of a fall in this house. It appears, from news reports, that he broke his hip and complications from that fracture led to his death. His obituary in the Davenport Tribune said of him, “He was big in heart as in frame, rough and peculiar in his ways, yet a gentleman in every refinement of feeling, honesty, truthfulness and integrity.”

Barrows House. I am unsure as to the date of this photograph but I know it’s before 1985.

The house was built circa 1850 and is in the Greek Revival style. The key is the pediment and the columns. They’re the most obvious elements of the Greek Revival style. It is located at 224 E. 6th Street in Davenport, Iowa.

The back of this photograph is dated November 1985. The stucco has been removed.

Lolita Bower is the woman who undertook the task of restoring the house. I’ve seen her name also spelled Bauer.

This is what the house looked like in 2009 when it was up for sale.

This is the brochure for the house when it was for sale. I don’t know about that kitchen and why do they have candles on the steps?

The back of the advertisement. It gives the dimensions of the rooms. In 2009 the house was purchased by David Leo.

I took this photograph on July 16, 2019. The current owners of the house are David Leo and Andrew Patterson.

Hans Heinrich Andressen House

The second house is the Hans Heinrich Andressen House. Andressen was a city alderman and also a bank president and director of the German Savings Bank. The house is located at 726 W. 6th Street in Davenport, Iowa and was constructed in 1886. The architect of the building was F.G. Clausen and it cost $16,000 to construct.

Andressen House. I found this early image online.

The image above is from the 1887 German publication Das Erste Album der Stadt Davenport, Iowa. The translation for that title is: The First Album of the City of Davenport, Iowa. Davenport had a large influx of German immigrants in the late 1800s and in 2019 there is a German American Center on the banks of the Mississippi River in honor of the city’s German heritage.

According to an article by the Davenport Public Library the Andressen house was “Built in the Richar[d]sonian Romanesque style, the three-story structure’s distinguishing features included a Flemish step gable and decorative terra cotta and brick work. According to a 1921 report on the house’s sale, “[t]he entire finishing of the building are imported from Germany, many of the old window lights bearing German inscriptions.” I interpret window lights as being stained glass windows. In the National Register for Historic Places registration form the home is listed as Romanesque Revival.

This image is from the Richardson-Sloane Special Collections of the Davenport Public Library.

Hans Heinrich Andressen died on May 11, 1906. His daughter inherited the house and swapped this house for a farm in Silvis, Illinois in 1909. In the 1920s the house became a rooming house and eventually apartments. The house was still being used as apartments in the photograph below.

This is the first photograph I took of the house. The date on the back of this photograph is January 1984. It looks like it could be the image on an old Christmas card. The snow looks silky.

This is the way I remember the house over the years. Whenever I went back to Iowa I would go and “check on it” like it was an old friend. The house was vacant but it was boarded up. I always wanted to buy it and fix it up or, at least, go inside and see what the interior looked like.

This plaque on the front of the house provides a little information.

I find the simple detailing really wonderful.

Isn’t that beautiful.

More terra cotta.

In 2018 it looked like this. As I pulled my car up to a slow stop I thought, “Oh, no.” When I saw it I just felt sad.


This is a photo from the Quad-City Times. The photographer is Kevin E. Schmidt.

A fire at the home was reported at 3 a.m. on May 10, 2018. The home had been bought by Dustin Eastwood in October 2012 for $19,500. Eastwood was a self-employed home builder who had planned to fix up the house. It was a major undertaking for Eastwood and it was slow going. Unfortunately, Eastwood died in March 2018 at the age of 32. The house went up in flames two months later.

The fire was deemed suspicious and the usual suspects were looked at: the homeless, kids with matches and teenagers. No one has been arrested or charged as of September 2019.

In 2019 this was all that was left.

The Fred B. Sharon House

This image is from 1974. It was in a Times article regarding historic houses.

The third is the Sharon House. It is located at 728 Farnam Street in Davenport, Iowa. I took these first four photographs in January 1984. I realize these photos are faded and the focus could be better but they’re great because they show what the house looked like at a specific time in the past.

I must have taken this one at a different time in January ’84 because it has snow on the roof.

It was built in 1891 and is in the Second Empire style. The clues to the home’s style are the mansard roof, the dormer windows, the decorative brackets, the tower and the cast iron cresting.

I remember when I took these pictures a little boy, about 10 years old, came out on the porch and asked me why I was taking pictures of his house. I said,”Because it’s a beautiful house. You’re lucky to live there!” He looked leery when I said he was lucky. He watched me for a moment more and then turned around and went inside probably to tell his mother what I said.

This tells you all you need to know about the Sharon House occupants.

Here it is in 2018.

Somebody needs to paint but it still looks better than it did in 1984

This is from the Wikipedia commons page. I like this image because of the sparseness of the tree foliage.

All of these homes are easy to identify because their characteristics are evident and the buildings haven’t been altered beyond recognition. Also easy to identify are Gothic Revival, Italianate, Stick, Queen Anne, Tudor, Chateauesque, Beaux Arts, Mission, Monterey, Pueblo, Prairie, Craftsman, Modern (Art Deco and Art Modern), Ranch and the international style. I have more problems with: Spanish Colonial, Dutch Colonial, French Colonial, French Eclectic, Colonial (Adams and Georgian), Neo-Eclectic and Spanish Eclectic.

I just have to work on those.



Egbert Storrs Barrows 1799-1892. (1892, March 9). Davenport Tribune.

Fred B. Sharon House. Wikimedia commons.

Gaul, A. (2018, May 11). Suspicious fire destroys historic Davenport house. Quad-City Times.

Gold coast-Hamburg historic district architectural guide. (2014). Davenport: Davenport’s First Neighborhood.

Historic homes open for tours. (2010, August 22). Quad-City Times.

Lost but not forgotten. (2018, May 14). Davenport Public Library special collections.

Photos: Iowa historic homes. (2016, September 14). Quad-City Times.


My book from The History Press, Architects Who Built Southern California, was released on March 11, 2019. It’s 10 chapters with each chapter devoted to a different architect (or architectural firm) including: Harrison Albright, John Austin, Claud Beelman, Elmer Grey, Hudson & Munsell, A. C. Martin, Meyer & Holler, Julia Morgan, Morgan Walls & Clements and Alfred F. Rosenheim.

Bradbury Building entrance.

Published in: on September 13, 2019 at 1:09 am  Comments (2)  

Iowa and Illinois 2019

I went to Iowa in July 2019 to see my parents. While I was there I traveled around and saw some sights with my old Iowa friend Bob Graef.

McBride Hall is on the University of Iowa Campus. I’m a graduate of the University of Iowa so it’s like going home. McBride Hall is located on the Pentacrest which consists of four classical buildings surrounding Iowa’s old capital. The old capital was built in 1846.

This is McBride Hall. I think it’s beautiful. It was originally called the Natural Science’s Building.

In early 1897 the University of Iowa’s North Hall, which housed the university’s library, burned to the ground and took the library with it. Four years later, in 1901, the university’s South Hall went up in flames. As a result of the fires, the Iowa state legislature, which oversaw the University of Iowa campus, decided to build fireproof buildings for the university and selected the Des Moines based architectural firm of Proudfoot & Bird for the work. [That’s an amazing firm name.] According to the University of Iowa website, Proudfoot & Bird were influenced by Chicago’s Columbian Exposition held in 1893, and as a result the firm tended to design in the neoclassical style. The Natural Science Building cost $313,872 and was completed in 1908. In 1934, it was renamed McBride Hall in honor of Thomas McBride who was the University of Iowa’s president from 1914-1916.

This terrazo floor is inside the front door. In the vestibule.

William Thomas Proudfoot. Photo from Find A Grave.

Proudfoot & Bird were a well-known, mid-western firm in the last quarter of the 19th century and first quarter of the 20th century. Proudfoot was born May 2, 1860 and died June 8, 1928. Proudfoot’s obituary in 1928 states, “During the last thirty years Mr. Proudfoot designed most of the schools and office buildings in Des Moines and practically all the buildings of the state colleges at Iowa City, Ames and Cedar Falls.” Proudfoot was 68 when he died. He suffered two paralytic strokes before his death. Flags at the University of Iowa were flown at half-staff out of respect for his contributions to the campus. He is buried in Indianola, Iowa.

George Washington Bird. Proudfoot & Bird worked together in Wichita, Kansas from 1885-1891.
Photo from Find A Grave.

Proudfoot & Bird were partners until 1912 when Bird retired. According to a National Register for Historic Places document, Bird was “burnt out” from all the work “especially the Polk County Court House” which was completed in 1906. Bird moved to California in 1920 because of an interest in motion pictures. Bird was born on September 1, 1854 and died on September 7, 1953. He died at his home, which was located at 832 S. Kenmore Avenue in Los Angeles. He was 99 years old. He is buried at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery. That’s a long way from Wichita.

My friend Bob took this picture while we were in McBride Hall. He sent it to me with the caption, “Tony discusses evolution with a museum guide.” I don’t look as dignified as Mr. Proudfoot or Mr. Bird. Maybe, it’s the T-shirt? I should dress more formally when I go places.

Later that same day we drove up to Cedar Rapids, Iowa to see:

Louis Sullivan’s People’s Savings Bank

This image is from the January 1912 issue of Architectural Record.

Me, trying to contain my excitement. Shouldn’t it be historic not historical?

This is so cool. It’s outside, on the front of the building, about a foot above the sidewalk.

There’s an exhibit inside the building on the way to the restroom. That’s Mr. Sullivan. All hail Louis Sullivan!

Montgomery Schuyler wrote an article for the Architectural Record regarding Louis Sullivan and the People’s Savings Bank. It appeared in the January 1912 issue.

In the article, Schuyler stated that when Henry Hobson Richardson was at his peak most architects, in America, were interested in his work. While that was true of Louis Sullivan too there was one major difference between the two of them. Regarding Richardson, Schuyler said architects studied his work and were interested in what he was doing because they sought to see how they could adapt what Richardson did to their own projects. American architects’ admiration for Richardson’s work resulted in a large inventory of Richardson Romanesque buildings across America. Louis Sullivan’s work, on the other hand, was also followed by architects but the difference was that architects did not look at Sullivan’s work as something they could adapt. Instead they were interested in Sullivan’s work simply because of the beauty of the buildings he was creating.

Schuyler then quoted the Western Architect and stated that none of Sullivan’s pupils had created anything within Sullivan’s sphere.

[Note: What follows is “word for word” from Schuyler’s article. I think it’s clunky writing but it still makes his point.]

“In the October number of the Architectural Record there were illustrated in conjunction a country house by the master and another by the pupil. The Western Architect of Minneapolis was moved by the conjunction to remark that while Mr. Sullivan’s genius “permits him to do the most daring things in design and ‘get away it,’” of his followers “none have gone so far into the realm of the picturesque, or failed so signally in the production of livable houses, as Frank Lloyd Wright.”

Poor Mr. Wright. It is obvious that during Wright’s lifetime critics had a love/hate relationship with his work. It could not have been easy for Wright to read this type of criticism. It probably gnawed at him.

Schuyler wrote that no one could do what Sullivan could do. Schuyler strangely overlooked Purcell & Elmslie who worked in the Midwest and produced over sixty Sullivan-esque homes between 1910 and 1921. It could be that Purcell & Elmslie weren’t well known at the time or didn’t have the reputation, then, that they have now. George Grant Elmslie was certainly a pupil of Sullivan and even worked for him.

Schuyler stated that the People’s Savings Bank is designed from the inside outward and that the exterior is merely an envelope that contains the striking interior. He went on to write that many people would find the simplicity of the building’s exterior surprising. After praising the bank’s interior, Schuyler wrote that the People’s Savings Bank, like the Farmers Bank of Owatonna before it, had become a pilgrimage site for individuals who admired Sullivan’s work.

An original light fixture.  They seem a little flashy for a bank in Iowa.

The space is occupied by a restaurant now. The building was flooded in 2008.

Looking in the same direction as the previous photograph. From Architectural Record.

A Louis Sullivan column.

One of the columns is featured in Architectural Record.

There are murals in the banking room. The murals are by Allen E. Philbrick. He was a local artist. There is an image of Philbrick at the People’s Savings Bank. Next to his photo it states Philbrick attended the Art Institute in Chicago and then taught at that institution for 50 years. It’s difficult to get a “head on” or good photograph of the murals because of the big light fixtures.

This is looking in the same direction as the previous photo. From Architectural Record.

You can eat in the vault.

Two more interior views above and below. From Architectural Record.

A light fixtures outside the bank. I don’t remember these light fixtures being here the last time I visited the site. There were light fixtures outside the bank when it was built.

I think these original light fixtures have been copied and the copies are what is in front of the bank now. The top is different in many ways. From Architectural Record.

The furniture looks like it was bought from a Sears catalog. Architectural Record.

I wonder if there was a woman’s rest room or if all the employees in the bank were men. Architectural Record.

Decorative stonework on the exterior.

An exterior light fixture.

A rendering of the building. I want it!

The People’s Savings Bank is very close to where I was staying. The GPS knows how long we were there. You know these computers are going to kill all of us one day.

A couple of days later we drove down to Springfield, Illinois to see:

Lincoln’s Home and Tomb

YAY, it’s the National Park Service! I’m glad they’re on the job.

The whole area is meticulously maintained. I think they sweep the sandy street at night to make it look perfect in the morning.

According to the National Park Service this is the only home the Lincolns ever owned.

Our tour guide.

Abraham Lincoln and Mary Todd married on November 16, 1842. They lived in a boarding house for the first year of their marriage and then bought this house in 1844. It is located in Springfield, Illinois at the corner of Jackson and Eighth Streets. The Lincolns paid $1,200 for the house. They also gave the seller a $300 lot they owned. The Lincolns lived in this home for sixteen years until the family moved to the White House in Washington, D.C. The National Park Service guide said the Lincolns stored their furnishings and household goods and rented out the home during Lincoln’s presidency. The family intended to return to the home but after Lincoln’s assassination Mary Todd Lincoln wouldn’t go back. Eventually, most of the furnishing were sold at a public auction. The stove in the kitchen and a writing desk in Lincoln’s bedroom are two of the objects that belonged to the Lincolns.

In 1887, Robert Lincoln donated the home to the state of Illinois with some restrictions. One was the public would be able to tour the home for free. Consequently, there is no admission fee even today. Parking is $2 for two hours. In 1972 the home was transferred to the National Park Service.

A section of the parlor on the first floor.

Lincoln’s bedroom.

The desk Lincoln used. It’s small for a big man.

Mary’s bedroom. It’s a comfortable looking room. I could happily retire there at night.

The stove Mary Todd Lincoln cooked upon.

By the time we drove down to Lincoln’s tomb the sky was overcast and it was windy.

It’s a well maintained cemetery…

…with a pretty impressive tomb.

Evidently, it’s good luck to rub Lincoln’s nose. That’s my Iowa friend Bob Graef. I’ve known him practically all my life.

The National Park Service has an informative internet site regarding Lincoln’s Tomb. The Park Service says almost immediately after the citizens of Springfield, Illinois heard that Lincoln’s body would be returned to his hometown a fund to build a tomb or monument for him was initiated. Lincoln’s body spent six years in two different receiving vaults after being shipped from Washington, D.C. and wasn’t immediately interred in the tomb because the tomb was unfinished. In 1871, his body was placed in a crypt in the still unfinished tomb. Finally, in 1874, the tomb was dedicated with former President U.S. Grant in attendance. At this point, Lincoln’s body was interred in a sarcophagus. The website does not specify if the sarcophagus was above ground or buried. I am guessing it was above ground because the sarcophagus ended up being a temporary resting place again. Two years later, in 1876, two cash strapped men attempted to steal Lincoln’s body with the goal of holding the body for ransom. When the plot was uncovered, Lincoln’s body was moved and buried in an unspecified location within the tomb. The Lincoln Monument Association thought it would be best if no one knew the exact location. The vault room is large so even if the body was buried in the vault room unless a grave robber knew the body’s exact location it would be difficult to find and steal.

In 1901, Lincoln’s body was re-interred in the sarcophagus (above ground?) but Robert Todd Lincoln, President Lincoln’s son, objected and the state of Illinois listened. Lincoln’s body is now buried in “a cement vault 10 feet below the surface of the burial room.” The National Park Service does not specify if the body is beneath the cenotaph or in some other location in the room. The cenotaph is the large, red, 7-ton block of marble with Lincoln’s name & his life and death dates.

In 1930-31, the interior of the tomb was reconfigured to allow visitors the opportunity to enter the tomb and see the cenotaph up close.

The entrance to the tomb.

This is the first thing you see when you walk inside.

The tomb is a big circle. You enter to the right of the statue above and walk around. At the midway point is the cenotaph. Along the way are statues of Lincoln by various sculptors. It’s very tasteful and restrained.

She’s there too.

The interior of the tomb wasn’t accessible when it was originally built so people would come to the rear of the tomb and look through this window at Lincoln’s final resting place.

Grant Wood

I’ve always liked Grant Wood’s paintings. The Cedar Rapids Museum of Art has a number of them and so does the Figge Museum in Davenport, Iowa. The Figge is housed in a David Chipperfield building.

Self-Portrait. (1932-1941) This self portrait is at the Figge.

The Cedar Rapids Museum has a permanent exhibit.

Woman with Plants. (1929) The woman in the image is Grant Wood’s mother.

Young Corn. (1931)

Overmantle Decoration. (1930)

A bench Grant Wood designed.

The door to Wood’s studio which was located at 5 Turner Alley.

Close up of door glass.

Adoration of the Home. (1921-1922) This was a commercial commission. It was used in a local real estate developer’s housing campaign.

This is my favorite image of Grant Wood. He looks very modern and yet looks like a beatnik too. The photo is from the 1920s. Photo from R. Tripp Evans’ book on Grant Wood.

Grant Wood painted American Gothic in 1930 and died on February 12, 1942. He was fifty when he died. The cause of death was pancreatic cancer. In his final days Wood was still somewhat optimistic about his future and said he wanted to sell his Iowa City home and move to Palm Springs. For his new home Wood would need a servant so he asked his sister Nan “to be on the lookout for an Oriental houseboy.”

I had a great trip to Iowa. Bob is the perfect traveling companion because of his good disposition and his fine photography skills. I’ve used many of his photographs in this post.



Bird, George Washington.

Evans, R. T. (2010) Grant Wood. New York: Knopf

Legler, D. (2006). At home on the prairie; the houses of Purcell & Elmsie. San Francisco: Chronicle Books.

Lincoln Home.

Lincoln’s Tomb.

McBride Hall.

Proudfoot & Bird.

Proudfoot, William Thomas.

Schuyler, M. (1912, January). The People’s Savings Bank. Architectural Record, 31(1), 45-56.

Survey of Historic Sites and Buildings: Lincoln Tomb.


My book from The History Press, Architects Who Built Southern California, was released on March 11, 2019. It’s 10 chapters with each chapter devoted to a different architect (or architectural firm) including: Harrison Albright, John Austin, Claud Beelman, Elmer Grey, Hudson & Munsell, A. C. Martin, Meyer & Holler, Julia Morgan, Morgan Walls & Clements and Alfred F. Rosenheim.

Los Angeles City Archives Tour

I went on a tour of the Los Angeles City Archives recently. I’m in search of information and photographs for my next book which is also about Southern California architects.

The archives are in a Brutalist’s building on a sketchy street. [translation: I was apprehensive about parking my car on the street.] Those concrete L-shaped forms are balconies.

This is the view from the third floor balcony looking west.

I’m including this because it states the architects’ names (L.W. Davidson & Associates), who I’ve never heard of before, and the year the building was completed (1981).

There was a nice outdoor eating area for employees on the way to the archives.

This is the unassuming entrance.

Everyone who took the tour seemed to be doing research for a book.

There were not a lot of artifacts on display but I liked this one. It was from the Rose Parade to the city of Los Angeles.

Certain items are held in the vault. This is the vault door.

These are in the vault.

This is the kind of information in the registry of licenses.

These items are also in the vault. There are rows and rows and rows and rows and rows of them.

All the papers from the cities that were annexed by Los Angeles including Eagle Rock, Venice and Hollywood are housed in the vault.

Most of the archives are not housed in the vault but rather on steel shelving that goes almost up to the ceiling.

Here’s another view halfway down one of those long aisles.

This was found on the side of the road by Tom LaBonge and donated to the city.

One of the huge (6 feet by 8 feet?) old photographs of Los Angeles that the archive holds. In the upper center is a long stretch of green space. That’s where Disney Hall, The Broad Museum and other buildings would be built. You can see the Dorthy Chandler Pavilion just to the right of the green space.

A more recent view of the city but there’s no Caltrans’ Building yet.

Michael Holland is the city archivist and he led the tour. He did a great job and I enjoyed it very much. Hopefully, they’ll have some material I can use in my next book.


My book from The History Press, Architects Who Built Southern California, was released on March 11, 2019. It’s 10 chapters with each chapter devoted to a different architect (or architectural firm) including: Harrison Albright, John Austin, Claud Beelman, Elmer Grey, Hudson & Munsell, A. C. Martin, Meyer & Holler, Julia Morgan, Morgan Walls & Clements and Alfred F. Rosenheim.



Published in: on June 16, 2019 at 6:42 pm  Leave a Comment  

Los Angeles Downtown News interview

The Downtown News interviewed me in conjunction with my book. The interview turned out great!

Here is a link to the article in The Downtown News:


My book from The History Press, Architects Who Built Southern California, was released on March 11, 2019. It’s 10 chapters with each chapter devoted to a different architect (or architectural firm) including: Harrison Albright, John Austin, Claud Beelman, Elmer Grey, Hudson & Munsell, A. C. Martin, Meyer & Holler, Julia Morgan, Morgan Walls & Clements and Alfred F. Rosenheim.

Published in: on June 12, 2019 at 7:12 pm  Leave a Comment  

Frederic Roehrig’s Hotel Green

The Hotel Green, which is also known as Castle Green, had an open house on June 2, 2019. The architect of the hotel is Frederic Roehrig.

This is the brochure handed out at the event.

It has all the information you would ever need to know about the Green Hotel.

The hotel looks idyllic and inviting on this postcard.

Here’s an image of G.G. Green. This image is from Men of the Pacific Coast.

Here’s the hotel on a postcard.

The brochure was full of information.

You enter the grounds of the Hotel Green through this long sidewalk.

The building has a wonderful entrance. It doesn’t disappoint.

This is the lobby. Right inside the door.

The view from the first floor landing of the staircase.

Looking into the lobby from the north.

Looking into the lobby from the south.

There are three large public rooms south of the lobby. This is one of them. It’s the Main Parlor.

This statue was located in the Moorish room. I want it.

The elevator wasn’t in use during the open house. I would have loved to ridden in it. For the experience, of course, but the building has six floors and the steps were exhausting after my initial excitement.

Only one condo had a sign posted with the words “no photography.” Even so I didn’t feel comfortable taking pictures inside people’s residences so I didn’t take any.

The doors to the condos are very simple. I like them.

There was a display case with Hotel Green artifacts and this was one of them. Is it a chamber pot?

This was also in the case. I want this plate.

On the first floor landing was this beautiful print of the establishment.

On the top floor was this wonderful light fixture.

The east building was torn down. It looks out of place to me in this postcard view. Maybe, because it’s built right up to the sidewalk and the massing of the building is too overwhelming?

Here’s another very pretty view on a postcard.

I found this image in Western Architect. It’s the same image that’s on one of the previous postcards.



Men of the Pacific Coast: 1902-1903. (1903). San Francisco: The Pacific Art Company.

Green Hotel. (1905, December). Western Architect, (4)12.


My book from The History Press, Architects Who Built Southern California, was released on March 11, 2019. It’s 10 chapters with each chapter devoted to a different architect (or architectural firm) including: Harrison Albright, John Austin, Claud Beelman, Elmer Grey, Hudson & Munsell, A. C. Martin, Meyer & Holler, Julia Morgan, Morgan Walls & Clements and Alfred F. Rosenheim.

Published in: on June 6, 2019 at 3:24 pm  Leave a Comment