Saturday, December 02, 2006

The American Foursquare

American Foursquare

American Foursquare

American Foursquare

American Foursquare

American Foursquare

The American Foursquare house, as featured on Marquette's Champion Street.

This housing style was popular from the mid-1890s on until around 1940. It is typified by a boxy design, a front-facing dormer window, and a hipped roof (in the Upper Peninsula, the roof is pitched much more steeply due to the snowy climate). The square design maximizes the use of a small city lot.

Many of these houses could be ordered by mail from catalogues such as Sears and Roebucks. They were delivered by train and came ready to build, for a cheap price.

Champion Street American Foursquares

Thursday, November 16, 2006

The New Stuff

I'm not a huge fan of modern architecture. Anything built after World War II -- or, in architectural terms, after the Art Moderne style -- is generally quite ugly and bland. From time to time, something will stand out to me, but the architecture of the modern era is usually something I can pass by without looking twice.

This is why I rarely photograph "the new stuff." However, here is a blog entry devoted solely to Michigan's architecture of today. Enjoy it -- or not -- though when I photograph modern architecture, I try to make it look as appealing as possible, even when the actual structures stand out like a sore thumb in their surroundings. I will not express my displeasure or approval of the following five buildings -- that is for the reader. It is your duty to weigh these new structures against historic architecture, and draw your own conclusions.

[insert Tom Cruise joke here]

The Radisson Hotel in Kalamazoo.


The planetarium, owned by Delta College, in Bay City.


An office building in Lansing.

Huron Music Wing: Morning

Huron High School in Ann Arbor, built in the late 1960s.

Dentistry building

The University of Michigan's School of Dentistry building in Ann Arbor.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

St. Peter's Cathedral

Marquette is home to the beautiful and historic St. Peter's Cathedral. This church, with its twin domed steeples, sits upon one of the highest points in downtown Marquette and can be seen from afar. The building is lovely both inside and out, and is built from area sandstone.


The inside of the cathedral, looking toward the altar.


Looking toward the choir loft and the organ. The floor is made from beautiful tiles.

St. Peter's Cathedral

The steeples are adorned with colorful terra cotta tiling and stylized angels.

St. Peter's Cathedral

The cornerstone was laid in 1881 following a blaze that destroyed the first cathedral on the spot. A second blaze gutted the cathedral in 1935, but restoration started the following year. The domes were added to the top of the steeples at this time, hence the reason why the figures are depicted in an Art Deco style.

To read a full history of St. Peter's Cathedral, visit this site.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Marquette Housing

Marquette is home to a lot of beautiful, varied houses. Some streets are more spectacular than others, namely Arch Street and Ridge Street.


An Italianate and Second Empire-themed house on Ridge Street. In this area, there is a lot of combining of styles, resulting in a unique appearance.

Nice porch

There is some very ornate woodwork on this porch.

Happy Halloween!

The residents of Marquette go all out with their Halloween decorations!

Second Empire

A great Second Empire house on Ridge Street, made from sandstone.


Another great sandstone house on Ridge Street.

Gothic Revival

A Gothic Revival House, also on Ridge.

Dandelion Cottage

The historic Dandelion Cottage on Arch Street, built around 1880.

Monday, October 23, 2006

University of Michigan Exhibit Museum of Natural History

One nice thing about having an older university in town is that established colleges tend to showcase beautiful architecture. The University of Michigan in Ann Arbor is no exception, as its campus is full of many gorgeous buildings, including several museums. Besides the Kelsey Museum and the Art Museum, which will be featured on this blog in due time, U of M also has the wonderful Exhibit Museum of Natural History.

The Ruthven Museums building, which today holds not only the Exhibit Museum, but also the Museums of Zoology, Paleontology, and Anthropology, was completed in 1928. While the architect was Albert Kahn, much of the ornamentation -- including the two pumas that guard the entryway -- was executed by Carlton Angell. Built in the Classical Revival style (with a touch of Art Deco elements sneaking in), the museum is four stories tall. Less than half of the building is open to the public; the rest is devoted to research and housing the collections.

Exhibit Museum

Two large Ionic columns stand above the main entrance.

The building is beautifully decorated, both inside and out. The rotunda features a coffered ceiling covered in gilded plaster rosettes; travertine Doric columns flank the graceful staircase. The exterior of the museum is embellished with many playful creatures, some fantastical and others scientifically accurate.

Museum doorway detail

The lovely decorations above the main entraceway, sculpted by Carlton Angell.

Basilisk Flying Serpent Bird

Surrounding the doorway, many strange fauna can be seen, including the basilisk, a serpent, and a bird.

Museum Grill Detail

Grill Detail, Museum Museum Grill Detail

Delightful details can be found on the museum's wrought iron grills.

Door Detail, Museum

The front doors are decorated beautifully, all the way down to these tiny griffins, only a few inches off the ground.

Capricorn-esque Grotesque

Griffin beastie

These mythical creatures are sculpted into the platforms that hold the pumas. Currently the pumas are gone -- they are being cast into bronze and won't make their appearance until the spring of 2007.

. . .

The next time you visit the Exhibit Museum, take time to observe all the exterior ornamentation on this building -- not only around the front entrance, but on the sides of the museum, as well. You will find some surprises!

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Richardsonian Romanesque

In the 1870s, Henry Hobson Richardson started to design buildings in a style of architecture that would become highly popular. One of his first creations was the Trinity Church in Boston, Massachusetts, built in 1872. It is an imposing structure, castle-like in appearance, with a medieval feeling throughout.

The Richardsonian Romanesque style is very recognizable -- perhaps one of the most easily identifiable styles of architecture. The buildings were usually built out of dark, heavy cut stone (though bricks, a less expensive alternative, were often used). The main entraceway was marked by a large Romanesque arch, which was often decorated with floral ornamentation or the more abstract chevron. The square windows were recessed deeply into the stone walls; arched windows were laid in rows. Dormer windows often had gables; tiny, slit-like dormer windows called "eyebrow dormers" were also common. The buildings usually resembled small castles, with multiple towers and turrets capped with conical roofs. Ornamentation -- especially floral, organic details -- was common. Floors were separated by belt courses, a purely decorative element often made from stone of a contrasting color.

There are some fine examples of the Richardsonian Romanesque style in Michigan.

Hoyt Public Library

The Hoyt Public Library in Saginaw. It opened in 1890.

Starkweather Memorial Chapel

The Starkweather Memorial Chapel in Ypsilanti. It was built in 1888, and its architect was George D. Mason, of Detroit.

Train Station, Muskegon

Muskegon's Union Depot opened in 1895 and is a beautiful example of the Richardsonain Romanesque style.

Hackley Public Library

The Hackley Public Library in Muskegon, built in 1888. The granite was quarried in Maine and the sandstone is from Marquette.

These days, the cost to build a structure in the Richardsonian Romanesque style would be numbingly expensive.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Small Things

It's been kind of rainy here in Marquette for the past couple of days -- with more rain in the forecast for tomorrow. I don't mind the rain, but walking to class in it isn't my cup of tea. Personally, I'd rather have it snow -- but we'll be having a surplus of that in only a few short weeks. Anyhow, I digress. Yesterday -- before it started to drizzle -- I biked downtown to get some fresh air and take a few photographs along the way. I saw some pretty cool houses, but I'll wait to post any photos here until I've got a substantial series going. The sky being quite overcast, yesterday was good for photographing architectural details.

Art Deco

One of the few art deco buildings in Marquette

Harlow Block Detail

The Harlow Block, which has some great detail

Landmark Inn

Small details on the Landmark Inn

Former Nordic Theatre

Interesting window treatments on the former Nordic Theatre, now Book World

Red Window Frame, Red Sandstone

A red window frame set in red sandstone

Friday, October 13, 2006

Church Revivals

Generally speaking, all of the historic churches in the United States have an appearance and plan derived from the cathedrals and chapels in Europe. However, these churches were "Americanized" -- they were built from the local materials, or featured certain detailing popular to the region. In America's Southwest, for example, the mission churches set up by the Spaniards were constructed in the Baroque style, but borrowed an aesthetic -- adobe -- from the local inhabitants.

The Gothic and Romanesque Revivals brought forth a wave of churches to small and large towns across the country, many of them sharing similar, Americanized characteristics.

Gothic Revival (~1830 to ~1860)

The Gothic style is most easily identified by its pointed arch, found on windows and doors. Other characteristics of the Gothic Revival style are trifoils and quatrefoils, tracery windows, rose windows, and steeply-pitched roofs. In Europe, the Gothic Revival heralded grand cathedrals and mansions, while in America, the buildings were usually downsized to a more humble scale. The style was used not only for churches, but for houses, cottages, university buildings, and the occasional American castle. Instead of having two steeples like their larger European counterparts, the smaller churches in the United States often had only one. Construction materials ranged from brick to stone to whitewashed clapboard, but the overall Gothic aesthetic was always recognizable. (There are, of course, many exceptions: larger cities became home to Gothic Revival cathedrals of grand scale; St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York City and the cathedrals that line the streets of Detroit are some examples.)

Catholic Church, Hillsdale

A Gothic Revival Catholic church in Hillsdale.


A tiny church in Harbor Springs -- though it is much simpler and built from whitewashed clapboard, it still exhibits the Gothic arch.

Romanesque Revival (~1840 - ~1900)

At the same time that the Gothic Revival came to be popular, the Romanesque Revival did, as well. The Romanesque style is identified by its rounded arches -- semicircular arches above windows and doors. Buildings often had two towers of differing heights, covered with different roofing styles. The Romanesque Revival was used most commonly for churches and public buildings.

First Congregational Church, Jackson

The First Congregational Church in Jackson. Note the rounded arches and unique towers.

Saline Presbyterian Church

Saline's Presbyterian Church was built in 1898.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Classical Orders

I hope this entry isn't too similar to the one I published earlier concerning ornamentation on column capitals -- but this goes along with what we've been learning in my architecture class, and besides, it's interesting!

There were three orders of classical columns in the ancient world. The Greeks used the first two -- the Doric Order and the Ionic Order -- the most, and the Romans, who improved upon many Greek architectural elements, used the Corinthian Order quite extensively. These columns were used both in temples and public buildings, and were usually carved from marble.

The Greeks employed a certain concept called entasis when constructing their temples. Entasis is a subtle swelling of the columns, much like the trunk of a tree. Not only does it compensate for the illusion of concavity that results from straight lines, it gives the building life. Though the columns are made from cold stone, this technique turns the temples into organic, living structures. The entasis of Greek columns, especially those of the Doric Order, begins at the base and tapers upward. Roman columns swell one-third of the way up, then return to their original circumference. Entasis is a subtle feature in ancient architecture, but is very visible in temples such as the Parthenon.

The 1800s and early 1900s brought a wave of classicism to America, not just in the Greek Revival style, but in other fashions such as Beaux-Arts and the Classical Revival, as well. With these styles came classical elements -- pediments, friezes, and denturing -- and the three orders of columns. Early on, the styles were left untouched -- they were virtually exact replicas of their Greek and Roman counterparts. As time passed, architects took creative liberties with the orders, often combining them or adding even more ornamentation to the capitals (as seen in my October 5 entry).

Doric Order


This is part of an ancient Roman structure that has been moved to the University of Michigan campus in Ann Arbor. The Doric Order is characterized by a simple, unadorned capital, heavy, fluted columns, and the lack of a base.

Angell Hall

The massive columns standing in front of the University of Michigan's Angell Hall are a rather faithful representation of the Doric Order.

Fountain, Marshall, MI

The classical orders are found in fountains such as this in Marshall -- once again, a historically accurate version of the Doric Order, all the way down to the Greek-styled ornamentation.

U of M Art Museum/Alumni Hall

The Doric columns in front of the U of M Alumni Hall (now the U of M Art Museum) are made of sandstone and lack fluting along their shafts.

Ionic Order

The Ionic Order is a graceful column topped by a capital with opposing volutes. In American architecture, architects often added ornamentation to make these columns more interesting.

Petoskey Public Library number two

The Petoskey Public Library Annex, built in 1940, showcases small Ionic columns.


A group of (wooden) Ionic columns on the Harrington Hotel in Port Huron.


The large engaged columns on the soon-to-be demolished Frieze Building in Ann Arbor are constructed in the Ionic order.

Americanised Ionic

This small corner column on a building in Harbor Springs shows how American architects enhanced the Ionic Order with decorations.

Church, Escanaba, MI

The engaged columns on this church in Escanaba, built in 1938, are a hybrid between the volutes of the Ionic Order and the acanthus leaves of the Corinthian Order.

Corinthian Order

The Corinthian Order has a highly ornate column distinguished by the stylized acanthus leaves that decorate its capital. While the Doric and Ionic orders can be found on small buildings and houses, the Corinthian Order was usually saved for large banks, museums, and public buildings.


This ancient Roman column, showing the acanthus leaves of the Corinthian Order, is located on the U of M campus.

Negaunee National Bank

The Negaunee National Bank building also features Corinthian columns.