Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Howard Van Doren Shaw: The Radical Conservative

One of the better known American architects  of the early 20th century is Howard Van Doren Shaw, best known for English-inspired houses like Ragdale, or The House of The Four Winds, in Lake Forest, IL. Many of his houses are reminiscent of works by Voysey or Baillie Scott, though some examples – like a large Tudor-inspired home here in Akron on Merriman Rd.—are just slightly more traditional in their approach.

Chicago Magazine has a great article by Whet Moser on  Van Doren Shaw’s legacy, from his approach to residential architecture to his commercial work, like Market Square, in Lake Forest:
“Market Square was built as what we now refer to as mixed-use, transit-oriented development, with stores on the first floor and apartments on the second, across a narrow street from what’s now the Lake Forest stop on the Union Pacific North Metra line.”

Strangely enough, Market Square feels like some of today’s newer, “walkable” retail developments (Think of Easton Town Center in Columbus or Legacy Village, near Cleveland) – the scale, mixed bag of architectural styles, and overall approach are strikingly similar.

The article goes on to highlight a new book, Inventing the New American House: Howard Van Doren Shaw, Architect, by architect Stuart Cohen, who  makes the case for Shaw as an innovator, drawing out that argument from Shaw’s reticent buildings. Take a look at the article, and check out the book, if you can.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Architectural Crime: Historic UK Pub Demolished – Even After Council says NO.

Even though the local Council in Kilburn said NO to a request to demolish a historic pub and replace it with flats for rent, two bulldozers tore into Carlton Tavern in Carlton Vale, destroying its shell and all its contents.

Patsy Lord, the pub’s landlady, had no idea the building was to be demolished. She explained to newspapers that she was told “the pub was to be temporarily closed due to inventory.”

Previously, the property owner had presented a plan to demolish and replace the existing pub with a new building, to include pub at ground level and 10 residential units. That plan had been rejected on the basis that the bulk, height and detailed design of the new development “would be detrimental to the view from the adjacent Maida Vale Conservation Area and view from the nearby recreation ground” where it was a gateway to the park.

A council spokeswoman confirmed to the Times the demolition had taken place without permission and enforcement officers had attended the scene once they were alerted.

Unfortunately, even if a revised plan is put in place, the possibility of re-using the old pub’s historic furnishings and fixtures is no longer a possibility, since they were destroyed in the demolition. Likewise, it’s hard to imagine a new structure matching the old pub’s charm and architectural character.

You can read and see more HERE.

Drive By: Cleveland’s Tudor Arms Hotel

When I used to work in Shaker Heights, I occasionally had to drive to downtown Cleveland, to see clients or drop off work. Passing through the University Circle area, I always noted the handsome old gothic-revival hotel (which has also served as a men’s club and student housing) with its exquisite architectural detailing.

I’ve never had the opportunity to go inside, but you can take a tour via the photos included in a recent Cleveland Plain Dealer story on the Tudor Arm’s induction into the Historic Hotels of America, an organization that celebrates the best of the past in the lodging world.

Completed in 1933, The Tudor Arms has been on the National Register since 1994. For more information: or To read the article, go here:

Friday, April 3, 2015

Beddie-Buy, My Love: Henry VII's Four-Poster Bed May be Worth Millions

A four-poster bed which was dumped in a hotel parking lot and later sold for £2,200 has been verified as once belonging to King Henry VII – and it could now be worth millions.

The intricately-carved Tudor-style bed was left outside the former Redland House Hotel in Hough Green, Chester, by builders who were renovating the property. Unaware of the bed’s value and history, construction workers dismantled the ornate example of oak furniture and left it to be picked up later by auctioneers.

Ian Coulson, a four-poster bed specialist from Northumberland, saw the item on an internet site, where is was listed as a 19th-century gothic revival piece. He managed to obtain it for just over £2,000 in 2010.

After the new 'Victorian' purchase arrived, he approached TV historian and period expert Jonathan Foyle, wondering if his new purchase may be an original, surviving Tudor bed. Over the fast four years, Mr Foyle has attempted to prove the authentic and historical nature of the bed, with recent DNA testing on the bed's timber proving that it once belonged to Henry VII.

Foyle noted that tests have confirmed the bed was constructed from European oak, “typical of the origin of the finest, slow-grown oak imported by the medieval elites”, with analysis of the historic paintwork proving its age. The medieval bed is now reportedly worth up to £20million, although it is not forr sale and is instead on public display in the Long Gallery at Hever Castle in Kent until November 22.