Architect of the Month: Guido Beck, October 2016

Architect of the Month: Guido Beck, October 2016

Guido Beck (1853 – 1936), was a Dubuque architect who specialized in the architecture of churches and schools. Beck was born on January 25, 1853, in Hohenzollern, Germany where he received his early education and later studied architecture at Stuttgart and the University of Heidelberg. As a young architect, he was awarded the position of superintendent and was given one of his first building commissions by the German government to construct an asylum at Schussenried, Germany.  Beck completed the asylum in 1882, and then, against the wishes and advice of all his friends, left his native country and immigrated to the United States. He thought his chances for success were infinitely greater and the field for work much broader in the U.S.

G. Beck

Portrait of Guido Beck

Upon his arrival to the United States, Beck traveled to Rock Island, Illinois and worked as a stone-cutter in the government arsenal. There he familiarized himself with the language and customs, thoroughly mastering the American style of architecture.   With the knowledge he already possessed, Beck quickly became one of the foremost architects in the State of Iowa. In 1885 he came to Dubuque and partnered first with fellow German émigré architect Fridolin Heer.  After a few years, he left the partnership to develop his own architecture practice.  With the booming Catholic population, Beck specialized in church architecture.  He designed over 100 church buildings throughout the region, one as far away as Bozeman, Montana.  Beck-designed churches are found throughout the State of Iowa.  His preferred architectural style was the Gothic Revival style, with its pointed arches and soaring steeples.

Among the notable Dubuque buildings, Beck designed St. Anthony’s Catholic Church, St. Columbkille Catholic Church, St. Joseph Chapel at Loras College, Holy Ghost Church, St. Paul Evangelical Lutheran Church, and the mortuary chapel at St. Raphael Cathedral. Beck also designed many parochial schools and residences including the St. Raphael School on Bluff Street, recently converted into apartments. Beck also designed the following churches in the surrounding area: St. Clement Church in Bankston, St. Joseph Church in Bellevue, St. Martin Church (now St. Matthias Church) in Cascade, and St. Joseph Church in Rickardsville.

Architect of the Month: Willoughby Edbrooke, September 2016

Architect of the Month: Willoughby Edbrooke, September 2016

Willoughby Edbrooke (1843 – 1896), was born on September 3, 1843, in Deerfield, Illinois. Edbrooke’s father was an English-born contractor and builder and raised Willoughby in the architectural profession until he reached an age to study under the most advanced masters in Chicago. He studied for several years under the best architects in the city and was recognized for a thorough mastery of his profession. He was Commissioner of Buildings in Chicago and subsequently served as Supervising Architect for Chicago. He supervised and designed the U.S. Government Buildings erected at the 1893 Chicago World’s Columbian Exposition. Edbrooke’s other notable designs include:  The Milwaukee Federal Building; the Old Post Office Building in Washington DC; the Federal Courthouse and Post Office in St. Paul, Minnesota; several buildings on the University of Notre Dame’s campus in South Bend, IN, including the iconic gold-domed Main Administrative Building; and the State Capitol Building in Atlanta, GA.

Edbrooke’s design of the Grand Opera House is a very early example of the Richardsonian Romanesque style in Dubuque. The Grand Opera House was built between 1889 and 1890 and is located at the corner of 8th and Iowa Streets in Dubuque. The Grand Opera House is architecturally important as an early Richardsonian Romanesque building and perhaps one of the best designs of Edbrooke’s work.

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Interior of the Grand Opera House (Kinseth Hospitality Companies)

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Portrait of Willoughby Edbrooke (Hickey Family History, Schlereth, Portrait of Its History, p. 59)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Grand’s distinctive heavy rounded arches at its base and its red sandstone and brick for construction are hallmarks of the Richardsonian Romanesque style.  According to the National Register nomination, the façade overlays the classical base, column and capital in its fenestration pattern, all applied to a broad, shallow gabled pavilion basic form. Twin armory towers with steeply pitched pyramid roofs and finials define the sides of the pavilion. The brickwork and stone foundation are purposely unified by means of a smooth finish and blended narrow mortar joints. The features of the façade are not carried over to either side walls. The building stands five stories in height and measures 70×128. The opera house interior has been repeatedly remodeled over time, including the removal of the second balcony.   However much of the original theater interior survives. The lobby stairways retain their Queen Anne trim work and remain in their original locations.  The exterior was modified over the years as well, including covering the façade in the mid-1950s with enameled metal siding.

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Drawing of the Grand Opera House (Grand Opera House Website)

At the time of its construction, the Grand Opera House was the largest theater to be built in Dubuque. The theatre had a 1,100 seat auditorium including two balconies, eight boxes and stalls and a proscenium large enough to host major theatrical productions.  A July 23, 1890 Herald article noted that the new theatre, “is by far the finest and largest edifice of its character ever erected in the city, and it is not excelled in the state.” The Grand had a long time direct association with the “legitimate theater” in Dubuque between 1890 and 1928.  The theater allowed for the staging of exceptionally large scale and high quality shows. Dubuque was in a fortunate position to establish and offer the legitimate theater and was the only city of its size to be so favored, with the best traveling companies visiting Dubuque as a Midwest railroad hub.  The Grand Opera House is the only surviving example of Edbrooke’s theatre designs.

In 1998, The Grand launched a campaign to renovate and restore the building to the look and style of the 1890s original design.  All of the 1950s metal siding was removed, exposing the impressive, monumental original façade.  The building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2002. The building has a high level of historic integrity and was restored to host live stage entertainment once again.

Alfred Caldwell’s Eagle Point Park

Alfred Caldwell’s Eagle Point Park

Alfred Caldwell titled his creation at Eagle Point Park, “a city in a garden.” The park sits high atop of a bluff overlooking the Mississippi River on the northeast corner of Dubuque. Caldwell’s work at the park was made possible through the Works Progress Administration (W.P.A.) program to expand and renovate the park. With the influence of Frank Lloyd Wright’s organic ideas, Caldwell designed the pavilions, the lily pond, the ledge gardens, council rings, and pathways.

1 Lilly Pond Construction Alfred Caldwell on left with can ca 1934-35 TH Photo

Lilly Pond Construction Alfred Caldwell on the left (Photo Credit: Telegraph Herald photo from the collection of Loras College Center for Dubuque History)

Caldwell constructed three pavilions out of striated limestone pulsating in and out from the vertical plane and simultaneously emphasizing the horizontality of the buildings with low-slung hipped roofs and wide eaves. He produced most of the materials needed on site opening a stone quarry nearby and cutting lumber from the local timber. The pavilions were clustered near the highest point in the park and provided multipurpose meeting rooms, dining rooms, and bathrooms around stone hearths. The bridge pavilion stretches across the main road to create a formal entry to the park.

The buildings are connected with stone terraces, benches, and walls. The organic quality of Caldwell’s design was strengthened by the native plants placed informally around the pavilions and throughout the park. In true Prairie school fashion, Caldwell aimed to blur the distinction between nature and the built environment, particularly with the use of the ledge garden, the lily pool, and the council rings intentionally set to grow out of the hill.

4 Women on Councel Ring ca 1930s TH Photo

Women on the Council Ring, ca. 1930’s (Photo Credit: Telegraph Herald photo from the collection of Loras College Center for Dubuque History)

The park won a national W.P.A. design award in 1936, and Franklin Delano and Eleanor Roosevelt visited the site during the 1936 presidential campaign. Upon seeing Caldwell’s work, President Roosevelt remarked that “this is my idea of a worthwhile boondoggle.” Caldwell was subsequently fired from this job, just as he would be fired from most of the jobs he would ever have.

Caldwell’s work at Eagle Point Park will be examined and celebrated during Heritage Works’ upcoming inaugural Dubuque Heritage Festival on October 7 and 8.  The afternoon on October 7 will feature a symposium for architects, landscape architects, historic preservation professionals and anyone else interested in history, Caldwell’s work or historic landscapes.  Friday evening will feature a reception at the Dubuque Museum of Art and the opening of the museum’s exhibit of some of Caldwell’s drawings and other artifacts of Caldwell’s time in Dubuque.  Saturday will give the public an opportunity to participate in docent-led tours of Caldwell’s shelters and landscapes in Eagle Point Park.  For further information visit:  http://heritageworksdbq.com/festival/
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Heritage Works Dubuque :: Dubuque Heritage Festival, Arthur Caldwell's Eagle Point Park

Architect of the Month: Alfred Caldwell, August 2016

Architect of the Month: Alfred Caldwell, August 2016

Caldwell (Credit Illinois Institute of Technology)

Alfred Caldwell (Photo Credit: Illinois Institute of Technology)

Alfred Caldwell (1903 – 1998), was a landscape architect who mastered the use of Prairie School style of architecture. Caldwell had an interest in nature from early on in his life continuing into high school when he worked part-time jobs with nurseries and landscape gardeners.
In 1921, he attended the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign to study landscape architecture but his studies bored him and he preferred to craft his visions with work outside of the classroom. He left school and went to work for renowned landscape architect, Jens Jenson, in Chicago, from 1924-1931. Caldwell completed various jobs for his mentor, Jensen as their work relationship soon developed into a close friendship. After a short stint as a private practice landscape architect and with a recommendation from Jensen, Caldwell earned the position of superintendent of parks in Dubuque specifically overseeing the construction of Eagle Point Park from 1934 – 1936. He directed the construction of the shelter areas, the lily pond, and the ledge gardens and called his masterpiece a “City in a Garden.”

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Alfred Caldwell with Jens Jenson

He left Dubuque in 1936 to accept the position of landscape designer for the Chicago Park District where he designed landscapes for hundreds of acres of Chicago’s parks, including the Lincoln Park Zoo lily pond. In 1945 Caldwell was hired by Mies van der Rohe to teach landscape architecture at the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT) College of Architecture. IIT eventually awarded him a Master of Science in city planning in 1948. Caldwell left IIT in 1960 to teach at Virginia Polytechnic Institute.  He then later taught at the University of Southern California until 1973.

Caldwell returned to teaching at IIT in 1982 until his death in 1998. He was not only a gifted landscape architect but also did work as a civil engineer, city planner, and a prolific writer of poems and essays. Additionally, he was a critic of urban sprawl and advocated for environmental conservation. Throughout the remaining years of his life, he continued to develop a marvelous Prairie school landscape at his Bristol, Wisconsin farm. Dennis Domer, the author of Caldwell’s biography, labeled him as the last representative of the great Prairie School landscape architects.

EPP Bridge

Eagle Point Park Bridge

Caldwell’s work at Eagle Point Park will be examined and celebrated during Heritage Works’ upcoming inaugural Dubuque Heritage Festival on October 7 and 8.  The afternoon on October 7 will feature a symposium for architects, landscape architects, historic preservation professionals and anyone else interested in history, Caldwell’s work or historic landscapes.  Friday evening will feature a reception at the Dubuque Museum of Art and the opening of the museum’s exhibit of some of Caldwell’s drawings and other artifacts of Caldwell’s time in Dubuque.  Saturday will give the public an opportunity to participate in docent-led tours of Caldwell’s shelters and landscapes in Eagle Point Park.  For further information visit:  http://heritageworksdbq.com/festival/Heritage Works Dubuque :: Dubuque Heritage Festival, Arthur Caldwell's Eagle Point Park

John Mullany’s Town Clock

John Mullany’s Town Clock

Town Clock

Built: 1864; Rebuilt and relocated 1873; Relocated – 1971

Located on Main Street at Town Clock Plaza

The Dubuque Town Clock is another distinguished landmark of downtown Dubuque. The clock currently operates in the Town Clock Plaza on Main Street.  Dubuque’s first town clock was initially erected in 1864 on top of the John Bell and Company store, a building on the west side of Main Street between Eighth and Ninth streets. In 1872, the foundation of the building holding the clock gave way and the clock came crashing down on the Bell building.

Town Clock

(Photo Credit: Bob Reding, Encyclopedia Dubuque)

Later in 1872, the mayor and finance committee met to determine the fate of the town clock and tower. They decided to award the commission to design and construct the new clock and tower to John Mullany, provided he complete the project in 30 days. The clock was to be placed on top of a new building on Main Street between 8th and 9th streets, designed by architect Fridolin Heer. According to an 1872 Herald article, Mullany’s Town Clock “is built of brick, three stories high, faced with heavy stone caps, lintels, corners, etc. and is an ornament to the street. The style of architecture appears to be a mixture of the Gothic and Corinthian.” In 1970, the clock was removed from the Town Clock Building and relocated to the Town Clock Square as the centerpiece of the downtown redevelopment effort. The clock tower and clock were set atop a 100-feet tall concrete tower and rededicated in its new prominent home in August, 1971.
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(1872 Sheffield Bell inside the Town Clock |Photo Credit: David Johnson, City of Dubuque Planning Department)

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(Inside the Town Clock |Photo Credit: David Johnson, City of Dubuque Planning Department)