Three days after a fire gutted Dankmar Adler and Louis Sullivan's 1888 George Harvey House in Lakeview, the Chicago Tribune reported on Monday that the Chicago Police Department's bomb and arson unit has begun an investigatation into the cause. The article says that owner Natalie Frank, who bought the house with her husband in 1994 for one a quarter million dollars, had not lived there for over a year.
Ten months after another conflagration reduced Adler & Sullivan's 1891 K.A.M. Pilgrim Baptist Church to its bare outer walls of stone and brick, there have been calls for its full restoration, but at an estimated cost of $25 to $30,000,000, no action has yet been taken, and such a project seems far beyond the capacity of its working class congregation.
A correspondent tells me that the former Krause Music Store, whose 1922 facade was Louis Sullivan's last commission, is currently covered in scaffolding and plastic sheeting as its being adapted for an undisclosed reuse.
Meanwhile, architectural salvage firm Urban Remains has begun selling artifacts from Adler & Sullivan's landmark 1887 Wirt Dexter Building, also destroyed in a massive fire on October 24th that this week was officially declared an accident, caused by a cutting torch being used to dismantle a boiler for scrap. Urban Remains is selling 60 linear feet of the tall perforated beams that stood outside the back wall of the structure, as well as seven ornamented cast iron columns taken from the Wabash Avenue facade. Urban Remains tells me that a section of perforated beam has gone to the Chicago History Museum, but that Sullivan's ornamented limestone were corbels were lost in the ruble.
The Wirt Dexter was demolished by Heneghan Wrecking, whose company slogan, especially in these circumstances, takes on a chillingly ironic subtext.
Ruin and dispersement seem to have become the new hallmarks of this year's celebration of the 150th anniversary of Louis Sullivan's birth. When Marshall Fields became Macy's in September, a gallery on the Wabash side of the store began offering up for sale a wide array of fragments salvaged from buildings from a range of architects that include George Elmslie and Sullivan himself, including bits and pieces from another demolished masterpiece, the Chicago Stock Exchange. All sales final.