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Morning again November 5, 2008

Posted by dr. gonzo in History, Politics.
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Today, I awoke to a new dawn in America.

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Some days just suck. October 13, 2008

Posted by dr. gonzo in History.
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Some days just suck.

Even a misanthropic absurdist knows that.

A day that sucked? The day I realized that the nation of France experienced the national tragedy that was World War I and its awful toll; shit, tragedy? National torture more like. The national torture of nearly 5.7 million total casualties during World War I. That’s 4.3 million wounded and almost 1.4 million killed in action, dead, forever. What a sad world we live in.

So what? My source was Wikipedia, wanna fight? It’s cited.

U.S. Route 66: Chenoa, Illinois February 20, 2008

Posted by dr. gonzo in Architecture, History, Houses, National Register of Historic Places.
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After spending so much time near Chicago I thought it would be nice to return to the downstate calm of Old U.S. Route 66. Just north of the city of Chenoa, Illinois, the historic section of U.S. Route 66 that is listed on the National Register Historic Places ends, but the road continues southward, toward Bloomington. Coming from Pontiac, we first hit Chenoa, in northern McLean County.


Chenoa, Illinois, in northern McLean County

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Heurtley House: Oak Park, Illinois Part 7 February 17, 2008

Posted by dr. gonzo in Architecture, Frank Lloyd Wright, Houses, National Historic Landmarks, Prairie style.
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The Arthur Heurtley House is a true architectural gems, besides being one of my favorite Frank Lloyd Wright buildings, it is a distinguished early example of Wright’s mastery of his new Prairie style. The Heurtley House is one of four National Historic Landmarks in Oak Park, Illinois – the others are Pleasant Home, Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio, and Unity Temple.

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The 1902 Heurtley House is acknowledged as a critically important work of early modern architecture; one that the National Historic Landmark Program claims is the first fully mature example of Prairie School architecture. As we have seen, many sources dispute this claim, instead crediting the Frank W. Thomas House from one year earlier as the first full Prairie house.

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The emphasis on the Heurtley House is decidedly horizontal, its asymmetical front facade, hipped roof, massive chimney and horizontal character do provide a good comparison point for all things Prairie. Something I am sure could also be done with the Thomas House.

Before February 16, 2000, the Heurtley House was simply a member of the National Register of Historic Places listing for the Frank Lloyd Wright-Prairie School of Architecture Historic District. On that date, the home was declared a National Historic Landmark (NHL) because of its architectural importance. An NHL declaration garners an automatic listing on the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP), thus the Heurtley House was individually listed on the NRHP at the same time.

There is more to say about the Heurtley House than you and I have time for here, but if this perks your interest in a house I adore, I suggest checking out the resources below, especially the NHL nomination form and the Illinois Historic Preservation Association (IHPA) Property Information Report.

Online Resources
*Arthur Heurtley House: National Historic Landmark Nomination Form, NHL Summary, IHPA Property Information Report (Photos from 1982-1998 included at bottom)
*Wikipedia: Arthur Heurtley House (by me, for you)

Frank W. Thomas House: Oak Park, Illinois Part 6 February 16, 2008

Posted by dr. gonzo in Architecture, Frank Lloyd Wright, Houses, National Register of Historic Places, Prairie style.
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There are two houses in Oak Park which have, at different times, been called the “first fully mature” example of a Frank Lloyd Wright Prairie style house. The first of those homes is the Frank W. Thomas House at 210 Forest Avenue; most sources agree that the Thomas House was the first example.

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1901 – Frank W. Thomas House

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Walter Gale House: Oak Park, Illinois Part 5 February 14, 2008

Posted by dr. gonzo in Architecture, Frank Lloyd Wright, Houses, National Register of Historic Places.
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The Walter Gale House, in Oak Park, Illinois, was constructed around the time of yesterday’s Bootleg Houses and closely resembles their design. Again, Wright went with a geometric Queen Anne style that, while not unlike traditional styles popular during the 1890s, represented a precursor to the direction he would take a few years later.


1893- Walter Gale House

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Bootleg Houses: Oak Park, Illinois Part 4 February 13, 2008

Posted by dr. gonzo in Architecture, Frank Lloyd Wright, Houses, National Register of Historic Places.
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Between 1892 and 1893 Frank Lloyd Wright designed a series of eight houses, many of them similar in style, in and around Oak Park, Illinois. The popular tale says that Wright, then under contract with Louis Sullivan, was forbidden, by his contract, to “moonlight” and do independent designs. That tale is contradicted in Thomas Heinz’s 2006 book, “The Vision of Frank Lloyd Wright”. Heinz says that Wright was not forbidden to do independent work, and that Sullivan would have encouraged it because Wright owed him money. Heinz says Wright left Adler and Sullivan on his own terms, amidst an economic downturn.

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Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio: Oak Park, Illinois Part 3 February 12, 2008

Posted by dr. gonzo in Architecture, Frank Lloyd Wright, Houses, National Historic Landmarks.
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Making our way from Unity Temple we come to a neighborhood off Chicago Avenue that is dominated by architectural marvels. Sprinkled throughout a smattering of Queen Anne and Italianate homes are several of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Prairie masterpieces. Before you get to those, though, you notice a sprawling Shingle Style house (Shingle style is basically a classification of Queen Anne style) that appears to have been built at different times. The large brown house is known as the Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio and it was the location of his early 20th century Oak Park firm.


1889 – Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio

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Unity Temple: Oak Park, Illinois Part 2 February 11, 2008

Posted by dr. gonzo in Architecture, Churches, Frank Lloyd Wright, National Historic Landmarks.
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Not far from the Pleasant Home is Unity Temple, another Oak Park National Historic Landmark that many consider one of the crowning achievements of American architect Frank Lloyd Wright. Unity Temple is the result of years of experimentation in Oak Park with various designs, from geometric Queen Anne style homes, to the first fully mature examples of Prairie style architecture. The Unity Temple is an impressive example of early modernism in architecture.


1905-1907 Unity Temple (Frank Lloyd Wright)

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Pleasant Home: Oak Park, Illinois February 10, 2008

Posted by dr. gonzo in Architecture, Houses, National Historic Landmarks, Prairie style.
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The last few days have been a breather, stopping here in DeKalb County. A short drive toward Chicago, though, and we are in, perhaps the most architecturally significant village in the United States, Oak Park, Illinois. Oak Park is home to dozens of residential works by Frank Lloyd Wright, and other Prairie Style masters. But before we dive knee deep into Wright we must stop over and see an architect we talked about the other day, George W. Maher.


1897 – John C. Farson House (aka Pleasant Home) (rear view)
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Ashelford Hall: Esmond, Illinois February 9, 2008

Posted by dr. gonzo in Architecture, History, National Register of Historic Places.
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There are more than 90,000 listings on the National Register of Historic Places. Not all of them are well-kept, I have come across a fair share of dilapidated properties, one of them here in DeKalb County. While far from falling down, Ashelford Hall in the small village of Esmond, Illinois is, to put it lightly, in a state of disrepair.


1925 – Ashelford Hall

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Adolphus W. Brower House: Sycamore, Illinois Part 6 February 7, 2008

Posted by dr. gonzo in Architecture, Houses, National Register of Historic Places.
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Weary from our journey we return to Sycamore suffering from a case of Republican-icon-overload. Breathe, sigh, we’re back and will be soothed. Soothed by picture perfect Italianate style. At 705 DeKalb Avenue in Sycamore is a high-style example of Italianate in the Adolphus W. Brower House.


1874 – Adolphus W. Brower House

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Ronald Reagan Birthplace: Tampico, Illinois Part 2 February 6, 2008

Posted by dr. gonzo in Architecture, History, National Register of Historic Places.
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Today, Ronald Reagan was born in 1911. I have said before I am not a Republican nor a Reagan fan, but it is significant history for northern Illinois and needs to be talked about. Today we see the Ronald Reagan Birthplace building. He was born in the second floor apartment of a commercial building in downtown Tampico, Illinois.


1896 Graham Building (center) – Ronald Reagan’s Birthplace

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Main Street Historic District: Tampico, Illinois February 5, 2008

Posted by dr. gonzo in Architecture, History, National Register of Historic Places.
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Before the Reagans came to Dixon they lived in the Whiteside County, Illinois village of Tampico. In fact, Ronald Reagan (40th U.S. President) was born there on February 6, 1911 (more on that tomorrow). The area around the apartment where Reagan was born is a historic district, listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1982.


Main Street Historic District – Downtown Tampico, Illinois

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Ronald Reagan Boyhood Home: Dixon, Illinois Part 2 February 4, 2008

Posted by dr. gonzo in Architecture, History, Houses, National Register of Historic Places.
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Ronald Reagan grew up and went to high school in Dixon, Illinois. His family lived in a house on Hennepin Avenue (now Reagan Way) that gained federal recognition, first as a listing on the National Register of Historic Places in 1982, and then as a National Historic Site in 2002. While the building has been declared a National Historic Site, ownership has not been handed over to the National Park Service, a necessary step in its evolution to the new status. You will soon know why.


Plaque at Ronald Reagan Boyhood Home

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Lowell Park: Dixon, Illinois February 3, 2008

Posted by dr. gonzo in Architecture, History, Houses, National Register of Historic Places.
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Lots of people know that Ronald Reagan grew up in Dixon, Illinois. His boyhood home is part of a declared National Historic Site (more on that tomorrow). Some people know the tales of Reagan saving 77 people from drowning while working as a lifeguard. Fewer probably know where he worked as a lifeguard at, and fewer still know anything about the place. At least that’s my take. Today I share with you Lowell Park in Dixon, Illinois.


National Register plaque, Lowell Park

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Stephen Wright House: Paw Paw, Illinois February 2, 2008

Posted by dr. gonzo in Architecture, Houses, National Register of Historic Places.
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Before we get to the Reagan landmarks in Dixon we stop in Paw Paw, Illinois, a small village many of you have probably passed on Interstate 39, you know you are there when you see the windmills on the horizon. Before 2005 the 850 person village of Paw Paw had no properties included on the federal National Register of Historic Places. The listing of the Stephen Wright House changed that in May of that year.


When the windmills appear, Paw Paw is near

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Carlos Lattin House: Sycamore, Illinois Part 5 February 1, 2008

Posted by dr. gonzo in Architecture, History, Houses, National Register of Historic Places.
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Carlos Lattin was the first permanent settler in the DeKalb county seat of Sycamore, Illinois. Lattin arrived in Sycamore in 1835 and constructed a log cabin near the site of present-day downtown Sycamore, just north of Downtown Shoes, at 307 S. State St. (Illinois 64). The site is marked by a plaque at that address.


Plaque marking spot of Sycamore’s first cabin

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Illinois State Police Office: Pontiac, Illinois Part 2 January 31, 2008

Posted by dr. gonzo in Architecture, History, National Register of Historic Places, U.S. Route 66.
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Just south of Pontiac on Old U.S. Route 66 is an Illinois State Police Office, now abandoned, that was built during World War II and served as the Illinois State Police District 6 headquarters until it was vacated in 2004. The Art Moderne (closely related to Art Deco) building gives off a sleek, streamlined look through its use of glass bricks, curved corners and smooth surfaces.


1941 Illinois State Police Office – Pontiac

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U.S. Route 66: Pontiac, Illinois January 30, 2008

Posted by dr. gonzo in Architecture, Courthouses, History, National Register of Historic Places, U.S. Route 66.
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Leaving Dwight and Odell you next come to Pontiac along the historic stretch of Route 66, there are a couple old cafes to see for hardcore enthusiasts, but I went straight for the architecture along the route, and anyone who goes should see these sites.

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