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1928 Drawings

November 8, 2020
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Our phone expert friend, Stephen, was emailing us some information about the door in the basement that is labeled “Operators Quarters”. He thinks it would have separated the lady operator’s support suite- restroom, locker room, etc.- from the operating rooms. There are a couple places on the first floor that have empty door frames that could have been where that door came from. He mentioned that he was looking for existing plans on this site and couldn’t find them. We’ve referenced the blueprints we found, a few times, but we hadn’t posted the set. What we have is from the BAB’s last addition, in 1928. The building was modified in a few places by subsequent owners, but this is pretty close to how it looked when we first saw it.

Tom did this diagram to show when and where the additions were completed, with some redlines that show updated information.
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Doors

November 1, 2020
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One of the things that reflects quality and substance are doors, whether on a device, a car or a building. It is a part you touch, the thing you personally interact with. I remember shopping for my first boom-box when I had my own room in college. It was really important to me that the cassette tape compartment was solid and well designed- a soundless slow glide, not a plastic-y clack slap. I wouldn’t have know how to explain why at the time, but it makes sense to me, looking back.

Still have it- don’t need the cassette player any more but the radio blasts the same tunes I used to listen to when I got it, but that’s now an ‘Oldies’ station, of course.

When we built the apartment, we spent time looking for and found interesting doors to reuse. It was unappealing to buy flimsy pre-hung doors and put them along side the steel fire doors in this building. High quality new doors are amazing but out of our budget. We also think something shiny new wouldn’t blend with the surroundings. We like patina. It tells a story.

The steel fire doors were painted to look like wood and are appropriately looking their age.
We have some special doors in the BAB
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Metal Cabinets

October 29, 2020
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As the drawings are progressing (so slowly), the mechanical and electrical systems area the biggest chuck of work that we need to figure out. We’ve enlisted experts to help, more on that later.

We are still doing inventories of the stuff we’ve ‘collected’ over the years- metal cabinets, doors, light fixtures, plumbing fixtures and many bits of interesting random stuff. Now, we are coming up with ways to use these items. In our apartment project, we were the general contractor, so if we found something interesting, we’d throw it in the truck and work out the installation on our own. Now, we have to give instructions to the professional general contractor, so we need to document how we want things done. We will still do many things on our own, but there are some things that will need to be detailed in the documents. First up, metal cabinets.

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Jacoby Studios Archived

September 4, 2020
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We heard from historian friends that the Oppliger family had donated their Jacoby Studio’s materials to the Carondelet Historical Society. The Society placed some of the artifacts in a exhibit, right before closing for the duration of the pandemic. NiNi Harris wrote a detailed article about Jacoby and their donation for their winter newsletter. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to see the collections or the exhibit but we’ll visit as soon as they reopen.

Thanks for the shout-out, NiNi! Love this old photo of the building with a gas street light.

AIA ‘Tours’ the BAB, again

August 13, 2020
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Several years ago, we hosted a tour of the BAB as part of St. Louis Design Week, soon after we moved into the apartment. AIA St. Louis helped to organize that program and has been eager to have its members revisit the BAB, ever since. With the current ‘situation’, a number of organizations have been looking for ways to engage members while staying safely distant, so virtual BAB tours are happening.

The first tour we gave was a ‘happy hour’ at the request of my gym, back in May. Tom and I walked around with a phone on a selfie stick and talked as we went. It was awkward, lots of camera movement, we lost the signal in the basement, but folks seemed intrigued.

The second tour was in June for CREW St. Louis, an organization I belong to, that was also looking for virtual programs. This one was meant to be an informal program, called a ‘CREW Conversation’. Because this was for a professional organization, though, we wanted something a bit less informal than the live self-stick version. We created a video and cut in some voice-overs to explain the building’s history, our project, etc. For that one, we didn’t know how to successfully play a video over the zoom platform. At an earlier program they tried playing their video thru a shared screen, but it was choppy and the sound quality was terrible. So, for our tour, we decided to share a link in the chat box after the live introduction. That, too, was a bit awkward, with 26 minutes of silence and some people not sure how to leave the zoom and go to YouTube, we lost some participants along the way.

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Viral Mint

June 10, 2020
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Our little mint patch was posted on the St. Louis Reddit site (which I’m not on) and drove a whole lot of people to the blog.

It started with a question: “Anyone know the backstory Read more…

Dolores Veth

February 16, 2020
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Since we first learned about the folks that worked in the BAB for Jacoby Art Glass, I’ve been intrigued to see a woman sitting in the mostly male group of stained glass artists. Like the field of architecture, women were not often seen in this role. I wanted to learn more about her. She doesn’t have a very broad digital footprint, but I’ve found some information.

Dolores Veth

Dolores Veth, with the Jacoby Studio in 1966. She would have been about 35 years old at the time.

According to the Read more…

Another BAB

January 2, 2020
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Jon forwarded this article to us today (thanks Jon!). It is about a family leaving California for the Midwest in search of a farm. Instead of a farm, they ended up buying a former 20,000 SF masonic temple in Huntington, Indiana. They are living there and renovating it, with big plans for the future. They have a passion for the history of the place and the many people that have occupied the building- sounds familiar!

Like us, they have a blog (https://freemasontomansion.wordpress.com/) about their adventure and find surprising things each time they dig deeper into the building! Unlike us, they have some not-too-scary ghosts.

Freemason

I have to admit to some oven envy!

 

 

 

 

Green Machine Goes

December 1, 2019
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For Sue and me, the week of Thanksgiving is typically two extremes… we either take a long vacation to someplace warm and sandy, or we spend the entire week busting our butts with projects at BAB. The first example of the latter is when Jim & Darcy also spent 2009 T-day week busting their butts helping us clear out all the crap and prepare for our Open House party.

Staying in St. Louis this year, we planned to take the entire week off and get the second floor ready for anticipated construction, on the hopes that the bank appraisal is in our favor and construction can start soon. We made a long list of big and small projects. But unfortunately, we both fell ill. I was sick for almost two weeks, rebounding back & forth and only started feeling up to BAB projects on Tuesday. Sue didn’t feel better until the day before Thanksgiving.

One of the bigger projects I planned was to remove a huge contraption we just refer to as “The Green Machine” (because it’s painted green). It was left behind by the previous owners, and it originally sat in the middle of everything on the second floor.

Photo from 2009 on our first walk-through of BAB.

We weren’t sure exactly what it was, but were confident it wasn’t functioning and was basically scrap. It had some kind of heat exchanger attached to some kind of bed with rollers, likely used to dry silk screened products. Back in 2009, Jim & I separated two large components and disconnected the natural gas line. I removed the two vents that went through the roof during our first phase of roof replacement. A couple of years ago, Sue & I de-constructed and tossed the heavy heater box.

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Big idea

November 9, 2019
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In architecture school, there was a common opening statement at reviews: “My big idea is _____”. That was meant to communicate the compelling concept that informed the design. Sometimes the concepts were less than compelling, which gave snarky reviewers gleeful fodder for their insults.

There are so many forums for the discussion of the vagaries of design school. When I was in it, I had trouble understanding why what we (picture people) said about the design ideas was so important in critiques. And, it was frustrating to hear reviewers praise projects where the ‘talkitecture’ wasn’t backed up by thoughtful design.  There are no Read more…