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AIA ‘Tours’ the BAB, again

August 13, 2020

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.

This time, it worked much better. Tom figured out how to get the updated video to play in the zoom. We popped in after it finished for live Q&A. We couldn’t really tell who was watching, though, but we think there were about 80 people on the call. Michelle from AIA, moderated and read out the questions for us to answer. Afterward, we heard from a number of friends that watched, which is always wonderful! We can’t wait to invite everyone over in person to the ‘kitchen theater’.

Here’s the video tour:

There are probably a number of things, like dates, that we got incorrect- apologies. One thing I know for certain is that I said the wrong name of the lead window designer. Her name is Dolores Veth, not Ruth. (Ruth was her mom)

As you watch the video, you might notice some jingling sounds in the background. While we recorded the voice overs, the girls were in the room and added the sound effects.

We have another ‘tour’ coming up in September. During the CREW tour, a participant noticed that we mentioned Russell Kraus. He and his wife, Ruth (yes, Ruth this time), built one of the two Frank Lloyd Wright designed homes in St. Louis. Russell had worked at the BAB, as a stained glass window designer. That home is now a museum. The museum folks reached out to us to see if we could do something similar for their community. They said their docents are particularly eager to learn more about the Kraus’s. The museum has a great deal of information about the house, the design documents and its construction, and of course there is a world of information available on FLW. But they don’t have as much information about the Kraus’s or about Russell’s design work.

There is this lovely little book that the house museum published that chronicles the efforts the Kraus’s went thru to see their dream realized.

One multi-generation studio, Frei Art Glass, still exists from that period. The docents knew about those designs, but didn’t realize that Russell freelanced for other design studios. Because Jacoby Art Glass closed in the 1970’s, our design community is generally less familiarity with their work.

We are putting together this program with a little about our quest for the home of our dreams, like the Kraus’s, but mostly showing images and information about the windows that Russell designed for Jacoby. It’s been fun finding photos of the windows. I’ve been in touch with a number of churches, across the Midwest, to get more information about their buildings. People have been very generous with their time. It is great to hear how proud their are of their Russell Kraus designed windows.

Who knew that the BAB would be virtual ‘tourist’ attraction- the new take on the BBS- the Biggest Ball of String.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Moj Email permalink
    August 17, 2020 8:23 am

    So fun to see all you have done and will do. As we are still in rehab phase-Steve looked at me and asked “how do they do it?”. It is exhausting, and rewarding, and overwhelming-and all those things. Sometimes I think it is just in your blood to break down and rebuild. Or not. I even asked Steve if we didn’t have to live in the house, would he do another “project”? His answer-“oh, sure!”

    So-I ask you… Crazy Or Visionary?

    Or both!

    Keep up the spirit! Love seeing what you guys are capable of-especially the way the lighting creates rooms.


    Sent from my iPhone


    • Sue permalink*
      August 18, 2020 12:13 pm

      I think equal doses of both! We tell people that there is a service we can offer. If you feel overwhelmed by your renovation project, think of the BAB. That should put things in a better perspective!

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