Monday, November 29, 2021
Tuesday, November 23, 2021
Tuesday, November 9, 2021
Saturday, November 6, 2021
Wednesday, November 3, 2021
Tuesday, October 5, 2021
Going down a new wormhole I suspect but we'll see. This is much different than anything I have done before, Kiene and Bartlett were an architecture firm in Topeka from the 1960s through the 90s. For me this is very recent, but there is value in doing recent.
Kiene and Bartlett builds:
Kansas Judicial Center
Jefferson County Courthouse, Oskaloosa
Coffey County Courthouse, Burlingame
KU's Adams Alumni Center
KU Religious Studies Center
Payless Shoes headquarters
415 Danbury Lane
2035 Birchwood Lane
6800 Aylesbury Lane
1510 Lakeside Drive
Howard Nearing out of Kansas City is another architect of note in the Knollwood neighborhood
Saturday, August 21, 2021
Over the spring/summer I was asked to do a film review for Kansas History: the Journal of the Central Plains on Ken Sturgeon's new film series for the Kansas Humanities Festival. I don't generally do this sort of writing that I do. I don't enjoy this sort of writing. It tends to be stiff, academic, unapproachable and off-putting. My aim has always been to share my love of history and how the greatness of local people, warts and all with as many people as possible. I want others to be excited. I want people to research and to get involved in history. I want what I write to engage and to be a call to action. Journals don't often have that affect, they do collect dust on bookshelves and often seem primarily to exist to add to cv's (curriculum vitaes).
On the other hand, I too am always adding to my resume/cv and I am always looking to challenge myself/stretch. You learn at the end of your comfort zone. So, off I went. Uncomfortable with the style of writing--I have never done a film review or a review of any kind and I knew nothing of Butler County. As it turns out these films were a good match for me. They are unpretentious and they celebrate the towns and people of Butler County. They are a gentle call to action, a call to visit them, to dust them and their stories off. I think that my writing style is still the same, I failed the challenge on that part, but I won by diving a little deeper into Butler County. Neat place. I even went to see the Oil and Gas Museum. I plan to return after covid. I plan to watch the films again. And I hope that Mr. Spurgeon does more of them. My only real criticism is that they use a lot of drone shots. Drone shots make the towns generic and a flyover, but this could easily be changed, even now. Anyhow, enough rambling, I think that the review is on page 183 or 138, it is inside a large group of reviews. I hope a few people read it and despite my dislike of this kind of thing, I do think that it promotes research so I hope that these kind of articles get people to subscribe (subscriptions are free with your KSHS membership--a 2 for one), https://www.k-state.edu/history/kansas-history/,
Saturday, June 26, 2021
Audels Guides. There are a number of them They began in the 1920's by Frank Graham and they are the compendium of knowledge about how to build. They are small, about 4" x 5" each with faux leather binding, that is neither hard nor soft. Our sets--each trade has it's own set- are worn but that perfect paperback size, but soft, supple and the epitome of what a beloved old books should be. I am not sure how my husband found these, but he did early on when first bought our 1887, altered and imperfect Queen Anne. Since then every project has begun with these guides and a lot of thought. The current project by the way is the rebuilding of the front porch.
The front porch. One of my favorite features of the house and one of the most used "rooms", but one of the most f---up from a design standpoint. I love it without regard, it is one of my must haves in life, there a lot of things that I don't need/could do without but the front porch is not one of them, I would give up the tv, dishwasher, car.....before I gave up the front porch. Our front porch is an obvious alteration from the front porch that was originally on the house. It has solid, blocky, craftsman style columns and instead of a railing it has fish scales. The fish scales formed a solid curtain around the bottom of the house from the porch railing down. When we first moved in we took off the scales around the bottom and put on lattice, theoretically to improve air circulation but in reality because we wanted to see if there were clues to the previous porch underneath, and with the dream of restoring it to a traditional Victorian wrap around. No such luck. We did find a couple glass bottles, some pieces of gas lighting (so we tend to think it was done at the same time as the house became electric) and a mummified cat skeleton (EECK!). Over the years, other projects have taken precedence and to return the porch for the historic society we must find original pictures of it--which I have never been able to despite 20 years of off and on searching. In those 20 years though I have come to appreciate the blocky porch, and it has the benefit of hiding the person on the porch from passerbys both on the sidewalk and in the car. Seeing without being seen. It is a perk.
Over the years we have painted the porch many times, and replaced the stairs once, maybe twice? or there are two sets of stairs (although looking at the porch foundations you can see where there used to a third set on the other side, where we currently have screened in). But, water has been pooling by one of the sets of stairs and there was rot--which we have unattractively nailed plywood over and lived with for the past couple years. But, this summer is the summer. My husband has taken time off work and we (really he) is doing it. But, as with most of our projects all began with these little books, this is where the research starts.
The original porch floor appeared to be fir. We debated engineered lumber, but in the end we went back to tongue-in-grove fir, after all it had lasted 100+ years once, if we could do that well, it was good enough. We then used a piece of guttering to soak the boards in a brine of borax (to keep out bugs--found this in the Audels) and silicone (waterproofing) and let them dry out and cure. Next I painted all sides with oil based primer and gave them a first coat. And the boards were ready, and other projects came up, so they waited patiently.
Demo was relatively easy. It is always the fun part. And we held our breath. The damage to joists doesn't seem insurmountable. The sill plate of the house is intact. There is ANOTHER mummified cat skeleton. EECK! OMG!
The exterminator was here today and we are all clear. (Due to the rain he could not find the hornets/ground bees--yes--this is just like the lawn mower. It doesn't work for me, my husband looks at it and it hums, in this case he completely disturbed the leaves that I barely touched and NOTHING. He is coming back again next week when it is sunny. Oy vey.) Now, we are waiting on the stone mason. He has done the other 3 sides of our houses so he is betting this will need redone, but he is running 2 months or so out.....patience, it is better to do it right than fast. (super glad he has not retired though).
Friday, May 28, 2021
randomly off and on research our house. It is a wormhole. So, this
week my big score is from the 1940 census. Our house was a "silver and
linens" boarding house during the 1930s-1950s', anyhow, George Maas
was a tenant here, when he lived in Topeka from 1939 to 1940. He was
employed in Topeka as a WPA artist. He was from Kansas City, and had
worked for Thomas Hart Benton (he grew up very near Benton's house) and
briefly attended KU. Later in life he moved to NYC where he became a album and book cover artist. He was also
an editor at Publishers Weekly. Currently I am trying to find his
projects here in town. I did find one from WWIII in the MAMO. Here are some of his album covers. Definitely a 60s vibe. Fun stuff.