The Old Home

…which is why I rarely leave the house after 5:30...

So, where were we? Ah, yes, the Summer of Sullivan rolls on. As you may know, this summer I am on a pilgrimage to see all of Louis Sullivan’s Jewel Boxes (and other works as proximity permits). The JB’s are like 8 siblings- each special in their own way. Each building has a personality, some are overachievers, others problem children; some are muscular and athletic, others more cerebral. This week, I offer the “black sheep” of the JB family.

The Home Building Association Bank was started in 1914- the same year as two other Jewel Boxes (Grinnell and West Lafayette). At first glance, the differences between the HBAB and the others are apparent. This building is clad in grey terra cotta, while all of the others are brick. This building operates on two floors, while the others are all one-story. Despite the differences, there is no denying that the building is special. Oh, the quality of the detail, and the beauty of the proportion.

Unfortunately, a single glance betrays the fact the building has been ridden hard and put away wet. After the bank left, a meat shop butchered the entry by taking out a wall and chamfering the corner (leaving a dumb steel pipe to carry the load). Other owners welded canvas awnings over the south windows, jacked up the delicate lion's mouth drainage system, and added dropped ceilings to cover the intricate stencil work on the interior.

Of all the Jewel Boxes, this is the only one I dreaded seeing in person. I did not want to see such a thing in such a condition. I was still in the fog from out night in Columbus and not totally prepared for what we saw upon arrival. To my amazement and delight, the building has recently been donated to the Licking County Foundation.  (If any of you C.Rushing readers happen to know anyone at LCF, please give me a shout!) They have cleaned it up a bit, cleared out the interior, and appear to be poised to bring the black sheep back into the fold.

The bank as originally built. pay attention to the windows and entry.
Oh, the indignity of that silly steel pole. Note the
telltale rust stains showing that this maneuver
allowed water to get behind the terra cotta.

Check out what those sumbitches did with the lower windows.
On the right (Sidney, OH), a Sullivan drainage
detail with a downspout subtly located inside a
lion's mouth. On the left (Newark, OH), what can
only be described as a lion fellating a downspout.

Fortunately, some of the character of the interior survives.

No comments:

Post a Comment