August 3, 2012

OKL, Stanford White & Baltimore

I got a lot of grief from someone the other day who said that I a) post too much about OKL and its mad prices, b) and I “troll through the thousands of item available of any given day to simply mock one item that you don't feel is worth the asked price” and c) that it’s becoming my “thing” to post about OKL. 

Not entirely true. I mean, who has time to troll through all of OKL’s daily, and sometimes twice-daily  items? And I hope that OKL is not my thing… I am so much more than that. And out of 1600+ posts, about 30 have been on OKL. Hardly an obsession.

So I am hereby writing a positive post about OKL.

I have recently purchased two books from them and am delighted with everything about my purchases. One of the books I bought was Rizzoli’s “Stanford White, Architect. Written by Samuel G. White and Elizabeth White, Photographed by Jonathan Wallen. Stanford White bookIt’s a gorgeous book and I am so pleased to add it to my library.

I became a huge fan of Stanford White when I was membership director at a private club here in Baltimore. I had ample time to spend studying every inch of the building and finding the treasures that laid within. One of my favourite pieces was a carved cabinet with the nursery rhyme, Hey Diddle Diddle, The Cat & The Fiddle on it. It is so charming and completely unexpected, especially given the rest of the room that it’s in. It is papered with old tapestries and elaborate wood carvings on every surface. We used to keep our mailing supplies in this sideboard!

The entrance hall in the club gives a visitor a good idea of what’s to come. This incredible cantilevered staircase is stunning. It’s ovoid in shape and is topped by a Tiffany glass dome. I loved flying down those stairs!

There’s also a massive fireplace

and a balcony with a screened room where the original owner of the house, Mrs. Robert Garrett, would watch her guests arrive to make sure she was the best dressed at her parties. Literally, almost every single square inch of wood in this space is carved in some way.

As you move through the rooms, you will see carving and gilding everywhere.

Over the past few years, the club has spent lots of time, money and energy revitalizing the rooms and being careful about restoring the space to as close to the original look as possible.

One of the rooms that’s been completely restored is the Ballroom/Theatre. It’s just the most extraordinary space, and I have whirled away many evenings dancing there. The gilding and the woodwork is just glowing,and the paintings have had decades worth of smoke and grime cleaned from them.

As you head down the sweeping marble staircase towards the dining room, you notice that there’s ornamental ironwork everywhere.

The dining room seats about 100+ people, just enough for an intimate dinner for your closest friends. Although it’s hard to see, the chandeliers in this room are Meissen. When I worked there, the chandeliers had figurines on them, but I am sure that they’ve been put into storage for safekeeping. The flowers are so realistic looking, but they’re all porcelain.

Another room I loved was the library. It’s everything a library should be – dark, filled with books and as cozy as a huge room like this one can be.

I found this map case, which was, in fact, filled with old nautical charts. Perfection!

In addition to gorgeous wood on the walls, there’s also beautiful wood on the floors. This is in the ballroom.And this is in the front hall, and it had just been revitalized.

I remember when the film “12 Monkeys” was shot at the club, and the crew stuck gaffing tape on the floor to hold some cables down. When they pulled it up, a chunk of the antique parquet floor came with it. Oops.

As we were leaving the party, my friend Tracey reminded me that the Baltimore Architecture Foundation owns a set of McKim, Mead & White folios. So I headed over in the morning to see them.

We pulled them down and had a look through them.

They are filled with photographs, plans and blueprints, details and more.

I didn’t have lots of time to leaf through these delicious books, but you can bet I am planning on going back to look at them more closely.

On the way down to the Foundation, I passed two Stanford White buildings, so I did a little “drive-by shooting”. This is the Lovely Lane Methodist Church, which is featured in the Stanford White book I bought from OKL .

This is the Ross Winans house, then…

and now.You certainly see a lot more of the detail in the original photograph, because of the paint on the stonework. Wonder if that could be remediated?You can get a bit of an idea of the floor plan here.

This is why I love architecture.

42 comments:

  1. not funny that 'drive by shooting' remark. i hope you will remove it.

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    1. drive-by-shooting conveys exactly what i was doing. driving by a building, rolling down the car window and then shooting a picture. and it is funny.

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    2. Egads. Why is it the most "concerned" commenters are always anonymous? If you don't have the cojones to say something in person, maybe you should bugger off. And yes, it is funny!

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  2. WOW! What incredible architecture and interior detail,thank you for sharing.
    Colette
    Afrique du Sud

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    1. i am lucky to have been able to get to know that building, from top to bottom. including all of the secret rooms...

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  3. How bizarre that anyone would take you to task about pointing out OKL's occasional ridiculousness. I love that you calls 'em as you sees 'em.

    Side note: The real losers in the OKL game are the retailers both large and small. When you see wholesale manufacturers selling items at a "discount" on OKL, they are usually making better margins than if they sold to their retail accounts.

    Now mounted old paintbrushes and rocks with handles are an entirely different matter...

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    1. If anyone notices, the pieces I usually talk about are solely from the "Tastemaker Tag Sales", not the retailers or shops.

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  4. Thanks for this wonderful post -- I had no idea that the Engineers Club was so beautiful!

    All the best -- David in Raleigh

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  5. I attended a wedding at the Engineer's Club several months ago and it really is a lovely, old building. The restoration of the ballroom really made a difference and it looks great now.

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    1. It's a fabulous place for a wedding. So many photographic vantage points.

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  6. Wow, a blast from the past! Rob and I have attended many dinners/dances in his earlier engineering career - what an incredible work of art and architecture. I can't wait to see it in its restored state.

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    1. I am sure you have! The house is looking gorgeous!

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  7. Hi Meg, You are spot on regarding OKL. I am on their "Vintage" site--they are being quite careful with the individual postings and price points for items; some things do slip through the cracks. I love this Sanford White post--those were the days!! Have a super Friday. Mary

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    1. Almost everything I post about is from the Tastemaker Tag Sales. And I could have an entire blog dedicated to making fun of them, but I've resisted.

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  8. Hi Meg,
    What a fantastic post. As wonderful as the building is, your photos are amazing and content, as usual interesting and captivating, I can't help but focus on the comments you receive.

    You do not force people to read your blog, it's out there to visit, or not, and our, the readers, decision to make. To criticise your content is the height of ignorance. The other thing that irks me is that, for the main, the contradictory comments are always anonymous. Spineless contributors should maybe focus more on what they can positively add to a forum rather than bring a negative focus. I welcome constructive criticism if it is well thought out and worthy of discussion. Maybe you should put a disclaimer at the start of every post stating "visitors devoid of an understanding of tongue in cheek humour may be offended by some of the comments made on this blog"! I'm sorry anonymous, get a life!
    DI
    xoxoxo

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    1. I agree about people reading. It makes me laugh/sigh when people tell me what I should and should not do (see comment no. 1). And also when people stalk off and tell me they're unsubscribing. All anons, of course. Last I checked I am not being cruel, malicious or terribly unkind.

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  9. Obsessed with OKL? hardly - who would say such a thing? I love those posts!
    Like you, I'm obsessed with architecture and old houses like this - LOVE those old folios! Maybe you can find some similar at the book thing? haha - can you imagine THAT find?!

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    1. Agree... I am obsessed with architecture, and old houses like the sad one I posted a few weeks ago (and got chided about). It's only because I love them and care about them, that I write about them.

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  10. Hi! I really enjoyed this post! I was born in Baltimore but now live in Naugatuck, Ct where our small downtown area contains several McKim, Meade and White buildings. The Whittimore Family, who financed almost every building in our town, were close friends with this firm. Everyday I am thankful to be able to drink in the beauty of their design!
    Terri Takacs
    Tthreadart@aol.com

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    1. Terri! You are so lucky to have some MMW buildings. I should check the huge folios again and see if there are any Naugatuck buildings in there.

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  11. You are hardly obsessed with OKL. It's more of a 'pet peeve' and don't we all have them. This is your blog and you should post what you like. Your post today is lovely!

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    1. Peeve! That's a great word. I am peeved about the prices of some of the items I see on some of the OKL sales.

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  12. Love the bit about the ESB! I'm getting married there in a few months :)

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  13. Loved this post, that gorgeous building, and your blog.

    BALLS TO DETRACTORS!

    See, if it were my blog, the next fifteen posts in a row would have been about OKL ridiculousness, just to stick it to them. 8-)

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    1. Ha! Who has the time to check out each and every sale. I barely open their e-mails most days.

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  14. Meg, please pay no attention to those
    who do not understand a little humor and those who choose to remain anonymous. I have learned more from your blogs about the history of buildings in Baltimore than I could in a class studying them. Please don't change a thing. To anonymous please try to find another way to amuse yourself.

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  15. It's your blog, for God's sake. Write about what interests you. I am swooning...just swooning over those photographs. And "amen." It's an education following your blog.

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  16. Yonks is spot on! Nuff said. On another note...went back to The Food Market last Saturday night....it was just as good as when we were there with Reggie and Boy. Maybe better!

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    1. Mink... thanks and glad to hear you went back to The Food Market. It's quite the place.

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  17. ROFLMAO Baltimore ranks 4 out of 100 100 being safest as in safest city to live. Look up the crime statistics for Baltimore perhaps then, One can understand the facecious remark "drive by shooting" Oh and yes the Internet is a free market place of ideas. One can comment in a manner anon in newspapers, remember those newpapers newsprint paperboys, newsstands oh my I am dating myself--- name with held by request

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    1. I've never had any serious problems, and I lived in a very "transitional" neighbourhood for five years.

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  18. Meg I love your OKL posts; they are amusing and at any rate you can post whatever you want.

    The Engineers Club is a stunning work of art. That staircase, oh my!
    Your love of fabulous architecture shines through always.

    xoxo
    Karena
    Art by Karena
    2012 Artists Series

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    1. I am so lucky to have worked at the Engineer's Club.

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  19. What an extraordinary mixture of styles at the Garrett Jacobs House, thanks for showing us. I read an interesting book by Stanford Whites great grand daughter about the family, Im sure you have too.

    A Question to you from my son are you a Ravens or Orioles fan? I try to imbue some culture but........

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    1. Answer: Both. I lived about 4 blocks from both of their stadiums, and it was always such fun to hear the cheers. I go to more Orioles games than Ravens.

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  20. Hi Meg! I love this post and didn't know you were the Membership Director at the Engineers Club. So much fun. We are still on pins and needles waiting, waiting, waiting but should have news soon. Hope you are well! xoxo, Nelle

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  21. Meg, you know I adore the old boy, and yes, that book is beautiful. I, too, bought it, for research for my article on Stanford White for Style magazine last year, and I still love looking through it. We're so lucky to have these buildings in Baltimore.

    (And nuts to the person at the top who can't appreciate sarcasm. Good grief, there are so many hothouse flowers in the world these days!)

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  22. Hi Meg. Sorry to be late to this party, but I just stumbled across your blog doing research on Stanford White. Perhaps you already have in the past - but I hope you'll stop by Lovely Lane sometime and let us give you a tour. We love to show our Stanford White Building to anyone interested. Though we have a regular tour every Sunday, we can have a tour guide meet you almost any day - either with a group or just by yourself to take some photos. Send me an email or contact us on Facebook - and we'd be happy to show you around.
    -John
    lovelylane@cavtel.net
    facebook.com/lovelylanechurch

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