Saturday, December 13, 2008

Springfield, Springfield

No, nope, sorry. I'm sorry, no, it's not a Simpson's Tribute, and nope, sorry, it's not a Governator Blowdryavitch posting, it's Springfield, Mass! Yes, in Springfield Massachusetts, this lovely ten-family building was built in the early years of the last century. It has quite a lot in common with our humble high-class six-flat planwise, but with the addition of two floors and an additional luxury, a lift. With the elevator, it really breaks with our local building tradition, however, it does make for a rather luxurious building, which is, in fact, what this was intended to be.

Despite this, it was built quite economically, with, and I quote "less than $200 worth of stone in the whole front". However, it also featured an incinerator connected to the provision of domestic hot water and heating via the boiler. The intent was to give a comfortable and home-like appearance, rather along the order of the Arts and Crafts movement, albeit with a dash of New England thrift and dosh of Yankee practicality, one would imagine, being in an industrial town (I believe, they call themselves a city). In fact, it was, it appears, to have been a great success, with the average local rent being $6.50 a room, while this fine building garnered $10/room.

As you can see from the plan, there were a few units with a slightly different plan, intended for smaller families. Closets were ample for the time and the finishes were of great quality, while not ostentatious and good provision was made for service staff as well, in a maid's room.

The information came from The Architectural Record, however, unfortunately, I cannot recall the issue or year, as it was not on the pages these came from. The architects were a local firm called Huestis & Huestis and the builder was a local of the name Russell C. Parsons.

Viking Apartments

Continuing on our Wisconsin themed posts (you did know, didn't you, that we had this theme going?), I present here, the patented plans of the Viking Apartments in Milwaukee by one Herbert W. Tullgren in 1931. Yes, I did say patented, U.S. Patent # 1,896,734. His plan, used several times in Milwaukee, features a skip-stop elevator set-up with duplex or maisonette units, with the elevator stopping only at the living room floors. While I'm not a big fan of design patents, I do find it rather interesting that he did so. Unfortunately this set-up is not very common in the US due to our, perhaps admittedly over-stringent fire codes and overly paranoid and litigious society, however it works quite well for creating a house like, even exclusive feel to what would otherwise be an ordinary apartment, as well as saving money on construction by having fewer elevator doors and creating more rentable, leaseable and saleble space within the building, or by allowing more, larger units with fewer elevators (the other solution for large elevator apartments would be more elevators with smaller lobbies). It is also an attractive simple art deco or moderne building of white masonry construction.
As a sidenote or aside, the building is on the National Register for it's contribution to it's local area.