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key west hemingway

Key West and the House Hemingway Wrote

Key West conjures up images of nautical adventures. When we think of Ernest Hemingway, our minds immediately are transported to the literary classics such as “The Old Man and the Sea” and “A Farewell to Arms” — a couple of his masterpieces. We rarely think of where he lived, or what kind of decor he fancied unless it is in relation to what he wrote. Yet, what he wrote was greatly influenced by his surroundings. For Hemingway, his surroundings were his muse. 

Originally built in 1851 by Asa Tift, who was a marine architect and salvage wrecker, the Hemingway House is a French Colonial-style estate located at 907 Whitehead Street in Key West, Florida, across the street from the Key West Lighthouse. The house was a gift from the uncle of his wife, Pauline. The house was what you would call a fixer-upper in today’s terms, but the Hemingways’ always saw “the pretty in it.”

The Hemingway home in Key West was where Hemingway wrote “The Snows of Kilimanjaro,” “The Happy Short Life of Francis Macomber,” “To Have and Have Not” and “Green Hills of Africa.” Both Hemingway and his wife lived here from 1931 to 1939.

All that time he was surrounded by 17th and 18th-century antiques, which he absolutely loved. Another great love of Hemingway were cats. When he lived in Key West in this very house, he had a six-toed cat named Snow White.

On November 24, 1968, the Hemingway House became a National Historic Landmark. Today, it is known as The Hemingway House and Museum, where many tours are given to the public. As a little piece of immortality, many of the descendants of Hemingway’s beloved cat Snow White reside at the Hemingway House and happily greet tourists. Can’t help wondering if Hemingway himself planned this ending all along.

 

Hearst Castle Exterior, San Simeon California

The Mysteries of Hearst Castle

Once upon a time, there was a man named William Randolph Hearst. He was a famous American newspaper publisher and business tycoon. He lived in a castle on a hill overlooking the Pacific Ocean in San Simeon.

The vision of Hearst Castle was the brainchild of William Randolph Hearst himself, but the genius who made it all happen was American architect and engineer, Julia Morgan. Julia was ahead of her time; her prolific career happened in a male-dominated industry during a time in our history where women were thought of as “keepers of the castle.” Well, Julia was building them! Julia designed over 700 buildings, and her most famous accomplishment was Hearst Castle in San Simeon, California.

One more note on this award-winning architect: she pioneered the aesthetic use of reinforced concrete that has proven to hold up to seismic movements that happen during strong earthquakes. She died in 1957 at the age of 85. 

William Randolph Hearst lived in the castle from 1919 to 1947, and like any other homeowner with an expendable income, construction on the property continued all the way until right before his death. He was forced to move out in 1947 because of his failing health. He died in 1951.

An interesting unknown detail is that at the time Hearst vacated the estate, it had remained unfinished. This was due to his constant design changes, so Hearst never got to really enjoy and see the entire castle in the state of completion. Although by the time he left the castle, it had contained 165 rooms and the square footage was well over 90,000 square feet. There were also 123 acres of gardens, so he did get to enjoy some of the fruits of his imagination.

As part of the process, Hearst would travel to Europe and see the ceilings from churches and monasteries. When he would see one he liked, he would have it disassembled in Europe and later reassembled in California.

Back in its heyday, Hearst Castle entertained the very elite, from Hollywood royalty to notable politicians. Hearst the man wanted to impress the unattainable, and that he did…and his castle still does today. Currently people come from all over the world to enjoy tours given at the Hearst Castle in San Simeon.

ADG Lighting was a past licensee of the Hearst Castle Collection of Decorative Lighting & Iron. Check out the atelier chrome fixtures and lamps that formerly sat at the Hearst estate.

 

armour-stiner-architecture-historic

Armour-Stiner House Reemerges

The Armour-Stiner house set its mark as an architectural landmark. Year after year, the Lombardi family were visited by strangers wanting to see their house. It seems that an eight-sided Victorian house that looks like a Roman Temple isn’t an everyday occurrence, so the Lombardi family has recently decided to educate the public by opening its doors and conducting tours of this great piece of architecture from America’s octagonal phase.

There was a point in time, about 160 years ago when all the rage was octagonal homes. This interesting eight-sided style of real estate was short-lived, but did leave its mark in American architecture.

There are only about one thousand homes built during this wild and odd phase. The Armour-Stiner House is in a category all its own mostly because of its design. It was designed in the shape of a Roman temple. The original architect remains unknown, but between 1872-1876, Joseph Stiner, who was a tea importer, had a dome added and had the house enlarged.

In the 1970s, when architect Joseph Pell Lombardi bought the house it was in a terrible state of collapse. According to Joseph Lombardi’s son, Michael, who is the property manager of the Armour-Stiner House, the place was literally crumbling.

Much of the house had awful water damage, and the beautiful detail had been painted over. Painting over any detail on any original architecture is akin to throwing away the only picture you have of your mother.

It took the Lombardi family 40 years of research to restore small but significant details to its original beauty. One such detail mentioned were the birds on the salon ceiling, as well as the exquisite detail in the Egyptian revival room.

When restoring stunning architecture of long ago, it is important to understand the significance of the detail that was included in the original design.

The Lombardi family stated that restoration of the house is a work in progress and will probably never finish, as they keep finding new things to fix. As their goal is to restore the Armour-Stiner House to its heyday in the 1870s, they have even carefully scraped away paint that once had covered up great detail. The kitchen has the original cast iron stove.

With strangers wanting to stop by and view the odd-shaped house year after year, the family decided to conduct tours which are deemed to be educational as well as interesting for the art history enthusiast and spectator alike. The Armour-Stiner House is located in Irvington, New York.

From the ADG Factory Floor

 Oakland leaf crown gilded for a client…

adg-custom-lighting 

by Gerald Olesker, CEO, ADG Lighting

los angeles, historic architecture, adg

Los Angeles Celebrates the Return of the Pup

Who says you can’t teach an ‘old dog’ new tricks! Thanks to the 1933 Group, the iconic Los Angeles Tail O’ the Pup will be coming back into service very soon. The Pup was one of  the finest examples of mimetic style architecture that dotted the landscape of Los Angeles. It is one of the last surviving buildings in this style within the SoCal region.

The Tail O’ the Pup was designed by architect Milton Black in 1946 and opened to a typical Hollywood welcome of search-lit, star-studded fanfare that only Los Angeles can offer. During the 1980’s, it was scheduled for demolition, despite being a highly popular eatery and a regular feature location for TV, film and commercial programs. This effort met with a loud outcry from the Los Angeles community. As a result, the Pup was moved from its original location at La Cienega and Beverly Boulevards, to the nearby location it last occupied on North San Vicente boulevard.

In December 2005, the Pup was evicted and moved to a storage warehouse in Torrance. It was subsequently declared a cultural landmark by the city of Los Angeles. While the owners tried to find the right fit for a new ownership partner for the Pup, the structure was donated to the the Valley Relics Museum, where it waited on restoration. Recently, the Blake Family (owners) found the right partner for the Pup in the 1933 Group.

Currently, the 1933 Group is seeking the right street-facing location in either West Hollywood or Hollywood and is committed to bring back the menu people crave. They know they have one of the coolest, most iconic bits of Los Angeles culture and they want to totally respect that history.

From the ADG Jobsite    

New chandelier for a modern home, in collaboration with Details a Design Firm.

adg, custom lighting, architecture

by Gerald Olesker, CEO, ADG Lighting

 

yugoslavia, architecture, custom lighting

Yugoslavia and the Lost Art of Socialist Architecture

When the iron curtain descended on Eastern Europe after World War II, the citizens of Yugoslavia found themselves suffering from the aftermath of global combat and yearning for the promised comfort of socialism. Stalinism had taken hold and made promises of work, food and housing as a right of every citizen. What these new socialists didn’t understand was there was a huge gap between what their leaders felt as ‘quality’ services and what the people thought was quality. Those promises didn’t keep their citizens warm in Eastern Europe and there was a dire need for apartment buildings to properly shelter their comrades. Im most of the eastern bloc, architects and planners were told by the state how to design and what they should design. There was no room for creativity. It was all up to the vision of the state. This was not the case in Yugoslavia. 

Yugoslavia was led by Marshal Tito, who had a vision that greatly differed from other iron curtain leaders. Even though he was a brutal dictator and led with an iron fist,  he had a unique world vision and took advantage of realistic political opportunities. Yugoslavia was located between east and west, and had a multiethnic population with a multiplicity of architectural traditions.  This allowed Tito to allow local control and architectural ideas start flowing from the bottom, not the top. Architectural opportunities emerged out of Tito’s political opportunism.

Socialists Explore Architecture in Yugoslavia

Architects were able to take advantage of Tito’s socioeconomic policies and build structures that were significantly more creative, innovative and truly support the needs of the people of Yugoslavia. This greatly separated the creative design of Yugoslavia under socialism and the cookie-cutter designs of the remainder of the iron curtain.   

Check out the MoMA exhibit titled Toward a Concrete Utopia:
Architecture in Yugoslavia, 1948–1980
.


Hot off the Press

Check out our latest feature in the LA Times!

Antwerp, Belgium, Historical Architecture

The Historic Architecture of the Antwerp Central Railway Station

Widely considered the finest and most beautiful railway station in the world, the Antwerp Central Railway station has reigned supreme since 1905. The original construction occurred between 1895 and 1905 as a replacement for the original terminal building. Louis Delacenserie designed the stone class terminal with a vast regal dome over the main waiting area.

Louis Delacenserie was a Belgian architect from Bruges. His father was a merchant and building contractor from Tournai. At the pinnacle of his career, Delacenserie made use of a rather eclectic Neo-Renaissance style for the station, which reflected the economic and artistic theme of the city in the 16th century. Some aspects of the station, like the use of colors and materials, were clearly influenced by art nouveau architecture.

During World War II, the station suffered damage to the train hall by German V2 flying bombs without destroying the structural viability of the building. The impact of the bombing can still be seen today in a lasting wave-distortion in the roofing of  the main hall.  By the mid-twentieth century, the building had deteriorated far enough where there was serious consideration for demolition. Ultimately, the decision was made to save her and a major restoration was undertaken.  This was completed in 1986. In 1998, a large-scale reconstruction project began to adapt the grand station from a terminus to a through station and to accommodate high-speed rail. This project was completed in 2007 and the grand station was awarded a Grand Prix at the European Union Prize for Culture Heritage/Europa Nostra Award in 2011.

Historical Architecture 1

Antwerp Central Railway station is a ‘must-see’ if you are traveling anywhere in Europe. The style and design of this elegant building is a classic and is so rarely seen anywhere in the world. It reflects the vision and elegance of the times in Western Europe. With proper care and attention to the great value of the structure, it is hoped that caretakers can properly preserve her for future generations to enjoy the splendors.

From the ADG Jobsite

New home waiting for custom lighting from ADG…

IMG 8035

by Gerald Olesker, CEO, ADG Lighting

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