Tuesday, April 2, 2013, 7 p.m.
Cass Gilbert Star Architect: From St. Paul to Manhattan
Minnesota History Center Auditorium
The Cass Gilbert Society is partnering with the Minnesota Historical Society to present Dr. Katherine Solomonson, Associate Professor, University of Minnesota School of Architecture, College of Design.
One of America's first celebrity architects, Cass Gilbert designed homes along Summit Avenue, the St. Paul Seminary complex (now part of the University of St. Thomas), and the Minnesota State Capitol, but he is best known as the architect of the Woolworth Building in New York City. Completed in 1913, it was the tallest skyscraper in the world, and it quickly became the most famous. Gilbert might not have received this plum commission, however, were it not for one of his earlier works right here in St. Paul.
Help mark the Woolworth Building’s centennial as Kate Solomonson explores how Cass Gilbert, St. Paul boy-made-good, transformed a local career into international fame. Reserve free lecture tickets at 651-259-3015 or www.minnesotahistoricalsociety.org.
Saturday, October 13, 2012
Join the Cass Gilbert Society for a Fall Tour
Members and friends of the Cass Gilbert Society will enjoy a walking tour of the work of Gilbert and his contemporaries in St. Paul’s Ramsey Hill neighborhood. Gilbert began his career in St. Paul by designing for his mother Elizabeth the house that still stands at 471 Ashland Avenue. Buildings by Gilbert in Ramsey Hill range in date from 1883 to 1898. The tour will also look at works of colleagues and contemporaries that extend into the 1920s.
When Gilbert returned to St. Paul, after studying at MIT, traveling in Europe, and working for McKim, Mead & White in New York, he was able to apply his knowledge and experience to his independent career. While he employed popular architectural styles of the late nineteenth century, such as the Queen Anne, Colonial Revival, and Romanesque Revival, he often employed elements of more than one style in a single building, and he developed characteristics details that provide clues to his design authorship. Among them are window designs, column and capital details, and unexpected combinations of materials. One aspect of the tour will be to focus on such details as well as to tell the stories behind the buildings.
Participants will also tour the interior of the first floor of an early (1890) Gilbert house at 839 Osceola Avenue. In addition to rehabilitating the kitchen and downstairs bathroom, the current owners completely restored the exterior including architectural details, which had been covered with steel siding,
The tour will begin at Overlook Park on Summit Avenue and Ramsey Street, east of the University Club, by the Eagle, starting between 1:30 P.M. and 2:00 P.M. Groups will be led by Tom Blanck, Marjorie Pearson, Ted Lenz, and John Yust. At the conclusion of the tour, participants are invited to a reception at the Summit Avenue home of Carolyn Nayematsu and Vincent Platt.
Tour admission is $15 (cash or check). For reservations and further information, call Carolyn at 651-699-7407.
February 28, 2012
Cass Gilbert and Detroit
Join the Cass Gilbert Society on Tuesday, February 28, 2012, at the University Club, 420 Summit Avenue, Saint Paul, at 7:00 P.M. for a follow-up event from the Society trip to Detroit. Barbara S. Christen, Ph.D., noted Cass Gilbert scholar, will preview the talk, Envisioning a Grand City: Cass Gilbert’s Detroit, she will be giving at the annual conference of the Society of Architectural Historians to be held this April in Detroit.
Cass Gilbert’s Detroit Public Library (1913-1921), Scott Memorial Fountain (1921-1922), and the Belle Isle Bridge (1915), offer rich territory, previously unstudied collectively, to explore perspectives of city planning in early twentieth-century Detroit. The library served as one aspect of a civic center plan that was scuttled in the face of a struggling economy, labor concerns, and a world preparing to join a war, but that is only part of the story.
Gilbert also envisioned a city center knit together with the outer city by grand boulevards leading to an extensive bridge project that included recreational and park areas. Dr. Christen’s talk will examine and contextualize the rhetoric in the popular press about Gilbert’s grand schemes in relation to the ideals of the City Beautiful. It will also examine the role of Detroiter, Charles Moore, who was secretary to Michigan senator, James McMillan (author of the McMillan Plan in Washington, D.C.), and editor of Burnham and Bennett’s Plan of Chicago (1909).
Her talk will also consider the role of education for an emerging citizenry by examining the spatial, didactic, and programmatic goals of the Children’s Room in the library. The decorative treatments and uses of the children’s areas in the building have not been studied at length and deserve attention in light of the larger project of reformist ideals.