The vandals own the gates

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Here is sad news from sculptor Walter Arnold, who reports on an act of vandalism in Chicago. He writes:

Eric J. Nordstrom continues documenting the destruction of the Charles Sumner Frost-designed Public Life Insurance Building in Chicago. He took this photo in the past few days. He reports that the carved marble mantel, ornamental iron staircase and Bedford limestone façade are now in the landfill. nothing was salvaged and/or saved.

One need not have much imagination to guess what will replace the Public Life. I do not know. Maybe someone does. I’m not sure I want to know. Looking at the beautiful Ionic capital within the grip of the machine, I wonder how many decades of what goes by the name of creativity in modernist design would it take to match the creativity in the design of this one single capital? I don’t know. Maybe Walter Arnold can guess. I do not think such a calculation is humanly possible.

Here, from Russell Versaci, is more about the Public Life Insurance Building, its fate and its history, on the website.

About David Brussat

This blog was begun in 2009 as a feature of the Providence Journal, where I was on the editorial board and wrote a weekly column of architecture criticism for three decades. Architecture Here and There fights the style wars for classical architecture and against modern architecture, no holds barred. History Press asked me to write and in August 2017 published my first book, "Lost Providence." I am now writing my second book. My freelance writing on architecture and other topics addresses issues of design and culture locally and globally. I am a member of the board of the New England chapter of the Institute of Classical Architecture & Art, which bestowed an Arthur Ross Award on me in 2002. I work from Providence, R.I., where I live with my wife Victoria, my son Billy and our cat Gato. If you would like to employ my writing and editing to improve your work, please email me at my consultancy,, or call 401.351.0457. Testimonial: "Your work is so wonderful - you now enter my mind and write what I would have written." - Nikos Salingaros, mathematician at the University of Texas, architectural theorist and author of many books.
This entry was posted in Architects, Architecture, Architecture Education, Architecture History, Art and design, Preservation, Urbanism and planning and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to The vandals own the gates

  1. Tired of mean Chicagoans says:

    Mean and short-sighted


  2. Anonymous says:

    How this can happen is amazingly sad and disgusting. But it happens every day in cities nationwide.


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