Building 51 | Building 51 | late 1920’s american art deco style polychrome terra cotta richman brother building figural roofline ornament
7783
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late 1920’s american art deco style polychrome terra cotta richman brother building figural roofline ornament

51-19643-14

Category

Chicago Buildings

About This Item

single historically important and highly unusual art deco style exterior polychrome terra cotta figural richman brothers building roofline figural bird, exhibiting combined characteristics of a hawk, “phoenix” bird and “huxwhukw” (man-eating bird). the slightly faded but largely intact polychrome enameled terracotta finial was carefully salvaged from the extant richman brothers downtown clothing store (formerly known as the bee hive dry goods store constructed in 1884 by the architectural firm of adler and sullivan). traces of the original facade were wiped away when in 1929, when the building underwent an extensive remodel or “facadectomy” consisting of a glazed polychrome enameled terra cotta curtain wall and/or facade fashioned in typical art deco design motifs. two identical figural endcaps rested along the building’s roofline which also contained uniquely designed deco style owls, stylized leafage and flowing scrollwork or volutes. the entire terra cotta cornice was removed by urban remains after the discovery of structural instability and/or severe corrosion of steel support members. the surface wear and discoloration or darkened surface areas were caused by prolonged exposure to air pollutants. the oversized figural bird was possibly fabricated by either the american terra cotta company or midland terra cotta company – both based in chicago at the time. the single remaining bird resides in the bldg. 51 museum collection. great overall condition, considering age.