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Ben
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this is the song that never ends
Michigan: the main bit is shaped like a hand, it's got a bonus section (the Upper Peninsula), it's surrounded by lakes, it's got Detroit in it...and it's got 1,909 NRHPs, which is about the same as the recently covered Indiana and Illinois. strap in for more Midwestern fun...
we begin with a listed giant pickle barrel house (built by a cartoonist who created some tiny Borrowers-esque characters who lived in a pickle barrel and then built himself a giant pickle barrel holiday home to replicate the experience). unclear if this is a good start or not
(the barrel house is on the Upper Peninsula - "the UP" - which as you can see is separate from the larger part of the state. just fyi i'm going thru these listings alphabetical by county, out of laziness, so we're going to jump back and forth between peninsulas a lot)
y tho
there are s o m a n y l i g h t h o u s e s
it's early days but this state is altogether too coastal. lotta lighthouses, lotta listed boats, lotta listed shipwreck sites. not good.
THEY ALL LOOK THE DANG SAME
ok cute
you...you can't just do pointy triangles on windows and call it "gothic", Michigan
do you think they got this car because of their house, or do you think they bought the car and then went looking for a house
in love with the colour and detailing on this masonic temple in Bay City, Michigan
"silly but wonderful, with lots of colour" is the emerging theme, and i LIKE it (despite, like, being me)
point-and-click-mystery-game-ass lighthouse
𝔉𝔘ℭ𝔎 𝔜𝔈𝔖
absolutely criminal that this wild "Snowflake Motel" - designed by Frank Lloyd Wright's son in law! - was demolished in 2006 after years of abandonment
now THIS is a house. specifically, it's, "Shiloh", the house of the leader of the Israelite House of David, a Christian cult of the late 19th/early 20th century based in Benton Harbor, Michigan...
Shiloh is merely the front part of a huge commune-complex where the members of the House of David lived. They had various schemes to make money for the cult: they ran a zoo and a miniature railway in Benton Harbor...
...and started several baseball teams who would sell tickets for exhibition games. As you can see, it was one of the key tenets of the cult that men could not cut their hair or beards.
Here is a delegation of them visiting the White House in 1920 and looking, to be honest with you, absolutely fucking amazing.
(After a while, their baseball teams began to be such moneyspinners that they were able to hire major professional players of the time for them - these players either grew their beards and hair out or WORE FALSE BEARDS while playing for the House of David teams)
aaaaaaanyway this is, unfortunately, still a story about a cult, and it ends in a predictable way: their leader, Benjamin Purnell, turned out to have been using Shiloh as a base for abusing young women in the group. he died in 1927, and it all collapsed into splinter groups.
sorry for the grim ending there. (the House of David brandname was such that there were baseball teams still using it well into the 1940s, though by that time they were shaving)
honestly, Michigan is great, masses of this absurd stuff and not a round barn in sight
brilliant modern house by Yuzuru Kawahara, Japanese-American architect from California who was interned during WW2 and took a job in a kitchen in Milwaukee solely because it was quite near Taliesin: he went to Taliesen unannounced and successfully begged Wright for a traineeship
and, nearby, this amazing thing, the Honolulu House. built 1860 for Abner Pratt, who had formerly been the US consul in the (then still independent) Kingdom of Hawaii, and wanted a house that had Hawaiian wraparound porches
well, ok, they can't all be winners
log cabin of an eccentric Estonian immigrant and Tolstoy obsessive who lived on an island off the Michigan coast and was an entirely unlicensed "doctor" to the fishermen there, who loved him and refused to let the state stop him him practising unlicensed medicine
(this was in the 1920s)
ok fine but what the FUCK is going on next door
extremely ominous structure
extremely ominous pictograph in a cave near the extremely ominous structure, this ain't good at ALL
an "experimental furnace". unclear how the experiment went
this is a mill. specifically, it mills children's bones
hmm
every time you think you've seen every kind of roof they can throw at you, something like this happens
further fun with geometry can be had at the Shay Hexagon House, one big two-storey hexagon with four smaller hexagons bolted onto it. the walls are covered in steel sheeting that has been stamped with a brick pattern. for some reason.
YOU WERE DOING SO WELL, MICHIGAN
we're in Flint, Michigan now. i wonder if /this/ house has clean water, huh
now...YOUR TOMB! ahahahahhahHA!
guess who's back
(it's me, trying to distract myself from Brexit)
Michigan features the only church in the world built entirely from peanut brittle
i'm assuming that there was originally a roof on the tower and the blank windows there were initially open?
when ur friend Philip has a nice house
as usual the state capital (Lansing) has a terribly boring capitol
there is good stuff in Lansing, though, like this 1938 department store, covered in a fancy kind of enameled concrete
and this typically good office by Minoru Yamasaki - the architect chiefly known for the World Trade Centre, but he mostly worked on a smaller scale in Michigan doing thoughtful, orderly, elegant stuff of this kind
also this immense wheel factory, our first taste of Michigan's automobile industry architecture
📢
let's stop for a cool, refreshing coca-cola at the
Iron County, Michigan, was (as you can probably tell) a major mining centre and as a result is i n c r e d i b l y o m i n o u s
not only is there a Kalamazoo County, Michigan (containing a city named Kalamazoo): the county also contains a town called Climax
it has the ugliest post office you ever did see
Kalamazoo itself had this striking but also, like, hmmmm, Modernist fountain featuring a settler staring down a Native American, built in 1940: but it was removed this time last year by the city council for being, like, super-racist, which is good
hmmmmm
i am on record as objecting to shipwrecks-as-NRHPs but i cannot deny the charm of these tiny spooky images of several in Keweenaw County
there's basically two Michigans. one of them is inland and great and the other one is on the coast and dumb as hell
, like
i *guess* it's worth pointing out that parts of the coast, like the straits of Mackinac, are yacht-club-ridden wastelands now but have super-interesting histories. there were Jesuit missions and colonial forts in Mackinac by 1670
still no excuse for the county having *five* different listed lighthouses
anyway, back inland it was the auto industry that made Michigan (or at least the bit near Detroit) wealthy & exciting in the early 20th century. such was the era that when Packard built a new test track they built a huge faux-Cotswold garage/guest house next to it because why not
the same architect, Albert Kahn - the defining Detroit architect - built a gargantuan house in similar mode for Henry Ford's son Edsel (we're not in Detroit yet, btw, just in a country that brushes it)
the interior is a mix of actual chunks of English manor houses that the Fords bought and re-installed in their house and more contemporary deco-luxe stuff
also obviously this all led to some groundbreaking industrial design too, like Eero Saarinen's 1956 General Motors Technical Center
also in Michigan: a house with walls made of bottles, for some reason
nice
if you ask me this abandoned orphanage is trying a bit hard, actually
whereas this abandoned Egyptian Deco mineshaft headframe absolutely owns
it's ya boi, Alden B Dow
Midland, Michigan is basically a company town Dow Chemicals, a massive industrial chemical company whose boss' cousin just happened to be Alden B Dow, briefly an apprentice of FLW, who then got to do masses of wonderful domestic work in Midland (and across Michigan)
Midland also has one non-Dow modernist gem, this wonderful 1964 dome-house
extremely cursed archaeological site
exceedingly normal name for a school
Hackley and Hume were best buds and business partners who had equally insane houses built next door to each other with a shared carriage house in Muskegon, Michigan, and i ship it
the internet tantalisingly suggests there was some kind of SCANDAL with Hackley and Hume and one of their nieces but i cannot for the life of me find more details about it
KLAXON. god this is so fucking good
more wild automobile baron mansions...
the big cash-splasher in this part of the state (Oakland County) tho was George Gough Booth, who was a newspaper tycoon who founded the complex of educational and artistic institutions now called the Cranbrook Educational Community
in a stroke of genius, he gave the overall architectural organisation of Cranbrook to Eliel Saarinen, who produced a collection of buildings unlike almost anything else in the US, in subtle brick and expressive detail
high-flown ideals aside, it's basically just two very fancy private schools (one for boys, most famous alumnus Mitt fucking Romney, one for girls) and an art museum, but my god it looks good
individual shoutout to the school chapel, which is not Saarinen but Bertram Goodhue, whose work i have raved about in other threads (LA Central Library, Nebraska Capitol etc): this is his more conservative but still magnificent mode
fun
some of the civilization's remains continue to baffle historians
little suburban house by the Eameses!!!!
...
...like, are there other theories?
this is a post office
and this is a waterworks
lotta money sloshing around public works projects in Saginaw, is what i'm saying
🚩 🚩
🏰 🏰
🏰🏰🏰🏰🏰🏰
🏰🏰🏰🏰🏰🏰
🏰 L M A O 🏰
🏰🏰🏰🏰🏰🏰
🏰🏰🏰🏰🏰🏰
🏰🏰🏰🏰🏰🏰
🌱🌱🌳🌿🌱🌱
(this was built by James Oliver Curwood, an author and conservationist who wrote books with titles like The Grizzly King and A Gentleman of Courage)
no, but also, yes
i don't even know
klaxon for this excellent angular 1952 house in Ann Arbor, chief college town of Michigan and an extremely nice town allround
lotta enjoyable stuff on the campus itself too
imo the true glory of Ann Arbor (i've been to a few times and highly recommend) is the Michigan Theater tho (there's also a great greyhound bus station that's sadly not listed)
meanwhile just up the road in Yspilanti is the city's legendary water tower, which, er, umm, well
locally known at the Brick Dick, it won a "world's most phallic building" competition in 2003. locals are fiercely proud of it
annnnnnnnnyway this brings us now, and finally in this state, to Detroit. you may have heard Some Stuff about Detroit
some of the Some Stuff is true: but Detroit is and always was and always will be one of the great cities of the Midwest and the US and there is *fascinating* stuff there that anyone who cares about cities should go and see. let's go
(i'm talking here about, like, greater Detroit, i.e. Wayne County, basically - i'll start on the outskirts and end up downtown)
GOODHUUUUUUUUE
🐛
this was the house of Henry Ford himself. it's ugly as shit, actually
this valve design plant that was built for him, though? amazing
nothing says "here be millionaires" like a faux-Venetian 1920s yacht club
oh hey here's Josh, Josh is THE MAN regarding modernism in the midwest, especially Michigan, read his stuff
buncha stone cold mid-century suburban domestic masterpieces in the area, like this one by William Kessler...
...this one by BOTH Saarinens...
...this jaw-dropping open-cube housterpiece by Tivadar Balogh...
and this 📢-house, which is a study in hexagons
damn this church thicc
lotta thicc houses too. this Richardsonian Romanesque Revival vibe was big in Detroit in the very late 19th c
having fun, are w, *checks notes*, architect Robert J. West?
ah man. for some reason this is still listed but it was demolished in the 90s. a very Detroit story
Detroitstereotype.jpg
while we're on the subject, here's The Big Symbol that always gets in pieces about The Death of Detroit etc: Michigan Central Station, once a hugely busy train station, closed in the 80s, subject of many failed regenerations and one which is now ongoing, urban explorer cliche
*obviously* the closure of this station tells us many things about The Decline Of The Inner City Due To Its Inhabitants, and not about, say, catastrophic under-investment in infrastructure, etc etc etc
...other classic Detroit ruin porn includes the Vanity Ballroom...
...and the King Solomon Baptist Church buildings, which are ruin porn despite being *not abandoned*: the 1937 deco auditorium still has a congregation, while the 1917 Tudor Revival one over the road is shuttered for now. Malcolm X gave the Message to the Grass Roots speech here.
the Hurlbut memorial gate commemorates the spot where a man hurled his own entire butt through a door. he died, RIP
there are several wonderful goth-deco churches like this, this area is the peak of this style really
huge Mies-designed housing complex along the river...
and then there's Belle Isle, the park island just near downtown, feat. a pair of stunning towers - one a lighthouse, one a belltower
check out the detailing on this high school
DETROIT IS SO GREAT
we've talked about Albert Kahn previously in this thread - here's more of his work for the auto barons. this was an R&D lab for General Motors
alright, downtown, let's do it
there's a cluster of big Victorian houses and mansions right downtown which are the most fascinating mix - some pristine, some empty shells, some - like this one in B&W - gone now
all summed up in the Ransom Gillis House: here it is in 1879, 2005, 2009...and today
one of the best and most idiosyncratic is this, the Freer House. Freer was a collector - his stuff is in the Smithsonian now - who had to get a new room built on to his carriage house when another collector sold him an entire room designed by Whistler, the "Peacock Room"
there's also further adventures with Chunky Churches downtown: these, confusingly, are three different ones, called, extra-confusingly, First Presbyterian Church, First Congregational Church and First Unitarian Church
and here's Yamasaki again with his ever-interesting austerity, in a couple of university buildings...
...and an office building
here is the Detroit Institute of Arts which honestly is meh as a building (collection's amazing tho), but Some Shit went down there in the 30s when Mexican artist Diego Rivera was invited to paint a series of murals about industry...
the murals became hugely controversial for their bold style and, above all, because of Rivera's Marxism, and the (basically correct) fear that he had (awesomely) snuck in a bunch of socialist propaganda
in the 50s the museum directors had to put up a big sign that said this, lmao
downtown Motown also has the world's largest Masonic temple, for some reason (and it's sublime)
you want more? ok fine - there's three outstanding 1910s/20s theatres downtown too, the Majestic...
...the National (this one sadly derelict and another classic ruin porm target)...
and the greatest of them all, the Fox.
finally, we come to the great cluster of skyscrapers as they march down to the water
...the Free Press building (Albert Kahn, 1925)...
...the Maccabees building (Kahn, 1927)...
...the Fisher building (Kahn *again*, 1928, what a run)...
...the Penobscot Building (Wirt C. Rowland, 1928)...
...and my personal favourite - one of my favourite buildings anywhere - the Guardian Building (Rowland again, 1929) with detail beyond your wildest dreams
BOOM. There we go! That was Detroit, and that was Michigan. Great city (and there's so much more to it - weird that e.g. major Motown studios etc aren't listed), great state. That was fun, one of the best states so far, despite a certain amount of maritime nonsense. Onward...
(also, yes, there was also the brick dick, yes)
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