Singer Tower New York City New York
Date added:November 21, 2014

One of the outstanding works of architect Ernest Flagg, the Singer Tower was for sixty years a familiar silhouette on the New York skyline. Ironically, the height of the building had established two records: in 1908, at 41 stories, it became the tallest building ever constructed, and in 1967 it became the tallest building ever demolished. The lobby was renowned for its elegant marble and bronze decor. Perhaps most importantly, the tower exemplified Flagg's ideas on city planning, which were incorporated in part into the New York City zoning ordinances of 1916. In order to provide adequate air and light for all offices, Flagg envisaged a city of towers, in which the first five or six stories of every building would extend over the entire lot, but the upper stories would cover only one-quarter of the lot.

The erection of the Singer Tower was just one part of a building program conducted from 1906 to 1908 by the Singer Manufacturing Company at their properties on Liberty Street and Broadway. In 1906 the Company owned what was then called the Singer Building, at the northwest corner of Broadway and Liberty Street, as well as the Bourne Building at 85 Liberty Street. Ernest Flagg was commissioned in 1896 to draw up plans to remodel these properties and to design two new adjoining buildings, with all buildings being connected internally by corridors. Briefly, this was his design. He designed a fourteen-story addition to the Bourne Building, to be located at 93 Liberty Street, and added new elevators in the original Bourne Building. The height of the original Singer Building was increased by four stories and its entranceway remodeled into a small window. Added on to the original Singer Building was a structure extending seventy-four feet northward on Broadway, with three bays identical to the two of the original building. The Broadway entranceway was located in the most southerly bay of the new portion, or in what became the center bay of the entire remodeled Broadway facade. Surmounting the new portion on Broadway was a tower rising to a height of 612 feet from street level.

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Ashland-Belle Helene Plantation Geismar Louisiana
Date added:November 14, 2014

Seven miles above the Darrow ferry, facing the Mississippi River across a great mall and backed by enormous oaks, stands Belle Helene, one of the most impressive examples of the Greek Revival in Louisiana. Its faded yellow washed walls, the gray woodwork and the small peak of purple slate roof showing above the heavy Greek cornice leaves an unforgettable impression of simplicity as achieved by the plantation builders during the most affluent period of Louisiana's history. We have become so accustomed to seeing the plantation house through the vista of a large avenue of oaks that we sense a realization of new ideas. Was it perhaps inspired by the romantic trend of England where the houses were being placed with extensive views over large meadows and the allies destroyed?

In plan the house is square, surrounded by a colonnade with eight columns on each face a large hall through the center gives access to the principal rooms, and, off the end of this hall, is a well designed circular stairway that leads to the second story. The rooms are large and now bare - but what a background for the rosewood furniture and accessories that Ashland Plantation (as Belle Helene was then known) no doubt had.

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Oak Alley Plantation Vacherie, St James Parish Louisiana
Date added:August 15, 2014

Oak Alley Plantation Vacherie, St James Parish Louisiana

Originally named Bon Sejour, Oak Alley was built in 1837-39 by George Swainey for Jacques Telesphore Roman, brother of Andre Roman who was twice governor of Louisiana. Joseph Pilie, Jacques Telesphore Roman's father-in-law, was an architect and is thought to have provided the design of Oak Alley. Oak Alley's most distinguishing architectural feature is a full peripteral (free-standing) colonnade of 28 colossal Doric columns. Such plantation houses were once scattered along the Mississippi valley, though Oak Alley is probably the finest of those remaining. In 1866, Oak Alley was sold at auction to John Armstrong. Several owners followed Armstrong, and by the 1920s, the house was is in a state of deterioration. Andrew and Josephine Stewart purchased the property in 1925 and hired architect Richard Koch to conduct an extensive restoration. The pale pink of the plastered columns and walls and the blue green of the louvered shutters and gallery railing were color choices of Mrs. Stewart at that time. Square in plan, the interior has a central hall from front to rear on both floors. At each end of both halls the doors have broad fanlights and sidelights framed with slim, fluted colonnettes. Rooms at the first floor rear were partitioned and adapted to modern uses at the time of restoration in the 1920s. Equally significant is the impressive double row of giant live oak trees which form the oak alley, about 800 feet long, from which the property derived its present name. Planted before the house was constructed in 1837, this formal planting is a historic landscape design long recognized for its beauty. An important event in American horticultural history occurred in the winter of 1846-47 when Antoine, a slave gardener at Oak Alley, first successfully grafted pecan trees. His work resulted in the first named variety, Centennial, and the first commercial pecan orchard at nearby Anita Plantation. Josephine Stewart established a nonprofit organization to manage Oak Alley after her death. This Greek Revival showplace is now open to the public for tours.

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Rosedown Plantation, St Francisville Louisiana
Date added:June 06, 2014

No house in Louisiana gives a better idea of an old Louisiana plantation home than does Rosedown, built at the end of an avenue of oaks. Between these oaks is marble statuary, copies of well known classical works bought in Italy by the Turnbulls in 1851. On each side of the avenue is a Victorian garden laid out in a Victorian manner reminescent of the French naturalistic gardens of that date. The two summer houses in these gardens were built in 1895. To the right of the house is a box garden similar to many in this area that were done in the 20's and is a reflection of late Eighteenth Century box gardens of Virginia, The small summer house in the center of this garden built in 1835? with an earlier feeling, is sympathetic in its Greek Revival detail.

In 1844 and 1845 wings were added to the north and south of the building by T.S. Williams, and it is a tradition that the factory work came from Cincinnati, On the north of the house is a kitchen that is no doubt earlier and was moved up to the main house at unknown dates. On the east is another wing that was added in 1859. Among the grounds are various dependencies such as a privy, milk-house, wood shed and office.

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