When did Agincourt earn its first architect?
There may have been hybrid architect-builders in the growing city, especially during its boom times, to satisfy the needs of a burgeoning population. Remember that America’s first professional program for the education of architects was opened shortly after the Civil War and before that there were few real distinctions between those who designed buildings and those who constructed them. Some day I’m going to flesh out that part of community history. In the meantime, absent a resident professional, architectural services would have come from larger nearby communities for some buildings and potentially even farther afield for a handful of others. (More about that latter group another time.)
Reed Malm has a wonderful cabinet photograph of two architects in their office; he’s christened them Hans und Franz and allowed me to “borrow” them. For the present, they’ve become recent Austrian immigrants Hans Joachim and Franz Perlmutter, architects and engineers from Sioux City. I’ve given them two commissions in Agincourt thus far: Wasserman’s Hardware (for a fellow countryman) and the new Northwest Iowa Traction Co. depot—the present case in point.
The depot program has four parts:
- Office and passenger ticketing and waiting room for NITC
- A restaurant to accommodate the relocated Bon Ton Cafe
- Ground-level rental space for small retail stores
- A modest hotel oriented toward what we used to call commercial travelers
Placing the ticket/waiting room at the street corner of Broad Street and Louisa, the Bon Ton and hotel lobby can be tucked discretely behind. Retail stores extend westward. And above all this is the 22-room UCT Hotel (the United Commercial Travelers was a fraternal organization for traveling salesmen, where they could both stay and display their wares). The second floor plan in yesterday’s blog gives an idea of how the interurban trains actually plow through the building at a 45-degree angle, a two-story glass-roofed arcade for which there’s plenty of precedent in architectural history. Trust me. I don’t make this shit up.
Planning this building has been a cake walk. A construction date in 1908-1909 allows the structure to be hybrid: some traditional masonry bearing walls and a cast iron frame fireproofed with terra cotta. But it’s the details that scare the crap out of me: remember I’m a modernist and ornament is anathema to us, like sunlight to vampires. I may disappear in the puff of vapor.