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Everything old is new again


Well, not quite everything, present company included.

When Rowan Oakes and Howard Tabor bought the old Wasserman Building, intent on preventing another gap-toothed block in downtown Agincourt, they knew not what they’d wrought. Some of us see the patina of age; others, the crust of corrosion and decay. I’ve got a high threshold of crud. So does Howard.

Howard saw the project as an obligation, not just an opportunity. Great uncle Anson Tennant had remodelled the Wassermans’ building, enlarged their apartment and bartered services for a favorable five-year lease on his own studio-home: Suite 205-207. Howard described its interior in a sesqui-centennial piece a few years ago when I drove down with Richard Kenyon to offer some advice.

Long before the appearance of magazines like American Bungalow and Style 1900 popularized the Arts & Crafts movement—a deluge of philosophical perspective and practical advice—accurate information for would-be restorationists was hard to find. But Anson came to architectural awareness in the thick of it: Gustav Stickley and Elbert Hubbard were alive and eminently quotable and Anson’s parents subscribed to The Fra. So his studio walls were raw stained plaster; the wood, beeswaxed. His fireplace hood, copper he’d hammered himself. And the office door? Dutch, with a stained lgass panel that set the tone for prospective clients.

Howard and Rowan took liberties with the two other suites, but Anson’s office was inviolate. No detail too small, no quest too obtuse. So, when they asked about stained glass, I recommended my friend Dan Salyards. Just re-leaded, it’s ready for another hundred years and Dan is on to other projects.




Next year will be its centennial. Sounds like an excuse for a party.

1 Comment

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