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No, Fennimore county hasn’t suddenly sprung a Great Lake. Sturm und Drang are close enough to Agincourt, but their acreage doesn’t present a horizon like this. It’s the building in the mid-ground that concerns us.


About fifty miles east of Chicago along the shore of Lake Michigan lies Indiana Dunes State Park, a fragment of Indiana Dunes National Seashore which surrounds it. It may be possible to grow up in Chicago and be unaware of The Dunes but I doubt that happens often. A popular resort for city dwellers since the 19th century (and readily available by interurban rail), it received a “make-over” during the Great Depression when entry pavilions, the bathhouse and other ancillary structures were added by one of the Roosevelt administration alphabet soup agencies—might have been the Civilian Conservation Corps, I suppose.

The thing is, we tend to have developed a default image of WPC Depression-Era architecture as reasonably tailored reinforced-concrete architecture. And, yes, there is a great deal of that in these parts, especially in urban areas where the government’s stimulus efforts created public buildings (pools, city halls, fire stations, and the like) and service facilities like sewer and water treatment plats. But there were other materials in the WPA-PWA-CCC palette: masonry (especially stone) and heavy timber. Visit Yosemite or Yellowstone or Mount Hood some time to see well-preserved examples. In smaller “in-between” places like Agincourt, however, the period produced innumerable examples. One of them casually showed itself last week [while I had other things on my mind] —the mausoleum at a cemetery in Saline, Michigan—which causes me to wonder how FRD & Co. affected the communities of Fennimore county during the late 1930s. Perhaps the ARCH 371 students will embrace the possibilities.


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