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The Blenheim Hotel


Hostelry is an entire topic for discussion; its evolution as a building type is as varied as any other and it also opens wonderful opportunities for both staffing and patronage, not to mention questionable and outright elicit behavior.

This site in the teens block of west Agincourt Avenue had been occupied by an earlier hotel, an accident-prone place appropriately named Hazzard House, which also accounts for its destruction by fire about 1900. Accidents such as that are a convenient opportunity top introduce new buildings and different architectural styles—not to mention interesting new characters. The Blenheim is just a three-story building, a doughnut of services and rooms wrapped around an interior light court, a palm-laden inversion filled with cigar smoke and the melding of multiple conversations. It would surely have been the site of elegant events, tuxedoed, sequined, and filled with people wanting to see and be seen. Typically, I’ve conceived the building in plan alone, elevations being my nemesis. Then I ran across the interior lobby of the Nelson hotel in Rockford, Illinois, which can be a guide for any perspective I might attempt.

The Nelson itself had many more stories than these two, so that skylight must have been at the bottom of a multi-story void—and afforded many opportunities for leaking. But the bare bones of these two views can be adapted in what I hope will be a far less heavy-handed style.

[#978; just twenty-two more to go!]

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