Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts

It’s interesting that the Albert F. and Elsa S. Madlener House (1901) in Chicago is just a couple of blocks away from the Charnley–Persky House (1891). Both are rather dissimilar compared to other more “Victorian” residences in the Gold Coast neighborhood—both houses were constructed a decade apart. Perhaps the architect, Richard E. Schmidt designed the Madlener House in the Prairie Style idiom as an acknowledgement and admiration of Louis Sullivan’s Charnley House. A solid brick facade with minimum ornamentation and “classical” exterior characterizes both residences. However, the entry door of the Madlener House is charmingly off-center. Certainly, you need to get inside a building in order to fully understand it.

The Madlener House Chicago Landmark plaque summarizes:
The clarity, simplicity, and order of the Madlener House make it an outstanding residence in the tradition of the Chicago and Prairie Schools of architecture. It has the massing, logic, and dignity of a Renaissance Revivial-style palace, yet it is a thoroughly modern design.  
The Graham Foundation purchased the building in 1963 for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts, an educational institution. Elaborating about the history of the facility the Graham Foundation website reads:
Since 1963, the Graham Foundation has been located in the Madlener House, a 9,000 square foot Prairie-style mansion located in the historic Gold Coast neighborhood of Chicago. The work of architect Richard E. Schmidt and designer Hugh M. G. Garden, the house was built in 1901–02 for Albert Fridolin Madlener and his wife Elsa Seipp Madlener, both of whom came from prominent pioneer Chicago families that emigrated from Germany in the 1850s. In its compact, cubic massing the house is related to the German neoclassical work of Karl Friedrich Schinkel and his followers in Berlin, but in many of its details it clearly reveals the influence of Louis Sullivan and Frank Lloyd Wright.

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