Thursday, March 17, 2011

The Work of J. Milton Dyer

A week and a half ago, reader Doug Wheeler brought an article to my attention. At least that's what he meant to do. Somehow, it didn't register in my head. As a result, I didn't have this great period photo of the Brown Hoist building in my post on Tuesday. The article in question, The Work of Mr. J. Milton Dyer, appeared in Architectural Record, November, 1906, pages 384-403.

Brown-Hoist Building

The historic photo, at top, may help us to better see the building, which is located on Hamilton Avenue at East 45th Street. As built, it feels grand - not merely imposing. The massive arch shapes the space, in a way that feels almost like a major passenger train station. I can imagine that the quality of the light, from the many banks of windows, must have been something to behold.

Another image that immediately caught my attention was the Tavern Club, at 3522 Prospect Avenue, in Cleveland. The Tudor-style structure feels, to my eyes, like the very essence of a private club at the time it was built (1904-1905). It is a Cleveland Landmark.

I've tried to photograph it, without much success. Even if the light in my photo had been right, the streetlights and utility lines would have still been quite a distraction. Further, the building could not have been successfully photographed from this angle today, due to the presence of the building on the southeast corner of Prospect and East 36th Street, which would have obscured the left part of the building.

It's one thing to theorize about how the architect might have meant for a building to be seen, but quite another to have it illustrated so clearly.

The article includes several illustrations of the Cleveland City Hall, built 1911-1916. The exterior views don't offer any surprises. This cross section, however, opens up the space and helps me to visualize how the building fits together as a whole, centered around the grand atrium. Floor plans for the building are also provided.

I would include the tall and very skinny Guardian Savings and Trust, but I can't see a good way to format the text around it. The bank, built in 1904, was located at 322-326 Euclid Avenue.

For related reasons, I will omit the competitive drawing for the Post Office, Custom House, and Court House (now known as the Howard M. Metzenbaum United States Courthouse). Dyer's design is very similar to the design that was used, the work of architect Arnold W. Brunner.

The carriage entrance to the Loftus Cuddy residence catches my attention more than the structure as a whole. For some reason, it reminds me of the Paris Metropolitain entrances designed by architect Hector Guimard. Dyer, as a student at École des Beaux-Arts in Paris would have seen these, so the suggestion of a connection isn't a complete stretch. The ornamentation is different, but both seem to convey similar senses of light and space.

The residence, which appears (per the Cleveland Blue Book, 1907, 1911, and 1915) to have been on Overlook Road, in the Euclid Heights neighborhood of Cleveland Heights. It is no longer standing.

The article contains several more designs worth mentioning. Among them are a Competitive Design for Carnegie Technical Schools (shown here), interiors of the opulent Central National Bank, the Mill Street School, a few private residences, and the Windermere Presbyterian Church.

How does one close a description of a group of work like this? I'm unsure. The photos and drawings speak for themselves quite well. The article records, as a group, the early work of J. Milton Dyer. It's worth a look to see his vision for our city in the first decade of the 20th century.

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