Cal’s Liquors, at 400 S. Wells, has been closed for many months. I’ve been waiting with trepidation to see whether this old, iconic, one-story building would be demolished. More
The hat shop is closed.
Inside, the hats are still waiting to be purchased. They float, eerily suggesting the heads they are meant to fit. They cluster like moths against the glass waiting for the right men.
I love seeing these guys when it snows. Impressive in any weather, the Board of Trade Building is sparely adorned with Art Deco ornaments representing trade and the commodities, the general theme being harvest and abundance—not to mention wealth, for those who grow rich through farming and trade.
Flanking the big clock are these two figures, an Egyptian and a Native American, holding wheat and corn. Also (I never realized this before), the ornaments elsewhere on the facade are bulls!
The window-washers think nothing of what they do, hanging and spinning like spiders off the sides of our buildings. To those of us inside, they are sometimes a nuisance (especially if they appear outside our bedroom windows before 9 a.m.), but there’s also something bold and outlandish in their craft.
The Fisher Building‘s exterior exudes the pride of artisans, who crafted the ornamental details that cover its surface. This elaborate arch over the south entrance is characteristic, integrating aquatic motifs with traditional Gothic ones to memorialize the original owner by whose name the building is known. The undersides of the window-bays are richly decorated, repaying passers-by who think to look up, instead of down.
The details of this doorway are fascinating. What are we to make of Mr Fisher, whose building is adorned with octopus tentacles and scary sea monsters? Was he tough to deal with? Slightly ridiculous or imposing? Did he have a sense of humor, or was he channeling some sort of Poseidon vibe?
This old building had been vacated and was in the early stages of a gut re-hab. The businesses on the first floor had all been kicked out, and their facades and signs removed, revealing an old sign—’SURGICAL SUPPLIES – FINEST CUTLERY’—from an earlier time.
What would it have been like to step into that shop, say, a hundred years ago, with its glistening displays of knives and . . . saws?
The sign was visible only for a short period. Whether it was thrown out, preserved, or papered over with today’s new sign, I do not know. Sadly, the only picture I have of it is this poor one I took with my cell phone as I was rushing to an appointment.
Click image to enlarge.
The sun strikes the top of the Fisher Building and the flat modern facade of the CNA. The light strikes the city, whose landmarks are the creations of different ages and mentalities, the works of egotists and humble builders unknown. We live among these warring monuments, counting the years of their lives, wondering, perhaps, which is greatest and the dearest, and why. Myriad sights like this one flow in through our eyes, pulling crosswise at our affections and allegiances. We live with their deeds.
A nearer view of the big window in the office. Over one hundred years old, it’s about 6 feet wide and over 7 feet high. Believe it or not, still it opens smoothly (check out those big handles), and I can open it whenever I want! The thing comes equipped with an old-fashioned roller blind, which, at certain hours and seasons, is necessary to use. Because it’s a landmarked building, no other window coverings are allowed.