An Architectural Auction in Chicago

An Architectural Auction in Chicago
What are architectural artifacts and what do we do with them? The answer to this question will be given on April 13 in Chicago’s Wright auction house.

On April 13 in Chicago, the small auction house, Wright, will hold a very interesting auction. They will present a collection of "architectural artifacts" from the American collector Stuart Grannen, who collected these items throughout the last 30 years. The collection is quite unique. What are architectural artifacts and are they collected? In numerous interviews, Grannen gave us an answer: his passion was collecting not just interior items, but also architectural objects for their small fragments, details and elements.

The collection began in 1987 with the purchase of colored glass from a stained-glass window from a Baptist Church in Chicago. The Grannen collection is a treasure trove for loft-style fans: both the furniture and small decorative objects look best against the background of untreated brick walls, fragmented plasters, wooden floors and large glazed surfaces. Fortunately, it is not required to use objects to be from the XX century or use exclusively new items for loft style. Therefore, in a well pieced interior, previous century artifacts in the collection hold a valuable place. Such objects include a four piece oak stand on a forged base, a set of XIX century metal tips and a French leather chest studded with metal.

19th Century collection of metal working tools

Josiah Anstice & Co. Columbia dictionary stand

French studded chest. 18th Century

Do not think, however, that the collection consists of random objects selected according only to its style. The heart of the collection lies in Louis Sullivan’s stained-glass windows. Sullivan was the "father of American modernism." The fragments from the reliefs of the Auditorium building and the Sullivan Center in Chicago (the latter is one of the first skyscrapers in the world), made of terracotta-painted plaster, are another big hit. Their whimsical zoomorphic and floral motifs resemble carvings on France’s Gothic cathedrals. These reliefs serve as decorative interior items reminiscent of the birth of the American architecture of modernism. Frank Lloyd Wright, Sullivan’s student, deserves no less attention. In addition to Wright’s laconic, geometric pieces of furniture, his exterior pieces are also featured at the auction: window frames, flower pots, benches, street lamp installations and even a fragment from the balustrade of Wright's own house.


Dankmar Adler and Louis Sullivan. Architectural fragment from the Auditorium Building, Chicago. USA, 1890

Frank Lloyd Wright. Jardinière from the Riverview Terrace Restaurant, Spring Green. USA, 1953

Frank Lloyd Wright. Collection of four windows from Taliesin III, Spring Green. USA, 1925

Frank Lloyd Wright pair of exterior light fixtures from the Francis W. Little House, Wayzata. USA, 1912

Frank Lloyd Wright baluster from Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio, Oak Park. USA, c. 1905

In summary, the auction is full of bright, daring and unexpected finds, collected with care and taste. Without exaggeration, we can say that the collection tells the story of American design (Whether or not modernism is important or not is a dilemma interior designers will decide for themselves). After all, where else can you buy a sports vaulting goat, a decorative Wrigley’s chewing gum plate, a neo-Gothic carved armchair, a bar table with built-in chairs and a 1930s football all in the same place? Exclusively in Chicago, set up for exceptional interiors.

French lounge chair c. 1930

Frank Lloyd Wright. Pair of armchairs from the Riverview Terrace Restaurant, Spring Green. USA, 1953

American cafeteria table. Early 20th Century

Bavarian Hunting Lodge sofa. Germany, 19th Century

Czechoslovakian vaulting horses, pair c. 1930

American monumental chewing gum display c. 1960

Czechoslovakian collection of ten medicine balls c. 1930

5 April 2017
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