Saturday, October 31, 2009

Saturday's child ....

... works hard for a living.

Detail from Jeremiah Goodman's Edward Albee, Playwright, Study, Montauk Home, Long Island, New York, 2004. Goodman is one of my all-time favorite artists and his Jeremiah: a Romantic Vision is high on the list of my most treasured books.

I removed the earlier post about taking time off and I have replaced it with this one in honor of Little A. with my gratitude, but I am going to take some time to recharge.

Oh, and by the way, the child that is born on the Sabbath Day is bonny and blithe, good and gay I shall not even touch.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Loving and giving

The Golden Book of Indian Crafts and Lore was a gift to my partner from his father who had just returned from a business trip to the U.S. Looking back, it must have seemed so overwhelmingly romantic and exotic to a young boy living in chilly proper Dundee and Edinburgh, and also very exciting.

Exciting if only from the point of view that he is nothing if not immensely creative and would have straightaway wanted to go to the art shop to buy everything for every project. These years were the time when the Western became normal fare in Britain at the flicks and in black and white on TV so this book must have seemed like a window onto a world previously inaccessible.

The book is of its time, both in the way it is crumbling to dust and in its portrayal of the people we now term Native Americans - Indian as nomenclature being totally unacceptable. Despite, or perhaps because of movie portrayals of this people in the 50s, there is a sympathy in this book for them and to some extent a call to see them for what they are - a people of various cultures and of a long, dynamic history.

The author in his introduction About Ben Hunt says:

"There were three things that inspired Ben Hunt to become an expert on handicraft and an Indian lore authority. First was his grandmother, who told him tales of the Indians of the Wisconsin woodlands. She also inspired and encouraged him to draw, to learn whittling, to do leather work, and to make the things he wanted or needed instead of buying them.

"The second was Uncle Dan Beard, who founded the Boy Scouts of America, and who for years wrote articles on wood lore and handicrafts for Boys' Life magazine. From these articles Ben got many of the ideas for his boyhood projects.

"The third was a band of Sioux Indians which appeared in Milwaukee with the Buffalo Bill Wild West Show. In those days circuses pitched their tents in the old National Park grounds, not far from Ben's home on the south side of Milwaukee. The Indians who set up their tepees behind the circus tents were the first real Indians with whom Ben ever came in contact. They wore buckskin leggings and war bonnets of eagle feathers, and they painted their faces. Many of them were famous warriors who had helped defeat Custer at the Little Big Horn. "

This book when published in 1954 by W. Ben Hunt was indeed a window from a world whose attitudes are somewhat different today. Without getting too serious, and that "many of them were famous warriors who had helped defeat Custer at Little Big Horn" is certainly a hint to explore history but, this being Friday whose child is loving and giving, I shall leave that to those authors who have already explored these opportunities. What I will say, however, is that just taking this book off the shelves has opened a window for me; one previously I had never thought of opening.

This, as I said on Tuesday, is book week - books from my library that I think you might find interesting and which, it occurred to me when I began the Tuesday post, fit with the nursery song, Friday's Child.

Monday's child is fair of face,
Tuesday's child is full of grace,
Wednesday's child is full of woe.
Thursday's child has far to go,
Friday's child is loving and giving,
Saturday's child works hard for a living,
But the child who is born on the Sabbath Day
Is bonny and blithe and good and gay.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Far to go

The connection between John Bunyan and David Hockney may not be immediately apparent and, I must admit, it is pretty tenuous, if not downright contrived. However, "far to go" is the connection - Bunyan in his Pilgrim's Progress journeyed through the Slough of Despond to the Land of Beulah, and Hockney in his journey has gone from Yorkshire to California and back again to Yorkshire, perhaps for him his Land of Beulah.

Bunyan's journey, though no doubt worth it, couldn't persuade me to be his companion for long, especially at this time of night after my own long journey home along I-20. So, sloughing, if not slouching, through my despond I saw David Hockney's 1976 autobiography, David Hockney by David Hockney and remembered that my 1984 copy of Living in Vogue had an article about him.

Now a man in his seventies, David Hockney is here shown in his London studio, a very young-looking man in his mid-forties. In the book his studio is bracketed between a Bloomsburyish cottage on the Berkshire Downs and a mildly pompous country house in Oxfordshire. Not of that last sentence is really germaine to the story but I must say the contrast makes it refreshing to see the sprawling mess of creativity visually swirling around this most talented of artists.

Hockney was and remains one of my favorite artists. I still love his superbly lively and delicate drawings from the seventies, every painting of his I've ever seen and for years have been content viewing what I could when I could.

The photo below is from an article entitled David Hockney's Long Road Home and published in The New York Times earlier this month. Go here for a better account than I could give you.

Bigger Trees Near Water donated in 2008 to the Tate Gallery - go here.

Exciting stuff and not yet journey's end.

Sources: and the New York Times.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Wednesday's book is full of woe

Actually not, but does contain a scene of misery, below, called The Enraged Calypso Orders the Burning of Telemachus's Ship printed by Dufour in about 1818.

The book from my library for today is French Scenic Wallpaper: 1795 - 1865, and very proud I am to tell you I own a copy. I bought it nine years ago, after much to-ing and fro-ing about the need and the cost, but in the end paid $95 for it, took it home, shelved it and regarded it for a while almost as a sacred object - it was far too expensive to actually read. I got over that and discovered treasure after treasure in this beautifully illustrated book. Some pages are three-leaved fold-outs, others full-page details of this hand blocked wallpaper.

For the story of Calypso and Telemachus refer to the first four chapters of Homer's Odyssey or go here.

We once considered using one of the Chinese hand-painted papers in our living room but what we really wanted and frankly couldn't afford was something more like these scenics from Dufour. In the end neither was used but I still hanker after some sort of mural that encompasses the hall and the dining room. Of course, nowadays any stock image can be enlarged onto polyester scrim and applied to walls but somehow that idea doesn't really work for me - reminds me too much of the 1970s photo murals of trees or scenes of the Grand Canal in Venice.

The combination of hand, eye, training in and dedication to the craft is what is necessary - that said at the risk of sounding too arts and crafts: the hand of a craftsman to make the blocks, another to place and print and the eyes of a colorist to work with both. An enlarged photo doesn't quite cut it. Is it because it is too far removed from the eye of the artist, in this case the photographer?

The time for the return of the the faux finish is not yet at hand, though it has been twenty years since the crest of that wave, and I'm pretty sure that the trompe-l'oeil mania of the 1980s and early 1990s ruined the resurrection of that art for at least another generation - at least, I hope so. There was so much bad painting on walls it was mildly worrying: insistent distressed finishes were applied to anything that was unsuitable, and no layer of paint was left unarticulated.

Techniques previously the province of the furniture restorer and faker were put into the hands of anyone who'd convinced themselves they had more than a shred of creativity, renamed faux- or distressed finishes and were let loose on any wall standing around minding its own business. Sun-faded Tuscan walls, or at least the imitation, were big especially in climes that had no resemblance to that part of Italy - a souvenir of the vacation-home in what eventually, because so many Brits lived there, became known as Chiantishire. Indigestion, I'm afraid, is common to both the stomach and the eye.

The image above is nothing to do with The Telemachy but I thought you might need cheering up after reading Homer's tale of woe.

Short rant today - tired.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Book week

Books figure large in my life and I thought I might have a book week - a week in which I would go through my library and pull a few you might find interesting. So, five books and five different subjects, perhaps.

Monday's book was fair of face (or not) and Tuesday's book is full of grace - the grace that comes from loving both the journey, the destination, and friendship. Tuesday's book is Ottolenghi: the Cookbook written by two Israelis living in London, Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi.

Let me quote them:

"It was definitely some sort of providence that let us to meet for the first time in London in 1999. Our paths might have crossed plenty of times - we had many more obvious opportunities to meet before - and yet it was only then, thousands of miles away from where we started, that we got to know each other.

"We were both born in Jerusalem in 1968, Sami on the Arab east side and Yotam in the Jewish west. We grew up a few kilometres away from each other in two separate societies, forced together by a fateful war just a year earlier. Looking back know, we realise how extremely different our childhood experiences were and yet how often they converged - physically, when venturing out to the "other side", and spiritually, sharing sensations of a place and a time.

"As young gay adults, we both moved to Tel Aviv at the same time, looking for personal freedom and a sense of hope and normality that Jerusalem couldn't offer. There, we first formed meaningful relationships and took our first steps in our careers. Then, in 1997, we both arrived in London with an aspiration to broaden our horizons even further, possibly to escape again from a place we had grown out of.

"So, finally, on the doorstep of Baker and Spice in west London, we chatted for thirty minutes before realising that we shared a language and a history. And it was there, over the next two years, that we formed our bond of friendship and creativity."

Ottolenghi was unfortunately not on our itinerary when we were in London but our dear friend there sent a copy of the cookery book for a birthday. A fine book it is, too, well-illustrated with pictures of food as you might expect (see photo of chocolate meringues) but also with characters gazing with such considered curiosity at the oh-so-imminent gratification.

Unfortunately, some of the photos are marred by the spine of the pages - split gutters (see yesterday's comment from BWE) but overall it is a ravishing book beautifully illustrated and stuffed with treats yet to be made. Apropos treats go here.

As far as I can tell, no photographers were harmed or credited in this endeavor. If I am wrong I shall amend as soon as I can.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Much anticipated

.... and very disappointing.

My gripe with this book,
In House by Derry Moore, is not with the contents per se (though I do have reservations about those) nor with the quality of the graphic design. Let me explain.

A few years ago I bought another much anticipated book, Dawn Jacobson's
Chinoiserie, and was thoroughly irritated by the way the designers of the book seemed to concentrate more on the design of the page than its content. Simply put, many of the images were too small for legibility and floated in a sea of negative space – resulting in pages that looked like a poor imitation of a Swiss grid layout current in graphic design thirty years before.

In the case of Mr Moore's
In House, the size of the photos is not in question – in most cases they fill the pages. Without exception they are of rooms that feel hermetic, so it could be argued that the photographer achieved an appropriate sense of intense privacy, underscored by the designer's use of black as a framing device for the photos.

The printing is the problem. The photos are printed on a relatively matte paper. Those of you who have ever printed a color photo on regular bond paper will know what I am complaining about. Matte paper does not reflect the light back through the layers of transparent printing ink - what is needed is a good quality art paper of high sheen. The publishers of
In House chose to use a matte paper so to my eyes much of what I am seeking is lost in sunken ink.

A disappointment to the point that I am sending the book back to Amazon. Some might argue that if the photos are interesting enough, the book is worth keeping. Interesting they are, but I have seen so many of them over the years and did not expect to see them again with 1980s-quality design and printing.

Top image thanks to Amazon and the second thanks to my iPhone.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Tulips and David Hicks

One way or the other blue and white threaded through my posts this week and it is perhaps fitting I end the week with a variation on the same theme.

I associate blue and white china with my time in Holland, especially with William and Mary whose palace, Het Loo, before they became joint monarchs of the United Kingdom was the depository of Mary's great collection of blue and white.

I knew that David Hicks had a section on Het Loo in his My Kind of Garden published ten years ago. Once I picked this book of my shelves totally intending to take another track, as it were, I realized that this book is my favorite of his. I own copies of David Hicks Style and Design, David Hicks on Decoration with Fabrics and David Hicks: Designer, but My Kind of Garden tops them all - equally as opinionated as the others, but for me certainly the most intriguing.

I like gardens but no longer have any interest in gardening. Usually liking gardens goes hand in hand with creating gardens but having once bought a house for the garden and seen everything disposed of by the climate and fauna, I know its not for me. I cannot say that in this book there are any gardens that are single-owner-dug as it were - they all seem to require staff, if not machinery and staff.

However, today, one photo in the book stood out above all the others. Another day it might have been something else but this one summed up what I'm seeking today - peace and quiet, solitude and time to reflect.

This is part of a garden Hicks designed at Hyde Park, a house in Johannesburg, South Africa. The perfectly magical mirror: the main of a number of crossing canals, in a shade-dappled garden; the perfect place to wander, sit and end the week.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Living room

Two views of the yet to be completed living room, completed in the sense that the Poliform cabinet below is either still on the high seas or sits in a customs shed in Savannah. The chinoiserie two-door cabinet stands as a place-holder below the framed 1940s Thibaut wallpaper mural. Also still to be delivered, despite all assurances, is a 1950s bench for the hall. The Atollo lamp, now back in its box, came all the way from Italy and does not work.

Everything else is in place but ready to be moved off the grid and moved around and humanized by friends when we next entertain.

Sunday, the day of the home tour when these photos were taken was very bright and so there are few of the shadows that make a place interesting and the sense of intimacy, so attractive when shadows deepen, is missing. If you percieve the walls to be a light lilac-grey, you're right: a color that is elusive and more so when the sun goes down and it works well with the blue that is a theme running through the place. Originally lilac-grey was the ceiling color, high sheen, above matte white walls and we reversed the order and knocked back the sheen.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Southern light

A tulip-eye's view of the living room. Forgive me, but ....

"knee deep in flowers we'll stray
We'll keep the showers away
And if I kiss you in the garden, in the moonlight
Will you pardon me?
And tiptoe through the tulips with me."

That's been swanning around my brain since yesterday and I had to get rid of it.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009


In the morning light, Delft blue tulpenvaas, or tulipiere, with Parrot tulips. Later in the week, photos of our place during the home tour, I hope.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Hmm, I thought ...

... when The Corinthian Columnist nominated me for a Kreative Blogger Award, this is not going to be easy. The conditions are that I tell you seven things you may not know about me and that I nominate seven bloggers for the same award.

So, seven things you may not know about me - these about a man whose sister-in-law asked his partner what he thought of having our life spread around the internet - what's left to tell, I wonder. I texted (more along the lines of "that's enough about me, let's talk about you. What do you think of me?) my partner asking him for things that neither ya'll nor I know about me and he came back with a list that brought me to the following but there's nothing really surprising there - I'd worked it all out myself.

1 I am originally from a town in Northwest England, also the home town of Sir Ian McKellen. Although it's a small place, we have never met.

2 I could eat fettuccine alfredo with a dusting of nutmeg for each meal, every day - which probably would require more of my least favorite activities, dieting and taking anti- cholesterol medication.

3 I love dogs but don't own one on the principle that picking up a dog's waste is no fit activity for a human being.

4 I learned to drive in my late forties after my driver resigned.

5 I think life is too short for beige.

6 My favorite city is the one I haven't visited yet.

7 I cannot abide the phrase fine china and crystal.

71/2 I don't like dead bird in any form on a plate.

Seven things I like

1 Pork pies and champagne.

2 Detective fiction - the older the better.

3 Cooking, but not the quotidian variety.

4 The history of interior design and architecture, unless its a text book.

5 Carnations, pinks, in fact all flowers, that have scent.

6 The way my partner dresses.

7 The Holidays in New York.

71/2 Camp.

Seven bloggers I would nominate

A couple of the bloggers I had nominated had no way of being contacted and of the ones I did contact ahead of time, so far one has said he will not take part and a second has said she has been got already by someone else. It is always fun to talk about oneself and its pointless having cold feet after the event but I do wonder if this Kreative Blogger Award is just a chain letter whose chain needs breaking.

Be that as it may, what's done is done and now you know 15 more things than perhaps you wanted to know or even care about.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Now that the sun hath veil'd his light

The home tour is over - what began as a conversation over drinks two years ago has been accomplished and a real sense of anti-climax has set in. I met some very interesting and interested people, including Terry of Architectural Tourist which was a great pleasure if a brief one; saw some beautiful and chic homes and wondered at the amount of talent and culture displayed in these two towers. I'm tired, sleepy and yet remain on the sofa in the library listening to the sounds of sleep from the bedroom and writing this post - as if I'm loath to let the day go. My house is finished, as far as it ever will be and I am proud of what we have achieved, he and I, in our battles, our misgivings and our loving moments - a house I hope is chic, comfortable and welcoming.

To end the day, Purcell's An Evening Hymn

Now, now that the sun hath veil’d his light
And bid the world goodnight;
To the soft bed my body I dispose,
But where shall my soul repose?
Dear, dear God, even in Thy arms,
And can there be any so sweet security!
Then to thy rest, O my soul!
And singing, praise the mercy
That prolongs thy days.


Saturday, October 17, 2009

Come along and listen to ....

.... the celebration of 40 years

Opened in 1969, The Plaza Towers was the first residential high-rise in Atlanta. The architect was Ted Levy and the development was financed by Invesco. The two towers were built simultaneously, with the construction crews in a friendly contest to see which would finish first.

The architectural style, known as Brutalist Modernism, was as striking then as it is now. It makes creative use of concrete, minimal surface decoration, open floor plans and floor-to-ceiling windows. Great attention was also paid to interior details and finishes, such as the ribbed walnut paneling in the double-height lobbies.

The Plaza Towers was built as a condominium, but this approach was ahead of its time for the Atlanta market, so the building was leased as apartments for about 10 years before going condo. Since then, Plaza Towers has been home to hundreds of Atlantans who appreciate its spacious design, excellent amenities and superb location.

One unusual feature of The Plaza Towers when it opened was the restaurant, Tango, which was designed as an integral part of the building. Open 7 days a week from 4:30pm until 11:30pm – and until 2:30am on late nights – Tango was the stylish place to see and be seen in a city which, at that time, had few restaurants of its caliber.

The restaurant closed when the buildings went condo, and its location became the Plaza Room, which is used today for the residents’ Spring Fling and Holiday parties, and by individual residents for their own entertaining.

The two towers are each 250 feet tall and originally contained a total of 176 units. Over the years, several have been combined into larger homes, so today, Plaza Towers has 160 units, along with 11 offices and 3 guest suites (which residents can rent for out-of-town visitors). Three lower decks provide 333 parking spaces.

Other amenities include the Plaza Room (with its catering kitchen), conference room with wireless internet, library, a well-equipped fitness center, men’s and women’s saunas, and an enclosed dog run. Concierges are on duty 24/7 in both towers, and security is provided by keyless access control and closed-circuit TV systems.

Plaza Towers floor plans are an exercise in the maximization of both space and comfort. Each tower is served by three elevators, shared by at most four homes per floor. The towers have a square footprint, and each home occupies a corner of that square – so everyone enjoys views in two directions. On floors 6 and above, all units feature balconies in both directions. They don’t build ’em like this any more!

Half the floors have four 2-bed/2-bath homes. On the alternating floors, a bed/bath from one unit is given to the adjoining unit, creating a 3-bedroom unit and a 1-bedroom unit. Ceilings are 9 foot throughout. Internally, all units have the same, very open plan, with almost no wall that cannot be moved. Over 40 years, this has allowed different homeowners to remodel their units in countless imaginative ways. It is this variety of living spaces that makes Plaza Towers such an interesting place to visit – and to live.

You must remember this

You must remember this
A kiss is just a kiss, a sigh is just a sigh,
The fundamental things apply
As time goes by.

Tango, The Plaza Towers, from the late 1960s to the late 1970s.

Its still the same old story
A fight for love and glory
A case of do or die.
The world will always welcome lovers
As time goes by.

Quotations from As Time Goes By, music and words by Herman Hupfeld. 1931.

Friday, October 16, 2009

In this house by Edwin Lutyens Veere Grenney created this astonishingly beautiful room.

There are some delightful components to this room: lacquered metal armchairs from the 1950s; a sculpture by Donald Judd; a bookcase by Jacques Adnet and side tables by Pierre Chareau; rush matting on the floor, but for me the most beautiful part is the small bowl, possibly by Lucy Rie, sitting on the wooden table by the sofa.

Photos by Christopher Simon Sykes from The World of Interiors, October 2009. Text Annabel Freyberg.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

" .... thy fearsome symmetry."

This week by chance is slanted towards the 1980s. To see what one liked or was impressed by nearly thirty years ago and find that it still speaks is both edifying and slightly terrifying.

The photo above from an article in a 1983 Architectural Digest about a place John Saladino designed - the first time I ever saw his work or saw his name - and I was as impressed as all get out. At the time I was living in the Netherlands, feeling culturally and aesthetically marooned on the edge of the English-speaking world and seeing John Saladino's work triggered, and I remember it well, such an upwelling of home-sickness I was blinded to the value of my new life.

What particularly struck me about Mr Saladino's work was the amalgam of modernism, classicism, history, lighting and, above all, space. I pored over the photos - antithesis to my then situation: living in cramped quarters in a country whose aesthetic seemed so limited, whose language was opaque to me (that all changed eventually, of course) and where the richness of the British and American interior design was unavailable except in sporadically imported magazines.

So, back to the photo above with its wonderful mix of Biedermeier, the ultimate must-have antique furniture of the 1980s, modern upholstery, 20th century lighting, and symmetry. The room could be of today except for the strong lighting effects, the plants and the style of the photography.

A curious thing about 1980s interior design photography is that stylists used plants, often the newly fashionable tropicals, as foreground to the picture - something not seen in today's photography of interiors - occasionally to the point where one wondered what was the subject of the picture was. Also, there was a clear division between which plant was considered suitable for modernism and which for traditional interiors.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009


Its a cold wet day relatively speaking - 63 degrees - and not being at work because of Fall break at the university I am spending time in my library, not the one shown here alas, supposedly working but really just pottering, dipping like some daffy butterfly from book to book. Books are such a wonderful avoidance strategy especially when there's a pile of laundry awaiting, bairns to be washed and meals cooked.

However ... this library was designed by Mark Hampton, perhaps the quintessential 1980's decorator whose mature style was completely traditional, Anglophilic, erudite and immaculate. Described in a caption as having an English spirit, this room was designed as the fad for what was called the English Country House Style got into full swing, and it certainly does contain a number of English items: Regency bulls-eye mirror, William IV chairs, English partner's desk, and an Egyptian Revival clock and garniture on the simple classical mantle, but I doubt if an Englishman would recognize the supposed Englishness of it. Certainly, the room is imbued with a feeling of studious aristocracy, but its very neatness and emphasis on newness and name-dropping antiques places it very firmly where it belonged but no-one admitted it at the time - that completely American style, the Park Avenue Style, yet marketed as English traditional.

That said, this room is spectacularly beautiful. It remains classic after 27 years, even if it is long gone, yet easily gives clues to its time: four-tone painting on the door and door case; distressing of the paint surface elsewhere; picking out of the cornice; beruffled chintz on the sofa, marbleized floor, the bronze dog in the fireplace and the candlestick lamps.

The toffee color, an enveloping, allusive shade is used in a variety of tone and sheen and with this paint Mr Hampton did what the 18th century upholders did when they added gilding to catch the light, reflect it back into the room, and gleam in the shadows - look at the reflection in the lacquered wall around the mantle.

Comfortable, redolent, a place to relax, read and maybe write a cheque or two.

Photos by Peter Vitale from Architectural Digest, June 1982.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

A lovely light

One of the values of having an extensive collection of books and magazines is that on days like yesterday, cold wet and miserable, if I'm not working I can browse.

I had rediscovered this room in Andalusia a couple of weeks ago but today whilst looking for something else I spotted it again and it occurred to me that it was as beautiful to me today as it was twenty-five years ago.

The ingredients of this room are elegantly unpretentious: the client according to the decorator, Jaime Parlade, "had insisted on a predominance of white linen in the drawing-room (I lined the white curtains with pink to give a lovely light). The room began to assume the atmosphere of retour aux colonies, with the ivory table I had found in Jaipur, India, the the delicately-coloured cushions made from antique pieces of carpet."

A lovely light sums it all up, really, and your own eyes can limn this room better than I can.

Photos by James Mortimer and quotation, Jaime Parlade.
From The World of Interiors, January 1984.

Monday, October 12, 2009


Still, six days before the home tour, there are things to be delivered, placed, hung, moved and fixed.

The Turgot map we bought at the Louvre last year and had each plate individually framed. The secret to hanging in a grid as we did is not to use wire and nails but velcro. The map hangs above a Pakistani rug and together they are the sole decoration for the hall.

Grainy iPhone photo alas: professional photographer doing his work after the tour.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Atlanta Week - The Temple

The last post of this Atlanta week is fittingly The Temple, one of Atlanta's most beautiful buildings and one, despite its seat atop a rise located near a difficult intersection on Peachtree Road, easy to miss as one whizzes by.

Designed by Philip Shutze The Temple is not quite what the architect first had in mind - see b/w picture below - full-blown Baroque. The Hebrew Benevolent Congregation found the first design too expensive and perhaps too Catholic. What was built is modest in comparison and, I think because of its situation on an elevation, certainly seems modest in scale. Yet when one goes inside there is the delicious and moving surprise of the interior - one of Shutze's and Atlanta's glories. I remember the first time I entered I found it breathtakingly beautiful. I sat and just looked with wonder at the quietly rich imagery, historic references, such as symbols of the Tribes of Israel, couched in classical detailing, the great windows of red, white and blue, the fall of the light on the white walls, the gilded gleam of the Holy Ark, the Eternal Light ... as one of my students said when she entered "wow." A glorious interior with a sense of peace that is palpable.

Peace in that interior has not always been the case for The Temple was bombed in the early hours of October 12th, 1958 with about fifty sticks of dynamite. No-one died or was injured in the bombing.

From Wikipedia:

"Those who heard the blast reported a "loud explosion" to police and newspapers. A United Press International (UPI) staff member had received a call earlier that night warning that a bombing would occur, but did not take the call seriously. At 3:45 am, shortly after the bombing, UPI staff received a call from "General Gordon of the Confederate Underground" who said We bombed a temple in Atlanta. This is the last empty building in Atlanta we will bomb. All nightclubs refusing to fire their Negro employees will also be blown up. We are going to blow up all Communist organizations. Negroes and Jews are hereby declared aliens.

Rabbi Jacob Rothchild, The Temple's rabbi, was an outspoken advocate of civil rights and integration, and a friend of Martin Luther King Jr."

Not only is The Temple one of Atlanta's most beautiful buildings designed by a superb classicist who made his home in the city, it is an important landmark on the continuing march to civil rights,

Sources: American Classicist: The Architecture of Philip Trammell Shutze, E. M. Dowling, Rizzoli, 1989. Wikipedia. Photos: Timothy Hursley.