Posted by on January 28, 2018 in Architecture - No comments

Corrado Parducci: 300 Commissions

[Above: Detail of New York Times Printing Plant, Brooklyn. Corrado Parducci, sculptor]

___________________________________

Text by Dale Carlson with Einar Kvaran

Research by Einar Kvaran and Dale Carlson

Photography by Dale Carlson with Michael G. Smith

___________________________________

{January 28, 2018}

“I think most of my skill became from starting very young. When you’re very young, you’re like a blotter; you absorb things. And when I was still in my early twenties, instead of being a student, I was a dean in my profession…. Due to the fact that I started as a child….” ~Corrado Parducci

I♥DM triumphantly declares 2018 the year of Corrado Giuseppe ‘Joe’ Parducci. Today we begin to unleash upon the public the results of over two year’s worth of exhaustive and painstaking research into the life and work of Detroit’s preeminent architectural sculptor; a sublimely engrossing endeavor that grew into an obsession, and took us as far east as Brooklyn, as far west as Dallas, as far north as Duluth, as far south as New Orleans, and so many unexpected places in between. Our local and cross-country investigations bore beautiful fruit in the form of over 300 unique commission sites visited in fourteen states and over 70 municipalities. Our examinations of individual sculptural works by Parducci ran quite easily into the 1000s, all photographed and archived for the sake of both posterity and preservation, but more importantly, for the sake of just plain knowing all we can know today, here, right now, about this mammoth presence within Detroit’s lavish cultural legacy.

We set out to create the most expansive, all-inclusive, beyond thorough compendium of Parducci’s lifetime output possible. We believe we can now confidently assert our success, and brazenly claim that nowhere else on Earth, online or off, will you find such a detailed enumeration of Parducci’s life-long creative efforts. But the story won’t end here. Not by a long shot. We promise you there are most definitely more undiscovered Parduccis waiting to be brought to light by other capable researchers, to whom we will offer full and complete access to our research archive once we have reached the conclusion of our online revelations in December of this year. Over the next 330 days or so, we intend to unveil weekly, here in the pages of ilovedetroitmichigan.com, photographs, and in some cases brief written analyses, of approximately one to ten of the 300+ Parducci commissions we have examined personally since 2014. We intend to reveal each commission in a loosely chronological order, starting with our earliest speculative choices, culled from his apprenticeship years and early days working in other artist’s studios, to our very last confirmed Parducci commission, located in the Empire State, which we anticipate unveiling right around Christmas Day 2018. Hell, some of ya might even be hip to it. To all the others: we love to keep ya guessin’. Please join us throughout the year as we share with the world what was for us truly an intoxicating odyssey of art and art history discovery…..

___________________________________

[On right: A photocopy of Parducci’s birth certificate, issued by the municipality of Buti, Italy]

Parducci’s story begins in the small mountain town of Buti, Italy, in the province of Tuscany, approximately 10 miles to the east of Pisa. Here he was born on the 18th of March, in the year 1900, to parents Giulio and Zelinda. At the very young age of four, Parducci made the trans-Atlantic voyage with father Giulio to New York City where the family settled in the Lower Manhattan neighborhood of Greenwich Village, on Minetta Lane, just a few blocks away from MacDougal Alley, which, at the time, was a mecca, if not the very center, of the United States’ sculpture community. The importance of this remarkable stroke of historical circumstance cannot be overstated. Though far too young to grasp the distinctions of his neighborhood and its residents, Parducci observes, in a 1975 interview with Smithsonian historian Dennis Barrie: “….that was my playground, that and Washington Square, and also MacDougal Alley, where all the sculptors and all the great, you know, [Augustus] Saint-Gaudens and [Daniel Chester] French, you know, that generation are all in that area.” Impressions made at a local elementary school resulted in none other than Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney (Mrs. Harry Payne Whitney), an accomplished sculptor in her own right, personally approaching the parents of young Parducci to request permission for him to attend sculpture classes at the nearby Richmond Settlement House. One of Parducci’s primary instructors during these most impressionable early years, Albín Polášek, would go on to attain lasting fame as the head of the sculpture department at the Art Institute of Chicago. In Parducci’s words: “Well, at the time, of course, I didn’t recognize their stature; you know, I was a child. But there was a Mrs. Harry Payne Whitney at that time that was very much interested in the slum children, and she inquired at the school and got the names of a dozen or so boys that had showed aptitude in the arts. And she came over to the house and asked my parents if they would not permit me to attend a class at the settlement house on MacDougal Street. A class was formed and there was a sculptor, very able sculptor, by the name of Albín Polášek…. He had just come back from the Academy in Rome, and he took charge of the class there…. I must have been about eight or nine.”

___________________________________

[Below: A photocopy of a page from 1920 United States Census records. Parducci’s family is listed on lines 65 through 73]

___________________________________

Parducci continued sculptural studies at the Richmond Settlement House and other neighborhood locales throughout a large portion of his adolescence and graduated from New York City’s Public School 95 at the age of 15. Shortly thereafter, while employed as a modeler at an artificial flower factory, he turned down unattractive apprenticeship offers from famed sculptors Karl Bitter and Adolph Weinman. He instead attended classes at the Beaux-Arts Institute of Design in Manhattan, while awaiting an apprenticeship offer he viewed more favorably. Additionally, Parducci studied at the Art Students League, also in Manhattan, from 1922 to 1923 or ’24. At both schools Parducci enjoyed the mentoring of legendary figures within New York’s rich art education culture of the day. He took drawing classes led by George Bridgman at the Art Students League, and studied plant anatomy under Frank Tolles Chamberlin at Beaux-Arts. The Beaux-Arts Institute was founded by a group of American architects who had attended the Ecolé des Beaux-Arts in France and its focus, sculpturally speaking, was on applied and decorative architectural arts, as opposed to pure fine art. It was run by another respected educator, Lloyd Warren, an architect himself, who was also the brother of the Warren & Wetmore architectural firm’s namesake, Whitney Warren. Given the school’s founding year of 1916, it is likely that Parducci was counted among its very first class. Regarding his years at these schools, Parducci states in the Smithsonian interview: “I started to go to Beaux-Arts in about 1916, and I continued there until I came here [Detroit]. I was there about seven years. But during that time, I divided my courses with the Art Students League. There was George Bridgman there. I was in his class for three semesters, you know, drawing. I thought at the time that drawing was very important, and you didn’t get that at the Beaux-Arts. They had sketch classes, but they didn’t have any anatomist teaching, anatomy, you know, like George Bridgman. So I divided, I attended both places, see. I went a couple of times a week at the Art Students League and the rest of the time at the Beaux-Arts. At the Beaux-Arts, they had classes both in sculpture and in ornament…. Beaux-Arts was entirely free of any academic instruction, and there wasn’t any fee to it. Lloyd Warren was the benefactor of the school. You know, he created the school, and he was there almost every evening, giving advice to students. I had a lot of conferences with him. And he’d have a…. for instance, on Mondays he’d bring some flowers–roses or fresh flowers–and he had an artist by the name of Chamberlin, Tolles Chamberlin, and a very fine artist, and he instructed us on the anatomy of a flower….”

[On right: A photocopy of the notarized apprenticeship agreement signed by Parducci, his father and Ulysses Ricci on March 9th, 1917]

Lengthy interviews with Parducci, conducted by Dennis Barrie and Fay Hendry in 1975 and 1979 respectively, help us establish a solid timeline of Parducci’s engagements in apprenticeship and employment immediately preceding the 1925 establishment of his own studio in Detroit. As much as his impressive post-secondary education, numerous non-academic influences color these crucial but somewhat shadowy developmental years. On March 9th, 1917 Parducci, his father, and architectural sculptor Ulysses Ricci signed a notarized apprenticeship agreement. This apprenticeship lasts a full four years and is immediately followed by a indeterminable length of employment in Ricci’s studios. Over this half decade or so, in addition to the guidance of Ricci, Parducci would enjoy mentorship provided by a revolving door of firm partners that included John Donnelly, Ricci’s uncle, Elisio, Edward Ardolino, Angelo Zari, and culminated with the addition of Anthony DiLorenzo, the catalyst for Parducci’s eventual permanent relocation to the great city of Detroit.

Around 1918 or ’19 Ricci was commissioned to design architectural sculpture for several important structures in Michigan, particularly at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. There Ricci produced works for York and Sawyer’s Law Quadrangle (1923-1933) as well as Albert Kahn’s Harlan Hatcher Graduate Library (1920), Angell Hall (1924) and the East Medical Building also known as the C.C. Little Science Building (1925). It is likely that at this time Parducci came to the attention of Kahn, and perhaps also to Wirt Rowland. Rowland was, for the time being, engaged as a designer at Kahn’s firm. Rowland would later enlist Parducci’s touch for several buildings while employed by Smith, Hinchman & Grylls from 1922 to 1930 as their ‘Head of Modern Design’. Sometime around 1922 or 1923 DiLorenzo and Ricci split. Parducci chose to throw in his lot with DiLorenzo. Regarding these years of his sculpture career’s genesis, Parducci states in the Smithsonian interview: “Ulysses Ricci opened up a separate studio. I didn’t go with him. I remained with DiLorenzo because DiLorenzo was an ornamentalist and I was more interested in the sculpture. So I had the opportunity of doing all the figure work in DiLorenzo’s contract…. I got to know Kahn…. You know, Kahn used to come at least once a month to New York…. And he got interested in me and he started to give DiLorenzo contracts providing that I should do it. So work that was indirectly for Albert Kahn through DiLorenzo…. DiLorenzo paid me a flat salary a week and I did work on contract…. at the end of the year, I had a surplus coming to me, because the contracts were over and above my weekly wage. So even as a youngster, I was the most highly paid sculptor in New York City.”

In October of 1924 DiLorenzo sent Parducci to Detroit to complete a commission for which the architects insisted he be present, and likely, to also put in some time on George D. Mason’s elaborately embellished Masonic Temple, constructed in the years 1920 to 1926. This set into motion the chain of events that would land Parducci in Detroit permanently, for as the calendar turned to August of 1925, and Parducci found himself inundated with endless local work, he made an agreement to buy out DiLorenzo’s remaining Detroit interests and opened his own studio here in the young, booming Motor City.

Parducci remarks upon this transition to Detroit in the 1975 Smithsonian interview: “….And while I was here, George D. Mason and Donaldson and Meier and Smith, Hinchman & Grylls and Albert Kahn just showered me with work and I couldn’t get away. I couldn’t get away, and it kept up and kept up and I finally called my wife. I said, ‘You’ll have to come here; I haven’t even got time to come to pick you up.’ And I stayed here. I had a studio on Congress Street, not too far away from the Marquette Building…. And I used to have Albert Kahn visit me once or twice a week.” Parducci further states in the interview that he spent his first eight months in Detroit as an employee of DiLorenzo, and then goes on to say: “So my file here shows the work I did under his name, and that was 1924. And in the middle of 1925, I was on my own. I gave him $5,000 for anything, for any interest he might have had in the work I was doing, and we called it quits.” Thus began Parducci’s permanent residency in the Paris of the Midwest and an epic career that would span over five decades, his last known commission completed in 1978.

___________________________________

A modicum of analysis befits Parducci’s artistic process, as well, before one goes diving into the ocean that is his career-long output. Perhaps the most important detail of Parducci’s day-to-day, so easily mis-envisioned by those who take a casual interest in him, is that he rarely worked on site. Parducci was primarily a clay modeler who would spend his long work days in the studio creating original pieces out of a combination of the creative loam of his mind, the established symbolisms and expressed desires of the interests for whom he created, and the historical precedents of so many architectural sculptors that preceded him. When completed, studio assistants packed and shipped models to clients, usually construction companies closely associated with the commissioning architectural firms, who would then have Parducci’s models rendered on site by other skilled artisans, usually employees or sub-contractors, often using a variety of tools specific to the task of precise reproduction. Materials in which Parducci models have been rendered include concrete, stone, marble, terra cotta, brass, iron, bronze, wood, plaster and a handful of oddities including fiberglass. Many degrees of relief are expressed, from the shallowest to three-quarter figures, and rarely, fully disengaged elements, as seen in his ‘Stations of the Cross’ at Royal Oak’s Shrine of the Little Flower. Free-standing statues make up a small percentage of his repertoire, while pure applied ornamentation is replete. Highly ornate plasterworks present an intriguing occasional exception to the general rule of Parducci works being rendered by others, the Christopher Wren ceiling at Meadow Brook Hall and the relocated Midland Theatre History Mural being the most notable.

Also worth considering here is Parducci’s specialization in the applied art of structures, a discipline fraught with nuance all but lost upon fine art sculptors creating primarily for gallery and museum display. Parducci expounds briefly regarding these distinctions in the 1975 Smithsonian interview: “”….architectural work is so different from easel work, or the work that was done in MacDougal Alley–they were all statues for public squares…. it’s applied work. You have to have an understanding of scale, and you have to have understanding of the style, and of the period…. You can’t make a Greek figure on a Gothic building, or vice versa…. And it’s a specialized sort of work. The average sculptor that tried–even Daniel Chester French. I got in my scrapbook somewhere something that Daniel Chester French had to do on an architectural building. It was simply amateurish. But when he made a complete piece of sculpture in the soap without application that was his field.” Yet, Parducci himself possessed hardly the most refined skill of his peers, often engaging in rush jobs to accommodate the break-neck pace of the rapidly growing industrial powerhouse that was Detroit in the 1920s (perhaps Parducci’s most prolific decade, despite operating his own studio for just over half of it). Anatomical imperfections within his work abound; but what he sometimes lacked in technique, he made up for with quantity. A total of over 600 commissions fill the original ledgers of his Detroit studios, ledgers from which we harvested quite easily the most valuable information utilized throughout our entire project. We dare say that not a single one of his contemporaries can boast of such a voluminous and geographically far-reaching portfolio of extant works.

___________________________________

Parducci’s career, sadly, represents the very end of the line of a patrimonial tradition of architectural sculptural arts that began centuries earlier in the Old World, its zenith most aptly exemplified by stonemasonry guilds of the Middle Ages. The very need for architectural sculpture was, in fact, a primarily European precedent brought to the United States by many of the very same European-educated academics that formed the core of New York City’s early 20th-century arts education community in which Parducci participated. Certainly Parducci’s loose association with Art Deco trends of his day exhibit an element of his style more contemporary than classic, but it is the architectural aspect of his craft, in our opinion, that places his career more firmly within the line of a tradition that precedes Deco by, arguably, millennia. With the advent of architectural modernism, and sculptural embellishment having fallen out of style, the fine art sculptor is that which remains of the sculptural world, and Parducci himself would tell you that the culture of modern fine art sculpture is only slightly invested in the traditions of past masters, and looks more favorably upon that which is without precedent. Parducci expresses these points best, but hardly succinctly, when asked to speak upon his generation’s style in the 1975 Smithsonian interview: “….there was actually no style. It was a revival or resurrection of a number of styles. We worked in the Greek, in the Roman, in the Romanesque, in the early Renaissance, late Renaissance…. in the English Revival of the seventeenth century, and also in the Adams, the later Georgian. And all these styles were at our fingertips, which is very unique. I mean, it was a unique experience…. That revival, that resurrection, occurred near the turn of the century, several generations before I came along, and it took continuous development. The people I was working for were the pupils of the previous generation…. it progressed from that, and it took several generations. Now, I happened to be the last of that group, because I was about ten years younger than my peers–that’s in the early twenties. There weren’t any apprentices any longer…. I actually was the last one, and after myself, there wasn’t very much. There was, you know, in 1929, there was a depression, and then there was very little built…. some of the old designers were still alive, were still doing some work, but it was always diminishing. And then the war came along, when there was absolutely nothing. And, you know, when twenty or thirty years go by without any apprenticeships, it becomes a lost art…. I can’t imagine anybody today being as vitally interested as we were at that time…. there was a criteria then which isn’t in existence today. Today, everyone wants to create something new. So, at that time we had something. There was something that already had been developed. We were just carrying on…. We had a base. I don’t see any base today…. there isn’t a base. And I believe each generation tries to account for itself by refuting its elders. That’s what causes the cycle really. The present generation is on its own; it has nothing to do with the past. And the next generation will want that prerogative.” On a less pessimistic note, an unknown author at Smith, Hinchman & Grylls, in a very short Parducci bio from 1980, observes, “[Parducci] is not embittered by the trend away from architectural ornament, but is confident that the design pendulum will one day swing back, propelled by man’s need for beauty in his environment.” Though isolated pockets of activity do exist in the miniscule present-day world of architectural sculpture, for the time being Parducci’s 1975 statements on the matter impart more truth, however distressing; architectural sculpture is, for the most part, a lost and dead art, Parducci most definitely being one of the very last practitioners to make an entire career of it. Furthermore, the very limited architectural sculpture that is produced in the present day is far less likely to draw upon, and therefore preserve, the same age-old historical precedents that informed Parducci and his peers.

___________________________________

[Below: A sample page from Parducci’s ledger, 1960]

___________________________________

[On right: A sampling of images from Parducci’s scrapbooks featuring works that we have yet to locate]

The primary sources that have facilitated our journey of Parducci discovery are varied. First, and most important, there is Parducci’s personal ledger, enumerating over 600 commissions from the year 1924 to 1967, with just a handful of gaps, 1932 to 1935 being the most confounding. Endless hours of protracted examination convince us the information contained therein, while absolutely priceless, is also replete with errors, inconsistencies, discrepancies and downright inaccuracies. We theorize, in fact, that Parducci didn’t actually keep accurate ledgers from year to year, but instead put together this lengthy registry of his career output from memory and incomplete records sometime over the course of a couple weeks or months in the early 1970s. Still, they remain the most valuable element in our palette of Parducci research tools. Photocopies of these ledgers were acquired by the co-author of this post, Mr. Einar Kvaran of Sun City, Arizona, when, around 1998, he made a trek to Southern California to meet Parducci’s son, Allen, who at the time was living in a Los Angeles suburb, retired from a professorship at UCLA. Along with his father’s ledgers, Allen was also happy to share and allow Einar to reproduce over 700 images of works photographed in Parducci’s studios that he had compiled in a personal scrapbook spanning nearly the same dates as his ledgers (though the later era of his career, 1948 and beyond, is much more thoroughly archived therein). Our thanks go out to Allen for his invaluable contributions to our understanding of his father’s life and work. Kvaran also invested untold months and miles, between the years of 1984 and 2006, hunting down and personally photographing 100s of Parducci commissions, during the very unforgiving era of film photography no less, thereby developing his own unequaled grasp of Parducci’s stylistic tendencies. He also sought out and interviewed numerous individuals with whom Parducci had personal contact over the course of his career, most notably architect Harold H. Fisher, in his 90s and, remarkably, still working. Additionally, Kvaran was the half of our research duo that did, by far, the most work in compiling the exhaustive bibliography found at the very end of this post. Included in this bibliography are two in-depth interviews with Parducci, one conducted by Dennis Barrie of the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C., as previously noted, and one conducted by Fay Hendry, an independent researcher who in 1980 published three excellent volumes focused on outdoor sculpture found in the cities of Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo and Lansing. Both interviews took place late in Parducci’s life, 1975 and 1979 respectively. Barrie’s was taped, is fully transcribed, and readily available to all online. Hendry’s is preserved only through her handwritten notes, and is found among her archives held at Conrad Hall on the campus of MSU. We consider the information contained in both to be absolutely indispensable to our understanding of Parducci’s career in its entirety, but most specifically to the timeline of Parducci’s activities spanning the years of 1917 to 1924. A tedious list of useful but less essential Parducci-related books, pamphlets, news clippings and online web posts fills out our bibliography, should any of y’all care to delve into the murkiest depths of our research. And finally, when it comes to filling in the many blanks presented when studying a far less than flawlessly documented artist of the past, it is our own very highly trained eyes, developed over countless hours of poring over endless Parducci creations, in person and in photocopies, that most thoroughly inform our many theorizings regarding Corrado “The Dooch” Parducci. The time invested lent us a deserved liberty, in our opinion, to engage in deductive and inductive reasoning, as well as highly educated speculation, where we felt necessary.

So we ask you, dear readers, is it morally defensible, referring to an old master in this seemingly cavalier manner? “The Dooch”? Well, it is now. We’ve earned the right. Earn yours too, by following us here on the weekly, throughout 2018, the year we triumphantly proclaim to be “The Year of Corrado Giuseppe ‘Joe’ Parducci”….

___________________________________

We now open the presentation of Parducci commissions and our accompanying photo archive with 20 speculative entries, taken from the years immediately preceding the 1925 incorporation of Parducci Studios in Detroit. They are culled primarily from Ricci and DiLorenzo’s rosters of known commissions, but in some cases are assumed to be either Ricci or DiLorenzo commissions based on stylistic similarities to their other works, and the high frequency of their engagements with architects of Detroit origin during these years (1917-1924). Each of these speculative commissions were created during the time in which Parducci was very likely one of their go-to assistants, if not thee go-to assistant, either in the capacity of apprentice or employee. Apply just a pinch of inductive reasoning to statements made in the 1975 Smithsonian interview, and we believe you will agree that our speculative choices align nicely with Parducci’s recollections of his earliest dealings with Detroit’s architectural community of the 1920s. With the sole exception of the First National Bank Building in Davenport, Iowa, we make no guarantees regarding Parducci’s involvement where these works are concerned, and merely state that these entries all share three commonalities: one, they were produced at nearly the exact same time Parducci was engaged in some way with Ricci or DiLorenzo, two, they are located primarily in and around Metropolitan Detroit, and three, that Parducci’s mentors regularly assigned him to execute commissions of Detroit origin in their stead. While our choices most definitely exhibit many signature elements of Parducci’s varying styles, in our opinion they serve primarily to elucidate the depth of Ricci and DiLorenzo’s influence upon Parducci, and how, by virtue of the mentor-protegé relationship, their works from the 1920s are often nearly indistinguishable. Mindful of that point, we have made efforts to include works which exhibit the highest degree of similarity to those of Parducci’s solo career and exclude those that we believe Parducci was likely to have little involvement in creating. Also where we felt necessary, we have included pertinent commentary, italicized and parenthesized for your reading ease….

___________________________________

1. Harlan Hatcher Graduate Library (1920) @ the University of Michigan, 913 S University Ave, Ann Arbor. Architect: Albert Kahn…. (Sad to say, the very first entry on our list of 300 features a structure with a gloomy and sunless, very difficult to photograph north-facing facade. We did the best we could. Our apologies. Look for this batch to be replaced with higher quality shots later this year.)

 

___________________________________

2. Detroit Public Library Main Branch (1921), 5201 Woodward Ave, Detroit. Architect: Cass Gilbert…. (Parducci specifically states, in a 1973 interview with the Detroit Free Press, that he worked on the Detroit Public Library’s main branch as an apprentice, but fails to note any specific pieces of his thereupon. A wealth of embellishments is therefore open to speculation, but we can assure you that the zodiacs along the roofline on the main facade are not the culprits. Parducci names the artist who created them in the 1975 Smithsonian interview and it is not his self.)

___________________________________

3. John Mendelson Mausoleum (1921) @ Mt. Olivet Cemetery, Section 39, 17100 Van Dyke Ave, Detroit. Architect: Albert Kahn….

___________________________________

4. Cadillac Place aka General Motors Building (1922), 3044 W Grand Blvd, Detroit. Architect: Albert Kahn….

___________________________________

5. First National Bank Building (1922) Exteriors, 660 Woodward Ave, Detroit. Architect: Albert Kahn…. (The sculptural works shown in our photos were, sadly, removed years ago. Our thanks to Michael G. Smith for rendering these historical shots presentable for publication.)

___________________________________

6. Park Avenue Building (1922), 2001 Park Ave, Detroit. Architect: Albert Kahn….

___________________________________

7. Flint Central High School (1922), Crapo & E 2nd St, Flint. Architects: Malcomson, Higginbotham & Palmer….

___________________________________

8. University of Michigan Law Quad ~ Lawyers Club Dining Hall, Lounge & John P. Cook Dormitory (1923-1924), State & S University, Ann Arbor. Architects: York & Sawyer….

___________________________________

9. Detroit Free Press Building (1923), Lafayette & Washington, Detroit. Architect: Albert Kahn…. (Despite being a commonly known Ricci commission, a caption in a 1953 issue of the Detroit Free Press specifically attributes this structure’s arched, rosette medallion embellished entrance loggia ceiling to Parducci. We can only assume this attribution was given based on statements made to the writer by Parducci himself.)

___________________________________

10. Old Detroit Police Headquarters (1923), Beaubien & Macomb, Detroit. Architect: Albert Kahn….

___________________________________

11. Flint Journal Building (c.1923), 1st & Harrison, Flint. Architect: Albert Kahn….

___________________________________

12. William L. Clements Library (1923) @ the University of Michigan, 909 S University Ave, Ann Arbor. Architect: Albert Kahn….

___________________________________

13. Michigan Hospital for Crippled Children now known as Botsford Senior Living Center ~ Building One (1923), 21450 Archwood Circle, Farmington Hills. Architect: Albert Kahn….

___________________________________

14. Detroit Public Lighting Commission Palmer Park Substation (1923), 17551 Woodward Ave, Detroit. Architect: Wirt Rowland of Smith, Hinchman & Grylls….

___________________________________

15. David Brown Mausoleum (c.1924) @ Woodmere Cemetery, Bethel Section, 9400 W Fort St, Detroit. Architect: Albert Kahn….

___________________________________

16. Michigan Bell Building (c.1924), 11640 Kercheval St, Detroit. Architect: Wirt Rowland of Smith, Hinchman & Grylls….

___________________________________

17. Michigan Bell Building (c.1924), 114 Division Ave N, Grand Rapids. Architect: Wirt Rowland of Smith, Hinchman & Grylls….

___________________________________

18. First National Bank (1924) Exteriors, 201 W 2nd St, Davenport, Iowa. Architects: Childs & Smith…. (Parducci’s personal scrapbook notes his specific contributions to this building’s ornate exterior: the “History of Money” in bronze and the carved stone reveals directly to the left and right of the front door. Among the finest work of Parducci’s pre-Detroit years, if not his entire career. Multiple works by Adolph Weinman also grace this structure’s facade.)

 

___________________________________

19. Chancery Building (1924), 1234 Washington Blvd, Detroit. Architects: Donaldson & Meier….

___________________________________

20. Detroit Masonic Temple (1920-1926) Exteriors, 500 Temple St, Detroit. Architect: George D. Mason…. (Parducci’s myriad interior plaster works at Detroit’s Masonic Temple are widely celebrated and well known to locals. Our research tells us the majority of the Temple’s exterior embellishments were created by William Gurche, Leo Friedlander, and Henry Steinman, though Parducci states in the Smithsonian interview that Gurche delegated his portion of the work to an employee, most likely meaning Steinman. In our opinion, Parducci’s work here is so ubiquitous that it is likely he also executed at least one or two exterior pieces, either as an independent contractor or as an employee of DiLorenzo, one of the other architectural sculptors of record.)

___________________________________

Thus concludes our offering of speculative works created during Parducci’s pre-Detroit years. Please join us again around this same time next week for the reveal of our first seven commissions enumerated on Parducci’s very first ledger page, “1924-1925″…. ~I♥DM

___________________________________

{February 7, 2018}

Parducci’s first ledger page, dated 1924-1925, records around 40 commissions secured during the time in which he worked as Anthony DiLorenzo’s Detroit-based employee, October 1924 to August 1925, to be precise. At this point in history DiLorenzo was most likely engaged with his own roster of jobs back in New York City and other Eastern locales, making the probability these works were created solely by Parducci very high. We concede the possibility, however unlikely, that DiLorenzo may have contributed. Seven jobs listed on both Parducci’s 1924-1925 and 1925 ledger pages are excluded from these selections. Their inclusion in the 1925 ledger page, in our opinion, suggests an even greater likelihood that they were created solely by Parducci, as 1925 was the first year in which he owned and operated his own studio in Detroit, completely independent of DiLorenzo. Of those remaining on the 1924-1925 page, we have managed to hunt down seven. Others are likely extant. We hope for their eventual re-discovery.

___________________________________

21. Church of the Nativity of Our Lord (1924-1925), 5900 McClellan Ave, Detroit. Architects: Van Leyen, Schilling & Keough….

___________________________________

22. Psi Upsilon Fraternity House (1924-1925), 1000 Hill St, Ann Arbor. Architect: Albert Kahn…. (Featuring the earliest extant plaster works of Parducci’s career, as far as we know.)

___________________________________

23. Citizens Title & Trust Building (c.1923), 2 W Main St, Uniontown, Pennsylvania. Architect: Albert Kahn…. (We suspect that more of Parducci’s touch was at one time on display here, perhaps in the form of interior plaster works or possibly an ornate bronze or brass entryway. As it currently stands, these column capitals appear to our eyes the last vestige of any works created for this structure by Parducci or DiLorenzo.)

___________________________________

24. Paige-Detroit Motor Company Offices (1925), 8505 W Warren Ave, Dearborn. Architect: Albert Kahn…. (What object this sculpted lady held in hand at one time is open to speculation. We’re guessing a Paige-Detroit brand automobile.) 

___________________________________

25. Security Trust Company Building (1925), 735 Griswold St, Detroit. Architect: Albert Kahn…. [On left in photo below] (Some have speculated that the front door reveal sculptures found here were created by Ulysses Ricci. We’re not sure why. If they’re not by Parducci, DiLorenzo seems a far more likely possibility, in our opinion. Parducci specifically states in the Smithsonian interview that the Security Trust Company and First State Bank Buildings on Griswold are the very last structures for which he created works on behalf of DiLorenzo’s firm while he was still working in New York, solidly establishing DiLorenzo’s firm as the architectural sculptors, if Parducci’s ledgers aren’t proof enough. But then again, Hendry’s interview notes clearly establish the fact that throughout the early to mid-1920s it was very common for Albert Kahn to contract all three for a single building and split the sculpture and plaster work evenly among them. Also, the door surround at issue bears an uncanny similarity to that found upon the City National Bank Building in Lansing, a known Ricci commission. So, who knows? Y’know?)

___________________________________

26. Metropolitan Building (1925), 33 John R St, Detroit. Architects: Weston & Ellington….

___________________________________

27. First State Bank aka “Olde” Building (1925), 751 Griswold St, Detroit. Architect: Albert Kahn…. [On right in photo below]

 

 

___________________________________

Parducci speaks briefly of entries #21, #25 and #27 in the 1975 Smithsonian interview should any of y’all care to peruse his take on ’em. Join us here again this coming Sunday night for our epic reveal of one of the largest commissions of Parducci’s career: Detroit’s Masonic Temple. ~I♥DM

___________________________________

{February 11, 2018}

In 1925 Parducci bought out all of DiLorenzo’s Detroit interests and opened his own studio, located on Congress Street, a short distance from the Marquette Building. As we turn the page from 1924-1925 to 1925 in Parducci’s ledgers, we will now begin to include job numbers for nearly every entry included herein. There are job numbers on the 1924-1925 ledger page, but Parducci restarted at job #1 when his independent studio commenced operations, and we envision confusion to be the most likely result of publishing them, if not the only. Our first entry from the 1925 ledger page happens to be one of the most grandiose commissions of Parducci’s career….

___________________________________

28. [Job #2] Detroit Masonic Temple (1920-1926) Interiors, 500 Temple St, Detroit. Architect: George D. Mason…. (Parducci works at Detroit’s Masonic Temple were rendered in wood, metal, stone and terra cotta, but most importantly, plaster. Our extensive investigations into Parducci’s creative processes lead us to believe that in the majority of cases, where the creation of his plaster works are concerned, at the Masonic Temple and elsewhere, a pattern was first created by Parducci, in person and on-site, and then duplicated to completion by other skilled artisans employed or sub-contracted by the construction company. Well documented exceptions exist, generally his most elaborate plasters, which were created in full solely by his hand, and we would suspect that tendency to have been no different here at the Masonic Temple. Can’t say with any certainty, though, exactly which of these many ornate works possess that distinction, as nearly all of them qualify as potential candidates. Regarding his work at the Masonic Temple, Parducci states in the 1975 interview with Smithsonian historian Dennis Barrie: “Now all the interior of the Masonic Temple…. I better talk about that to you because that’s kind of interesting. There are about a dozen large rooms, very large, you know, lodges, and every one is a different style. There’s a Greek and there’s a…. The ballroom is Renaissance, and there’s a cathedral in there which is Gothic, and then there’s some Tudor rooms, there’s an Egyptian room, and there’s the Doric room…. Now all these rooms are in the character and style of a particular period! And I had them all on my fingertips.”)

___________________________________

Space precludes us from posting an album that does full justice to Parducci’s work at the Detroit Masonic Temple. Click here to see our expanded album, featuring 33 shots of its opulent interior. We encourage our readers to keep in mind, as they peruse our album, the impressive breadth of craftsmen who contributed to Detroit’s Masonic Temple, both inside and out, and to be aware, that no matter how well documented Parducci’s work here may be, and no matter how strong the resemblance to other works of his, the possibility always exists, with nearly every piece, that it might’ve been created (or even co-created) by one of his many peers who’s works also adorn this megalithic icon of Detroit architecture.

Join us again next week, same time, same place, for our reveal of six more commissions taken from Parducci’s 1925 ledger page, five of which were first recorded on the 1924-1925 page. ~I♥DM

___________________________________

{February 20, 2018}

With the exception of the Albert Khan Residence, all of this week’s additions to our list of Parducci commissions first appeared in the 1924-1925 page of his ledger. In our opinion, this fact adds some weight to the slim possibility that DiLorenzo might have contributed to their execution. Conversely, their continued inclusion in the 1925 ledger page suggests the very opposite, that they were executed in their entirety by Parducci only. We tend towards believing the latter, but who’s to say for sure?

___________________________________

28. [Jobs #3 & #84] Albert Kahn Residence Gallery Addition (1928), 208 Mack Ave, Detroit. Architect: Albert Kahn…. (The consensus among local historians says that Kahn’s gallery addition was constructed in 1928. Can’t say with any certainty why this commission first appears in Parducci’s ledgers in 1925, but there it is.)

___________________________________

29. [Jobs #5 & #54] Standard Club (1926), 320 S Plymouth Ct, Chicago, Illinois. Architect: Albert Kahn…. (Regarding this commission, Parducci states in the 1975 Smithsonian interview: “….there was a Standard Club of Chicago. That was Albert Kahn. You remember the case of Leopold and Loeb?…. They were the organizers of that Standard Club…. And when the work was in progress, they got involved in that murder. So the work was stopped for a number of months, until finally someone else took it over…. if these buildings would talk, there’s an awful lot there.” Which pieces at this location are by Parducci? And which are not? Or is Parducci merely referring to the building’s construction and not necessarily the rendering of its sculptural embellishments? It’s wide open to speculation. In our opinion, the majority of the sculpture hereupon bears a great similarity to other Parducci works of the period.)

___________________________________

30. [Job #6] Detroit Public Library ~ John Monteith Branch (1926), 14100 Kercheval Ave, Detroit. Architects: Smith, Hinchman & Grylls…. (Parducci’s ledgers report Job #6 as merely a “Regional Branch Library”, with the architects Smith, Hinchman & Grylls noted in the margins. If this ain’t it we’re Heckle & Jeckle.)

___________________________________

31. [Job #12] Acacia Park Cemetery (c.1926?), 31300 Southfield Rd, Beverly Hills, Michigan. Architect: George D. Mason….

___________________________________

32. [Jobs #15 & #51] Book Tower (1926), 1265 Washington Blvd, Detroit. Architect: Louis Kamper…. (Difficult to say with certainly which of the many sculptural embellishments at this locale were created by Parducci’s hand. In our opinion, the main Grand River Avenue entrance surrounds and the fourth floor cartouches are the most likely candidates. We could be wrong. Margin notations lead us to believe Parducci also created interior plasters at this site. Sure would be sweet if they survive the multi-million dollar renovation this structure is currently undergoing.)

___________________________________

33. [Jobs #16, #46 & #48] Alfred Fisher Residence (1926), 1771 Balmoral Dr, Detroit. Architect: Richard Marr…. (Look for us to add a better shot of this home’s facade in the coming months.)

___________________________________

About the author

archiveAuthor Archive



Dale Carlson grew up along the northeastern shores of Lake Michigan, where at a young age Detroit called out to him in his dreams. In 2008, after extended stays in ten different Michigan cities, the author settled permanently in southeast Oakland County where he currently lives and works in various capacities within the local real estate industry.

© 2018 I Love Detroit Michigan. Designed by Wiser Sites