December 1, 2022

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As I See It: ‘A great deal of excess charm’ | Columns

“Brick doesn’t twinkle,” offers Tim Dunn for why Fowle’s façade is an eye-catching attribute in the Federal streetscape of downtown Newburyport.

To the Countrywide Believe in for Historic Preservation’s lead expert on American storefront preservation, Newburyport’s past surviving example of its at the time-various structural glass storefronts “represents a piece of architectural record.”

“It’s in rather great condition, and it is simple to clean up so the glass shines yet again,” Dunn adds.

A ton experienced to come about just before the black-and-white Artwork Moderne design and style and legendary indicator could be mounted at Stephen Fowle’s outdated newspaper store 80 yrs ago:

An English prince experienced to die in a pandemic. A Newburyport sea captain experienced to survive mutinies and shipwrecks. A Boston Herald publisher experienced to undertaking north and identified the newspaper you are now looking at.

And American architects experienced to plagiarize Paris.

Prince Albert’s demise in 1861 alarmed public well being professionals everywhere you go and led to the very first U.S. sanitation legal guidelines. Producers produced structural glass tile, impervious to microbes, for use in industrial kitchens, grocery stores, and hospitals.

American architects observed the gleaming Art Deco in Parisian bakeries and cafes in the 1920s and started experimenting with uses of glass on building exteriors. Quickly, it adorned butcher shops and create retailers in Chicago, jewellery merchants and barber stores in New York.

“Vitrolite” turned the generic identify for all structural glass, but Fowle’s tiles, produced by Pittsburgh Plate Glass, are referred to as “Carrara” due to the fact they mimic the look of marble.

FDR’s New Deal didn’t just help you save but modernized downtown The us, and glass block, plate glass, and structural glass grew to become the architectural vocabulary of Principal Street.

Corporations achieved the age of the vehicle by applying substantial exhibit home windows, flashy neon indications, and oversized lettering. Cornices, scrollwork, and decorative making detail had been replaced by streamlined designs dramatized with large expanses of glass.

But this will get in advance of Newburyport’s story.

In 1875, a 17-12 months-previous newspaper shipping and delivery boy and print typesetter established out from Cushing’s Wharf seeking for adventure. When Charles Brown retired as a ship captain 30 yrs later, he released a job that would renovate State Avenue.

Brown went into glass — first stained, then plate — right after mastering commerce by reading through publications aboard a ship he named his “floating enterprise dwelling.” A pure entrepreneur, he talked his brothers and many Superior and Condition Avenue pals down to Pennsylvania to perform at Pittsburgh Plate Glass, America’s initially commercially productive plate glass maker.

He became president of Pittsburgh Plate Glass in 1916, and made his brother-in-law Edward Raymond – equally were married to Greenleaf sisters – vice president. His heart always possibly at sea or in Newburyport, Brown remained a lifelong member of the Marine Culture.

For the rest of his life, he wrote of his world-wide voyages and donated income to Newburyport brings about, from the fireworks parade to the Ellen T. Brown Memorial Chapel in Oak Hill Cemetery. In 1928, PPG pallbearers took him to Oak Hill.

As Brown’s protégé, Henry Higgins climbed the ladder at PPG though his father, James, started operating advertisements in his recently-founded Every day News for structural glass items, as effectively as editorials encouraging regional enterprises to transform:

“A Minimal Further Glass Means a Lot of More Attraction.”

Advertisements for Fowle’s appeared on the similar page as adverts for Carrara glass tiles. “We’re getting a stand on the aspect of these new industrial architectural items,” proclaimed Higgins.

Nikolas Arakelian — of a household with its name on the Firehouse theater and a regional charitable foundation — redesigned the Fowle’s storefront applying PPG structural glass and plate glass. For perfectly more than half a century, Chase’s Candy Store at 33 Point out was lined with black Carrara, PPG screen windows, a canvas awning, and a neon blade indicator.

Carrara glass on 18 Condition mirrored that at Fowle’s, suitable up right until urban renewal in 1971. Paramount Jewellery at 46 Point out experienced a façade of blue curved structural glass.

Display screen home windows and structural glass facades all along Point out Street reflected Newburyport entrepreneurship, imagination, and verve. However Artwork Moderne—or Art Deco—was a celebrated national style, Fowle’s historic storefront tells a incredibly Newburyport tale.

“Pigmented glass facades established amongst sober brick… It twinkles,” muses Dunn, “it delivers back again the magic.”


Jack Garvey, the author of Retain Newburyport Weird and https://buskersdelight.residence.web site/, raises glass at [email protected]