I feel like I'm still coming back to earth, back into my own life from my Have Company residency. I'm a bit of a homebody and doing a solo residency in a new city was overwhelming to say the least, but also a very moving and influential experience!
I want to share some visual documentation of my experience in Grand Rapids, specifically the time I spent exploring neighborhoods and looking at cool buildings. Looking at architecture in a city, specifically the non-monumental stuff, is one of my favorite things to do while traveling. There is so much hidden history if you look very closely at your surroundings. You can learn all sorts of things. Walking through neighborhoods, observing structures and lives, also makes me feel oddly at home- comfortable- since it's something I practice frequently wherever I am.
The shop is in a pretty busy area of downtown and though many of the old industrial buildings have been transformed into lofts and shops, some remnants of a past era remain. I love to imagine the heyday of these buildings, these forgotten historical landmarks - markers of history.
You can tell that at some point Division, the street where the shop is located, was full of elaborate storefronts. Though a lot of them are now vacant, many other small local businesses have popped again up in these storefronts. Since the original buildings were built, I'm certain the vibrancy of the block has come and gone in waves - much the way countless other American 'main streets' have in the last 50 years.
The building that houses Have Company is an amazing apartment/storefront complex from the first half of the 20th century. The entire facade is finished with white glazed bricks. The green awnings create a lovely contrast. Many of the shops have fantastic entryway floor mosaics as well. I saw quite a few in various states of decay.
Around the corner from the shop is the neighborhood where the Meyer May house is located, called Heritage Hill. I had read about this neighborhood and its proximity to the shop and I knew I had to spend a bit of time there.
Along with my trip to the Meyer May house, I also did my morning run through this neighborhood and was able to snap some pictures of beautiful and unique houses. My brain was spinning with pattern ideas! Here are some of my favorites:
I love the unusual roofline on this one, as well as the many copper accents. It sort of looks like a house dressed up as a castle.
This one was quite different than a lot of the elaborate painted victorians that dotted the block. It looks like a european country house plopped onto a city block. It should be surrounded by rolling sheep pastures and fog. I especially love that it's basically a box, but it looks so bucolic.
A house mid repair. All of the ornaments on this one are awesome, especially the corbels on the window. They look more postmodern than Victorian with all those odd little holes.
This one had a wonderful decorative chimney. I love the little balcony that it passes through at the top. (I was also glad to see many 'Black Lives Matter' signs dotting lawns in the neighborhood)
About a block away from the Meyer May house is another Prairie Palace, the Amberg house, built for Sophie May's parents who were quite fond of Wright's design. Since Wright had set off to Europe, this home was designed by female architect that worked for him, Marion Mahony. It was interesting to see this one, which is obviously lived in and loved and shows its many years of occupancy, in comparison to the faithfully restored Meyer May house. Being able to see the original and the much altered century old version is some pretty cool time travel.
For all of these houses, there were just as many other beautiful ones on their block. And they were all different, small and large, grand and modest, with little placards proclaiming their historicalness. I wonder how such a hodgepodge collection of historical homes came to be in one neighborhood. I'm sure in many other places across the country, these houses get torn down in favor of newer, larger homes. (In fact, I just heard a piece on NPR the other day about this happening in Needham, a town near me). I'm not sure how this magic happened in Grand Rapids, but I love it.