29 November 2023

Thank you to everyone who checked out my Eames talk!

Thank you to everyone who took the time to check out my Eames talk this evening. It was a thrill to present it as part of my journey toward publishing Becoming Charles Eames. My focused is his early life and career in St. Louis, beginning with his birth in 1907.

The talk was well-attended both in person, in the Auditorium of St. Louis Public Library’s Central Branch, as well as live-streamed, via YouTube and Zoom. I couldn’t address everyone’s questions during the Q & A, but I'll be happy to chat with anyone who went away with unanswered questions.

I promised to provide my detailed PDF of one of Eames’s critical projects during the 1930s. If you any of the images on this page, you’ll be able to download it. You’ll also have the option to sign up for my monthly newsletter, Eames.stl. I’ll share photographs and nuggets I’m uncovering during my ongoing research.

24 November 2023

Eames.STL talk – Tuesday, November 28, 2023

“The Details are Not the Details” #CharlesEames

I invite you to my special talk on Charles Eames and his career in the 1930s. Just as we find value in examining the early work of other modern masters such as Le Corbusier, Mies van der Rohe, and Frank Lloyd Wright, we ought to study Eames’s early work for signs of his many later successes.

My focus is examining his work in the context of his motto, “The details are not the details.” I’m applying this principle to his work on churches in the 1930s. There are two churches in St. Louis for which he created additions and alterations. The other two churches, which are Catholic churches designed from the ground up, are located in Arkansas.

I’ve photographed these works in detail and will present a multi-sensory presentation illuminating his design process and its results and linking them to particular details of his later work, evince similar obsessions with form, symmetry, symmetry, structure, and symbols.

I will present my illustrated talk this Tuesday, November 28, 2023, at 6:30 pm. You can attend in person at the St. Louis Public Library’s Central Branch or in the live stream. Everyone who registers for my talk will have the opportunity to receive my recent essay studying one of these projects in great detail, which held particular meaning personally and within the context of his family, the Pilgrim Congregational Church, where he married Catherine Woermann on Friday, June 7, 1929, just ten days before his 22nd birthday. He became the church’s in-house architect and designer for the next nine years.

Everyone who registers via this link will be eligible to receive my 4,000-word illustrated essay on Pilgrim Church as a PDF. You’ll also have the chance to receive my monthly newsletter, “Eames.STL.” Sign up for the limited seats before they run out!

You can either use this QR code or the link below to register quickly:


17 November 2023

Arts & Architecture, August 1956 issue: Harris Armstrong design

In August 1956, Arts & Architecture magazine published the house design by St. Louis architect Harris Armstrong, FAIA. The article was given a double-page spread, across pages 22 and 23. The project was illustrated with two perspective line drawings and a floor plan. The location of the house and the client were not identified. In many ways, this structure remained one of his "secret" houses that was not publicized apart from this article. There's no indication that the home was to be constructed in Missouri.

Entry hall (Photograph © Andrew Raimist).

The stone used on the exterior continues on the interior blending inside and outside organically.

View of primary facade looking west toward the main entry (Photograph © Andrew Raimist).

The description of the house is matter-of-fact. The drawings speak for the architect's intentions. You can find a full PDF of this issue here.

Cover, August 1956 issue, Arts & Architecture magazine.

"Hillside House, by Harris Armstrong, Architect" (Arts & Architecture, August 1956, p. 22).

When approached from the street, the house presents itself horizontally, yet retains an air of mystery with eight square punched openings in the solid limestone wall and a continuous clerestory window directly below the roofline.

Perspective of the north facade.

The stone slab of the masonry chimney anchors the central pavilion. Its roof rises and cantilevers to the south protecting the fully glazed walls. To the east and west of the main pavilion are horizontal volumes, forming a baseline for height within the house. To the right side, extending eastward is the screened-in porch. The house continues to the west with the bedroom wing at the left side which leaves the ground, bridging over a depression in the landscape. Exterior decks and outdoor spaces open the house to the forested property. Below the house, there are guest's quarters.

Perspective from the southeast (Arts & Architecture, August 1956, p. 22–23).

The line drawings suggest the house's character but don't capture the atmosphere. The landscape, settings, materials, and human touch lend to the feeling of being there.

View looking up toward the house from the property (Photograph © Andrew Raimist).

The spacious interior is filled with natural light from the window wall on the left (south). Armstrong proposed a screen with various objects suspended in space on steel wires from the ceiling beam above to the built-in shelving unit below. This portion of the original design remained unrealized.

Floor plan (Arts & Architecture, August 1956, p. 23). Colors added to distinguish interior from exterior spaces.

The interior perspective features Eames chairs, a Noguchi Akari lamp, plants, and an assemblage of ornament hung on unevenly spaced wires. They were meant to hold enameled butterflies, cork balls, and lead beads. This section suggests the influence of Noguchi's lunars and Calder's mobiles.

Interior view of the main room (Arts & Architecture, August 1956, p. 22)

The house was built for the family of Perry Philips on secluded land in Columbia, Missouri, about one mile from the University of Missouri, Columbia. The Philips family had twin daughters. For them, Armstrong created a shared bedroom with a folded screen to divide the room when desired. The master bedroom is located at the west end of the house. Each bedroom opened onto a covered deck connecting back to the main deck at the center of the house.

View from the deck (Photograph © Andrew Raimist).

Anyone interested in the house should contact the realtor, Brent Gardner of Brent Gardner Homes in Columbia. His telephone number is (573) 489-1900. He has been showing the house privately. Contact him to schedule a tour.

16 November 2023

Pre-listing notice: 1956 MCM home designed by Harris Armstrong

A magnificent mid-century modern home from 1956 will soon be available for sale. It was designed by St. Louis modernist Harris Armstrong, FAIA, for Perry Philips, the owner of a lighting company. The project was published in the August 1956 edition of Arts & Architecture magazine with renderings before its construction.
The main house is on one level with a flat roof, clerestory windows, locally-sourced limestone masonry walls, significant expanses of glass, and outdoor spaces overlooking a private wooded landscape. The property is forested and backs up against the MKT Trail. It’s located at 711 Thilly Avenue in Columbia, Missouri, at the end of a cul-de-sac.
The sellers are only the second property owners and have maintained the design’s integrity. The house sits atop a slope facing south. The focus of the interior spaces are oriented around the views of nature with fully glazed walls, screened-in-porch, and decks raised above the forest below. The landscape leads downward toward a creek running in the valley below.
I recently visited and photographed the house with the owner’s permission. The facade facing the street toward the north is largely stone and offers privacy from vantage point. A band of clerestory windows admits diffused north light along the entire facade. The bedroom wing extends westward over a ravine. It has been constructed like a wood and steel bridge which is open toward the south and private to the north.
The interior is spacious, with natural materials, including limestone, heavy timber, copper, and custom hardwood built-ins. The floor-to-ceiling glazing on the south wall is protected by a cantilevered roof safeguarding the interior from heat gain from the summer sun but admits sunlight during winter months.
The quality of the materials used and attention to detail in its construction make it a one-of-a-kind opportunity.
This remarkable home was designed with open-plan living in mind. It’s spacious enough to allow for various approaches to furnishing. The entire south face of the house is lined with decks and porches, which allow for outdoor living and communing with nature.
The lower level features a self-contained unit to house a guest or support staff.
Anyone interested in the house should contact the realtor, Brent Gardner of Brent Gardner Homes in Columbia. His telephone number is (573) 489-1900. He has been showing the house privately. Contact him to tour the house and property.