More on the loss of a work by a great artist.

    Let's say your city owns a painting by Rembrandt and it hangs in City Hall. It's a minor Rembrandt; but nonetheless a work by the master. Let's say it needs cleaning. And the city authorities look in the yellow pages, and find people willing to do the job. They're cheap, they're not necessarily the best at what they do, but they're allowed to do the work. The city offers no particular oversight for what you might think is a very special job. And the people hired, ruin the painting. Destroy it. Wouldn't you be appalled? Wouldn't the local papers run with the story?

    My point is that Louis Sullivan is about Rembrandt's equal, and we in Chicago have allowed two Sullivan structures to burn this year. K.A.M Pilgrim Baptist Church (below) was a great, unique, historical building full of irreplacable spirit.

    The Wirt Dexter building was important, and helped one understand how skyscrapers came to be.

    The Chicago Tribune reports about yesterday's fire at the Dexter Building,,
    Salvage crew may have caused fire
    October 25, 2006
    The careless use of cutting torches by a scrap-metal salvage crew is the probable cause of the extra-alarm fire Tuesday that continues to disrupt the South Loop area, a fire official said today.

    Fire Department spokesman Larry Langford said the building's owner told him the crew was using acetylene-oxygen cutting torches before the fire that gutted the Wirt Dexter Building at 630 S. Wabash Ave.

    "If they're cutting pipes and stuff, there's generally enough heat to get insulation or structural components burning," Langford said.

    Investigators saw evidence of torches, acetylene tanks and hoses in the building, he said.

    Tuesday's blaze, which sent towering clouds high above Chicago's skyline, left little of the historic structure designed by Louis Sullivan, the celebrated father of modern architecture.

    "Basically, what we have is free-standing walls," Fire Commissioner Raymond Orozco said at a press conference near the site this morning. The building must be knocked down to get at the remainder of the fire, which is continuing to smolder, he said.

    "It's going to burn for quite a while. It's a deep-seated fire, and it's into the floors."

    Are we crazy? We must protect the other architectural monuments that our ancestors capably built and entrusted to us.


    Photo of Wirt Dexter Building; courtesy Commission on Chicago Landmarks
    Photo of the building burning from the Chicago TribuneSource URL:
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