Cluss (1825-1905), Architect: From Germany to America
Shaping a Capital City Worthy of a Republic
project to enhance public understanding of the architectís work in Washington
during the Gilded Age by interpreting the impact of Clussís revolutionary
roots and his social vision on the cityís architecture and life.
NEWS FROM WASHINGTON:
Reopening of Eastern Market
Friday, June 26 and Saturday, June 27
Mayor Adrian M. Fenty recently announced that the District will reopen the historic Eastern Market at a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Friday, June 26 at 10:30 am, followed by an all-day community celebration on Saturday, June 27. The two events will mark the completion of the market’s renovation and recovery from fire damage caused in April 2007.
According to the Mayor's Office press release, renovations to the oldest continually operating market in the city are on schedule and will cost $22 million. The market will have modern heating and air conditioning, new restrooms and sprinklers and access ramps to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act. The skylights and chimneys have been restored and new windows have been installed that protect against ultraviolet (UV) light.
Update on the State of Things
The Goethe-Institut is planning a Fall 2009 event to discuss the reconstruction and historical preservation of Eastern Market. More will be forthcoming here.
Image at left shows construction workers at night inside Eastern Market, courtesy Erin M.
Cluss's Work at Washington’s Fort McNair
by Joe Browne
Fort Leslie J. McNair in southwest Washington is the scene of the latest research on Adolf Cluss’s buildings. Bill Gilcher and Joe Browne uncovered two new projects by Cluss and his partner Paul Schulze at what was formerly called the Washington Barracks and the U.S. Arsenal at the National Defense University Library. Cluss and Schulze completed a plat of the entire site in 1881 that may have accompanied an evaluation of the buildings for the Army’s Quartermaster Department, which assumed control of the post in that year. Cluss and Schulze also planned a renovation of the Model Museum (Building 20) in 1885 to accommodate officers’ quarters. The architects’ drawing for that project was also discovered in the National Defense University Library (see below). Building 20, originally designed by George Hadfield, is the oldest building at Ft. McNair.
Cynthia Field joined Gilcher and Browne for an inspection of the former officers’ quarters (Building 21) that Cluss and his first partner, Joseph von Kammerhueber, designed in 1867, and which is one of the ten surviving Cluss buildings. They concluded that many features found in the building now used for offices, such as window frames, interior shutters, doors and hardware and crown moldings as well as the general floor plan and exterior features date from Cluss and Kammerhueber’s re-design of the building in 1867. Originally built in 1829 as an addition to the US. Penitentiary, it was retained along with a similar addition on the other end of the penitentiary in 1867 when the Army razed the prison. Cluss and Kammerhueber designed the remaining structures for officers’ quarters and a commandant’s house so that they faced each other across a garden and new entrance road into the post from P Street SW. The Army razed the Commandant’s House in 1903 when the New York architects McKim, Mead and White redesigned the entire post. The surviving Cluss building is significant not only because it is one of only ten remaining Cluss buildings out of a total of more than 80 projects, but also because it is the only surviving, mostly intact example of Cluss’s residential interiors. Building 21 is also of great historical interest. When it was still part of the penitentiary, it was the site of the 1865 Lincoln conspiracy trials. The third floor of the building is being restored to its pre-1867 condition.
Research continues on these Cluss projects as well as another Fort McNair building that Cluss designed and interim Secretary of War U. S. Grant approved, and which may have been built in 1868.
Above image of Building 20 courtesy National Defense University Library, undated
Cluss/Kammerhueber Album Discovered
by Joe Browne
These photos depict some buildings that are credited to Cluss and Kammerhueber. They came from the album of Cluss and Kammerhueber’s work in the 1860s. Like most of their buildings, they were photographed by Mathew Brady.
Young Men’s Christian Association Building: This photographic copy by Mathew Brady shows a drawing by Adolf Cluss and Joseph von Kammerhueber for the YMCA building at the northeast corner of 9th and D streets, NW. The drawing is one of 14 small images in an album of Cluss and Kammerhueber’s work done between 1864 and 1867 that was recently sold on E-bay.
In 1867, the YMCA directors chose Cluss and Kammerhueber as the architects for their new building. Cluss received a payment of $1,950 in July 1867. In November 1867, Cluss contributed $50 towards a subscription campaign, but at the dedication in 1869, the Evening Star identified Thomas Plowman as the builder as well as the architect. Cluss never claimed credit for the YMCA building on any of his listings of public buildings that he designed, suggesting that he began this project, but for some reason, did not finish it.
The building committee included prominent Republicans Chief Justice Salomon P. Chase, and future territorial government leaders Alexander Shepherd, John R. Elvans and Henry Cooke, with whom Cluss was later associated when he served on the Board of Public Works.
Among the facilities in the YMCA building was an auditorium known as Lincoln Hall, which seated 1,300 people. It was Washington's major venue for performances and speakers and for many school commencements until the building burned in 1886.
More on this building
Foundry Methodist Church: In 1863/64, Cluss and Kammerhueber designed their first church, Foundry Methodist, at 14th and G Streets NW.
This interior view of the second floor sanctuary helps to confirm that Foundry Methodist was an auditorium church. This type was widely built by Protestant congregations after 1850, utilizing many of the features of contemporary performance halls: good acoustics, provision for organs and choirs, unobstructed view achieved with curved pews, galleries, and sloping floors, and restrained ornamentation and color.
More on this building
Can you Identify this Building and Location?: Among the images in the Cluss / Kammerhueber album recently sold on E-bay is this one, identified by the seller as “Unknown Building.” It is a drawing that the members of the Cluss Team have not previously seen. We hope our readers can offer some insights about this drawing and its location.
NEWS FROM HEILBRONN:
The Adolf Cluss Photographic Database
by Peter Wanner
During 2008, the Stadtarchiv Heilbronn assembled all photographic images depicting the life and work of Adolf Cluss. Intern Kate Pierce-McManamon cleaned up our files and standardized all the names. Dr. Joe Browne researched the origin of the photos and their copyright status, and expanded the database information about them.
The database currently contains around 1,700 images, and is stored on the server at the Stadtarchiv Heilbronn. Once the planned photo database system at the Stadtarchiv Heilbronn is put into place, this database will be searchable via the Internet.
One image of particular interest in the collection is this one of a sideboard. When studied carefully, the right-hand mirror in the photo shows a reflection of Adolf Cluss's daughter Flora, who was photographing the sideboard. Flora Cluss was a good amateur photographer, and one of her albums is still preserved by the Shacklettes, descendants of Adolf Cluss.
Above image courtesy Barbara Kimmerle, Stadtarchiv Heilbronn
The Adolf Cluss Podcast: Adolf Cluss and the Communists
by Peter Wanner
Correspondence between Cluss, Marx, Engels and Others, 1850-1859
Every Thursday from September 2008 to March 2009, the Stadtarchiv Heilbronn posted a German-language podcast on the Cluss website with excerpts from correspondence between Adolf Cluss, Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels and the other Communists. The podcasts can be subscribed to as RSS feeds.
The excerpts were read by actors from the Heilbronn Theater, and directed by Martina Michelsen. All the podcasts can be listened to here.
Stadtarchiv Heilbronn’s New Windows
by Peter Wanner
The Stadtarchiv Heilbronn has added new window designs on all of its first floor windows. One of the windows features an image printed on glass of Adolf Cluss, together with a sailing ship similar to the one on which he emigrated to the US, and in the background, the Smithsonian Arts and Industries Building that Cluss designed in Washington, DC. The letter "C" in the word "Chancen" combines with letters in the other windows to spell "GESCHICHTE," or if viewed from the corner of the building, "GESCHICHTEN" (history).
Download the online flyer "Gallery of the City's History" here.
Wallach School Call Box
Update on Cluss Buildings
excerpted from article by Nancy Metzger (Capitol Hill Restoration Society News, November 2008)
Artist Will Fleishell and welding
and engineering consultant
Bradley Comar installed plaques
commemorating Wallach School
and its architect Adolph [sic] Cluss in the call box on the NW corner of Seventh Street and Pennsylvania Avenue, SE. The location is particularly appropriate, as the Wallach School [1862-64] stood across Seventh Street from the call box...
The sidewalk side of the box features a low-relief bronze sculpture of a view of the front façade, showing the deep arched recesses of the entrance, students walking to school, and trees that shaded the grounds. The art is based on a historic photograph. On the street side, there is a steel polychromed plaque with a portrait of the architect. The call box itself, once used by citizens to report fires, has been painted two shades of blue and is part of the city-wide project Art on Call.
More on this building here.
Franklin School: The D.C. government chose to close the homeless shelter that had been operating at Franklin School. The future use of the school is not yet clear. Three charter schools have submitted applications to be considered. The City is required to consider school proposals before moving on to other candidates.
Smithsonian's Arts and Industries Building: The Board of Regents has decided to plan the future use of the building and its renovation. A group is meeting to develop programming ideas to report to the Secretary. Funding has already been set aside for some renovation work, including replacement of the roof. The Smithsonian is making it a priority to reopen the building to the public.
Cluss/Schulze Mexico Independence Monument for Mexico City
by Joe Browne
Cluss and his partner, Paul Schulze, designed this Independence Monument and won the competition sponsored by the Mexican government. In March 1887, Cluss went to Mexico City to lobby for the plan as designed, but after a month, expressed much frustration with the Mexican government. “All I can say is that when hereafter I have to stand a little more red tape in Washington…I shall with feelings of relief think of Mexico.” He added that he “spent so much reasoning, skill, patience, time and money…that I could not well afford the serious risk of leaving here whilst things are in embryo yet.” Despite all his efforts, the Mexican government did not choose to construct the Cluss/Schulze design.
More on Cluss’s trip to Mexico in 1887 and his other travels here.
The Adolf Cluss Project
in Washington and Heilbronn, Germany, Cluss's birthplace, is a cooperative
effort among many institutions in Washington and Heilbronn.
Joseph L. Browne, Ph.D.
c/o Friends of the Goethe-Institut Washington
812 7th Street NW
Washington, DC 20001-3718
The Cluss Website
lives on--and keeps growing:
About the projects
in Germany and the USA:
About Adolf Cluss:
Norma Broadwater, Goethe-Institut Washington
William Gilcher, Goethe-Institut Washington
Craig Childers, Goethe-Institut Washington
join our mailing list and be kept informed about the progress of planning
for the exhibition, please send your name, address, and email address to
project is made possible thanks to generous support from the Transatlantic
Program of the Federal Republic of Germany, with funds from the European
Recovery Program (ERP) of the Federal Ministry of Economics and Labor
(BMWA), the MARPAT Foundation, the Kiplinger Foundation, the National
Endowment for the Humanities, the Humanities Council of Washington, DC,
Edelman, Douglas Development Corporation, Wagner Roofing, Boston Properties,
CD Cartondruck, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, and Clark
Construction Group, LLC.
A cooperative project of the Charles Sumner School Museum and Archives,
the German Historical Institute, Washington, DC, Goethe-Institut Washington,
the Historical Society of Washington, DC, the Smithsonian Institutionís
Office of Architectural History and Historic Preservation and the Stadtarchiv