‘A piece of history’

A few weeks ago, a company-wide email went out offering Journal Sentinel employees “a piece of history.”

I, of course, jumped at this opportunity. Let me explain.

Built in 1924 and designed by Chicago architect Frank D. Chase, a stone frieze depicting the history of communication long adorned the top of the Journal Sentinel building.

(Photo from my colleague Mary Louise Schumacher’s Art City blog)

Last year, it was inspected and deemed unsafe after sustaining years of damage. Restoring or preserving it was cost prohibitive, so this summer I watched the frieze get torn off the building every morning as I walked in to work. Read more about the history and tearing down of it in this great Art City blog post.

Most of the frieze was torn up as it came down, but a few larger stones came off intact. Those are going to the Milwaukee Historic Society.

The rest of the pieces were set out in the parking lot one afternoon, when that “piece of history” email was sent, and offered to anyone who was willing to haul gigantic hunks of broken stone home.

I scored a decent piece that had some art on it. Although I’m not sure “scored” is the appropriate word.

The only problem: it weighs 300 pounds. Hmmm. What do you do with a 300-pound rock?

A few men from building management were able to load the giant stone into the back of Peter’s minivan (work vehicle – we’re not planning that far ahead!). Amazingly, Peter somehow managed to get it out of the van, with very little help from me (two-by-fours and gravity did the trick).

But there was no way we could carry it anywhere. Going up or down stairs would be nearly impossible, and even if we could get it in the house (I originally – before learning how heavy it was – envisioned it propped up next to our fireplace or in the soon-to-be-finished basement somewhere. Ha!) it would be too heavy to hang or prop up against anything. We couldn’t even really prop it up outside or next to the front door without damaging the house.

So, it’s staying where we unloaded it.

At least for now.

I’m not fully convinced it looks OK just hanging out in our flower bed, but that’s pretty much the only spot for it at this point. Peter thinks it looks good there, and claims a friend of ours agreed when he was over the other day. I’ll have to see if it grows on me or we come up with an alternative.

But I guess it’s still pretty cool to have an 87-year-old piece of the Journal Sentinel building displayed on our property. Any ideas on what else we could do with it?

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