16 December 2005
Armstrong's revised design for the Wichman family (of 1932) includes their shop on the ground level and their residence on the floor above. The lower level is a relatively simple block with plain brick surfaces interrupted by modern style glazing. The upper level is a kind of Tudor style home constructed of heavy timbers with stucco infill. The variety of hipped, gabled and shed roof designs constrasts starkly with the horizontal coping topping the shop. The demarcation of the home from the business is clear and essentially absolute. Only the small shed roof at the ground level indicates the entrance to the residence above.
Here there is literally a collision in terms of the style, composition, and details of the upper and lower levels. The ground floor is a relatively plain, rectangular brick masonry structure with a strong horizontal emphasis. Large plate glass windows emphasize the horizontal orientation.
The areas exhibiting more detailed carving are located in the thick ornamental lintel over the main entry and the similarly designed blocks located at the corners. These elements are detailed in such a way as to suggest that they are not load bearing and are in fact applied ornament. In the case of the lintel, the two sides of the carved beam do not extend over the brick walls at each side, instead they match the width of the opening below. The ornamented blocks at the front two corners appear to be thick chunks of wood which look as if they would be crushed by the mass of brick masonry above.
In reality, there clearly must have been concealed steel lintels to support the brickwork over the glazing and steel posts at the front two corners to support the weight.
Drawing courtesy of the Harris Armstrong Archives, Special Collections, Washington University in Saint Louis.