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Recent Findings Show Proposed Clock for Carson Pirie Scott Building

By Chuck Sudo in News on Mar 22, 2011 6:40PM

The terra cotta detail of the Carson Pirie Scott building. (jjlthree on Flickr)

Tribune architecture critic Blair Kamin reports on a discovery of sketches for a proposed clock that, had they ever been actualized, would have graced the Carson Pirie Scott & Co. Building.

The discovery of the blueprints by Ward Miller, co-author of a recent book on the complete works of Carson's building architect Louis Sullivan, leads Kamin to ask what the building's legendary rotunda at 1 S. State St. may have looked like if either sketch were put to use. The more elaborate of the proposed clocks shows a four-faced timepiece braced by two filigreed arms, one bending at a serious angle, from the center of the rotunda's exterior. The other shows a much smaller clock but no less visually stunning. the sketches bear the stamps of the Winslow Bros. Co. that fabricated much of Sullivan's ironwork, dated June 5, 1906. Kamin theorizes that the clock sketches may have been an answer to the iconic clocks of the Marshall Field & Co. building.

As for who drew the sketches, Miller believes it could have been Sullivan himself or his chief assistant, George Grant Elmslie. Sullivan historian Tim Samuelson, on the other hand, believes they were drafted by someone trying to emulate Sullivan's style. Kamin asks the biggest "what if" question of all: what if the clock was built and "Meet me under the Carson's clock?" became a part of the everyday Chicago lexicon?