Monday, April 4, 2011

Warehouse and Stores for Jacob Amos & Sons

Practically in the shadow of his Syracuse Savings Bank Building, sits Joseph Silsbee's Amos Block.  It was part of the massive complex of buildings that stretched another three blocks west, forming the Jacob Amos & Sons mills.  It was designed in 1877 and constructed the following year.  The 1878 structure incorporates an older structure with an addition and a new facade to create a series of stores and warehouse for the milling company.  It was constructed for the Amos family and was likely overseen by Charles Amos, a son of Jacob Amos Sr. who oversaw operations of the Syracuse mill.      
The Amos Building has one of the most varied and intricately detailed facades of any Silsbee building I know.  Stylistically, with it's Romanesque and Moorish influences, it is a departure from the High Victorian Gothic business blocks that he designed elsewhere in the city of Syracuse.

The facade boasts a dictionary-full of masonry details and motifs. The masonry surface is accented with a series of masonry piers. Fields of wall are composed of bricks that are turned at forty-five degrees to create a serrated pattern. Others are accented in a checkerboard pattern with every other brick recessed.

Almost every window head has a different type of arch. Some are Moorish or horseshoe arches. Others have simple round arches with stone accents and others are grouped under shallow segmental arches.  Tiny Romanesque arches support a shallow coping at the roof-line.  Carved lintels and stone accents provide additional variety to the lively facade.  The variety is a rare example of Silsbee's affinity for exotic styles and motifs.

The overall composition on the Water St. side of the building serves to break up the building in a series smaller hospitable parts while incorporating the three buildings behind it into a discernible whole.  It is not as refined, in rich material or design, as some of his other commercial structures but given it's function as a store, it certainly would have garnered a lot of attention for the Amos Company.


Pat A. said...

First, thank you for your efforts in compiling and posting about Silsbee. I am grateful for the resource. I have always been frustrated at the relative lack of information readily available about him(someone needs to write a book...).

I would be interested to know where his documents and drawings wound up, if they still exist. Wright was uncharacteristically complimentary in his remembrances of his time with Silsbee, and I was always curious to see some of Silsbee's work that had inspired Wright.

Best of luck, and keep up the good work.

Chris said...

Thanks Pat, I appreciate the comments. The only drawings I've come across are those in the hands of a few building owners. I also have one for a piece of furniture. The office records did not survive from any of the office so we'll never know the full extent of his work.

I'd love to publish a monograph containing all of the works I've uncovered but finding a publisher for such an undertaking is somewhat impossible. That's why I started the blog.

As for works that are intertwined with Wright and Maher, I haven't put any of that up yet. A lot is here but there are a lot of real gems I've been hesitant about posting. I guess part of me was hoping to save some of the more unique buildings and finds in case I ever do get published.