Sunday, June 13, 2010

Elysian Fields

Sometime over the past week four whimsical foam core and cardboard figures were placed in the empty lot on the south side of the 900 block of Thayer Avenue. Considering that there is a chain link fence around most of the property, someone scaled the 6 ft. cinderblock wall at the rear of the lot (as I did to take these photos) to install figures of three Dick and Jane era figures as well as one Man in the Gray Flannel Suit businessman.

What does this art installation mean?  Perhaps pending loss of green space represented by the children running through grass (well, actually weeds) while being observed by the businessman in the distance who personifies continued redevelopment of downtown Silver Spring.

A year ago this same field really represented its natural potential.  Two Mallards appeared to have set up home in a pond that formed in a depression in the lot after heavy rains.  The "pond" was where two wonderfully maintained early 1920s bungalows (razed in 2007) used to be located.  This free duck lodging was short lived when debris from brick and cinderblock garages, that were located around the corner on Mayor Lane, was used to fill in the low spots.

The rest of this lot was occupied by an important piece of Silver Spring's history.  Located  at 958 Thayer Avenue was a rare example of an intact 1946 pre-fabricated facade designed by the Pittsburgh Plate Glass Co.  The Silver Spring Historical endeavored to have the facade preserved and installed, complete with Roadhouse Oldies sign and 45 rpm records displayed in the windows, in the new Silver Spring Library.  This effort was greeted with disinterest by library officials.  SSHS disassembled all of the aluminum trim and still has it in storage for recreation of the facade elsewhere.

I'd  like the thank the artist who brought a smile to my face with their figures and for a moment made me forget about all of the lost Silver Spring history that this empty lot represents.  


WashingtonGardener said...

Not only was it a Mallard domaina few years back - but also a huge pit of mosquito breeding larvae (which no doubt the ducks enjoyed snacking on too).
Also, last year "Capitalism Did This" signs were placed there after the Michael Moore documentary screening at the AFI.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for telling about the history of the Roadhouse Oldies building. I just moved here and had no idea what was on that lot. That was a nice facade and I hope it can be recreated somewhere. How about the Fillmore (live music = 45s)?

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Jerry, for taking and posting the whimsical photos. I hadn’t realized that ducks had nested there for a while, how cool! Thanks for the early photos of the houses too… one can see the continuum of land use over time. Not sure we’re progressing. I think we’re regressing.


Moose said...

It never ceases to amaze me what a wasteful and throw away society we live in.
Makes me sad to recall what fine useful bungalows were destroyed on our watch; houses that contained many vital businesses, and before that sheltered families over the decades.

I hope you are able to recreate the Road House Oldies display in the library; but it will never replace the complete structure and good vibes resonating from this building.

Question: Why do developers destroy buildings and businesses years before they are ready
to build new structures?

Igor Ramus said...

Greetings! Get over it! It's an Urban Area for Christ's sake, we want lots of development. You guys
are worse than Neanderthals. If you had your way, we would still be saving cave dwellings and teepees,
and in fact, still living in them.
Go figure!

Cyndy said...

Oops, I think Igor might have left out a letter in his "name" haha! There's nothing wrong with having an appreciation for the past and preserving everything that is practical. Retaining some elements of the past helps to give substance to the present and the future. At least it does for me. Thanks for the photos of Dick and Jane and the Man. I really like the sentiment.

Robert said...

We need to add a Silver Spring penguin figure to the four figures in the empty lot. Jerry, are you up to climbing over the wall again?