Stainless Steel Railing
Local’s Resident Redheads “Sneak” Into The NYU Law Library
By Leah Clancy and Sophie Kleeman
Vanderbilt Hall, home of NYU Law School, has always struck us as being oddly out of place. Its quaint brick courtyard framed by wrought iron gates and redbrick archways is something out of Princeton or Harvard; there’s a definite Ivy League feel. But there’s just one problem- the school’s library is notoriously hard to get into.
We milled outside 40 Washington Square South, trying to decide. Sharply dressed girls strode past us with authority, gigantic Starbucks Frappuccinos in hand (Leslie Knope would impressed by the amount of whipped cream on these things). We made eye contact and entered the building riding on the coattails of these students.
After we showed our IDs to the security guard, and received a nod of improvement, we were in. We went into the main student lounge to collect ourselves, really impressed that we must have looked like law students. The lounge is fairly standard—desks and tables, a few computers, and an ATM machine. It’s also one of the only places in the building where students can converse freely, as well eat, drink, and use their cell phones.
When we went to enter the actual library, we realized that we weren’t as tricky as we thought; our grand scheme was halted by a swipe-in turnstile and a man at a desk. Well, like in the court of law, honesty is the best policy. Students are able to enter the Law library if they are studying legal matters (so it’s not just restricted to law students after all). However, the sign-in process is notably detailed. You need to show your NYU ID, sign your name, course title, and professor of the class that requires you to check out legal materials.
After putting our right hands on a Bible and swearing to tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth we were allowed to enter. And boy, it was beautiful. This place blew Bobst out of the water. The woodwork, the lighting, the fireplace, the huge arching windows- it was like the White House. Or something else that is really, really nice.
The staircase that leads to three massive, maze-like lower levels of stacks is so grand that it actually has a name: The Dean Norman Redlich Staircase. Once we headed down good ol’ Norm, we realized how silent it was. There wasn’t even a cough or sniffle to be heard. Apparently the law students have impeccable immune systems on top of everything else. Also, it might be because the Law Library Policy strictly forbids noise of any kind.
The rows of bookshelves seemed unending, we couldn’t believe how far they stretched. Later, when studying a map of the layout of the library, we realized that the basement extends out from the building and runs underneath Sullivan Street.
Within the many dizzying passageways, we made our way into the Golding Media Center. It contained row after row of metal file cabinets filled with microreproductions of papers and photographs. One file cabinet was labeled “Martin Luther King Jr. FBI Files” so naturally, we opened it up and grabbed that sucker. After a solid ten minutes of not being able to properly feed the film strip into the Microform viewer, we began to feel like Zoolander and suspected this was a part of the competency test in the admissions process for law schools. (Elle Woods, we feel you girl.)
After we left the library in the east wing of the building, we went upstairs to the second floor of Vanderbilt Hall to snoop around some classrooms. When we found one that was empty, we went in and realized that this was what we had always envisioned college to look like; rows of desks that look like they’re from the UN, multiple green chalk boards, a solid oak podium, and big windows that look out onto Washington Square Park. Not the leaky ceilings and wobbly plastic seats of the Silver Center, and not a view blocking pillar in sight.
The students at the Law Library looked like any other NYU student approaching midterms: slightly crazed, surrounded by empty coffee cups, and buried under mounds of thick, dusty books. Except for one kid, who was watching the trailer for that new John Carter movie.
We could feel their eyes on us, though. It was like they knew there were intruders within their ranks—lowly undergraduates who have no idea what administrator ad prosequendum means and who think that a codicil is a type of antibiotic.
But there have been other gate-crashers. Others who dared to venture into the wilds of these legal catacombs. One such student, a sophomore who wished to remain anonymous, (we assume in fear of retaliation by angry law students) told us that she managed to sneak in last year.
“It was finals week, and I was putting stuff off, and I needed a change of scenery,” she said. In order to get in, she walked up to the desk with a huge stack of books, telling the guard that her things were already in there and that she had come out to get more books. “Because my hands were full of books, they didn’t ask for my ID,” she said. She also took off her shoes in order to make it more convincing that she’d been in there previously. So was it worth looking like the shoe-bomber in order to get some studying done? Our source said yes. “I got my work done, plus it was fun,” she said.
Sometimes known for being a bunch of Columbia rejects, NYU students might find themselves craving a little bit of that classic academic prestige. And the NYU Law Library is just the place. We can’t exactly condone actually sneaking into the NYU Law Library, or really any NYU building for that matter. But hey, if you get caught and need legal advice, we know some people.
Gucci: From Sexy to Sensual
What! No more sex in the saddle or rocking through the night? Just love in the afternoon, hair flowing loose, a cuddling velvet cape, a moss green dress, wispy black chiffon shaded with embroidery and the blue green of peacock feathers?
Frida Giannini did a volte face at Gucci on Wednesday, from sexy to sensual, making a bold and beautiful start to the Milan winter 2012 season.
Reaching back to the Art Nouveau period, with its “greenery yallery” colors, its wild orchid patterns and its wistful decadence — but bouncing that against a previous Art Nouveau revival in the 1970s — this Gucci show had as much depth and variety in the decorative clothes as in the music, which ranged from light romance to grand opera.
“Romantic — the 19th century, looking at tapestries, playing with transparency — and a lot of the 1970s,” said an emotional Ms. Giannini backstage.
She might also have added to her definition of an androgynous Bohemia — “clothes not handbags” — for the show was as light on its fetish accessory as it was rich in jewelry. It dangled in twinkling drops from ears or sat on the crown of the head, buried like a treasure in a bale of straw.
Last season Ms. Giannini riffed on Art Deco, but that stiff rendition of an earlier era did not seem to have much relevance to the Gucci aesthetic.
The idea of bringing the lush romance of the fin de siècle worked so much better. The artistic research and its elegant application went back to the original idea of a male-female crossover in an era when it suggested daring perversity.
Velvet suits with low-crotch pants never looked like costume party clothes. Nor did long dresses — half-flower child, half-Edwardian maiden — presented in off-shades of green or mingled with blue, and with orchid prints or made from peacock feathers.
Black was the shadow cast over flesh, as the designer revived the 1970s peasant look with the laced-up blouse of the Yves Saint Laurent period. But as windows on the body are now so familiar, there was no sense of daring or sauciness. Instead all was sweet and soft, as though Ms. Giannini had let loose her womanly side.
Alberta Ferretti , another woman designer, went the opposite route. She toughened up from her signature delicate prettiness. The backdrop of a wrought iron staircase and a palazzo window looking out from beyond the mosaic catwalk summed up the story: delicacy with strength.
The fashion conversion was to turn those iron curlicues from another era into lacy dresses for modern times.
Add an ankle-length pinstriped mannish coat and inserts of supple leather and the hard/soft, feminine/masculine message came through beautifully.
“I wanted a very poetic woman — but it is important that she has a strong personality,” said Ms. Ferretti.
She used monochrome colors, a lot of black, occasionally with a dab of scarlet and a few fuchsia dresses with the delicate decoration that is a feature of the house.
Significantly, the designer, known for airy red carpet dresses, also focused on tailoring — but however strict the lines they were cut on a curve.
This man/woman thing is not exactly new to fashion. But there was something convincing and compelling about the Ferretti iron lady: Her dresses so delicately wrought, but her attitude steely.
Belmont’s railing needs repair
by CLINT SCHEMMER
If you’ll pardon the metaphor, the smile on Belmont’s face needs some dental work. Which is to say that the ornate wrought-iron railing of the entrance stairs to Gari Melchers Home and Studio requires some TLC.
That’s why Scott Kreilick, a nationally known expert in the conservation of metals and masonry, was inspecting the staircase Monday. He was asked to consult with the Falmouth site after the antebellum ironwork was named among the state’s top 10 most endangered artifacts by the Virginia Association of Museums this winter.
Kreilick, whose company has conserved wrought-iron pieces in Savannah, New Orleans and Charleston, and monuments at many sites, admired Belmont’s tall, double-curved Aquia sandstone stairs crowned with a railing decorated with iron curlicues and white-metal rosettes, topped by brass finials.
“It’s a well-made piece,” he said. “But it may not have been made for this location.”
That doubt is raised by the way the railing attaches to the stone blocks of the stairs. Finding an answer will require more research, Kreilick said.
Belmont’s immediate concern is stabilizing the stairs, which have shifted over time, and properly protecting the railing against weathering, said David Berreth, the director of the national historic landmark.
The stairs and railing are solid now, but if the stairs continue settling, that could make them dangerous to use, he said.
Getting expert advice will help Belmont estimate the cost of repairs and determine “how far we can go” in conserving the staircase, Berreth said.
Down the road, he hopes that the railing’s inclusion on the Virginia Association of Museum’s at-risk artifacts list will help Belmont raise money to get the project done.
Such work lies beyond the scope of its yearly operating budget, he said. The historic house and museum is administered by the University of Mary Washington, but it raises about 45 percent of its funds from admissions, memberships, special events and private donations.
The VAM listing should “draw attention to the need for preservation of these precious artifacts, not only among private donors, but among state legislators, the Virginia Department of Historic Resources and other state agencies,” he said.
“We hope it shows them that there are needs out there that are not being met, and that museums have things well worth preserving in which there is broad interest among the public.”
Most museums don’t have funds dedicated to conservation and preservation, Berreth said.
Belmont and its supporters established a small conservation fund a few years ago, but with seven historic buildings on the property, “that doesn’t begin to cover our needs,” he said.
Conserving a couple of Melchers’ paintings or frames per year, or tackling one building repair, exhausts the fund.
Kreilick said he looks forward to investigating the railing’s design, materials and creator.
“Iron’s a funny thing,” he said, noting that it’s very difficult to date, unlike other metals.
He doubted Belmont’s railing will bear a maker’s mark. But its style and construction methods may provide clues, Kreilick said.
“It would be nice to know more about this piece’s origin, to connect it with a blacksmithing center such as Philadelphia or Charleston,” he said.
Beate Jensen—Belmont’s supervisor of building and grounds preservation—believes the railing dates to the 1840s. That’s when the house’s owner, Joseph B. Ficklen, married his second wife, A.E. Fitzhugh.
About that time, Ficklen enlarged the Federal-style house, giving it the center-hall layout that visitors see today, adding porches, creating a boxwood walk with rose arbors and sculpting its high earthen terrace, Jensen said.
Those improvements may have pleased his bride, and were a way of signifying their status and wealth to the community, she said. In those days, Berreth noted, visitors approached Falmouth’s hilltop mansions from the Rappahannock River, and Belmont’s terracing and stone stairs would have impressed those seeing them from below.
Ficklen, born in Culpeper, owned several mills in the area as well as the Falmouth bridge across the river. His son, William Ficklen, inherited the house and it was his wife, Julibelle, who sold it to the Melcherses.
The Littlefield is a European-style home that is a joy to explore.
Rectangular stacked-stone veneer covers much of the front facade and flanks the garage door. Soldier courses of raised brick contribute outlining and textural contrast, as does the wavy wrought-iron railing that rims the porch. Classic keystones accent the arches that highlight two front windows, the widest of which has a particularly graceful Gothic transom.
Natural light washes into the foyer through slender sidelights. French doors on the right swing open to access a room that could be a dining room, parlor or perhaps a home office.
Straight ahead is a gathering space that comprises the great room, kitchen and nook. The fireplace offers warmth and color on dark days and chilly nights. Standing at the kitchen sink, you can chat with folks at the conversation bar, enjoy the fireplace flames, serve informal meals on the raised eating bar, and keep tabs on activities inside and out.
Through the transverse hallway right past the dining room, you can reach any room in the house. Three bedrooms, including the owners suite, are to the left, along with a two-section, general-use bathroom. The owners suite has a private bathroom, complete with a dual vanity, deep soaking tub, towel hutch and large shower, and a roomy walk-in closet.
Heading down the hallway to the right brings you to the Littlefield’s kitchen and a pass-through utility room that links with the two-car garage.
At the rear of the garage is an exceptionally deep storage-workshop area. A recreation room, bathroom and walk-in storage closet are upstairs, over the garage.
Northern Va. items among top endangered artifacts
An early 20th century railroad signal used for railway communications in Northern Virginia, a wrought iron stairway from a Stafford County home and wooden trunk in Dumfries all have something in common.
The Virginia Association of Museums says they are among the top 10 endangered artifacts in Virginia. Each year Virginia’s Top 10 Endangered Artifacts program recognizes items that have historic and cultural significance to the Commonwealth.
An independent panel of collections and conservation experts selected the top 10 artifacts:
- Booker T. Washington National Monument (Photographs with cellulose nitrate negatives), Roanoke
- Fairfax Station Railroad Museum (Railroad Semaphore), Fairfax
- Gari Melchers Home & Studio at Belmont (Wrought Iron Staircase Railing), Fredericksburg
- Hermitage Museum & Gardens (Korean 18th century Sakyamuni Triad Silk Tapestry), Norfolk
- Historic Dumfries Virginia, Inc. (Wood Trunk Covered in Deerskin, circa 1800), Manassas
- Kluge-Ruhe Aboriginal Art Collection, University of Virginia (Yolngu Bark Painting), Charlottesville
- Library of Virginia (Executive Papers of Governor Thomas Jefferson, 1779-1781), Richmond
- The Mariners’ Museum (USS Monitor’s Revolving Gun Turret), Newport News
- Preservation Virginia (John Marshall’s Supreme Court Judicial Robes), Richmond
- Virginia National Guard Historical Society (1846 Mexican War National Flag), Blackstone
The railroad semaphore submitted by the Fairfax Station Railroad Museum is original to the Railroad Station. It is one of very few remaining artifacts remaining from the Railroad Station, which served the Southern Railway. The Railroad Station was part of the Orange and Alexandria Railroad, a railroad that played a key role in Confederate victories during the Civil War.
The wrought iron staircase railing is from the Gari Melchers Home & Studio at Belmont. Melcher was an impressionist painter who lived in Stafford County from 1916 until his death in 1932.
Historic Dumfries, Virginia submitted a wood trunk covered in deerskin from about 1800 for consideration. The trunk had been on display at the Weems-Botts Museum but because it has deteriorated, it was taken off display. It may be restored.