Sanna's Bag

“I never seem to have what I need when I need it. I’m going to make a belt-bag that’s bigger on the inside than on the outside, and just carry everything with me.”

Friday, February 26, 2010


I had an appointment in downtown Portland yesterday at the main branch of my bank. There are some great old buildings downtown. Buildings with presence and grandeur. Buildings with details like these:
You just know that this is an important building where significant work is done. It has honking big columns!

Other buildings might put bars over the window to ensure security. This building has much too much class. They have ornate brass grillwork. Bars are for prisons, not secure financial institutions.

And how's that for fancy lighting? This is NOT some little hick-town hovel of a building.

Even the flag standards are impressive.

You know, in your very soul, that anyone who walks through these doors is SOMEBODY.
Aand all this brasswork may have been shipped 'round the horn. I'm not sure we had foundries doing this kind of work back then. It was important enough to the people who built this building to go to CONSIDERABLE time and expense to make the building look "Impressive" and "Prosperous" Now builders just go for the bottom line. No elaboration or pomp. Most banks could just as well be warehouses now a days. You don't feel special when you walk in. But in the main branch of my bank, they have a dapper gray-haired gentleman in a suit who greets you if you look the least bit dazed, and is delighted to help you find what and who you came for. He made me feel VERY special!

Now-a-days, we make a big deal of shipping slabs of stone from Montana and Brazil and Italy. In those days, you didn't bring in Italian carved granite pediments. You brought in Italian stone masons and used your own local granite. There was a significant Italian community in Portland because the all stone masons then brought all their families, and the aged uncles were gardners and the Nonnas started bakeries and restaurants, and the cherished daughters became shop clerks and married Norwegian loggers . . .

And someone started making ornamental cast iron.

When is the last time something was constructed with this much pride and beauty lavished upon it? I'm all for clean lines and modern materials, but I cherish the elaboration of pomposity, too.

I had invited the Bahh Boys to come downtown with me, but they preferred to stay at home. Bobby said he needed to write some e-mails to let his folks back home know they made it this far OK. I hope he didn't abuse his internet priveledges.


  • At 9:06 AM , Blogger Julie said...

    That wrought iron fence around the Iolani Palace in Honolulu? It was made in the very industrialized county seat of the farmland I grew up in, in Ohio, and shipped.

    Someone should write a book.

  • At 10:03 AM , Anonymous Lisa Nowak said...

    It's the same way with houses. Builders just don't do things with class anymore.

    You're leaving yourself wide open with that comment about Bobby abusing his Internet privileges, but I'm not going to take the bait today. :)

  • At 2:54 PM , Blogger Willow said...

    I hope Bobby wasn't a Baaaad Boy!

    One of the reasons I love visting England is seeing all the beautiful buildings, the old ones that had years and years lavished upon their architectural details. Interestingly, I prefer living in a home with clean straight lines...

  • At 7:22 PM , Blogger Jejune said...

    That is indeed a very elaborate and stylish bank building. We've been watching "Kevin McCloud's Grand Tour of Europe" which has been looking at how Mediterranean architecture influenced British design, fascinating stuff, and I can see the same influences in your bank.

    Lulu seems to be sneaking a fair bit of time on my laptop of late, I wonder if she's getting messages from Bobby ... hmmm ...

  • At 7:29 PM , Blogger Amy Lane said...

    That's a lovely building-- it's like they knew you were coming, going to all that trouble:-)

    And of course he's abusing his internet privledges--I bet when you come back, there will be sock porn, in all it's glory, popping up on your screen...

  • At 1:43 PM , Blogger Rose Lefebvre said...

    I love the photos!! I have wanted to take shots like that but too scared to venture into Portland. I am not comfortable driving there, and not comfortable walkign around alone. Would feel like Little Red Riding Hood in a city of wolves.

  • At 3:03 PM , Blogger Alwen said...

    I love little details like that. Our big soapstone stove has a bunch of them in the cast iron: flourishes over the door, a medallion with violets - it's beautiful.

    I have a friend who goes to Japan as often as she can afford - she says, "You should see the manhole covers!"

    Oh, I know: Flickr set of Japanese manhole covers:


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