Updated: May 27, 2018
I mention this frequently, and I'll keep doing so - one of my favorite aspects of my hometown of Cincinnati is its remarkable array of 19th century architecture. The city is teeming with every specimen under the sun, including every sort of revival, movement, experiment and tradition. Personally speaking, I've always been a devoted fan to one of the most elegant of all, the Italianate style. Though I grew up in a suburb just outside of Hamilton county, downtown Cincinnati's Over-the-Rhine neighborhood pulled at my developing aesthetic like a siren's song, likely thanks to my familial roots, as well as the endless streets of ornate roofline cornices and brackets, wrought iron details, patrician doorways and arched windows. Those wonderful arched windows, each row distinctly crowned, and creating a flow of visual rhythm as far as the eye could see. Italianate Wonderland.
Nowhere in town is this style shown to a more glorified level than on Dayton Street, a tiny, block-long stretch tucked between Linn and Baymiller Streets just outside of Over-the-Rhine proper. This was termed "Millionaire's Row" thanks to the wealth that commissioned the houses - brewery owners, attorneys, grocers, manufacturers and various other successful business people were in residence. Built primarily between 1860 and 1890, the structures were as beautiful internally as they were externally, appointed with creativity and elegance. Though the area went through a long period of decline, the current trend toward architectural preservation sweeping the city has caught up with Dayton Street - even better, the beautiful Hauck House serves as a public house museum, offering a completely intact historic interior and exterior for viewing.
Needless to say, I'd love to serve as the steward/owner of one of these remarkable houses, and the hard work involved in restoration and preservation would be well worth the effort, to be surrounded by such beauty. Meanwhile, I decided to create an illustration to pay tribute to this delightful collection of buildings.
Just a lady with her greyhound, posing before a round, leaded glass window. I wanted to include plenty of jigsaw-cut woodwork, along with colorful wallpaper and rich tones for days...
The little dots along her sash are done with metallic inks, for a bit of extra dash. And of course, I had to run riot with the feathers on her cartwheel hat...
Finally, a little photo that Matt took at my desk, while I was finishing up this piece. As usual I'm surrounded by pencils, and my trusted nib pen is in my hand, and my inkwell is at my side. Most importantly, you can see the photos of my late father, Tom Bennignus, and paternal great-grandfather, Ulric Gamble, who reliably keep an eye on how things are going. At some point I'll post a bit about my dad, a talented man in his own right who pushed like hell for his daughter to follow her calling as an illustrator - a rare and brave quality! Soon to come: my current commission, which will be a celebration of a fantastic life - with the help of Bakelite, Eisenberg, Trifari and countless other varieties of costume jewelry. That's what I call a Serious Honor.