Architecture The Dead Island
posted by November 14 at 13:41 PMon
This is Bannerman’s Island:
Bannerman’s Island [is] an old, half-flooded and fire-damaged derelict mansion built on a small island in the Hudson River…
…As American Heritage describes it, “this island fortress was once the private arsenal of the world’s largest arms dealer.” And that was Frank “Francis” Bannerman.
Bannerman, we learn, “bought up ninety per cent of all captured guns, ammunition, and other equipment auctioned off after the Spanish-American War. He also bought weapons directly from the Spanish government before it evacuated Cuba. These purchases vastly exceeded the firm’s capacity at its store in Manhattan and filled three huge Brooklyn warehouses with munitions, including thirty million cartridges.”
…Bannerman died a week after the end of World War I – and the island had sunk into a state of “monumental decay” by the 1960s.
It was then gutted by arsonists.
In the 18th century, there was an understanding that might seem strange to us in the 21st century. A new building was not only judged for its existing beauty or elegance but also for how it would decay. Factored into the life of a building was its death, its form of decay, its method or way of falling apart. A building that looked good could be considered bad because it would look bad when it became a ruin. The Greeks, according to this view of things, were great architects because they made great ruins.
With the mansion and other structures on Bannerman’s Island, we come to another understanding: a building that is born bad might become great when it is dead. The ruins on the Island are simply beautiful.