Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Klutho's Kahler Apartments

This Avondale apartment building comes from later in the career of Henry John Klutho, one of Florida's greatest architects, and is one of two known buildings he designed in the Art Deco style.  Klutho's presence is pervasive in Jacksonville, from Avondale and Riverside to Springfield and downtown.  This is not typical of his work, which more often reflected the Prairie school.  Nevertheless, it is a special building.

Kahler Apartments, 3225 St. Johns Avenue, Jacksonville, constructed 1936.  The Kahler Apartments anchor the corner of St. Johns Avenue and Seminole Street, and show how Klutho's work evolved and changed over the years.  The Art Deco style is unusual in Avondale, yet the building does not seem out of place.  It blends nicely into the neighborhood's eclectic mix.

Two sets of tile-accented steps curve up to the front entrance from the sidewalk.  Art Deco lanterns flank the door, which is shaded by a projecting canopy, and direct the eye up the facade to a tower that rises above the roof-line.  The original metal casement windows were replaced in 1984 when the building was converted into condominiums.  It is a testament to Klutho's design that the Kahler holds up today, even with the modern windows.

The tiles on the steps add a splash of bright color to the building entrance.  There is more eye-catching tile-work on the back of the planter that separates the stairways.

The detail above shows the glass-block window above the canopy over the door.  Glass-blocks are common in Art-Deco buildings.  Here are closer views of the Art Deco-style lanterns and front door:

The Kahler Apartments face both St. Johns Avenue and Seminole Road.  As you can see, the Seminole Road entrance is identical to the St. Johns, however the Seminole Road side of the building is longer.

The plaque on The Kahler is evidence of the residents' respect for the renowned architect responsible for this important building.  Klutho came to Jacksonville after the great fire of 1901, helped rebuild the city, and, in the process, designed many landmark buildings, including the mammoth St.James building downtown, which was built as the home of Cohen Brother's Department Store, but is today Jacksonville City Hall. 

Although some of Klutho's most important works, such as the Seminole Hotel downtown, have been destroyed, dozens of his other buildings remain to impress and delight us.  The Kahler on St. Johns Avenue in Avondale, with its clean lines, impressive entry, and Deco details, is one of them.

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