Friday, September 28, 2012


The Mackie Building, in downtown Milwaukee, was built in 1879 and originally housed the chamber of commerce and a grain exchange.  The Grain Exchange Room, three stories high and on the second floor of the building, included what is believed to have been the first ever commodities exchange trading pit.  The room was in use as a grain exchange until 1935, after which time it fell into some disrepair.  It underwent extensive restoration in the early 1980s and the grain exchange room now serves as a venue for various public and private events.  It is a glorious space that is not generally open to the public, so I was eager to take advantage of the Doors Open event to get some photographs.  I was not disappointed.

As stated, the Grain Exchange Room is located on the second floor of the building.  Here is an early shot of the second floor landing window. looking to the north out the front of the building.  It is a harbinger of the nice architectural touches to come.  The only distraction here was the fact that the building across the street was under construction.

One's first look at the Grain Exchange Room is stunning.  Here is a early shot of a corner of the room.  The light coming into the room was terrific.

The room has the twin advantages of having extremely ornate details, while appearing very large.  The sense of size is enhanced by the fact that the ceilings are perhaps 36 feet high, giving the impression that the room is cube-shaped.  In addition, the faux marble columns add to the majesty of the space.  Here are a couple of looks at those columns, which are highly ornate in their own right.

Here is another shot from the same location in which I was able to back off more to give a better sense of space.

And here is a shot looking up at one of the arches between columns from directly below, revealing the extreme attention to detail.

The room was filled with touches such as this mural . . .

and this decorative sheaf of grain, symbolic of the room's original use.

The amount of skilled labor that went into the creation of this room had to be enormous.  I cannot imagine that being duplicated in any contemporary construction.

I took a number of shots in an attempt to capture the size of the space.  Here are the best of those.  These first two were taken from the floor of the room.  

I was able to include a bit of the skylight in the center of the room.

This last shot was taken from a gallery one floor up from the main floor.  Even thought this was the widest angle I was able to capture, I fear that the shot appears a bit "sterile." I did like, however, the way light was reflecting off the column to the left.  In general, based on past experience, I took care to center the camera on the intended shot, as no amount of post-processing can compensate for a shot that is not centered.

I thought the best shot, the one that captured best both the ornate qualities and the size of the space, was the following "corner shot."

Visiting this place was when I really could have used a true wide-angle lens.

Taken with my Nikon D7000 with Nikkor 24-120 mm f/4 lens.

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