Nobler and more beautiful

we will never bring shame

Originally uploaded by joelmann.

This mural greets those entering the Crain Communications (London Guarantee) Building (360 N. Michigan Ave., Alfred Alschuler, 1923). For nearly fifty years until a recent restoration, these murals and a gilded coffered ceiling were hidden beneath an acoustic-panel drop ceiling. The text (edit: from the Ephebic Oath, the Athenian oath of citizenship — thanks to George Proakis), apparently targeted at business leaders and perhaps entirely inappropriate for the foreign owners of the former client, offers up a credo for city builders in a bygone era of noblesse oblige, honor, and civic duty:

“We will never bring shame upon this, our city, by any act of dishonor. We will fight for the ideals and the sacred things of the city, both alone and with our comrades. With heart and mind and hand we will strive that we may bequeath this city not only no less but nobler and more beautiful than it was transmitted to us.” (emphasis added)