We often find unintentional markings on our older drawings–an accidental splash of ink, coffee rings, even an inky fingerprint–but today we found the uncommon, but not the first, shoe-print. The above drawing is a detail of the majestic 1928 Paramount Theater in Anderson, Indiana, from the A.M. Strauss Architectural Records Collection.
The heel marks are clearly visible–note the nails that once held together men’s shoes. The letters “H A S S . . . S H O E” are also visible on the print to the left. These unintentional details recall the romance of the early 20th century, when we can imagine our architects bent over their worktable, bow-tied and waist-coated, with pen and ink in hand.
From the number of small detail drawings such as this one, Alvin Strauss clearly labored over the details of the Mission/ Spanish revival-style Paramount Theater, which he referred to at that time as simply the "Anderson Theater". The National Register of Historic Places lists the architect for the theater as John Eberson and A.M. Strauss.
Eberson was a nationally-known architect for his theater designs and often contracted with local architects. A little research into the lettering of the shoe print uncovered the Hass Shoe Company of Riverside, New Jersey, that was in operation during the 1920s. Eberson operated his practice out of nearby New York, so it is conceivable that it was Eberson who stepped on the drawing when he visited Strauss' office in Fort Wayne.
Like many downtown theaters, the Paramount experienced decline and eventually closed its doors. Preservation-minded citizens facilitated an extraordinary effort to restore the building's opulence in the 1990s and it operates as a concert venue today.
Image: Paramount Theater detail, 1928, (32-501), A. M. Strauss Architectural Records Collection, Drawings + Documents Archive, Archives and Special Collections, Ball State University Libraries.