Friday, June 12, 2015

Belated RIP: Gobbler Architect Helmut Ajango

The saying goes, one should never wait too long to contact (or re-contact) long-lost friends or relatives; the same could be said of long-admired artists, like Helmut Ajango, architect of the Gobbler Restaurant and Motel, who passed away November 2013. You never know when you'll lose your only chance. I'd mused on the idea of sending Mr. Ajango a postcard or letter telling him how much I admired the Gobbler's design and how much interest the building continued to inspire decades on. I'm sure he already knew, judging from the number of Web references to his designs steadily amassing over the past decade or so. Of course, the Gobbler was only one of many dozens of striking buildings, homes, banks, and churches he dreamed up on his drafting table that still bring a touch of bygone-era beauty to towns and cities across the Midwest. I never sent that card, but wish I had. RIP, Mr. Ajango. Image courtesy


Anthony Thompson said...

I tried calling his office several times in early 2012 to arrange a meeting and to discuss photographing his drawings and models, etc. The phone wasn't answered and I never got a response to my voicemails. I'm a persistent kind of guy, so I stopped by his office on my way to Milwaukee one morning in June (2012?). The office wasn't open. But a waitress at a nearby diner said that his office was still functioning (though she seemed a bit vague in her knowledge).

Last year I drove by again (knowing that he had passed). His office location is now a karate studio. Knowing now (from your blog) that his wife and son have also passed I wonder what became of his archives. Did those wonderful drawings and models end up in a dumpster?

Lenka Reznicek said...

Thank you for your comment, Anthony Thompson, and for making the effort to contact Mr. Ajango back then. I've heard anecdotally that he'd suffered from a lengthy illness that would have prevented him from working, perhaps explaining the unanswered phone messages. I also wonder what happened to Ajango's drawings and models; they would have had tremendous historical value.