|The donor of this object provided little documentation, but recent research in the William Gray Purcell Papers at the Northwest Architectural Archives has uncovered its identity as a sample cast made for metal ornament for the Woodbury County Courthouse. The realized grille, comprised of repeated metal bars surmounted by this design, is a rare spot of metal in the interior's sea of terra cotta. It is repeated in a series of eleven on the second level of the courthouse, at the back of the bank of elevators, facing the rotunda.
Elmslie intended this piece to complement the surrounding terra cotta designs, four drawings for which are on view here. The organic shapes, sprouting seedpod motif, and "lettuce leaf" decoration in this design display Elmslie's inheritance of aesthetic from Louis Sullivan. Yet, the design balances geometric with organic form, featuring central parallel horizontal lines to contrast its sumptuous curves and spirals. This grille's simpler forms were necessary for its position in the courthouse rotunda, where it was only meant to be seen from a distance.