Monday, April 18, 2016

Frank Herbert's Windmill (1977)

In March 1977, the Associated Press reported that Dune author Frank Herbert (1920-1986) had chosen to live a self-reliant life of "techno-peasantry." From his six-acre homestead on Washington's Olympic Peninsula, Herbert occupied a solar-paneled residence with his family. They grew their own vegetables in a lean-to greenhouse that supplied radiant heat to their adjacent home. They raised chickens and gathered droppings to fertilize their garden.

Herbert also collaborated with Taliesin-trained architect John Underhill Ottenheimer to design a panemone windmill. The duo patented their turbine and sought to market it for Sears or Wards company catalog sales.

Drawings and research notes pertaining to their windmill are housed with the author's manuscripts at California State University, Fullerton University Archives and Special Collections.

Like Albert Ledner, John Ottenheimer continues to practice architecture. He is assisting with the restoration of Frank Lloyd Wright's Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin.

Read more:  "Writers sees self-reliance as key to survival." The Manhattan Mercury 25 March 1977.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

The Joker (1884)

In 1884, P.W. Zeigler advertised his stoves, tinware, pumps and drive wells. He also sold Joker solid-wheel wooden windmills, an unusual type manufactured in Peabody, Kansas and known for its back-gearing. This made for a more efficient and uniform pump stroke per wheel rotation.

Image above:  P.W. Zeigler advertisement. Riley County Blue Book and Directory. Manhattan, KS: 1884.

Friday, April 8, 2016

The Kansas Module (1887)

William H. Sadlier Company published the first two volumes of its Excelsior Geography in 1875. An additional volume appeared the following year. The works were part of a series that the Sadlier family developed to serve parochial school educators who lamented the anti-Catholic sentiment they discerned in American textbooks.

Sadlier's secondary school publications became quite popular, and garnered attention at the 1878 Paris Exhibition. Many went through multiple editions, as did its three-volume geography primer.

The plate reproduced above, "Map Drawing on a Uniform Scale, Combined with Comparative Size," provides general instructions based on a uniform scale. The anonymous author set Kansas as the basis for mapping out the other states, the rectangular module for the United States. Its proportional relationship of 1:2 (200 miles x 400 miles) made it particularly easy to scale. For those states with more irregular borders, the author recommended employing comparative size.

See more geography instruction manuals here.

Image above:  "Map Drawing on a Uniform Scale, Combined with Comparative Size." As it appears in Anonymous ["A Catholic Teacher"]. Sadlier's Excelsior Geography, 2nd ed. New York: William H. Sadlier, 1887. Ben A. & Sylvia S. Smith American Geography and Social Studies Education Collection, Richard L. D. and Marjorie J. Morse Department of Special Collections, Kansas State University Libraries.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

States on Stage (1884)

Chicago designers Trowbridge and Petford developed this advertising map for H.W. Hill & Company, the nation's largest manufacturer of hog rings. Hill had utilized the cartographic format for a previous promotional effort, his Map of the United States, Showing the Farm Animals in Each State (1878).

While the earlier ad incorporated Department of Agriculture data, the 1884 map employed cartoonish pigs to represent each state's common nickname. William Eugene Sutphin Trowbridge, a designer, and Charles E. Petford, the Haverly Theatre's scenic artist, combined forces for Hill's Advertising Department.  They created a colorful map revealed through stage curtains by a porcine clown and an impresario.

Dakota Territory and Louisiana are the only regions that feature architectural elements, with a Native American tepee representing "In the Land of the Dakotas" and an ornamental balustrade suggesting the Creole state. Iowa's Hawkeye has a bird's eye view of a railroad bridge, a steamboat and a distant town. Vermont's "Granite State Boys" features a monumental pig statue.

Potential customers could purchase the map for merely 5¢.

Image above:  Nicknames of the States. Decatur, IL: H.W. Hill & Co., 1884. Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Division. URL:

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Boom & Bust Syndicates

During the 1880s and early 1890s big real estate development "syndicates" proliferated. Platting activities simultaneously peaked in such cities as Cleveland, Chicago, Detroit, Milwaukee and San Francisco.(1)

The previous post introduced one such enterprise in San Antonio, Texas. In New York, Maximilian Morgenthau's syndicate was especially powerful, known for its lucrative ventures on Amsterdam Avenue, 179th, 180th and 182nd Streets.

In Kansas, the so-called "Big Syndicate" formed in the spring of 1887. Organized as the Atchison Land, Improvement & Investment Company, its investors planned to develop a street railway and dummy line.  Missouri architect Max J. Scholer surveyed the proposed transportation corridor and also designed the syndicate's two-story Commercial Street property. He independently acquired properties along the proposed dummy line in the city's Highland Park subdivision.(2)

Later that year, the General Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church responded to the boom by establishing Midland College in the Big Syndicate's subdivision. Other municipalities that had vied for the foundation included Beloit, Minneapolis and Topeka, Kansas and Beatrice, Grand Island and Lincoln, Nebraska. But Atchison and its syndicates offered the Synod $50,000 for buildings, 25 acres of land, and net profits from land sales. By January 1889 the college had completed an ambitious new brick and grey stone building.

The 1887 Kansas Boom was short-lived & Highland Park sales were especially lackluster. Within its first two years, Midland College enrollments dwindled by over 25%.

(1) Fisher, Ernest M. "Session of Real Estate Speculation: Speculation in Suburban Lands." American Economic Review 23:1, Supplement, Papers and Proceedings of the Forty-fifth Annual Meeting of the American Economic Association (March 1933), p. 153.

(2) The Atchison Globe (2 June 1887).

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Affordable Housing & The Argonauts (1880)

In 1880 The Galveston Daily News reported on the establishment of a new architecture /planning syndicate in San Antonio, Texas. The secret society --- led by Confederate brigadier general Hamilton Prioleau Bee (1822-97) -- formed to develop new suburban oases:

"Each subordinate body, which is termed a syndicate, procures a tract of land in a suitable locality, and subdividing it into town lots, streets, squares, parks, etc., proceeds to sell the building lots to such persons as may desire them. Thus far the society is identical with a city company, like the Galveston city company, but by the combination of all these companies into an alliance, and by the publication of an official journal, it affords a means of advertising each of these speculations more fully than could be done by any other manner. While this new order is without limit in its jurisdiction, it will be of the greatest benefit to Texas in providing new-comers with cheap homes in desirable localities, as well as enabling those possessed of large tracts of lands, to dispose of them at an advantage. Throughout our entire state there are localities that would become popular health resorts, on account of mineral springs, salubrious climate, providing persons seeking those homes could obtain a cheap home there. By starting a syndicate in these localities this benefit will be secured. The alliance is fully organized, and will secure a charter from the state of Texas. The first syndicate, called [?] Jason No. 1, was organized here Friday, and already a move is on foot to translate the laws and rituals into German and French, and starting other syndicates composed of persons of those nationalities. One feature of this society is that there is no restriction as to sex or physical infirmity, except what each syndicate may specially provide in its bylaws."(1)

The San Antonio Herald reported that the secret society -- the Alliance of the Golden Fleece -- lacked the features that made such organizations "so objectionable to a large portion of citizens."(2) Louis Giraud was its surveyor and Alfred Giles (1853-1920) was named its architect.

(1)"The Alliance of the Golden Fleece." Galveston Daily News 1 September 1880, Issue 139.

(2) Cited in Galveston Daily News 23 June 1880, Issue 79.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Architect Otho McCrackin

Hutchinson, Kansas architect Otho McCrackin (1893-1962) attended Washington University before serving as a pilot in the balloon division during the First World War. His drawing skills were utilized in the creation of strategic bird's eye views.(1)

After the war, he was associated first with the short-lived Curtis & McCrackin firm in Paris, Texas, and then joined the Hutchinson-based Mann & Company as a draftsman. In 1927, with encouragement from A.R. Mann, McCrackin submitted drawings to the West Coast Woods Architectural Competition. The jury awarded him $2,000 for his frame residence incorporating four Pacific Northwest woods: Douglas fir, West Coast hemlock, Sitka spruce and Western red cedar.
Unusual for a trade competition, McCrackin's West Coast Woods House was actually constructed in Portland, Oregon. In 1928, The American Lumberman reported that 10,000 prospective visitors were turned away the first week it opened due to the high demand.(2)  Photographs of the award-winning design graced such publications as Pencil Points, American Architect and Better Homes and Gardens. It is now a private residence.
Later in life, McCrackin partnered with Russell H. Heit and became a mentor to Kansas State University architecture graduate Leon Quincy Jackson (B.S. Arch. 1950).

(1)"Awards in West Coast Woods Architectural Competition." Pencil Points VIII:10 (October 1927): 635.

(2)"Prize Home Built at Portland, Ore." The American Lumberman (1928).

Images Above:  Otho McCrackin. Pencil Points VIII:10 (October 1927): 635.

Otho McCrackin, architect. "First Prize Design for A Residence and Garage." Pencil Points VIII:10 (October 1927): 634.

Otho McCrackin, architect. "House in Portland, Oregon, Built from Plans Submitted in the 1927 Competition Sponsored by the West Coast Lumber Bureau." The American Architect CXXXIV (20 July 1928): 131.