Friday, May 13, 2016

Paving Paradise

In the summer of 1926, Coffeyville, Kansas was supplying massive quantities of its vitrified brick to Florida cities. Getting the pavers to Tampa was no easy feat due to a railroad embargo:

"Coffeyville bricks were shipped by the train-loads to Florida, to be used in paving the streets that are enjoying a rapid growth. The bricks, 3,250 tons, or 811,500, were manufactured in the plant of the Coffeyville Vitrified Brick and Tile Company here, [and] left Coffeyville by two trains, bound for Texas City, Texas, where the material was transferred to a boat leased by the Company, and was transported by water to Tampa, Florida. The first train contained twenty-nine cars; and were routed over the Missouri Pacific."(1)

Vitrified bricks were touted by their manufacturers as being impervious to freeze-thaw cycles, heat and humidity, excessive weight and tire chains. Beginning in 1927, the National Paving Brick Manufacturers' Association in Chicago began advertising heavily in regional newspapers (below) and published The A.B.C.s of Good Paving in order to promote the product's assets. Frugal municipalities envisioned the cost savings.

Hattiesburg and Wiggins, Mississippi implemented vitrified brick pavers on their streets. Brownwood, Texas paved some 42 miles with it in 1928.(2)

The Florida Land Boom brought large quantities of the product into the state. In 1924, Kansas State Agricultural College landscape gardening professor William S. Wiedorn relocated to St. Petersburg, Florida. The street where he lived is still paved in vitrified brick.

(1)"From the Sunflower State." Anita Record 1 July 1926.

(2)"Hitting a New Peak." Brownwood Bulletin 5 October 1928.

Images above:  Ebay; Advertisement. New Castle News 16 November 1927; Advertisement The Charleston Gazette 11 April 1928.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Wiedorn in Kansas

New Orleans landscape architect William Wiedorn (1896-1990) taught landscape gardening at Kansas State Agricultural College from 1920-1924. During part of that time, the college advised on more than 201 landscape gardening efforts in 32 counties. While some 18% were public parks, the vast majority were private residential beautification projects.(1)
Wiedorn worked with horticulture professor Albert Dickens to supervise the improvement of the state capitol grounds in Topeka. They installed an underground irrigation system and recommended turning under an expanse of Sudan grass followed by a blue grass sowing. (2)

Dodge City hired the young landscape designer to superintend the planting of nearly 800 trees and shrubs in its Wright Park.(3) Other projects included the Augusta High School, Kansas State Penitentiary (Lansing), the Osawatomie Hospital and the Kansas State Tubercular Sanitarium (Norton). The latter is shown below.

The former tuberculosis hospital is now home to the Norton Correctional Facility.


(1)"College Lends Aid in Kansas Landscaping." Industrialist 18 October 1922.

(2)"Dickens and Wiedorn Help Beautify Capitol Grounds." Industrialist 28 September 1921.

(3)"Farmers as Guests." The Hutchinson News 13 April 1922.

Images above:  "William S. Wiedorn" in The Royal Purple. Detail enhanced. 1922; The Royal Purple. Detail enhanced. 1924. "Landscape Gardening" in Sixth Biennial Report of the State Sanatorium for Tuberculosis, Norton, Kansas for the Two Years Ending June 30, 1924. Topeka, 1924.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Food Moderne

In 1948, the Carnation Company hired Beaux-Arts educated architect Stiles O. Clements (1883-1966) to design its new corporate headquarters on Wilshire Boulevard in Los Angeles. The company decided to maximize on the high percentage (30%) of its employees living in California. Staff in Seattle, Milwaukee and New York were relocated and former branch operations such as accounting, advertising and purchasing were centralized.

The new reinforced concrete structure was built on 645 tapered steel piles, each extending thirty feet below grade. Most building materials were acquired in California. The color scheme reflected the corporate identity:  the elevator penthouse's mammoth (17 x 57') "Carnation Milk" sign appeared in solid red letters during the day, and as flashing red and white neon at night. The red granite facing stone on the lower facade could not be acquired locally and was shipped from Sweden on the maiden voyage of the Grace Line Motorship named Los Angeles.(1)
The Frito Company similarly established a stronghold in Los Angeles, building its largest plant at 8734 Bellanca Avenue. The company's general and district sales managers moved into the new location in the spring of 1950. Over 4,000 people attended the grand opening celebration. Executives demonstrated the original hand press that was used to make the first fritos in San Antonio in 1932.
The company also built a new plant at 1420 Roosevelt Street in its hometown. Assistant Plant Manager Ruth Ragsdale touted the operation:

"The most modern and up-to-date equipment was installed. The sacking rooms are a network of conveyors carrying the finished merchandise to the automatic weighing machines --unlike the old days when every bag had to be weighed and stapled by hand. Our continuous Frito press, enormous potato chip machine, the overhead conveyors carrying the boxes of finished merchandise from sacking rooms to the Shipping Department, electric taping and tying machines--all these things have been added to the San Antonio operation since my arrival in 1932. Another really fine addition is the modern lunch room, where employees 'take a break' and enjoy coffee and tea furnished by the company."(2)

The building is still standing.

In fact, all three buildings are at least partially standing.


(1) Carnation Company. Fifty Years of Progress. [Los Angeles?]: The company, 1949.

(2) The Frito Company. Fritos Band Wagon: Twentieth Anniversary Issue.  Dallas: The company, October 1952.

Images above: Clement O. Stiles, architect. Carnation Company Headquarters, 5045 Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA. 1949. Detail. From Carnation Company. Fifty Years of Progress. [Los Angeles?]: The company, 1949.

Unknown architect. The Frito Company Western Division Plant, 8734 Bellanca Avenue, Los Angeles, CA. 1950. Detail. From Fritos Band Wagon: Twentieth Anniversary Issue.  Dallas: The company, October 1952.

Unknown architect. The Frito Company San Antonio Plant, 1420 Roosevelt Avenue, San Antonio, TX. 1949. Detail. From Fritos Band Wagon: Twentieth Anniversary Issue.  Dallas: The company, October 1952.

All publications from Clementine Paddleford Papers, Richard L. D. and Marjorie J. Morse Department of Special Collections, K-State Libraries.

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:  http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/2003671557/