Monday, February 8, 2016

NOLA in Kansas

Listening to WWOZ this weekend, I heard Truckstop Honeymoon's "Mardi Gras in Kansas" for the first time. The duo left Ninth Ward New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina and settled in Lawrence, Kansas. They established their 9th Ward Pickin' Parlor, a recording studio in a "barn-style cottage."

Listen to their August 2010 NPR displacement interview here.

Happy Lundi Gras!

Tuesday, January 12, 2016


This week is my last at Tulane University Libraries' Southeastern Architectural Archive. I have taken a position as head of the Richard L. D. and Marjorie J. Morse Department of Special Collections at Kansas State University.

In sorting through personal and professional files, I've come across a few things I had set aside to investigate later. Photographs of costumed ladies posed against painted backdrops, a flood-devastated western town, bright linens hanging outside a rustic lakeside cabin (above). I acquired all these images by digging through boxes at the Originals Mall of Antiques in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. None of them bore any textual identification, familial or geographic designations.

The Western Town

A series of three photographs documented some natural disaster, possibly a bad storm and/or flood. I had speculated the pictures were from the late 19-teens, but using a Peak Lupe 8x Model 2018, I could make out the following building markers:

Hotel Vail (below,  left)
Santa Fe / The Hub (below, center)
The Hotel Vail is still standing and is on the National Register, so identifying the locale as Pueblo, Colorado was fairly easy.

Not knowing anything about Pueblo's history, I used America's Historic Newspapers database and Denver Public Library's Digital Collections to confirm that the event was the June 3, 1921 flood. The unidentified photographer focused his/her lens on the the vicinity of the high water mark along Union Avenue. At its peak, the flood covered over 300 square miles.

The Photo Postcard Studio

A series of four real-photo postcards presented women dressed in costumes set against painted backdrops or decorative curtains. They seemed to be from the 1940s, and given the subject matter, most likely from the Great Plains. The photographer used EKC paper with undivided backs, but none of the versos bear anything more distinctive.

There is a Cultivator
And a Reaper

And Two Harvesters
And a Geisha
Yes, a geisha. With a cherry blossom kimono and a peacock-feathered fan.

In the last decade, there has been a growing interest in rural studio photography:

The John Michael Kohler Art Center's current exhibit Bringing to Light: The Massengill Family Photo Collection (through 17 January) features portraits produced in an Arkansas mobile studio. Many of the images are hand-colored close-up photographs; some can be viewed via Maxine Payne's 2004 Making Pictures: Three for a Dime.

Luc Sante's Folk Photography: The American Real-Photo Postcard (2009) addresses the proliferation of small-town photo postcards during the early twentieth century. Sante's interest in the format stemmed from a random encounter with a New York peddler over thirty years ago.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

NYPL - NEW Digital Resource

The New York Public Library [NYPL] has announced the launch of 180,000 high resolution public domain images through its Digital Collections. The site includes thousands of images of the Gulf South, including this one of a Mississippi Carnegie Library under construction (1910).

In many instances, the versos of photographs are also scanned. These often provide substantive contextual information.  For example, photographer Dick Williams captured the above image circa 1939. Producer Michael Todd and Director Hassard Short are shown inspecting the "Gay Old New Orleans" model for the New York World's Fair.

I've mentioned Todd's production in a previous post.

The Crescent City was prominent at the fair. The New Orleans Village celebrated Mardi Gras week with nightly carnival parades. Eddie Durchin and his orchestra played, and Joe Louis, Fredi Washington and Ann Lewis performed a skit. Mississippi-born "Hammerin' Hank" Armstrong (1912-1988) led a dance number at the Sazerac Restaurant Show.

Names of artists and designers were frequently included in publicity photographs. From the verso of the photograph show above, one can glean that Pilar Fernandez (left) of Havana, Cuba painted murals for "Gay Old New Orleans."  Another reveals that Irene Sharaff (1910-1993) designed Michael Todd's costumes.

Images above:  Aurelius P. Hood. Carnegie Library in Course of Construction at Mound Bayou, MS. 1910. Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, New York Public Library.  Permalink:
This structure -- demolished in the 1930s -- was on the corner of SW Green Street East and Fisher Avenue.

Dick Williams. Michael Todd and Hassard Short Inspect Old New Orleans Model. Circa 1939. New York Public Library. Permalink:

Leo Casey, Director of Publicity. Pilar Fernandez (Havana, Cuba) and Janice Torre (1928 Carrollton Ave) Sitting on a Fence. Detail.  1940. New York Public Library. Permalink:

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Merry Travels/Holidays!

In 1939, Laura Mae Gumb of Hope, North Dakota took a long rail journey with her best friend Alice Curtis. They wanted to visit the New York World's Fair and see Washington, D.C. In the process, they celebrated the retirement of a 70-year-old Great Northern railroad engineer (above), ventured to Chinatown, and remarked on the wonders they saw. They drank cocktails at the Diamond Horseshoe and the Savoy.  They also seemingly stole a lot of restaurant menus, napkins and ashtrays. They met travelers from all over the world.

May your travels and festivities this season be equally remarkable!

Friday, December 18, 2015

New Orleans As Divine Feminine

In 1915, New Orleans bungalow architect Morgan Dudley E. Hite (1882-1959) developed a map titled "New Orleans --Center of the World" (shown above). Mayor Martin Behrman's administration liked the map so much, it was used in a full-page advertisement the following year (shown below), accompanied by the passage:

"New Orleans is not content to rest secure and apathetic in her position as the center of the world, the center of world population, the center of world-production, the center of world-navigation.

"That much was done for the City of New Orleans by Nature.

"But to supplement this handsome and generous work of Nature the City of New Orleans is building for the future when the new industrial empire at her door will have been developed; when the wet lands at her door have been reclaimed; when the cut-over pine lands will have been turned to the plow; when the natural resources of her tributary section will have been made to yield the golden tribute of their promise."(1)

(1)"The Eyes of the World Are on New Orleans." Trade Index 28:6 (June 1916); recto of back cover. Louisiana Research Collection, Special Collections Division, Tulane University Libraries.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

New Orleans Business Archive: Friede & Goldman

The New Orleans firm of Friede and Goldman, Ltd. was established by Jerome L. Goldman (1924-2013, shown left above) and Commander Vladimir M. Von Der Friede in 1949. Friede (1895-1966) had been a Russian naval officer prior to the revolution, and joined the U.S. Navy during the Second World War. Goldman was a 1944 University of Michigan School of Naval Architecture graduate who had worked for Andrew Jackson Higgins during the war.

The partners quickly established a firm of international renown. They designed ships and offshore rigs. In 1957, they collaborated with Kaiser Aluminum and Chemical Corp. and Bryant Boats (Bayou LaBatre, AL) to introduce all-aluminum welded towboats for work in marshland oil fields.(1) Three years later, the marine engineers developed a number of new vessels for the Delta Steamship Line, including:

Del Rio (Avondale Shipyards, Inc., 1960)
Del Sol (Avondale Shipyards, Inc., 1960)
Del Oro (Avondale Shipyards, Inc., 1960)

These three ships were originally planned for Delta's West African trade routes. The S/S Del Rio was the largest vessel ever built on the Mississippi River when it launched in July 1960. Friede and Goldman departed from traditional ship design in placing the superstructures in the forward part of the ship. The "Dels" were designed for a speed of 18 knots.

After Friede retired in February 1962, Goldman continued to manage the firm. Under his direction, the company designed five new Delta cargoliners:

Delta Argentina (Ingalls Shipyard Division of Litton Industries, 1968)
Delta Brazil (Ingalls Shipyard Division of Litton Industries, 1968)
Delta Paraguay (Ingalls Shipyard Division of Litton Industries, 1968)
Delta Uruguay (Ingalls Shipyard Division of Litton Industries, 1968)
Delta Mexico (Ingalls Shipyard Division of Litton Industries, 1968)

The S/S Delta Argentina was the first to launch. The 1968 ships featured centralized control stations in the engine rooms and on the bridge, as well as "bulbous" bows that were intended to increase speed (designed for 20 knots) and economize fuel.(2)

In 1969, Goldman introduced the world's first LASH (lighter aboard ship), the M/S Acadia Forest. This new transportation system was constructed at the Equitable-Higgins Shipyards on the Industrial Canal. The Port of New Orleans became the embarkation point for modern containerization techniques.

For more maritime history see the Mariners' Museum website.

For more about Avondale Shipyards, consult the University of New Orleans' Earl K. Long Library.

(1)"Aluminum Towboat for Bayou Work Is Planned." The Times-Picayune 17 February 1957.

(2)"Delta Inc. Ship on Maiden Voyage." The Times-Picayune 20 April 1968.

Image above: Jerome L. Goldman and Avondale Shipyards exec. vice president Henry Z. Carter at the Launching of S/S Del Rio. Chamber of Commerce News Bulletin LI:29 (15 July 1960): p. 2. Louisiana Research Collection, Special Collections Division, Tulane University Libraries.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

OST Hot Spots

Since I attended the Old Spanish Trail Centennial Celebration in Mobile, Alabama last week, I've been thinking about how the Good Roads Movement affected commercial architecture. Tracking down relevant structures requires mapping OST road beds and cross-checking Sanborn data sets, building plans and historic newspaper accounts.

The route -- highlighted above -- took westbound travelers through the Crescent City along Bayou Sauvage/Gentilly Road to North Broad  (via Paris) on to Canal, St. Charles, Broadway and ultimately to the Westwego-Walnut Street ferry.(1)

A St. Charles Street "Automobile Row" began to emerge in 1913. Various developers acquired historic residences along the artery between Girod and Julia Streets, and either adapted them or razed them for other use. Julius Koch was awarded a contract to demolish a boarding house and construct a 131' foot showroom (preliminary rendering above; photograph below). Three years later, Koch also designed a new building for the Firestone Tire and Rubber Company.(2)
Not all of the structures listed below are still standing, but most of them are. Some of them feature ornamental automobile symbolism such as wheels and wings.

If you are interested in learning more about the OST Centennial and/or wish to become involved in the planning process, click here.

St. Charles Avenue


M.G. Bernin Motor Trucks (1919)


Motor Car Service Company, Inc. (1920)


Abbott Motor Company {Two buildings -- Packard Showroom & Apartments/Showrooms} (1920)


Packard New Orleans Company (1929)


Abbott Automobile Company (1920)

St. Charles Street


Fairchild Motor Car Company (1917)


Woodring-Hamilton Car Company (1916)


Ellis Motor Company [formerly King Motor Company] (1920)


United Motor Car Company (1920)


Safety Tire Repair Company (1916)


Hotel Orleans (altered for this use in 1917-1918)


Demack Motor Car Company (1918)


Herbert E. Woodward Tires (1915)


Capital City Auto Company (1915)


Moon Agency (1914)


L.A.M. Motor Company (1918)


B.F. Goodrich Company New Orleans Branch (1914)


Abbott Auto Company "Used Car" Department (1919)


Stoutz Motor Car Company (1917)


Willys-Overland Company (1914)

Firestone Tire and Rubber Company (1916)

Freeport & Mexican Fuel Oil Company (1917)


Capital City Auto Company (1919)

And others that were very near to the OST:

Baronne Street


Charles E. Miller New Orleans Branch [Automobile Sales] (1910)


Shuler Auto Supply Company Inc. (1919)


M. Zilberman Show Room (1918)


Abbott Cycle Company (1906)
{They also sold automobile gloves}

Abbott Automobile Company (1908)


New Orleans Chevrolet Company (1926)


Brown Tube Company (1914)

Model Motor Truck Company, Inc. (1917)


Abbott Automobile Company, Ltd. (By 1916)


Fairchild Auto Company (1910)

Howard Avenue


Bernstein Glenny Motor Car Company (1917)


Lyons-Barton Motor Car Company (1915)
{Constructed using Kahn System}

Julia Street


B.P. Braud, Inc. Cord Tire Repairing (1920)

(1)An earlier route kept autoists on the east side of the Mississippi along the River Road.

(2)"Big Auto Tire Company to Make Crescent City Its Distributing Point." The Sunday States 21 May 1916.

Images above: Old Spanish Trail Association. Old Spanish Trail Road Map Southern Louisiana. October 1924. Louisiana Research Collection, Special Collections Division, Tulane University Libraries. Digitally enhanced.

"New Orleans to Have 'Automobile Row' by September 15." The New Orleans Item 12 June 1913.

"The New St. Charles Auto Row." The New Orleans Item 5 October 1913.

Abbott Automobile Company, 2001 St. Charles Avenue. As it appears in The New Orleans Item 12 December 1920.

Fairchild Motor Company, 700 St. Charles Street. As it appears in The New Orleans Item 8 July 1917.