Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Richard Koch (1889-1971)

Richard Koch was a New Orleans-born Tulane University football letterman and architecture graduate (class of 1910). After continuing his studies in Paris and serving apprenticeships in New York and Boston, Koch returned to his birthplace. Appointed in 1933 as District Officer for the Works Progress Administration's Louisiana Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS), Koch toured the state documenting its architecture in photographs, measured drawings and written reports. The fruits of his labor may be viewed in the Library of Congress's Prints and Photographs Division; his photographs and negatives in the Southeastern Architectural Archive. His personal papers reside in the Historic New Orleans Collection.

The SEAA's Richard Koch Collection consists of over 5,000 individual photographic works, covering much of the Mississippi River delta, including sites in rural Mississippi and Louisiana, as well as the city of New Orleans. The vast majority of the photographs date from the 1930s, although Koch continued his photographic work into the mid-1960s.

The photograph shown here was taken in June 1936 of a woman leaning on a cast-iron railing at 1441 Magazine Street. Cast-iron architectural ornament proliferated in late 19th-century New Orleans, and could/can be found on tombs, fences, cornices, verandas, columns, lintels, and railings such as this. Typically, the New Orleans cast iron work was painted to simulate the appearance of bronze or in a bright greenish hue. The rose trellis pattern was a popular one in the city.

Want to read more?

Ann Masson and Lydia Schmalz's Cast Iron and the Crescent City (1995) in the Special Collections Division's Louisiana Collection.

John G. Waite, "The Maintenance and Repair of Architectural Cast Iron." National Park Service Preservation Brief 27 (October 1991). Click here.

[Photograph: Richard Koch, 1441 Magazine Street, June 1936. Richard Koch Collection, Southeastern Architectural Archive, Special Collections Division, Tulane University Libraries].

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