Wednesday, March 31, 2010

St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 New Construction

A new tomb construction (above) in St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 prompted reference to an important University of Pennsylvania Historic Preservation study. In 2002, the Penn graduate students mapped out the historic cemetery, its tombs and their condition. With sponsorship from the Louisiana Division of Historic Preservation/Office of Cultural Development, Project Director Frank G. Matero sought to develop a model conservation plan for the city's historic cemeteries, as well as related educational training programs, and public outreach activities.

Through the project's web portal, one can search for individual tombs, obtain location codes, and condition reports. To access the project, click here. Additional resources may be found in Tulane University Library's Louisiana Research Collection and Southeastern Architectural Archive, as well as The Historic New Orleans Collection.

Image above: Pyramidal Tomb, St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 as photographed 25 March 2010 by K. Rylance.

Reminder: District C Master Plan Meeting

A gentle reminder that the City of New Orleans has scheduled a planning meeting for District C (includes parts of the French Quarter, the Faubourgs Marigny and Treme, Sixth Ward and Seventh Wards, Algiers and Esplanade Ridge) for this evening, March 31st, from 6-8 pm at the Musician's Union Hall (2401 Esplanade Avenue).

To read the proposed Master Plan and Zoning Ordinance, click here.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Vermin Eliminating Device 1930

In 1930, New Orleanian Henry Clinton Lipthrott patented a "Vermin Eliminating Device" intended to protect buildings from invasion by crawling insects. His device could be utilized in new construction or could be adapted to existing buildings. Read more about the patent here.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Segregation Forms

Graham, Anderson, Probst & White. Area P Housing for Un-Skilled Laborers, Nitro, West Virginia, 1918.
Graham, Anderson, Probst & White. Area A Housing for Un-Skilled Laborers, Nitro, West Virginia, 1918.

We frequently receive inquiries about the architecture of segregation here in the Southeastern Architectural Archive, and it can be a tricky topic to research for the simple fact that architectural drawings were not historically labelled or organized as "segregated." We inventory and organize drawings based on the architect's or architectural firm's organizing information, normally name of property owner, building function (possibly building name for commercial structures), street address, project number, date.

One can generally assume segregated spaces for U.S. government and municipal structures (courthouses and schools especially) predating the 1964 Civil Rights Act, and those are the easiest to locate. Today, a new acquisition came through Tulane University Library's Technical Services unit, & it reminded me to post some information about related urban planning and residential plans.

The Southern Pine Association, founded in 1915 New Orleans, produced various self-help books and pamphlets designed for property owners and those in the construction trades. One such publication, Homes for Workmen (New Orleans: Southern Pine Association, 1919), presented examples of industrial community developments (aka company towns).

One of the book's featured examples was Graham, Anderson, Probst & White's "transitory city" designed for World War I era government workers in Nitro, West Virginia, a small town founded in 1918 and named for "nitrocellulose," used in the manufacture of gunpowder. The transitory city was intended to accommodate an estimated population of 20,000 skilled and unskilled workers:

"In providing these housing accommodations the well recognized facts were considered that the best workmen can only be obtained and held where housing is not only comfortable but attractive and designed to fit the special needs of each class.

With this in view, the employees have been placed in separate sections as follows, giving in detail the type of workmen and number of buildings, with an estimated number of inhabitants housed in each particular type of dwelling."

The prominent Chicago firm divided the new Nitro into four discrete areas: Area A, Area P, Area S and Area R. The latter was intended to provide services to all inhabitants (post office, entertainment, etc.), while Areas A, P, and S housed workers segregated by class and race.

The bungalow structures designed for unskilled laborers, shown above, were prefabricated and constructed so that they could be dismantled in sections when the explosives plant -- and related laborers -- were no longer needed. GAP & W estimated that the building materials would have a 40% reclamation value (of the original cost), and that the nearby coal industry could readily re-use the building materials. Although bungalow facades are quite similar, room configurations/space allotments differ.

There are a number of articles and books that address the architecture of segregation, and their citations may be found via google scholar. Harvard University has digitized its copy of Homes for Workmen: A Presentation of Leading Examples of Industrial Community Development (New Orleans: Southern Pine Association, 1919) here.

Images above: Graham, Anderson, Probst & White. "Nitro, West Virginia." Chapter in Homes for Workmen: A Presentation of Leading Examples of Industrial Community Development (New Orleans: Southern Pine Association, 1919), pp. 78-87.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Channeling Dakota

22 March 2010. The Associated Press is reporting a proposed $1.3 B 36-mile channel system through the Red River Valley. Read more about the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers project here.

Image above: Jeff Roberson, AP photographer. Doug Rensvold Driving Through Floodwater in Gardner, North Dakota. 22 March 2010.

This past weekend, UCLA Geographer Nick Bauch and I went out to the Morganza (Pointe Coupee Parish), Louisiana Control Structure (image above). The Morganza Spillway (1957-1986) serves to prevent the Atchafalaya River from capturing the Mississippi.

The structure is located just to the North of the Barataria-Terrebonne National Estuary and just to the South of the Old River Control Complex. Project maps, test piles, and other preliminary data sets are outlined in George Stevenson's Final Report, Morganza Floodway Bridge, at Lottie, Louisiana, with test pile data on other crossings of the Morganza Floodway (Baton Rouge, LA, 1943), housed in Tulane University's Louisiana Research Collection. View U.S. Army Corps photographs and maps here.

Images above: Nick Bauch, photographer.The Morganza Spillway (Control Structure). 21 March 2010.

Horizontal Cities & Glass Banks

In 1931, New York architect Francis Keally (1889-1978) predicted that futuristic cities would spread out across great expanses like "monstrous eagles." Rather than exalting the skyscraper, Keally suggested that aircraft would inaugurate a flatter new world order, as 2/3 of the buildings would "serve as some kind of landing area for a super-auto gyroplane or a transcontinental express." He advised future architects to study horizontal cities like Constantinople and Fez for their inspiration, rather than cities like New York. In that same year, Keally proposed an idea for hold-up-preventive glass banks (image above from Modern Mechanics, August 1931).

My thanks to Texas A & M Special Collections maestro Hal Hall for this citation! See more on Paleo-Future: The Future That Never Was. For the horizontal cities prediction, see The Daily Capital News and Post-Tribune (Jefferson City, MO) December 6, 1931.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Afton Villa Gardens

The Southeastern Architectural Archive's Garden Library of the New Orleans Town Gardeners houses the collection of Afton Villa Gardens, a garden located outside of St. Francisville, Louisiana (shown above). Genevieve Munson Trimble has been working tirelessly to restore the former plantation gardens since 1972. In the process, she has comprehensively documented her preservation efforts. Her personal gardening journals are augmented by the reports of Louisiana State University landscape architecture professor Neil Odenwald.

Her entry from 22 January 1983 reads:

"We are here at Afton again to meet Neil Odenwald. We toured the garden which looks very much like January -- only a few camellias in bloom and a very gloomy cold January day. Usually at this time I feel: Why garden at all? Then, comes the realization of coming spring. This year we are concerned that everything will come too soon. Today we see daffodils already beginning to bloom -- and a few white azaleas, also! We planted 3400 tulips during December, as opposed to 1623 tulips last year, so we ought to see a difference in the garden. . . "

Read more about Genevieve Munson Trimble and the Afton Villa Collection here. Or consult her gardening journals and landscaping reports in the Garden Library.

Images above: Afton Villa Gardens, as photographed 21 March 2010 by K. Rylance.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Homegrown Googie

As this blog turns two years old soon, I thought it would be a good time to visit the Algiers Frostop that graces the blog header. Very little has changed, but we at the Southeastern Architectural Archive have learned a lot more about the building design. After I found the U.S. Patent Office prototype, Kevin found some fantastic Benson and Riehl drawings.

The structure is a rare extant example of “Googie” architecture, which is rapidly vanishing from American roadsides. Born after World War II in southern California, Googie proliferated along highways, drawing the attentions of mobile consumers. Equated with American car culture, Googie elements included: upswept cantilevered roofs, showy signage, exposed steel beams, and large expanses of glass. Douglas Haskell, the former editor of Architectural Forum, coined the expression after touring a Googie's coffeeshop (1949) designed by Los Angeles architect John Lautner (1911-1994), proclaiming "this is Googie architecture!"

In the 1950s, the Southern District Frostop drive-in chain adopted the language of Googie architecture. Although the burger franchise’s origins date to 1926 -- when M.L. Harvey opened the first Frostop Root Beer stand in Springfield, Ohio -- it was not until the 1950s that it experienced dramatic growth along the nation’s highways. By 1963, Frostop Products, Incorporated[i] boasted nearly 400 outlets, most located in the southern United States. The company trademarked the Lot-a-burger, as well as a particular building type, patented by New Orleanian and Southern District President Thurman W. Ganus (1917-1997) as “a combined Beverage and Food Vending Building” and featuring a revolving mug.

The earliest Frostop drive-ins had 14’ sheet metal mugs mounted to the roof, and these enormous cylinders ultimately became the franchise’s heraldic symbol.[ii] When neon lights gained popularity in the early 1960s, many rooftop mugs were taken down and relocated to enormous sign platforms. The Louisiana Frostop drive-ins were built in the late 1950’s/early 1960’s boom period, following an ambitious advertising campaign in local newspapers. The structures vary in scale and details, but the general appearance is the same: dramatically cantilevered roofs with checkerboard square under-canopies and aluminum fascia; exterior glazed ceramic tile in checkerboard configuration; large expanses of sliding glass; and diamond-framed red,blue,green and yellow sans serif letters spelling B*U*R*G*E*R*S.

Although these Googie structures once proliferated along the Crescent City’s highways, they are now nearing extinction. At one time, there were ten Frostops in the greater New Orleans metropolitan area, but now there are only three.[iii] The famous 3140 Calhoun Street Ted’s Frostop has been significantly altered, Ganus’ own 2714 Jefferson Highway building is stripped and forlorn, and the 2900 Canal Street outlet was recently demolished. The Algiers Frostop, originally owned by Francis R. Henry, is relatively unchanged, an outstanding example for its asymmetrical cross-diagonal arrangement of signage and cantilevered roof. It bears a close relationship to the 1958 Ganus patent designs and to a set of Frostop drawings that Ganus commissioned from the New Orleans architectural firm of Benson and Riehl in 1959. [iv]

In 1963, the Rochester, NY-based Frostop Products, Inc. was purchased by Roll-a-Grill Corporation. Despite the franchise’s 1971 attempt to increase its outlets nationwide by hiring a prominent New York advertising agency, the chain completely folded by 1981.

The Algiers Frostop is an important homegrown Googie structure.

UPDATE:  The structure was demolished in 2013.

[i]Then based in Rochester, New York
[ii]For an elaboration on communicative strategies, see Robert Venturi, Denise Scott Brown and Steven Izenour. Learning from Las Vegas, revised edition. Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1993, p. 73-75.
[iii] New Orleans City and Suburban Directories have only three Frostops listed in 1958, but ten listed in 1964. The vast majority of these outlets were located on the new highways: Airline, Chef Menteur, Jefferson, and Veteran’s.
[iv]Benson and Riehl Collection, Southeastern Architectural Archive, Special Collections Division, Tulane University Libraries. The Benson and Riehl drawings itemize building materials and manufacturers, as well as specific color schemes, and the maker of the revolving mug. The architects also designed a residence for Mr. and Mrs. Ganus in Lake Terrace.
[v]Philip H. Dougherty. “Advertising: B.B.D.O. and Goodrich Part.” New York Times (8 September 1971), p. 71.
[vi]Interview with LaPlace Frostop owner Terry Toler Vintage Roadside Blog(2 July 2009). URL:

Image above: Algiers Frostop from a VW, 3166 General Meyer Avenue, Algiers, Louisiana (03.2010 by K. Rylance).

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

City Hall Dedication 53 Years Ago

Image above: City Hall Dedication Announcement, New Orleans, LA, 1957. Southeastern Architectural Archive, Special Collections Division, Tulane University Libraries.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Additional City Planning Meetings

The City of New Orleans has announced additional planning meetings. In order to find your district, consult:

District A

Tuesday, March 30th, 6 p.m. - 8 p.m.
City Park - Timken Center (old casino building) on Dreyfous Dr.
Parkview Terrace 2nd floor

District B
Wednesday, March 24th, 6 p.m.
Dining Hall of the Academy of the Sacred Heart
4301 St. Charles Ave.

District C

  • West Bank
    Thursday, March 18th, 6 p.m. - 8 p.m.
    Alice Harte Elementary Charter School
    5300 Berkley Dr.
  • East Bank
    Wednesday, March 31st, 6 p.m. - 8 p.m.
    Musician's Union Hall
    2401 Esplanade Ave.

District D
Tuesday, March 23rd, 6 p.m. - 8 p.m.
Gentilly Presbyterian Church
3708 Gentilly Blvd.

District E
  • Eastern New Orleans
    Monday, March 22nd, 6:30 p.m. - 8:30 p.m.
    Household of Faith Church
    9300 I- 10 Service Rd.
  • Lower Ninth Ward
    Monday, March 29th, 6:30 p.m. - 8:30 p.m.
    New Israel Baptist Church
    6322 St. Claude Ave.
Image above: Herbert Gehr, photographer. Seven members of the Omaha City Planning Commission holding a meeting in front of an aerial map of the city showing the Missouri River as they plot the position of 17 major projects to improve their city.LIFE July 1947 on Google []

Friday, March 12, 2010

Exhibiting Quarantine

Storefront for Art and Architecture has opened a new exhibition, titled Landscapes of Quarantine (10 March - 17 April), curated by Future Plural and designed by Glen Cummings. From the exhibition website:

"Landscapes of Quarantine features new works by a multi-disciplinary group of eighteen artists, designers, and architects, each of whom was inspired by one or more of the physical, biological, ethical, architectural, social, political, temporal, and even astronomical dimensions of quarantine.

At its most basic, quarantine is a strategy of separation and containment—the creation of a hygienic boundary between two or more things, for the purpose of protecting one from exposure to the other. It is a spatial response to suspicion, threat, and uncertainty. From Chernobyl’s Zone of Exclusion and the artificial quarantine islands of the New York archipelago to camp beds set up to house HIV-positive Haitian refugees detained at Guantánamo and the modified Airstream trailer from within which Buzz Aldrin, Neil Armstrong, and Michael Collins once waved at President Nixon, the landscapes of quarantine are various, mutable, and often unexpected.

Typically, quarantine is thought of in the context of disease control. It is used to isolate people who have been exposed to a contagious virus or bacteria and, as a result, may (or may not) be carrying the infection themselves. But quarantine does not apply only to people and animals. Its boundaries can be set up for as long as needed, creating spatial separation between clean and dirty, safe and dangerous, healthy and sick, foreign and native—however those labels are defined.

As a result, the practice of quarantine extends far beyond questions of epidemic control and pest-containment strategies to touch on issues of urban planning, geopolitics, international trade, ethics, immigration, and more. And although the practice dates back at least to the arrival of the Black Death in medieval Venice, if not to Christ’s 40 days in the desert, quarantine has re-emerged as an issue of urgency and importance in today’s era of globalization, antibiotic resistance, emerging diseases, pandemic flu, and bio-terrorism.

Landscapes of Quarantine began with an eight-week independent design studio directed by Geoff Manaugh and Nicola Twilley of Future Plural. Each Tuesday evening, from October to December 2009, a multi-disciplinary group of studio participants met to discuss the spatial implications of quarantine and develop their own creative response: the resulting work forms the core of theLandscapes of Quarantine exhibition."

New Orleans, of course, has a long tradition of quarantine. The Mississippi River south of the city had various quarantine stations established, an elaborate system that changed over the decades. Tulane's Lousiana Research Collection, a division of Special Collections, retains a fine map of the late nineteenth-century quarantine system in S.R Olliphant's The Improved Disinfecting and Fumigating System at the Mississippi River Quarantine Station (1890). Call number 976.3 (614.46) O49i.

Image above: David Garcia Studio, MAP 002 Quarantine. 2009. See:

The Digital Environment & Memory

University of Virginia (formerly University of Wisconsin-Madison) faculty member Siva Vaidhyanathan has a new article/book review in the Chronicle of Higher Education (31 January 2010) that addresses memory and the digital landscape. Titled "Our Digitally Undying Memories," the review serves as a historiography of writing about the digital environment. For those interested in memory, collective memory, information storage, archives, libraries, digital frameworks, media ecology, and privacy, it's worth reading. URL:

Thursday, March 11, 2010

New Orleans Master Plan Community Engagement

City Council Holds Community Meetings to Engage Citizens and Encourage Public Input on Master Plan

In the next few weeks, the City Council, in coordination with the City Planning Commission, will hold public meetings in each Council District

in an effort to inform and engage the public on the Master Plan.

The public meetings will be held throughout New Orleans in each Council District:

District A

Tuesday, March 30th, 6 p.m. - 8 p.m.

City Park - Timken Center (old casino building) on Dreyfous Dr.

Parkview Terrace 2nd floor

District B

Wednesday, March 24th, 6 p.m.

Dining Hall of the Academy of the Sacred Heart

4301 St. Charles Ave.

District C

Thursday, March 18th, 6 p.m. - 8 p.m.

Alice Harte Elementary Charter School

5300 Berkley Dr.

District D

Tuesday, March 23rd, 6 p.m. - 8 p.m.

Gentilly Presbyterian Church

3708 Gentilly Blvd.

District E

Eastern New Orleans

Monday, March 22nd, 6:30 p.m. - 8:30 p.m.
Household of Faith Church
9300 I- 10 Service Rd.

Lower Ninth Ward
Monday, March 29th, 6:30 p.m. - 8:30 p.m.
New Israel Baptist Church
6322 St. Claude Ave.


Image above: Herbert Gehr, photographer. Seven members of the Omaha City Planning Commission holding a meeting in front of an aerial map of the city showing the Missouri River as they plot the position of 17 major projects to improve their city.LIFE July 1947 on Google []

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Coming Apart at America's Bottom

The Spring 2010 Lay of the Land newsletter published by the Center for Land Use Interpretation features an essay on American ship breaking. Many of the nation's federal ships are broken at a site near Brownsville, Texas (CLUI photo above).

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Big Book Sale

The Friends of the Jefferson Public Library have announced their annual book sale, scheduled this week of March 11-14, 2010. They have approximately 60,000 used books available, with an exceptional collection of cookbooks, gardening books, travel, wine and spirits books. There are also DVDs, CDs, videos, LPs, sheet music and audio books.

Where: Pontchartrain Center, Williams Blvd. at the Lake in Kenner
When: Thursday, March 11-Sunday, March 14th

Times: Daily 10 AM - 8 PM, Sunday Noon to 5 PM

Free admission & parking

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Latin American Architecture Symposium

EN EL AULA is a symposium and workshop intended to develop and sustain a network of scholars who successfully introduce and address Latin American architecture and urbanism “in the classroom.” Following the success of the first AULA symposium, held at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design, EN EL AULA brings together to Tulane University, School of Architecture a diverse group of leading scholars in the field. Speakers will present the diverse methods used to integrate Latin American architecture and urbanism into the traditional study of the built environment and the ways that the parameters of this still emerging field are being framed. Presentations are divided into three categories: The History Survey, Specialized Courses & Emerging Research, and Travel Abroad Programs. Sessions feature invited scholars who have integrated these subjects into the Western survey, who have taught specialized courses emerging from new research, and who explore contemporary theoretical developments through travel programs in Latin America. Topics range from critiques of the narrative of the Corbusian diaspora to the impact of Latino communities in North America and abroad; they also range from Pre-Columbian to Colonial to Modern architecture and urbanism.

Conference participants will also meet for a teaching workshop April 11 from 8-10 to discuss and exchange teaching resources. Selected paper presentations will also be part of a forthcoming issue of the journal AULA: Architecture & Urbanism in Las Américas, which will focus on pedagogy in the field of Latin American architecture.

Welcome address at the School of Architecture
The conference will begin April 9, 2010, with the lecture “Inhabiting MEXICO CITY” by Javier Sanchez, winner of the Golden Lion Award for Urban Projects at the 2006 Venice Biennale for “Brazil 44,” a low-income housing project n the historic center or Mexico City. Location: Tulane University, School of Architecture, Rm 204, 6 pm, reception following lecture.

Related exhibitions
In conjunction with EN EL AULA, the school will also present a retrospective history of Latin American Architectural and Preservation Studies at Tulane University’s School of Architecture. In addition to this, the Ogden Museum of Southern Art is also showcasing three exhibits—“Jorge Otero: Un-restored Miami,” “Mario Petrirena: Soul Houses,” and a special installation by José Bedia. All are part of Sí Cuba!, a presentation throughout New Orleans of arts, music and culture related to Cuba. EN EL AULA also coincides with the annual French Quarter Festival.

For questions and further information, please contact conference organizer, Assistant Professor Robert Gonzalez, Tulane University, School of Architecture, or visit

EN EL AULA is generously supported by the Tulane University Research Enhancement Fund and the School of Architecture.

This symposium is free and open to the public.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Field Trip: Wisconsin

Wisconsin has a long tradition of roadside "outsider" art -- from Roman Catholic grottoes filled with geodes to concrete animals to forest murals. For over thirty years, the Wisconsin-based Kohler Foundation (yep, the household faucets people) has assisted in conserving the works of Wisconsin's (and other states) quirky self-taught artists including Emery Blagdon, Billie Logan and Ellie Reed, and Fred Smith.

My favorite Wisconsin site (image above) is located in the back of Delaney's Junkyard. Considered the world's largest scrap metal sculpture and incorporating bits from Wisconsin breweries and munition factories, Dr. Evermor's Forevertron is the machine by which the imaginative may listen to celestial music. Surrounded by hybrid ornithological-musical creatures, the Forevertron stands over fifty feet tall and is surmounted by an egg-shaped space capsule. Tom Every, a Wisconsin native and demolition expert, created the pseudo-Victorian fantasia along with his alternative persona, a nineteenth-century scientist named "Dr. Evermor."

Read Jeffrey Hayes's homage to the demolitions preservationist here.

Image above: "Power Station" from Dr. Evermor's Forevertron outside Baraboo (North Freedom Township), Wisconsin. Posted on Wikimedia Commons at