Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Thermo-Con Home 1948

The New Orleans firm of Sporl & Maxwell worked on a number of Thermo-Con projects, including this May 1948 design for a parapeted residence. Previous blog posts have addressed Thermo-Con cellular concrete, a New Orleans product developed by Higgins Incorporated and named for its heat insulating capabilities. The company controlled all aspects of Thermo-Con's use, manufacturing the product as well as its wooden forms and mixing/pumping machines.

In March 1948, the Federal Housing Authority approved financing for mortgage loans on Higgins-type cellular concrete dwellings, whereupon company president Andrew Higgins, Sr. announced that franchised contractors across the country would begin building. In New Orleans, McLaney Construction obtained a Thermo-Con franchise and commissioned Sporl & Maxwell to design this two-bedroom home. McLaney built this house TWICE: once in Lake Vista at 98 Egret Street; the other in Lakeview at 6372 Vicksburg Street.

By the mid-1950s Sarasota, Florida changed its building code to accommodate the new material. Beall Construction Co. Incorporated was the community's franchised Thermo-Con contractor, responsible for the Arlington Street Medical Arts Building (1953), the Main Street H & H Cafeteria (1955; razed), the Star Lite Restaurant, Uncle Otey's Steak & Pancake House & Phillips 66 Station (late 1950s; razed), and a seven-unit office/store structure at 1258-1276 North Palm Avenue (1954).

Image above: Front Elevation. Sporl & Maxwell, Architects. Thermo-Con Residence for McLaney Construction Company, 13 May 1948. Maxwell and LeBreton Office Records, Southeastern Architectural Archive, Special Collections Division, Tulane University Libraries.


professeurpaul said...

My father built his Sarasota restaurant and gas station out of Thermo-con in the late '50s. It was torn down in the early '70s with some difficulty! The material was quite resilient in addition to its other purported positive qualities. If you have further inquiries contact me at (Incidentally, it floated on water.) —Paul K. in PA

Keli Rylance said...

Thank you, Paul, for the info about Uncle Otey's!

professeurpaul said...

As a child, I used to visit the family doctor at the Arlington St. Medical Arts Bldg. . . had no idea it was of Thermo-Con construction. I recall that the Medical Arts building was multistory——I believe three stories——so the material was not just for 'flat' buildings as was my dad's restaurant and the burger drive-in depicted here.