Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Otis Elevator Company of Chicago

In 1909, Otis Elevator Company of Chicago's President Baldwin journeyed to New Orleans to secure a land deal. He negotiated with businessman Peter O'Brien to acquire the latter's elevator manufacturing plant located at the corner of Carondelet and St. Joseph Streets.(1) The Otis Company wanted to establish a showroom for its elevators, and the O'Brien property provided a good location.

The Otis Elevator Company secured the architectural services of Favrot & Livaudais to design a two-story showroom/office structure that would prominently display the company's mainstay (1910-1912). The architects selected an Italianate form that nodded to the company's Chicago home and its emergent Prairie School style. Built at a cost of $25K, the Otis Elevator Company maintained its New Orleans office for decades.(2) George J. Glover was the general contractor on the project, and the Albert Weiblen Marble & Granite Company was one of the sub-contractors.(3)

The short-lived trade magazine Building Review of the South -- published in New Orleans -- featured the structure in a 1919 article devoted to the "elevator pent house":

"In most cases elevator pent houses are made obnoxious by careless treatment. In large cities where the roofs of the business section are in constant view of thousands of people from the taller buildings it seems that some attention should be devoted to roof appearances, or to that most prominent feature of the roof, the pent house. The designers of the two examples published this month realized the advantages of emphasizing the pent house. Anyone who views the two buildings will concede that the tower treatment is the single thing that gives especial distinction to the buildings,--that is, sets them apart from other commercial structures by adding a feature of interest that ordinarily would be absent."(4)

(1)"More Good Realty Sales Involve New Buildings." The Daily Picayune 16 January 1909, p. 5.

(2)"Real Estate the Real Thing Here." The Daily Picayune 9 January 1912, p. 40.

(3)George J. Glover, general contractor. "Form of Sub-Contract" with Albert Weiblen Marble & Granite Company dated 23 April 1912. Box 15, Albert Weiblen Marble & Granite Works Office Records, Southeastern Architectural Archive, Special Collections Division, Tulane University Libraries.

(4)"Elevator Pent Houses: Two New Orleans Examples Which Are Models of Proper Treatment." Building Review Feburary 1919, p. 14. The image above precedes the article, appearing on p. 13 of the same issue. Photograph was taken by Schnetzer.

The Art Institute of Chicago maintains certain records of the Otis Elevator Company. You can read more about the company's history in The First Hundred Years (New York: Otis Elevator Company, 1953).

1 comment:

anthonyturducken said...