Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Exhibit Highlights Wright's Influence

Tulane University’s Southeastern Architectural Archive has announced a new exhibit:

Following Wright
Co-curated by Keli Rylance and Kevin Williams
17 January  -- 7 December 2012

From Frank Lloyd Wright’s earliest appearances in American and German architectural publications to his mid-century speaking engagement at the New Orleans International House,  this exhibit traces his influence on architects working in southeastern Louisiana.

Wright’s relationship with the state was dualistic: he disparaged its “decadent” architectural traditions and regaled its native red cypress. While there are no definitive Wright buildings in Louisiana, his impact was nonetheless significant.   Younger generations of New Orleans architects passionately adopted his design principles.  Some absorbed Wright-ian elements from popular magazines such as Ladies’ Home Journal and The House Beautiful; others studied Wright directly, by entering the Taliesin Fellowship and traveling coast to coast documenting his buildings. 

This exhibit acknowledges Frank Lloyd Wright’s regional impact using the rich holdings of the Southeastern Architectural Archive, and includes architectural drawings by local architects Edward Sporl, Albert C. Ledner, Philip Roach, Jr., and Leonard Reese Spangenberg.

Image above:  Leonard Reese Spangenberg and Albert C. Ledner at Florida Southern University.  Lakeland, FL. Undated color transparency.  Albert C. Ledner Collection, Southastern Architectural Archive, Special Collections Division, Tulane University Libraries.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Lazy Susan Tanning Beds

Portable, revolving tanning beds constructed of sugar cane bagasse? Indeed, there were such things . . . invented by a snowbird newspaperman who became a sun-cure proponent.

"Sun-bathing de luxe in the privacy of your own little solarium is the latest fad among the winter residents of St. Petersburg, Florida, the winter resort famous the world over for its sunshine.

Obtaining a coat of tan on the beaches is no longer sufficient for those who believe in the health-giving qualities of the sun's rays.  It remained for A.D. Brewer, former Indiana and Vermont newspaperman, to devise a method of taking an 'all-over' sun bath, hardly possible even in the skimpiest of modern bathing suits.

Mr. Brewer, having been cured of a serious ailment through the application of ultra-violet sun rays, some years ago became a sun-bath enthusiast and perfected the solaria now being used in St. Petersburg.

The tiny individual houses which compose the solaria are constructed entirely of Celotex -- excepting the floors -- with adjustable roofs and windows of Celloglass, a glass which admits ultra-violet rays that do not penetrate ordinary window glass.

Mounted on a sort of pivotal arrangement, the little houses revolve with a slight pressure of the hand on a corner, thus assuring the occupant the full rays of the sun at all times.

All openings are screened to exclude annoying insects, and small windows, placed low down on the sides, admit cross-currents of air. The inside of the houses are painted white with the finishing strips in green.  A spotless white cot and stool, a mirror and a rug are the furnishings.

The units are portable and are shipped to all parts of the United States."

As reported in "Sun Bath Houses of Celotex New Fad in Florida."  The Celotex News 3:10 (April 1930):  pp. 1, 4.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Surveyors' Records

While primarily known for its architectural holdings, the Southeastern Architectural Archive (SEAA), a private research archive located at Tulane University, houses cartographic materials associated with four generations of surveyors/engineers that document over 150 years of mapping endeavors.  The records chronicle the region’s division into long lots, the creation and expansion of canals and sewerage systems, and the development of faubourgs and later subdivisions.  The collection includes survey sketches, field notebooks, chain of title research, historic maps, auction announcements and correspondence.

In 1972, surveyor Guy Seghers, Sr. sold his tracings to Lawyers Title Company.  In 1978 – two years before the SEAA was established --  his son Guy Seghers, Jr. – known as “Buddy” -- attempted to sell the family’s remaining records to the Louisiana Land Surveyors’ Association (LLSA).  The  LLSA refused the offer, but expressed their concern that the family’s records be available to local surveyors.  When Buddy died the following year at the age of 49, his father decided to donate the records to Tulane University in memory of his son.  The LLSA was grateful for this donation, as it ensured that the records of what its President referred to as the “vanishing American” would be accessible permanently.

Dominick E. (né Dominique Édouard)  Seghers (1849-1911) had established the family’s entry into the surveying business in 1868, initially clerking in his father Julien’s law firm, later working in the office of surveyor Charles Arthur de Armas (d. 1905), and establishing his own business by 1879. Records associated with his patrimony reflect the Louisiana profession’s early domination by arpenteurs, men trained in French civil engineering and civic ordinances.  His son, grandson, and great-grandson continued in a profession marked by significant changes, in a region increasingly impacted by water management and petrochemical concerns.  Over 100 years of operation, their clients would come to include municipal, parish, state, and federal governments, the Dock Board, the Army Corps of Engineers, plantation owners and major oil companies.

To consult the Guy Seghers Collection preliminary inventory, click here.

Images above from the Guy Seghers Collection, Southeastern Architectural Archive, Special Collections Division, Tulane University Libraries:

D.E. Seghers & Son Business Card.  c. 1903-1911.

Louis Bringier, Arpenteur General.  Plan de la propriété de Mr. Harvey Elkins Levé le 20 Juin 1830.  [Detail].

Unknown Surveyor.  Second District/Square 110.  From Properties A B C D E F G H I J + K/Plan of [illegible] + d H 19 April 1879.  [Detail].

Friday, December 9, 2011

Louisiana Pecans

A recent acquisition in the Garden Library of the New Orleans Town Gardeners, located at Tulane University's Southeastern Architectural Archive, is Gary Paul Nabhan's Renewing America's Food Traditions: Saving and Savoring the Continent's Most Endangered Foods (2008).

Among his endangered foods, Nabhan includes the Centennial Pecan, a hardy propagation with a delicate flavor developed by a plantation slave known only as "Antoine," who grafted scionwood from a native tree found on the Anita Plantation onto rootstocks growing at Oak Alley Plantation (St. James Parish). Antoine's pecan became famous when it was named "Best of Show" at the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (1876).

In the late nineteenth century, New Orleans seedsman Richard Frotscher was selling the pecan under the name "Centennial," and also propagated his own pecan, known as "Frotscher" or "Frotscher's Egg Shell Pecan." Other Louisiana pecans were developed by William B. Schmidt of New Orleans (the "Pabst"), Duminie Mire of Union (the "Van Deman"), and Sebastian Rome of Convent (the "Rome"). The so-called Jewett pecan, named in honor of Colonel Stephen Jewett, originated from a nut purchased in New Orleans that was planted in Scranton, Mississippi by the young son of Charles M. Cruzat. The original Jewett pecan tree was still standing in 1904.

Read more about the history of pecan agriculture in The Yearbook of the Department of Agriculture 1904 (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1905), pp. 405-416. Images above by B. Heiges for this publication, which is available via Google Books.

Additional resources related to Louisiana pecans may be found in the Garden Library of the New Orleans Town Gardeners and the Louisiana Research Collection, both part of Tulane University's Special Collections Division. Notable among these holdings are nurseryman William Nelson's Price List of Trees and a Practical Treatise on Pecan Growing and Richard Frotscher's Almanac and Garden Manual for the Southern States, both printed by New Orleans printer George Müller. These and other titles may be searched through Tulane's online public access catalog here.

Civil War Maps Online - NEW!

9 December 2011. The Wisconsin Historical Society announced today its digitization of over 350 Civil War maps, including a unique copy of Appleton's General War Map of the United States (Fisk & Russell, engravers; New York, 1860), which features colored annotations indicating strategic points of interest (detail above).

The digitized maps -- illustrating major campaigns and battlefields -- are but a small part of an enormous digital collection devoted to the Civil War. Highlights for the Gulf South include an 1862 plan of Fort Jackson and various maps of Vicksburg, Mississippi.

To search Wisconsin in the Civil War, click here.

Image above: Detail. Fisk & Russell, engravers. Appleton's General War Map of the United States (New York: D. Appleton, 1860). © Wisconsin State Historical Society, Madison, WI 2011.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

CFP: Fashioning the Global City

Special Issue of Streetnotes

As posted on Humanities-Net:

“Fashioning the Global City” turns the focus of Streetnotes on the relationship between cities and fashion to explore how the cultural and material production of style informs and performs urban lives and places.

The fashion industry has historically drawn on the metropolis and its association with modernity to stir fascination and desire for novelty and change. Cities spatialize, ground, and give meaning to fashion by providing both its imagery and its physical and social context. Today cities are even more central to an increasingly global fashion system, serving as both sites of legitimation and concrete places from which to construct representations of urbanity.

Editors invite scholarly essays, photography, descriptive poetry, and documentary analysis that explores the powerful relationships between fashion, cities, and urban culture as well those which address the role of fashion in shaping ideas of global urbanity and citizenship.

Deadline 1 February 2012

For more information, see: