Friday, January 27, 2012

Lexicon: Trembling Prairies

Trembling prairie. [Tr. F. prairie tremblante : limited in use to parts of Louisiana : also called shaking prairie.] Also, in the vicinity of the numerous lakes of the parish [LaFourche, Louisiana] exist immense tracts called trembling prairies. These seem to be a surface composed of the matted roots and decayed stalks of the marsh vegetation, floating upon water in some instances, and upon very soft mud in others. Over these prairies it is practicable to walk, and cattle graze upon them, although they vibrate at every tread, and a cut of a few feet in depth will always discover a substratum of water. S.H. Lockett, Sec. Ann. Rep. Topog. Surv. of Louisiana, 1871, p. 10.  From The Century Dictionary and Encyclopedia, 1911, p. 6457 available via googlebooks.

Above:  Plat of T. 19 S. - R. 16 E. South Eastern District, La.  East of the Mississippi.  Surveyor General's Office, Donaldsonville, La. October 24th, 1854.  Photostat of old plat.  Bohemia Spillway Files, Guy Seghers Collection, Southeastern Architectural Archive, Special Collections Division, Tulane University Libraries.

To find other historic Louisiana plats, see the Louisiana Division of Administration's Historical Records page, and select under "Document Type" "Plats, Old."  Then enter appropriate Land District, Township and/or Range.

To ascertain Township and Range coordinates related to the Public Land Survey System [PLSS], consult the Land Survey Information System online.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

DeBuys Commercial Buildings

This blog has mentioned New Orleans architect Rathbone De Buys (1874-1960) a number of times.  Two of his extant commercial buildings are currently undergoing changes:  one a paint job; the other a demolition.

Federico's Grocery, the Central City business of Mrs. Joseph Federico, was located at 1503 Dryades Street (now 1503 Oretha Castle Haley Boulevard).  Over time, the structure lost its theatre-like signage and its contrastive color scheme.  Recently, the building was once again painted.

Nolde's Furniture Store, operated by August W. Nolde, was located at 215-217 North Rampart, directly behind Emile Weil's Saenger Theatre (1927).  The building has been cordoned off for some time, and today the demolition started.  The land is needed for the proposed expansion of the Saenger's stagehouse.

Images above, top to bottom:  Unidentified photographer.  Rathbone DeBuys, architect.  Federico Grocery, New Orleans, LA. undated.  Rathbone DeBuys Collection, Southeastern Architectural Archive, Special Collections Division, Tulane University Libraries.

Joseph Schnetzer, photographer.  Rathbone DeBuys, architect.  Dudley & Wikle, Contractors.  Nolde Furniture Company Addition, 215 North Rampart Street, New Orleans, LA. 1928.  Rathbone DeBuys Collection, Southeastern Architectural Archive, Special Collections Division, Tulane University Libraries.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Wrightian Letterhead

The Southeastern Architectural Archive recently opened its new exhibition, Following Wright, which acknowledges Frank Lloyd Wright's influence in southeastern Louisiana.  While the exhibit highlights architectural drawings by Edward Sporl, Albert C. Ledner, Philip Roach, Jr., and Leonard Reese Spangenberg, we are posting some Wright-inspired letterhead designs by other local architects. Gordon Illes Kuhne († 1979) and A. George Ducorbier, Jr. both adopted Wright's saturated red as part of their graphic layouts in the 1960s.

Images above:  Correspondence Files, 1965-1966, Guy Seghers Office Records, Southeastern Architectural Archive, Special Collections Division, Tulane University Libraries.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Anthropomorphic Alphabet

Louis Xavier Magny (born c. 1800 in Avignon, France) was a prominent antebellum New Orleans lithographer who frequently produced cartographic prints for local auction sales.  The Southeastern Architectural Archive has two such auction maps -- printed for auctioneer Norbert Vignie -- each of which features different letter forms.

The lettering reproduced above was printed for the December 1854 auction of the Third District properties of the late Louisiana Supreme Court Justice, François-Xavier Martin (1762 - 1846).  Some of the letter forms characterize episodes from Martin's life, for he had been one of the Vice Presidents of the Louisiana State Temperance Society and had briefly served in the Continental Army of Virginia.

To read more about antebellum lithography in New Orleans, see Priscilla Lawrence's "A New Plane: Pre-Civil War Lithography in New Orleans," chap. in Printmaking in New Orleans, edited by Jessie J. Poesch (Jackson, MS: U Press of Mississippi, 2006), pp. 117-134.

To read more about Judge Martin, see Charles Étienne Gayarré's "The Old Chief Justice and His Black Servant, Tom" in Fernando De Lemos: Truth and Fiction, a Novel (New York: Carleton, 1872), pp. 243-256, and Michael Chiorazzi's "Francois-Xavier Martin: Printer, Lawyer, Jurist," a paper delivered at the 80th  Annual Meeting of the American Association of Law Libraries (7 July 1987), as presented at:

Image above:  Detail, X. Magny, printer, 117 Exchange Alley. 35 Lots of Ground at Gentilly Being Part of the Property of the Late Judge Martin.  New Orleans:  December 1854.  Guy Seghers Office Records, Southeastern Architectural Archive, Special Collections Division,Tulane University Libraries.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Lincoln Memorial Park

In 1954, the Theosophical Foundation of New Orleans began advertising a new cemetery located on Old Gentilly Highway near Lee Station and the Louisiana and Nashville Railroad Line. Surveyor/Engineer Guy J. Seghers (1898-1986) had surveyed the land and developed a drainage scheme that included a semi-circular 25' canal and an adjacent 20' levee. Seghers also designed the cemetery, a vast axial complex divided into alphabetical sections conjoined by a central artery with a chapel.  Advertised as the "largest park plan cemetery in the South" and intended as an exclusive African-American cemetery, Lincoln Memorial Park attracted speculators who purchased lots in bulk, and later individually sold them.  Sellers touted the park's "Baby Land," a special area within the necropolis dedicated to infant burials (image above, right).

Two years later, Hurricane Flossie hit the Gulf of Mexico.  Lincoln Memorial Cemetery was inundated with water, and its protective levee and canal ostensibly trapped the storm water within the park. By October 1957, the city's director of public health sanitation closed it, declaring a health hazard.  The Times Picayune reported that local children were using the park as a crawfish breeding ground (October 8).  In 1960, Seghers was solicited to develop a proper drainage plan and estimate costs of maintenance and operation for a five-year period. He proposed a gasoline and electrical pump that would be replaced at five-year intervals.

In 1966, the cemetery was rededicated as Resthaven Memorial Park (10400 Old Gentilly Road).

Rebirth Brass Band saxophonist James "Phat Nasty" Durant (1972-2003) was buried there.

Image above:  Guy Seghers, Section "A" (Entrance), Lincoln Memorial Park, New Orleans Third Municipal District, LA.  1952. Guy Seghers Office Records, Southeastern Architectural Archive, Special Collections Division, Tulane University Libraries.