Friday, June 29, 2012

Building Letterheads X

We recently came across an old check from the People's Bank of New Orleans that features a wood engraved image of the bank building formerly located at 207 Decatur Street/507 Iberville Street in the Second Municipal District. Opened in August 1877, the structure served the bank's purposes until it relocated to Thomas Sully's Morris Building in the early twentieth century.

The structure was designed by a succession of architect-surveyors, first by Jules A. D'Hemecourt (†1880) and then finished by Stephen J. Turpin. Motherwell M. Bell served as the contractor, and Harry H. Dressel (†1905), the scenic artist who had his studio on Iberville (then Customhouse), painted the interior fresco panels that included personifications of Industry and Commerce, and a depiction of the Steamboat Natchez.(1)

(1)"The People's Bank." The Daily Picayune (5 August 1877) p. 1.

Images above: T. Fitzwilliam & Co., printers. Peoples Bank of New Orleans checks, c. 1900-1907. Full view and detail of People's Bank building located at 207 Decatur Street. Guy Seghers Office Records, "7th District, Square 179 (Carrollton 66-A)," Southeastern Architectural Archive, Special Collections Division, Tulane University Libraries.

From Bicycle to Automobile

An earlier post addressed New Orleans architect Rathbone De Buys' 1921 proposed Canal Street parking skyscraper. Five years earlier, Gustav Stickley's journal The Craftsman featured a review of the American Architect's publication, Garages, Country and Suburban, a series of ... articles on the structural features of the private garage and its equipment, the care of the car, the safe handling of gasolene and topics of interest to the owner and driver (New York, 1911).

The Craftsman extensively quoted the book:

"The coming of the automobile has introduced a new phase into the architect's daily work. The smart, shining, highly developed machine, quick, accurate and efficient, full of the very essence of modernity, with its irrepressible and confident chauffeur, seems to require more 'chic' accommodations, than did even the smartest horses and vehicles of the last generation. The age of the automobile is the age of cement, of high efficiency electric lighting and of the banishment of germs and crevices which harbor them. The garage must be modern, light, shining and not only clean, but free from any possibility of harboring dirt in any form. So, though the architect may still affect the homely and reliable bicycle as his own personal mode of locomotion, he enthusiastically approves the change in habits of clients which make necessary the designing and providing of a new type of building."

The reviewer seems to have been especially drawn to those garages that were portable, functioned equally as garden trellises and/or chauffeur's lodging, and one that served the purposes of the aviator as well as the motorist:

"The combination garage and hangar floor foretells the future form of this new, almost indispensable adjunct of the country house, for man must soon mount to the skies as well as skim the surfaces of the earth."

The airplane pictured above looks like the Bristol Box Kite, invented seven years after the Wright flyer, and used by the Royal Naval Air Service (U.K.), the Royal Romanian Air Force, and the Australian Flying Corps.

For aviation history buffs, the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) manages an aircraft museum  that includes a replica of the 1903 Wright Flyer and holds its popular annual airshow in Oshkosh, Wisconsin every July.

Images above: "Book Reviews." The Craftsman XXIX: 4 (January 1916): pp. 440-443.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Antebellum Garden 1858

As reported by The New Orleans Daily Crescent 25 April 1858:

A Model Home.-- The larger number of our wealthy citizens consider a three or two story house, fronting abruptly upon the well-traveled pavements, which line some noisy and dusty, but fashionable street the extreme of all reasonable ambition for the possession of home or property. Well, the three or two story house opening immediately upon the pavement of some fashionable street, looks grand. Is it as entirely comfortable as other localities which might be chosen in the vicinity of the city?

If any had joined us in a pleasant ramble on last Saturday evening, as far as Desirée street, in the Third District, he might have thought differently. Fronting on that street and running from Greatmen to Levee, is the home of Mr. Lawrence, a gentleman, who, though actively engaged in business, operating in cotton and sugar, yet cultivates the nice and refined tasted of the accomplished horticulturalist.

Over his neat cottage home, sweeps the cool breeze, which has daintily kissed the waves of the river which sweeps by our city, and which, from his tressiled [sic] and flower-embowered porch, refreshes the eye and forehead of one wearied with summer heat. In his cool and quiet parlors, so hushed and shaded that one listens with almost painful suspense, for the cricket's chirrup, works of art from the painter's easel and the engraver's labor, so calm and so lifelike, that you almost realize in them an active presence meeting the eye. Among the paintings are some very excellent ones, the work of Mr. L.'s accomplished lady.

One wanders into his gardens, and the first thing which catches the eye is the princely amaryllis. It is a royal flower, and flaunts itself bravely in the garish day. It steals its livery of bright hues from the sun, and looks all splendor. There is the heliotrope, the jessamine, the honeysuckle, the white rose, but we have no space to enumerate.

We pass to the useful. Corn from Tehuantepec seed; melons from African, French and English seed; nectarines, figs, pomegranates, artichokes, Falstaff raspberries, Crescent strawberries, yielding six months in the year, oranges, lemons, giant quinces, grafted and growing in the same tree, fig-trees thriving lustily, banana plants growing well, pine-apple plants in numbers beyond all our previous ideas of their cultivation in New Orleans, showing every promise of successful growth, and other things too numerous to mention, attract the eye, charm the senses and awaken attention.