Wednesday, October 31, 2012

New Orleans Business Archive: Architectural Stone

Assembled in this circa 1930 photograph are employees of the Architectural Stone Company, a New Orleans business founded in 1923 by Victor Guido Lachin (born Venice, Italy c. 1896 - † New Orleans 1980).  Lachin learned plasterwork from his father Angelo, a Venetian woodcarver who remained in the United States after working on architectural ornamentation for the 1904 Louisiana Purchase Exposition in St. Louis, Missouri.  By 1910, Angelo Lachin had established an eponymous New Orleans business located at 518 Royal Street and relocated his wife and two sons, Victor and John M. (Venice, Italy c. 1890 -† New Orleans 1986) to the United States.

Victor established the Architectural Stone Company after serving apprenticeships in St. Louis and New Orleans. Three generations of the family worked for the company by 1969, when Victor Lachin retired and sold the business.

Over its 46 years of operation, Architectural Stone supplied architects, builders and contractors with its cast ornamentation. Renowned as early innovators in stone fabrication, the company modernized traditional Italian scagliola techniques, mixing cement with ground stone pigments, then casting and polishing the composite to emulate cut stone.  Its sculptural work was used on cemetery, residential, institutional, industrial and mercantile structures.

Many of the company's shop drawings are housed in Tulane University's Southeastern Architectural Archive. An inventory of holdings may be found here. Thanks to Tulane School of Architecture graduate Scott Heath for his assistance processing the collection.

Image above:  Architectural Stone Company, 8122 Colapissa Street, New Orleans,  c. 1930. Donor Records, Southeastern Architectural Archive, Special Collections Division, Tulane University Libraries.

Friday, October 26, 2012

New Orleans Maps

William Edward Boesch, Sr. (1903-1973) created this map of Orleans and St. Bernard Parishes in 1926, the year he founded the New Orleans Map Company. Boesch was one of the first cartographers in the city to utilize aerial photographic data in developing his maps.

Boesch's early training was as a draftsman, and he drew his first maps with approximate rather than precise scales. In 1930, he published a technical manual titled Commercial and Engineering Map Drawing and Lettering. By the late 1930s, he had compiled a two-volume atlas of  New Orleans commercial and industrial lots and municipal block ownership maps, now housed at the Historic New Orleans Collection.

Over his long career and prior to his becoming Honorary Mayor of Little Woods, Boesch published the following maps:


Map of Orleans & St. Bernard Parishes Showing Lake Shore Developments & Etc. 


Map of Greater New Orleans, Louisiana [for Chamber of Commerce]

Map of Greater New Orleans, Louisiana


Map of Louisiana: Illustrating the Major Features of Interest to Tourists, Campers, Picnickers, Anglers, Hunters and Nature Lovers Generally Described in the Guide to Louisiana's Great Outdoors


Map of Greater New Orleans, Louisiana

Map of Louisiana, Showing Oil, Gas and Sulfur Fields, Salt Domes & Etc.


Map of Greater New Orleans, Louisiana

1930s (undated)

Southeastern Louisiana: Showing Some of the Excellent Fishing Grounds in the Southeastern Part of the State.


Map of Part of New Orleans Showing Dock and Nearest Catholic Churches


Map of the Business District of New Orleans


The Fisherman's "Ofishall" Map and Guide: New Orleans Area, Southeast Louisiana and Gulf Coast


Map of Vieux Carre and Business District, New Orleans

New Orleans/Second Port of the USA, Air Hub of the Americas

Official Map and Guide of New Orleans USA


New Orleans Retail District


Map of Greater East Jefferson, Including Harahan-Kenner and Metairie, Louisiana

Map of Gulf of Mexico, Showing Port Facilities

Map Showing Municipal Districts and Wards of New Orleans, La.

1950s (undated)

Map of Greater New Orleans, Louisiana, corrected edition


Map of Greater New Orleans, Louisiana


Map of Greater New Orleans, Louisiana


Map of Greater Eastern New Orleans

On Tulane University's campus, historic maps may be located in the Louisiana Research Collection (LaRC) and the Southeastern Architectural Archive (SEAA), both departments in the TU Libraries' Special Collections Division.  The SEAA's collection of Guy Seghers Office Records contains a large number of twentieth-century maps and surveys.

Map above:  Wm. E. Boesch, Map of Orleans & St. Bernard Parishes Showing Lake Shore Developments & Etc. Copyrighted November 1926 by Wm. E. Boesch, Southeastern Architectural Archive, Special Collections Division, Tulane University Libraries.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Building Letterheads XV-XVI

Southern Demolishing & Lumber Company, Incorporated
407 North Broad Street
George L. Ducros Tile Company Tiling Contractors
1601 South Gayoso Street

Images above: Building Letterheads, Southeastern Architectural Archive, Special Collections Division, Tulane University Libraries.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Building Letterheads XIV

In August 1925, three large New Orleans lumber concerns merged. Salmen Brick and Lumber (founded in 1844 by Fritz Salmen), Hortman Lumber (founded in 1913 by Claude Hortman) and National Sash & Door Company (organized in the first decade of the twentieth century) consolidated to become the Hortman-Salmen Company, Incorporated.

In April 1931, the company moved to its new plant, located at the intersection of Dupre and Toulouse Streets, and covering four municipal squares adjacent to the Carondelet Canal.

Image above:  Detail, EAH, Sales Department to Perrilliat-Rickey Construction Company, 22 July 1936, Building Letterheads, Southeastern Architectural Archive, Special Collections Division, Tulane University Libraries.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Formica 1966

In the spring of 1966, Formica® Corporation was advertising its solid color and wood grain patterns for use in horizontal and vertical applications. Based in Cincinnati, Ohio, the company was then a subsidiary of American Cyanamid. Touting the product's heat and scratch resistance, companies such as the Louisiana Elevator Corporation recommended it for use in elevator cab walls.

1966 customers could choose from colors named "Absinthe," "Chutney" and "Matador," among others (top image, above). Woodgrain selections included "Malacca Teak," "Paldao," and "Macassar Ebony" (lower image above).

Images above: Louisiana Elevator Corporation Contract for 630 Gravier Street, Architectural Trade Catalogs, Southeastern Architectural Archive, Special Collections Division, Tulane University Libraries.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Lost Louisiana

In April 1926, Mrs. Wheeler H. Peckham, honorary curator of the New York Botanical Garden (NYBG), addressed the New Orleans Garden Society at the residence of Mrs. L. Kemper Williams. Her presentation focused on preserving Louisiana's native iris. Mrs. Peckham had been touring the region with NYBG curator Dr. John K. Small and botanical magazine editor E.J. Alexander. The team was alarmed at the rapid disappearance of southeastern Louisiana's iris fields.

Small (shown at right in center and bottom images above), in an article for the Journal of the New York Botanical Garden, quoted a letter he received from New Orleans Parking Commission member George Thomas:

'During the past twenty-five years, I have witnessed the most frightful destruction amongst the irises within the city limits of New Orleans and adjoining parishes, even worse than that of the Frenchmen Street location. At the junction of Washington and Carrollton Avenues, there was a patch of several acres, which when in bloom appeared to be a solid mass of iris; today not one remains. At the site of Newcomb College there was a fine stand of Iris fulva. This has disappeared entirely.'

Small considered New Orleans the biological and geographical center of Louisiana iris culture, and lamented  the disappearance of the Bayou Sauvage fields in Gentilly and the dwindling of the Frenchmen Street field:

"The present condition of the well-known Frenchmen Street iris fields attracts one's attention. The marsh along which and through which Frenchmen Street was built was a celebrated iris field, for many years a favorite place for the citizens interested in iris to observe and gather specimens or bouquets. Manufacturing plants finally began to use the marsh as a dumping ground for refuse, and today most of the former iris growth has been buried, and only a few isolated patches of the plants of the several species that once thrived here in countless numbers remain in the landscape."

Small and Peckham called on the citizens of New Orleans to save Louisiana's native irises. They returned to New Orleans many times, with Small collecting specimens for the NYBG, and naming innumerable natural hybrids or species variants.

Quoted matter from John K. Small, "Vanishing Iris." Reports on Florida Explorations 76, offprint from Journal of the New York Botanical Garden 32 (1931): pp. 277-288.  Garden Library of the New Orleans Town Gardeners, Southeastern Architectural Archive, Special Collections Division, Tulane University Libraries.

Images, top to bottom: 

Top: "In the delta of the Pearl River, Louisiana. A small patch of Iris giganticaerulea in the foreground. The 'weed-wagon' (the popular name for our collecting motor) in the background."

Center: "Collecting iris in swamp at Arabi, Louisiana. Colonies large and small of many kinds of iris occur here. This swamp and those of Gentilly are the richest in various kinds of iris."

Bottom: "Our tallest-stemmed iris--Iris giganticaerulea, growing in a swamp near Cut-Off, Louisiana. In this swamp violet-flowered irises prevailed. The plants were mostly three to five feet tall. The plants in the colony shown above were fully seven feet tall. If some of the dropping leaves were straightened, they would overtop one's head."

Images from John K. Small, "Salvaging the Native American Irises." Reports on Florida Explorations 73, offprint from Journal of the New York Botanical Garden 32 (1931): pp. 175-184. Garden Library of the New Orleans Town Gardeners, Southeastern Architectural Archive, Special Collections Division, Tulane University Libraries.

Building Letterheads XIII

Beginning in 1901, the Schwing Lumber & Shingle Company operated along the Mississippi River at Bayou Plaquemine. The company's dominance of the Louisiana cypress shingle market was mentioned in W.E. Clement's Plantation Life on the Mississippi (1952). Schwing also operated a successful Spanish moss operation, supplying the cured "lagniappe product" for the upholstery trade.

By the late 1930s, Schwing was managing mineral rights related to speculative oil drilling operations across its vast land holdings. Company president Calvin Kendrick Schwing became a prominent politician, serving in the Louisiana state senate from 1928 to 1936. In December 1956, Dow Chemical Company purchased all the Schwing Lumber stock, and thus acquired 60,000 acres of land.

Image above: Detail, Calvin K. Schwing, letter to Mr. Bert Nadler, 15 November 1938, Building Letterheads, Southeastern Architectural Archive, Special Collections Division, Tulane University Libraries.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Dixie Brewery

The Dixie Brewery held its grand opening on Thursday, 31 October 1907. The management revealed the vast facility to the New Orleans public, serving lemonade, ice cream and danishes to the attendees. Orchestral music punctuated the event.

After securing the Tulane Avenue/North Rocheblave Street site in 1906, Dixie's officers retained the services of the Chicago brewery architect Louis Lehle & Sons to design its modern plant and stables. German- born architect Julius Koch (Stuttgart 1857-New Orleans 1918) supervised the construction of the five-story concrete, steel, brick and asbestos edifice.

Louis William Lehle designed many other noted American breweries, including the Blatz Brewery (Milwaukee), the John Hauck Brewing Company (Cincinnati), the Lake Superior Brewing Company (now Fitger's, Duluth, Mn), the Lion Brewery (Chicago), the Thieme & Wagner Brewing Company (Lafayette, La) and the Detroit Brewing Company. In October 1911, he presented his personal observations on brewery site selection, construction, insulation and design to the Second International Brewers' Congress in Chicago, Illinois. You can read his paper here.

Image above: "New Brewery Opens: Magnificent Plant on Tulane Avenue Receives Guests." The Daily Picayune 1 November 1907, p. 6.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Lexicon: Bodine

We encountered a new building term yesterday in a trade catalog titled The Complete House Builder (1890). Bodine was a patented roofing product developed by the Bodine Roofing Company of Mansfield, Ohio in the early 1880s. Comprised of polychromed white poplar and spruce wood pulp, bodine's advantage over slate was its affordability and the ease with which any DIYer could install it. For the "Cheap Cottage Set on Posts" illustrated above, it was one option that the M.A. Donohue & Company considered economical. An added benefit for those with rain barrels and cisterns was its inconspicuous flavor. The Architect, Builder and Woodworker reported that rain water flowing off a bodine roof imparted "no unpleasant taste," unlike that experienced with composition roofs (gravel, pitch, chemical, asbestos or felt).(1)

(1)"The Bodine Patent Roof," The Architect, Builder and Woodworker 19 (October 1883): p. 188.

Image above: "No. 1--Front Elevation," The Complete House Builder with Hints on Building (Chicago: M.A. Donohue & Company, 407-429 Dearborn Street, 9 April 1890), n.p. Southeastern Architectural Archive, Special Collections Division, Tulane University Libraries.