Friday, December 20, 2013

The Snowflake Motel

In 1963, the Southern Pine Association's public relations department corresponded with the New Orleans architectural firm of Nolan, Norman and Nolan to see if it would develop a series of instructional pamphlets related to home improvements such as enclosing a carport, adding a porch or building a game room. Each pamphlet would highlight the use of the company's products. The series would be marketed as a package to local lumber dealers. As an example of its promotional materials, Southern Pine sent architect Tom Holcombe its brochure, "New Dimensions of Design" that featured photographs of the wood's use in contemporary architecture. The publication included images of Taliesin Associated Architects' [William Wesley PetersSnowflake Motel (1962, above); William J. Mouton's Harahan residence (1963; below); and Henry G. Grimball's Orleans Marina (1962; below).
Images above: Southern Pine Association. New Dimensions of Design. New Orleans, LA. Circa 1963. Project No. 1064. William T. Nolan Office Records, Southeastern Architectural Archive, Special Collections Division, Tulane University Libraries.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Atelier Curtis

In 1921, New Orleans architect-educator Nathaniel C. Curtis, Sr. (1881-1953) established a new studio for architectural instruction:

"The recently formed atelier of the Beaux Arts Institute of Design, organized among the draftsmen and junior architects of New Orleans for the purpose of studying the practical problems in architecture will begin to function in September. The atelier -- a studio club -- under the direction of N.C. Curtis, formerly professor of architecture in Tulane University, now associated with the office of M.H. Goldstein, architect, offers a course of systematic training in architectural design based on the regular programs issued by the institute from its headquarters in New York. The course is free, excepting for the annual registration fee of two dollars. No preliminary examinations of any kind are required but new students should have some skill in draftsmanship and a knowledge of the elements of architecture before proposing to affiliate with the atelier. . . Named after the originator of the organization here the Atelier will be known as the Atelier Curtis."

Building Review (August 1921): p. 12.

Monday, December 16, 2013

618 Baronne Street

Morgan D.E. Hite (1882-1959) designed this automotive showroom storefront for Baccich and de Montluzin's Architecture Department. M. Zilbermann used the space to exhibit his Mercers and Daniels Eights in 1918.

Image above: "Automobile Show-Room, New Orleans." Building Review VII:17 (June 1918): p. 23.

"Seasonal Will & Changing Moods"

In August 1918, the locally-published trade paper Building Review featured a story on the Inner Harbor Navigation Canal (AKA Industrial Canal). Morgan Dudley E. Hite (1882-1959), the newspaper's editor, summarized the excavation and piling work, volume of building materials, proposed water containment and anticipated completion date. His editorial also included his bird's eye view of the new canal, which is reproduced above. Hite was among those who envisioned the canal as a great advance:

"It has been objected that New Orleans 'has too much water' at her doors. The Inner Harbor-Navigation Canal Marks the beginning of the putting to use of this water in a scientific way, a proper placing and control of it, instead of as heretofore being subject to uncontrollable seasonal will and changing moods. Conservation at its best!

"When completed, this canal will rank with the half-dozen greater world canals -- only three now existing having a depth as great as the New Orleans undertaking -- the Panama, Suez and Kiel. Depth of sill-clearance of the locks is a test of the canal's greatness and importance -- the New Orleans lock will have 30 feet over the sill. It is by far the single greatest factor of port development yet undertaken by the Port Commissioners of New Orleans, and the engineering study of its economic factor destines it to be one of the nation's great and most highly co-ordinated industrial regions of the future, with every facility of modern commerce, transport by rail, river, canal, lake and ocean; for raw and finished product; banking facilities and a location in the heart of the South's greatest labor market."

The triplet buildings (4400 Dauphine Street) in the foreground space were completed under the  direction of the U.S. Army Quartermaster Corps in 1919.  The Board of Commissioners, Port of New Orleans, leased two of the buildings after World War I. The Board also subleased spaces to individual commercial ventures. The property reverted to the U.S. War Department during World War II and the name of the complex was changed to the New Orleans Port of Embarkation. After the war, the structures were known as the New Orleans Army Terminal, and in 1966 the Navy assumed custody, renaming them as the Naval Support Activity. In 1973, administrative changes within the Navy resulted in significant alterations to the exterior and the surrounding site. These were undertaken by associated architects Waldemar S. Nelson; Nolan, Holcombe, Apatini & Seghers; Nolan, Norman & Nolan; James P. Oubre and August Perez & Associates. On 3 July 1975, the buildings were dedicated as the F. Edward Hebert Defense Complex. In October 2013, the City of New Orleans acquired the complex.

Morgan D.E. Hite, editor. "Details of Construction." Building Review (August 1918): pp. 20-21. Louisiana Research Collection, Special Collections Division, Tulane University Libraries.

See also: "Dedication Ceremony: F. Edward Hebert Defense Complex." Brochure. 1975. Project No. 1279. William T. Nolan Office Records, Southeastern Architectural Archive, Special Collections Division, Tulane University Libraries.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

NEW! Edward Sporl Finding Aid

The Southeastern Architectural Archive recently finalized the processing of the Edward F. Sporl Office Records. The collection consists of architectural drawings, specifications and correspondence associated with New Orleans architect Edward F. Sporl (1881-1956). His career spanned five decades and he developed projects for coastal Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi, as well as projects for the Cuyamel Fruit Company in Honduras. Read more about the architect and the collection here.

Image above: Edward F. Sporl, architect. Oriental Laundry [for Charles Tung]. Circa 1920s. Edward F. Sporl Office Records, Southeastern Architectural Archive, Special Collections Division, Tulane University Libraries.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

1919 House Surgery

In December 1919, the local monthly Building Review -- which was published from the Whitney-Central Building and edited by local architect Morgan D.E. Hite -- reported on Hooverizing real estate:

"Henry J. Davison of New York calls it 'House Surgery,' describes it as Hooverizing applied to real estate but with the difference that this form of Hooverizing means conservation rather than self-denial.

'House Surgery, which applies to any building, be it an office or home, is the modern protest against waste. It is converting a liability into an asset. It is converting distortion into proportion, the antiquated and almost useless into the useful, discomfort into comfort, ugliness into beauty. It is Hooverism applied to real estate, but the term should not be misunderstood. By Hooverism is not meant sacrifice, but only the conservation of good material. The world is sick of destruction. Why tear down when one can alter? Many a piece of land to-day is cursed by the building upon it. By modicum of change, the distortion of such a building can be turned into beautiful lines of proportion, and the useless can be made useful as well as ornamental, and in so doing the value of the land and entire property increased a hundred per cent or more in value.

'The desire has always been for something brand new, as though there were a virtue in newness. It is strange that it took the world's greatest catastrophe to teach America, the most wasteful of nations, the schoolboy copybook lesson that a penny saved is a penny earned, and that economy is not meanness. It is in this new spirit that the significance and permanence of "house surgery" rests.'"

Building Review 8:12 (December 1919): p. 12. Southeastern Architectural Archive, Special Collections Division, Tulane University Libraries.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Edward B. Silverstein, Architect

New Orleans architect Edward B. Silverstein (1909-1989) developed this 1954 proposal for the Saenger Theatre in Vicksburg, Mississippi. During the early 1950s, he worked on a considerable number of Saenger renovations. While his predecessor Emile Weil (1878-1948) was known as the original architect for many of the chain's southern theatres, including its landmark structure on Canal Street, Silverstein became the architect renowned for restoring them. His work on the Hattiesburg, Mississippi building (201 Forrest Street) brought considerable acclaim.

Image above:  Edward. B. Silverstein, Architect. H.H.D., delineator. Sketch of Proposed Saenger Theatre, Vicksburg, Mississippi [Detail]. Project Number 636. 1954. Pencil and colored pencil on tracing paper. Edward B. Silverstein Office Records, Southeastern Architectural Archive, Special Collections Division, Tulane University Libraries.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Goodwill Industries

For those wondering about the building located at 2000 Jackson Avenue that is being demolished today (google streetview above), the structure underneath was designed by New Orleans architect Edward B. Silverstein for Goodwill Industries in 1958. His commission required the inclusion of a chapel, loading platform, terrace, kitchen, offices, a large work area and a salesroom for the nonprofit organization's job-training operations. Only the former sales and work areas lasted until 2013, and the exterior had been dramatically altered.

When Silverstein started the project in 1957, he hired surveyor F.C. Gandolfo, Jr. to review earlier surveys and develop new measurements for the existing conditions at the site.

Lot 24A was the Old Hebrew Rest Cemetery, partially bordered by a brick fence and remnants of its foundations, and dotted with "miscellaneous rubble and old tombs" and an established mulberry tree, hackberries, cedars and oleanders. Goodwill Industries acquired the site from Touro Synagogue -- which had owned the property since 1828 -- in August, 1957. The cemetery had not been used as a burial site for decades, and the New Orleans Rabbinical Council made arrangements for appropriate reinterments.

After the site was cleared, pile driving commenced on 30 October 1958. Mayor deLesseps Morrison cut the ribbon at the building's formal dedication on 24 September 1959.

Second Image:  Edward B. Silverstein, Architect. Goodwill Industries. Detail of East Elevation. 17 February 1958. Edward B. Silverstein Office Records, Southeastern Architectural Archive, Special Collections Division, Tulane University Libraries.

Third Image: F.C. Gandolfo, Jr., surveyor for Mr. Ed. Silverstein, Arch. Lot 24A Square 299 Fourth District. 20 May 1957. Edward B. Silverstein Office Records, Southeastern Architectural Archive, Special Collections Division, Tulane University Libraries.

Carrie Nation's Visit

In the winter of 1907, temperance leader Carrie Nation (1846-1911) stopped in  New Orleans on her way to winter in Guadalajara, Mexico. On December 19, she entered the St. Charles Hotel Cafe and Bar (image above) at 4:00 pm in order to condemn alcohol consumption. The Daily Picayune reported that customers responded with shouts of 'Put her out!' and 'You've got no chance in New Orleans, Carrie!'

Before reading her temperance poems, Nation berated the decor:

"Glad female figures, scantily attired, adorned the walls, and these were a special object for Carrie's comment. She 'chewed the rug plum off,' as the popular expression goes, and a number of the 200 or more men who crowded the cafe before she had finished her five-minute talk were visibly touched, although the majority were smiling and winking at the novelty of hearing a woman who was bold enough to penetrate the mysteries of the swinging screen doors at the entrance."

Thwarted by her attempts to meet the hotel-bar proprietor, Nation departed to address the Y.M.C.A.

Quoted matter from: "Carrie Nation of Saloon Smashing Fame is in Tub City." The Daily Picayune (20 December 1907): p. 11.

Image above: Gravier Street West from St. Charles. Circa 1907. Photomechanical reproduction from unidentified source. Miscellaneous Photographs Collection, Southeastern Architectural Archive, Special Collections Division, Tulane University Libraries.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Brick Nomenclature

In the summer of 1891, Carpentry and Building magazine addressed the regional nomenclature of brick making and reported on New Orleans specifically

"Down in New Orleans where our friend Blaffer lives, the place where the water runs away from the river instead of running into it which is also the home of the 'manly art,' bricks, too, are made in very great quantities. The Blaffer Brick and Lumbering Company have a yard that is the model of neatness. This is a river yard, and the clay used by such yards is called 'batture.' It is the silt which floats down the river during high water and settles in pockets or eddies formed to catch it. When the water recedes this dries out, and is then carted outside the levees into great banks ready for use. A brick yard has been run in this same place for nearly 40 years. Each year the river is sure to rise and the silt to come down and the batture formed for another season's works. Back from the river the clay is what is called 'buckshot,' because when dug it breaks up in hard, square pieces.

"The bricks at New Orleans are graded; first as 'foundries,' which are the softest and used for lining crucibles; then the 'salmon' for chimneys. They call their best 'bench brick,'and all others 'klinkers,' which are used for foundations. On the old yards around New Orleans they use mud or tempering wheels that would be a curiosity to a Northern man. They are fully 12 feet or more in diameter, with a 6-inch broad solid tire and rim. They clay is only about 6 or 8 inches deep in the pit and is simply mashed in tempering it. The shaft on which this wheel runs has no ratchet, and the wheel is made to travel in or out by being thrown off of a center at its axes. On these yards they use three-brick molds, dumping on narrow pallets split out of hemlock. On one of these yards, run by an old French Creole, he told me that his pallets had been in use over 35 years."

Excerpt from "Nomenclature or Vernacular in Brick Making." Carpentry and Building (1 July 1891): p. 169 as viewed through ProQuest American Periodicals from the Center for Research Libraries, a subscription database available at Tulane University Libraries.

Image above:  Salvaged brick, recto and verso.Southeastern Architectural Archive, Special Collections Division, Tulane University Libraries.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Mapping the Gulf South

For those traveling over the holidays, you may want to visit the new Tampa Bay History Center. In September the interactive museum launched a major map exhibition, featuring over 150 atlases, maps, globes and other cartographic material dating from 1493 to 2013. It includes the Ptolemaic world map from the Nuremberg Chronicle, "La Florida" from Ortelius'  Theatrum Orbis Terrarum (detail above), a seventeenth-century Florentine chart of the Gulf of Mexico, Pierre Mortier's The Theater of War in America and more recent bird's eye view perspectives of the region. Current digital images taken by NASA and the Google mapping project round off the exhibit.

For more information about "Charting the Land of Flowers: 500 Years of Florida Maps," consult the museum's online guides. And congrats to map collector/historian Tom Touchton!

UPDATE:  The exhibit has now been extended through April 13 2014.

Image above: Gerónimo de Chaves (1524– ?). La Florida from the Theatrum Orbis Terrarum of Abraham Ortelius, Additamentum of 1584 (1591 or 1592 Latin edition). Detail. Tampa Bay History Center.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Saints BBQ Sauce

For those of you who may have missed the Southeastern Architectural Archive's Superdome exhibit, you may not be aware that the building sparked a dedicatory cookbook. In 1975, Christopher Blake published the Louisiana Superdome Souvenir Cookbook in honor of "those citizens of Louisiana who made and will make the Louisiana Superdome." The book featured a bicentennial-themed cover with a reproduction of Art Associates Illustrators' presentation rendering of the stadium. Recipes included those for for mixing classic New Orleans cocktails, and those for making red beans and rice, boiled beef with Creole sauce, jambalaya and stuffed veal pocket.

Here's the recipe for Saints BBQ Sauce:

1/2 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup salad oil
1 can (8 ounces) tomato sauce
1 cup catsup
1/4 cup vinegar
2 T brown sugar
2 T Worcestershire sauce
2 T Creole mustard
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp Tabasco

Cook onion in salad oil in sauce pan until tender, but not brown. Add remaining ingredients. Simmer 10 minutes. Use as a basting sauce. Yields 2 1/2 cups sauce.

Image above: Cover. Christopher Blake. Louisiana Superdome Souvenir Cookbook. New Orleans: Christopher Blake, 1975. Southeastern Architectural Archive, Special Collections Division, Tulane University Libraries.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Le Beau Plantation

Wisconsin-born photographer Howard “Cole” Coleman (1883-1969) took this image of Le Beau plantation between 1956 and 1962. Every August during those years, he and his wife Thelma consulted Louisiana chambers of commerce and traveled the region's highways and country roads to visit and photograph historic landmarks. They advertised and sold the resulting silver gelatin prints locally. In 1963, they donated a series of 16 x 20” photographic enlargements to the Louisiana Landmarks Society that were exhibited at Gallier Hall under the title “The Thelma Hecht Coleman Collection.” According to an advertisement he placed in The Times-Picayune, Coleman considered his Louisiana-born wife the inspiration for his capture of Louisiana architectural subjects. Upon her death, he sold his copy prints and ultimately donated his source photographs and negatives to Tulane University Libraries.

Learn more about the Southeastern Architectural Archive's Thelma Hecht Coleman Memorial Collection here.

Tulane University's Digital Library is in the process of digitizing the entire collection.

Image above: Howard Coleman, photographer. Le Beau Plantation House, St. Bernard Parish, Louisiana. Courtesy Thelma Hecht Coleman Memorial Collection, Southeastern Architectural Archive, Special Collections Division, Tulane University Libraries.

Friday, November 22, 2013

NEW! James Freret Finding Aid

The Southeastern Architectural Archive recently finalized the processing of the James Freret Office Records. The collection consists of Grand Tour travel sketches, architectural project and spec drawings, and financial records associated with New Orleans architect James Freret (1838-1897). Read more about the architect and the collection here.

Image above: Joseph Pilié, voyer de la ville, Nouvelle Orléans le 8 Avril 1826. Plan de division en trois lots, d’une portion de terre sur laquelle il éxiste des maisons, située au Faubourg Ste Marie, à l’encoignure des rues Poydras et Carondelet et appurtenant à Mr Valentin Daublin. Folder 8, James Freret Office Records, Southeastern Architectural Archive, Special Collections Division, Tulane University Libraries.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Back of Town 1927

In 1927, photographer Joseph Schnetzer took a series of project photographs documenting construction of Rathbone DeBuy's Mack Truck factory located near the intersection of Jefferson Davis Parkway and Calliope Street. Pile drivers working for contractor J.E. Hemenway can be seen working on the site, some posing for Schnetzer. Numerous small bungalow residences are visible in the distance.

Image above: Joseph Schnetzer, photographer. The Mack Truck Company. C.N. 1000. Architect Rathbone DeBuys. 11 April 1927. Project photograph. Rathbone DeBuys Office Records, Southeastern Architectural Archive, Special Collections Division, Tulane University Libraries.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

New Orleans Architect, Helena Freret

In the summer of 1895, The Daily Picayune reported on the Crescent City's first female architect:

"New Orleans is going to have a woman architect: Indeed, the young lady has already planned several of the finest residences in this city. She is Miss Helena Freret, daughter of the well-known architect, Mr. James P. Freret, and is undergoing a thorough course of study under the direction of her father. How did Miss Freret come to take up the study of architecture? Well, it 'just growed with her nature' as Topsy would have said. From a little child up Miss Freret has developed a wonderful talent for drawing and draughting, particularly in the fine detail work which is so prominent a feature of architectural drawing. Socially, Miss Freret is a great favorite and is really a very accomplished girl. But society did not satisfy her; she felt that she wanted to take up some study as a life work, even though she would need to have recourse to it as a means of subsistence. So without her father's knowledge she commenced the study of architectural designing all alone, for her talent is a natural one. Some time ago Mr. Freret accidentally came across some of these exhibitions of his daughter's genius. He questioned her about it: she told him how she wanted to take up some congenial pursuit. Just for the purpose of passing her time, and asked him to allow her to go down to his office and study just like the young men. He laughed, and told her that she did better work than the young men and that if she wanted he would engage her services at home. Miss Helena was delighted, and not only proved an apt pupil, but soon became her father's most valued assistant. She has not given up her social pleasures, by any means, but they are only a secondary consideration to the delightful work which is now a part of her very life. Architects who have seen her draughting and designing pronounce it wonderful in a woman. Miss Freret repudiates the idea that it is wonderful 'in a woman.' for she believes that a woman can accomplish anything she sets her mind to, and has proven by the many handsome residences she has designed, and which plans have been accepted over those of men competitors, though they do not know it is a girl, young and beautiful withal, who is proving a dangerous rival. When questioned by 'She' as to her views of the profession of architect for a woman, Miss Freret said that she considered it one admirably adapted to her physically and intellectually, and one which would certainly prove highly remunerative to an able, earnest woman worker. Miss Freret has opened a new line for women wage earners in Louisiana."

That same year, two architects from James Freret's office, Charles A. Favrot and Louis A. Livaudais, resigned in order to form their own eponymous practice.

Helena Freret attended Saturday drawing classes at Tulane University in 1887, for which she received distinction.(1)  She died in New Orleans in April, 1944.

Excerpt above from "She." The Daily Picayune (2 June 1895): p. 29.

(1) The Register: Tulane University of Louisiana. Catalogue of Students 9th Annual Session, 1886-1887. New Orleans, LA.

Image above: James Freret, Architect, Commercial Place, New Orleans. Two Story Frame Residences at Nos. 217 & 219 N. Rampart Street, New Orleans. Client unidentified. Grisaille elevation. Circa early 1880s. James Freret Office Records, Southeastern Architectural Archive, Special Collections Division, Tulane University Libraries.

Monday, November 18, 2013

New Orleans Architects & E.J. Bellocq II

A previous post mentioned New Orleans photographer Ernest J. Bellocq (1873-1949), who frequently worked for local architects to record their buildings and recreational activities. One such architect was Martin Shepard, for whom Bellocq photographed the Real Estate Exchange building (311 Baronne Street). Another was Thomas Sully, whose Allard Street and Calongne residences Bellocq documented.
The dapper young photographer appeared in the December 1896 issue of the Young Men's Hebrew Association publication, The Owl (image above).  As early as September 1892, he was a member of the New Orleans Camera Club and was noted for photographing bantamweight fighter Jack Skelly (1870-1953) preparing for his historic match with George Dixon (1870-1909) at the Olympic Club:

"[Skelly] looks the picture of health. His eyes reflect his feelings. They are bright, clear and quick. His skin is also perfect and his step at once firm and elastic. The aspirant for championship honors continued his training up to the eleventh hour. This morning, after enjoying a salt water bath, he was weighed and carried 117 pounds. He punched the ball for two hours, covered almost twenty miles, and then underwent the rubbing down process. While in that position Shelly [sic] was photographed by Mr. Ernest Bellocq, a prominent young member of the New Orleans Camera Club. This brought the bantam's training to a close. He will be brought to town to-morrow and will be permitted to attend the Myer-McAuliff fight."(1)

The September 6th Dixon-Skelly match marked the end of mixed-race fighting at the Olympic. My distant relative James J. Corbett (1866-1933) defeated John L. Sullivan (1858-1918) there on September 7th.

(1)"Champion John L. Sullivan Reaches New Orleans Yesterday And Shows Up in Fine Form." The Daily Picayune (5 September 1892): p. 4.

Images above:  Invoice. Ernest J. Bellocq, commercial photographer. 840 Conti Street. 1913. Martin Shepard Office Records, Southeastern Architectural Archive, Special Collections Division, Tulane University Libraries.

"Ernest J. Bellocq." The Owl, Organ of the Young Men's Hebrew Association  (December 1896). Louisiana Research Collection, Special Collections Division, Tulane University Libraries.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Charlton & Pruitt: 588 Walnut Street

Architect-contractors Charles H. Charlton, Jr. (c. 1866-1940) and Edwin E. Pruitt, in partnership from 1894-1897, designed this Audubon Park residence for Mrs. Taylor. The furnished residence was available as a rental in the spring of 1897. In the early 1940s, it was converted to a fourplex and then to a triplex in the 1970s. The building's facade appears relatively unchanged today.

In the summer of 1894, Charlton and Pruitt advertised their new practice in The Daily Picayune. They first maintained an office at 808 Baronne Street, and later moved to Thomas Sully's Liverpool, London & Globe Building (200 Carondelet Street).  In 1896, Inland Architect and News Record published Charlton & Pruitt's rendering of a residence for A.L. Levy. The Chicago Art Institute's Ryerson & Burnham Library has digitized more than 5,000 images from the Midwest-based architecture periodical, and the Charlton-Pruitt sketch may be found here.

Image above: Advertisement, The Owl; Organ of the Young Men's Hebrew Association. Louisiana Research Collection, Special Collections Division, Tulane University Libraries.

Thursday, November 14, 2013


In September 1896, The Daily Picayune interviewed local architects and builders regarding the economic situation.  Southron Rhodes Duval (1852-1916), who practiced briefly with Alexander Hay (1858-1937), emphasized the proliferation of camelbacks:

'Architecture to-day is on a firm footing in New Orleans, and the architect from the simple draughtsman who from copying plans of foreign houses for his employer, the builder, evolved into the copyist of plans of local houses for his employer, the owner, into later the present recognized originator and designer of the building with all its details of convenience, decoration, etc. To-day the owner knows that to get a good and well-designed building he must go to an architect. New Orleans, it is said, is the only city in the country showing so many houses of similar design. In the "camelback" type alone there has been counted 8000 made from the same model. In the "steamboat" type of double deckers there is nearly as many exactly like each other.

'The fact is apparent now that success in investment property means to make renting buildings a little better than their neighbors, and with the home to make of it an index of the character of the owner and an educational feature of the city to his children and the public.'(1)

Duval spent many years outside of New Orleans. Although a native, he left the city in 1875, traveling to New York City and Canada and obtaining a position with the U.S. Geological Survey in Massachusetts. He helped to survey the Sonora Railway in Guaymas, Mexico, and served an apprenticeship with Brooklyn, New York architect R.B. Eastman.

(1) Southron R. Duval, quoted in "Architects and Builders Hopeful." The Daily Picayune  (1 September 1896): p. 14.

Image above:  James Freret. Design for a Double Frame Cottage on Delachaise Street for John O'Connor. James Freret Office Records, Southeastern Architectural Archive, Special Collections Division, Tulane University Libraries.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

NEW! Thomas Sully Finding Aid

The Southeastern Architectural Archive recently finalized the processing of the Thomas Sully Office Records. The collection consists of architectural drawings, specifications and photographs associated with the career of Thomas Sully, a Mississippi-born architect (1855-1939) who is credited with designing New Orleans' first skyscraper, the Hennen (AKA Maritime) building.

Thomas Sully was born in Mississippi City, Mississippi, the great nephew and  namesake of the English-born artist renowned for his American portraits and history paintings. The younger Thomas Sully obtained his early education at Dr. Sander’s School in New Orleans, followed by architectural apprenticeships with Larmour & Wheelock (Austin, Texas) and then J. Morgan Slade & Henry Rutgers Marshall (New York City).

Read more about the architect in the online finding aid here.

If you are unfamiliar with the Southeastern Architectural Archive's holdings, consult its list of "Finding Aids by Collection Name."

Image above: Thomas Sully, architect. The Medical Building, 124-126 [formery 17-19] Baronne Street. As it appears in New Orleans Through a Camera, Louisiana Research Collection, Special Collections Division, Tulane University Libraries.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

From Milwaukee to New Orleans

The 1884-1885 World Cotton Exposition in New Orleans introduced new household and building products to fair visitors. Various companies, including those represented by local agents, advertised their wares in such publications as The Industries of New Orleans: Exposition Year (1885).

German immigrant carpenter William Willer was an enterprising Wisconsinite whose sash, door and blind company introduced a number of patents in the late nineteenth century. All were developed by William's son Henry E. Willer, whose first patent, for an interior wooden sliding blind, became immensely popular (US patents 312,051; 312,052; and 312,053). At the peak of the family's operations in the first decade of the twentieth century, the company employed over 200 people. 

The Willer Manufacturing Company was represented in New Orleans by architect-brothers William C. and C. Milo Williams. The latter employed Willer's sliding blinds in his design for a residence located at 1406 General Taylor Street, a structure no longer standing. The blinds can be seen through the second-story windows in the photograph below.

The sliding blinds were classed by cost, with "Class A" being the most expensive, because it included a window frame made with a receptacle at the top, in which the blind could be entirely hidden from view. "Class B" (shown below) sliding blinds had no such concealment, and, as such, windows would always be partially obfuscated by a section or sections of the sliding blind.

Photographic image above is from the Williams Family Office Records.

Prints are from Willer's patent inside sliding blinds: manufactured under 10 letters patent granted to Henry E. Willer: other applications pending. Milwaukee, WI: William Willer, 1885. Trade Catalogs Collection.

An additional Willer catalog may be accessed via the Building Technology Heritage Library.

Southeastern Architectural Archive, Special Collections Division, Tulane University Libraries.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Polder Pontchartrain

In 1925, retired architect Thomas Sully (1855-1939) proposed an engineering project for Louisiana . . . creating a giant polder out of Lake Pontchartrain. He envisioned  that home builders could utilize the newly formed land and that there would no longer be a need to construct a bridge linking New Orleans to the North Shore. Sully conveyed:

'Lake Pontchartrain is a shallow lake, the average depth being about fourteen feet and the greatest depth sixteen feet. A mile from shore you would construct the levee in water from six to twelve feet deep. Just what it would cost I will let the engineers and contractors, who are familiar with such work, figure it out.

As to the value of the land after the completion, it should pay for the construction. Permission would have to be given by the United States, the state of Louisiana, and the city or a corporation could do the work. The land should be worth on an average $500 per acre, and as there is [sic] about 227,500 acres, it would mean $113,750,000.'

An avid sportsman, Sully spent considerable time on Lake Pontchartrain, the Tchefuncta River and the Gulf of Mexico.

Image/quoted matter from: "Here is Proposed Lake Levee." The Times-Picayune (8 January 1925): p. 6.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Workmen Vouch for a Real Ghost Story

In October 1905, New Orleans house mover/shorer George J. Abry reported on his workers' encounter with a spooky place:

“I had a house back in the rear of the city to raise, repair and generally overhaul – just where that house is I won’t say, because I don’t want to give it a bad name; that might cause tenants to taboo the place – and put quite a number of men on the job.

The house was an old one, had been on its alto for a long time, I guess but until our experience we – my men and myself – didn’t know that it had the reputation of being haunted by a former occupant who had died there.


Believe me there was consternation among my men, and all were of the opinion that the house was certainly haunted, and that a ghost had taken it upon himself to superintend their work. Everybody went about with a nervous uncertain air, and at the least sound, other than the noises consequent to the work underway, each man would drop his hammer, hatchet or whatever other implement he had in his hand, and stare about with frightened eyes.”

The Times Picayune 22 October 1905

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Progress Photographs

For twentieth-century municipal, state and federal construction projects, progress photographs were often mandated. Generally commissioned of a professional photographer, these images typically document the building site prior to, during and after construction. Sometimes the series includes aerial photographs of the entire neighborhood. As such, they provide a significant amount of information to researchers regarding not only the building process, but also record alterations to the built environment as they happened.

The two photographs above document the upriver side of Canal Street in October 1936 and May 1957.

The first image, one in a series of 45 taken by photographer F.A. McDaniels, documents the old Charity Hospital buildings prior to their demolition. Patients line the seating areas along the right-hand side of the courtyard, the Knights of Pythias building and the Hibernia Bank building can be seen in the distance. The Pythian structure served as a temporary Charity Hospital for black patients for a two-year period between 1936 and 1938.

The second image, one in a series of  109 taken by Industrial Photos, records the construction of the main branch of the New Orleans Public Library. The Saratoga building and the Civic Center (former Knights of Pythias) building can be seen on the left, and City Hall and the Warwick Hotel can be seen on the right. Other photographs in the series record the construction of the Saratoga, City Hall, the State Supreme Court building and the 222 Loyola Avenue parking garage. Some reveal the removal of architectural ornamentation from the exterior of the old Pythian Temple Parisian Roof Garden.

First image:  F.A. McDaniels, photographer. Louisiana Charity Hospital Project. 10 October 1936. Weiss, Dreyfous & Seiferth Office Records, Southeastern Architectural Archive, Special Collections Division, Tulane University Libraries.

Second:  Industrial Photos, 2430 Royal Street. New Orleans Public Library Main Branch. 31 May 1957. Curtis & Davis Office Records, Southeastern Architectural Archive, Special Collections Division, Tulane University Libraries.

Monday, October 28, 2013

NEW! Robert Mills Finding Aid

The Southeastern Architectural Archive recently finalized the processing of the Moise H. Goldstein Collection of Robert Mills Papers. The collection consists of  papers associated with the career of Robert Mills, a South Carolina-born architect (1781-1855) who considered himself the first American to study architecture as a profession.

The papers were collected by New Orleans architect Moise H. Goldstein (1882-1972), who became interested in Mills during the early twentieth century.  Goldstein notably acquired the architect’s family correspondence, specifications, diaries, and a journal containing two essays and a series of South Carolina travel sketches.  He was especially drawn to documents related to Mills’ proposals for New Orleans: an 1826 proposal for an elevated railroad that would transport mail from Washington, D.C. to New Orleans; and the 1837 design for a new marine hospital (completed 1845).  Since the collection includes personal items associated with Mills descendants in New Orleans, it is likely that Goldstein acquired the papers directly from the family. With an interest in publishing a technical article regarding the papers, Goldstein also corresponded with Mills historians Helen M.P. Gallagher and  Charles C. Wilson, and shared his research with them. 

Earliest documents include Robert Mills’ manuscript essay on the Tuscan order, a short diary written while employed in the Washington, D.C. office of Benjamin Henry Latrobe and a corresponding survey of New Castle, Delaware.   Later documents include a journal from the 1820s-1830s that begins with a much-edited “Manuel on Railroads” and ends with a series of pencil and ink sketches of South Carolina. Sandwiched between the sketches is a short essay, “The Architectural Works of Robert Mills,” in which the architect emphasizes his national identity and the influential mentoring of Thomas Jefferson, who recommended the architect to Latrobe and for whom Mills developed a series of drawings. A second diary, dated 1828-1830, includes early sketches for a George Washington sculpture and monument, as well as related calculations and a short biography of the former president.

Image above:  Robert Mills. “Front view of the Town Hall, Columbia.” Journal. Box 2. Moise H. Goldstein Collection/[Robert Mills Papers], Southeastern Architectural Archive, Special Collections Division, Tulane University Libraries.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Street Cars & Population Growth

One hundred years ago, The Daily Picayune featured a long story about New Orleans population growth associated with street car expansion. The New Orleans Railway and Light Company had historically been reluctant to invest new tracks in areas with few inhabitants, but new management adopted a "build it and they will come" perspective. The Carrollton Avenue and Gentilly Terrace neighborhoods were highlighted as positive examples:

"Perhaps the most striking effects a street car line can have on the distribution of population is shown in the extension of the Villere line by the Edgewood Addition and Gentilly Terrace. This line was only prolonged to take in these spots in 1910, yet within the short period intervening between then and now there has been built up the first true suburb to the city, excluding the Lakeview property."(1)

Early twentieth-century streetcar expansions included the development of the Louisiana Avenue  and Audubon Boulevard lines. Since property values along the Carrollton Avenue and Clio Street lines had significantly increased, investors flocked to purchase lots along the proposed new corridors.(2) The Louisiana Avenue line was viewed as especially promising for real estate development, since the route offered a direct link between mercantile Canal Street and Harvey Canal industries.

Image above: Unidentified photographer. New Orleans Railway & Light Company Streetcars. 14 July 1913. Miscellaneous Photographs Collection, Southeastern Architectural Archive, Special Collections Division, Tulane University Libraries.

(1)R.P. Porter. "Street Cars and the Movement of Population in New Orleans." The Daily Picayune (26 October 1913): p. 33.

(2)See, for example certain records in the Martin Shepard Office Records & Guy Seghers Office Records, Southeastern Architectural Archive, Special Collections Division, Tulane University Libraries.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

The Parlor

For those wondering about the building that was demolished this month at the corner of South Galvez and Canal Streets (google streetview above), it was designed by New Orleans architect Hayward L. Burton (1867-1953) in 1906 as a luxurious stable for boarding fine horses. Named "The Parlor," the structure originally boasted a ladies' parlor, feed rooms and a neighboring riding ring. Clients W.T. and G.E. Burns envisioned that the boarding stable would be popular among "the millionaire element" of tourists.(1)

Burton utilized St. Louis hydraulic pressed brick (Color No. 503) with colored mortar and cast cement ornamentation and fronted the Canal Street entrance with a landscaped Schillinger walk. He incorporated an elevator, electric wiring and fixtures and a sprinkler system.(2)  The project was completed under the supervision of the newly founded Burton & Bendernagel firm.

Project drawings and specifications are retained in the Southeastern Architectural Archive.

(1)"Parlor for Sterling High-Bred Driving Horses and the Storage of Vehicles and Equipment." Newspaper clipping dated 9 December 1906.

(2)Specification of Stable Building for Messrs. W.T. and G.E. Burns, situated corner of Galvez and Canal Strets. New Orleans. H.L. Burton, architect, New Orleans. Undated.

Both references from H.L. Burton Office Records, Southeastern Architectural Archive, Special Collections Division, Tulane University Libraries.

Monday, September 23, 2013

The People's Slaughterhouse

In March 1892, Brooklyn architect J.Graham Glover (1852-) published his competition proposal for the new People's Slaughterhouse and Refrigerating Company to be located in New Orleans' Ninth Ward at Alabo Street and the Mississippi River (top image).(1) Ultimately, his design was not selected, and instead the commission went to the local Williams Brothers, who developed a more modest scheme (second & third images) that utilized a simple frame structure as the corporate office (fourth image).

By 1895, the People's Slaughterhouse was modernized under new management operating as the New Orleans Abattoir Company, Limited. The main structure was demolished in the summer of 1964 and its accoutrements publicly sold.

If you want to read more about nineteenth-century New Orleans slaughterhouses, see Lindgren Johnson's "To 'Admit All Cattle without Distinction': Reconstructing Slaughter in the Slaughterhouse Cases and the New Orleans Crescent City Slaughterhouse," chap. in Paula Lee, editor. Meat, Modernity and the Rise of the Slaughterhouse. University of New Hampshire Press, 2008.

(1)American Architect & Building News (12 March 1892). Louisiana Architecture Prints, Southeastern Architectural Archive, Special Collections Division, Tulane University Libraries.

Top image from (1).

Others from: Williams Family Records, Southeastern Architectural Archive, Special Collections Division, Tulane University Libraries.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Lost Carrollton

New Orleans architect C. Milo Williams (1867-1954) took an interest in the old Porter residence, located at the intersection of Levee and Monroe Streets in Carrollton. According to Williams, the structure was constructed of Hoey's bricks, and was one of the oldest buildings standing in Carrollton. He photographed the building prior to its demolition in the early twentieth century (top image).

His father, William H. Williams (1817-1886) had also taken an interest in the Porter properties and the Hoey brick operations.  In 1878, he copied an 1845 D'Hemecourt survey of the Porter properties and sketched the building's basic plan (second & third  images). The elder Williams also developed a proposed levee plan for John Hoey's brick operations in November 1865 (bottom image), the year prior to the plantation owner's death.

All of these historic sites no longer exist, although the Hoey residence, constructed for John Hoey's widow Carolyn Pierce Hoey (1871) remains at 7933 Willow Street. Louisiana Research Collections (LaRC) retains John Hoey's papers, including his brickyard account ledgers.


Top: C. Milo Williams, photographer. Porter residence, 8643 Levee Street/806 Monroe Street. Before 1909. Williams Family Records, Southeastern Architectural Archive, Special Collections Division, Tulane University Libraries.

Second & Third: William H. Williams, surveyor. Surveys of Porter Property. Notebook No. 86. From 3 January 1878. William H. and C. Milo Williams notebooks, Louisiana Research Collection, Special Collections Division, Tulane University Libraries.

Bottom: William H. Williams, surveyor. Diagram of Hoey's Levees. Notebook No. 43. November 1865. William H. and C. Milo Williams notebooks, Louisiana Research Collection, Special Collections Division, Tulane University Libraries.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

The Fatal Switch

In the summer of 1891, New Orleans architect-engineer C. Milo Williams (1867-1954) traveled to Sauvé (Jefferson Parish), five miles outside of New Orleans. He witnessed the wreckage of a head-on train collision that had occurred on the Illinois Central Railroad line near Sauvé station (top image above). The I.C.R.R.'s "Cannon Ball" mail and passenger train smashed into a Toledo, St. Louis and Kansas City freight train, resulting in four fatalities and many other serious injuries. Both engineers died immediately. Newspapers referenced the "fatal switch," alleged conductor and brakeman fault, and charged that no warning lights were in use.(1)

C. Milo Williams later photographed safety improvements along the same I.C.R.R. track (lower image). He indexed his series of  images "Bofinger switches" in reference to New Orleans businessman-inventor William H. Bofinger. Just a few days before the Sauvé collision, Bofinger had received a patent for a new switch that allowed an engineer on a moving train to "throw the point of the switch against the main track without leaving his engine."(2)  A few months after the accident, Bofinger filed a second railroad patent, his so-called "switch-stand'" -- essentially a cage-enclosed switch that prohibited tampering. It is the latter that Williams documented in Jefferson Parish.

Among Bofinger's less safety-conscious inventions, one must mention his 1894-95 Rocking Chair Fan Attachment.

(1)"The Crash of the Cannon Ball." The Daily Picayune (21 June 1891): p. 4.

(2)No. 453,690. Patented June 9,1891.

Images above: C. Milo Williams, photographer. Williams Family Records, Southeastern Architectural Archive, Special Collections Division, Tulane University Libraries.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Cabildo Fire & Restoration

William Ransom Hogan archivist-photographer-scholar Lynn Abbott provided the Southeastern Architectural Archive with some images he took of the 1988 Cabildo fire and the structure's 1992 restoration.

Top:  Lynn Abbott, photographer. Cabildo Fire. 9 December 1988.

Bottom:  Lynn Abbott, photographer. Raising the Cupola. 15 October 1992.

Both are housed in the Miscellaneous Photographs Collection, Southeastern Architectural Archive, Special Collections Division, Tulane University Libraries. Both images are issued by the Southeastern Architectural Archive. Use requires written permission from the photographer. Each image may not be sold or redistributed, copied or distributed as a photograph, electronic file or any other media. The user is responsible for all issues of copyright.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

NEW! Benjamin Morgan Harrod Atlases Finding Aid

The Southeastern Architectural Archive recently finalized the processing of the Benjamin Morgan Harrod Atlases. The collection consists of two atlases once belonging to Harvard-educated civil engineer and architect Benjamin Morgan Harrod (1837-1912), who served on the Mississippi River Commission (MRC) from 1879-1904. Both atlases represent the work of the MRC to investigate the river’s outlet, levee and jetty systems.

The first atlas, Preliminary Map of the Lower Mississippi River ( 1881 through 1885) establishes the commission’s attempt to document the river system between the Ohio River and the Head of the Passes, Louisiana. Engineer Edward Molitor drafted most of the sheets, engraved the title page and compiled the index maps. Sheets provide depth soundings and topographical information for areas near the river; they illustrate cutoffs, landings, and post offices; and record names of property owners. Some sheets – (5) Johnson’s Landing, (18) Madison Parish, (22) Shreve’s Cutoff and (28) New Orleans – include penciled annotations.

The second atlas, larger in format, bears the cover title, Detail Charts of the Lower Mississippi River. Based on surveys conducted in the 1870s, the charts record soundings between the Ohio River and the Head of Passes. Under the direction of MRC President and United States Army Corps of Engineers Major Cyrus Ballou Comstock (1831-1910), New York lithographer and cartographer Julius Bien (1826-1909) printed the 69 chart sheets in 1890 (detail image above).

Image above: United States Mississippi River Commission. Survey of the Mississippi River [Projected from a trigonometrical survey made in 1876-77 and 1879-80]. St. Louis, MO: Mississippi River Commission, 1890. [Note: Title on the cover is Detail Charts of the Lower Mississippi River from the Mouth of the Ohio River to the Head of Passes, Louisiana]. Julius Bien, lithographer.

Friday, August 30, 2013

NEW! Odiorne Finding Aid

The Southeastern Architectural Archive recently finalized the processing of the William C. Odiorne New Orleans Photographs. The collection consists of seventeen gelatin silver prints taken by William C. Odiorne during his years in New Orleans, 1919-1924.

The son of an Illinois storekeeper, William Cunningham Odiorne (1881-1978) was an itinerant photographer who lived briefly in New Orleans from 1919-1924. Prior to his arrival in the Crescent City, he established a succession of commercial studios in the Mississippi River towns of Barry and Quincy, Illinois and apprenticed with Chicago portraitist Eugene Raymond Hutchinson (1880-1957).1

The earliest printed mention of the photographer in New Orleans occurred in November 1919, when one of his society portraits was published in The Times-Picayune.2  Like Eugene Hutchinson, Odiorne surrounded himself with artists and writers. He befriended William Spratling and Lyle Saxon, and spent leisure time with Sherwood Anderson on Lake Pontchartrain.3  In 1921, Odiorne opened a gallery and photographic studio in the upper Pontalba building. A feature story from the period announced him as “a nationally known photographer, [who] makes a specialty of photographing children.”4  He exhibited his own images, as well as etchings by such California artists as Roi George Partridge (1888-1984) and Cleo Damianakes (1895-1979).

Odiorne left New Orleans for Paris in the spring of 1924. The following year, Spratling visited Paris accompanied by William Faulkner, whom he introduced to Odiorne.  Friendship ensued and Odiorne took a number of photographs of the southern writer and read his manuscripts. Faulkner and Spratling included Odiorne – whom they referred to as “Cicero” – in their caricature book, Sherwood Anderson and Other Famous Creoles (1926),5 wherein the photographer’s visage appeared peeking from behind a copy of the journal Le Rire with Faulkner’s caption, “Odiorne of the Café du Dome and New Orleans.”

Odiorne continued his itinerant lifestyle. He lived in Paris until circa 1930, followed by moves to New York and Chicago, then ventured West, first to San Francisco and finally Los Angeles. In 1977, one year before his death, the Stephen White Gallery launched a one-person show devoted to his Parisian photographs. Interviewed by Los Angeles Times reporter Lynn Simross, the 95-year-old reminisced about his years in New Orleans, claiming it to be the only city he had ever lived where it could be said that he had social standing.

1“W.C. Odiorne.” Bulletin of Photography 18:458 (17 May 1916): p. 634.
2 “Bevy of Debutantes This Year.” The Times-Picayune (9 November 1919): p. 17.
3 Simross, Lynn. “Memories of a Bohemian in Paris.” The Los Angeles Times (14 April 1977), Part IV, pages 1,12.
4 “New Art Gallery Is Latest Thing in Vieux Carré.” The Times-Picayune (27 November 1921): p. 61.
5 Williamson, Joel. William Faulkner and Southern History. 1993, pp. 205; 215; p. 464 n109.

Images above:  William C. Odiorne, photographer. Courtyard on Hospital Street [724 Governor Nicholls Street]; Unidentified Vieux Carré street. Both circa 1919-24. William C. Odiorne New Orleans Photographs, Southeastern Architectural Archive, Special Collections Division, Tulane University Libraries.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Mound Bayou, Mississippi

Yesterday The Bolivar Commercial reported that the Taborian Hospital in Mound Bayou, Mississippi will undergo renovation beginning this week. With funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Jackson architects Canizaro, Cawthon & Davis plan to adapt the structure for use as the Taborian Urgent Care Center.(1)  The building has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1996.

After World War II, New Orleans architect William R. Burk (1887-1961), who maintained an office is Clarksdale, worked on several projects for Mound Bayou. In 1948, he designed a consolidated high school structure on Fisher Avenue. That same year, he collaborated with St. Louis architects Jamieson and Spearl to develop plans for a new Veteran's Administration hospital that had been championed by doctor and civil rights leader T.R.M. Howard (1908-1976).(2)

Tulane University's Southeastern Architectural Archive retains William R. Burk's architectural records.

(1) Rory Doyle. "Work on Historic Hospital Begins."  The Bolivar Commercial  (25 July 2013). As viewed 26 July 2013 at

(2) "BIDS FOR CONSTRUCTION." The Times-Picayune (28 July 1948): p. 12. The article includes a presentation drawing of a very Charity-like hospital building. Howard's papers are at the Chicago Public Library.

Image above:  Taborian Hospital, Mound Bayou, MS. As viewed 26 July 2013 via google maps.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Graphic Design 1962

Every so often, we post business stationery / letterheads that include representations of buildings or were designed by various architects. Today, we came across a few 1962 building trade examples that made use of vibrant orange or red elements. The bottom two both employed the same substrate, American-made Strathmore Bond Fluorescent 25% Cotton Fiber wove finish paper that yielded a very bright white surface. If you are interested in American watermarks, check out Paper Watermarks online.

Images above:  Project Files (Project 1030; Project 1031). William T. Nolan Office Records, Southeastern Architectural Archive, Special Collections Division, Tulane University Libraries.