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.