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.

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