Wednesday, February 26, 2014

1916 Prefab Bungalows

From a showroom in Gustav Stickley's New York Craftsman Building and its Dover, Massachusetts factory and exhibit space, the E.F. Hodgson Company advertised its prefabricated cottage and bungalow homes, garages and poultry pens. Distributing its stock via second class freight trains, the company claimed that all of its products could easily be assembled by a couple of ' handy men' within two days, and just as easily disassembled for relocation. The homes arrived pre-painted, with French gray walls, ivory sashes and leaf green roofs and trimmings. Frames of Oregon pine and red cedar were secured to foundation posts of cedar, chestnut or locust with strap irons. As part of an international recovery effort, the National Red Cross Association of Washington, D.C. sent Hodgson portable homes to Italy via the naval supply ship Eva after the devastating 1908 Messina earthquake.

In 1912 New Orleans, D.H. Holmes sold portable houses developed by the R.L. Kenyon Company of Waukesha, Wisconsin. These were prefabricated with Washington fir frames, Georgia pine floors, burlap ceilings and partitions, steel chimneys and windows comprised of a dubious-sounding "fiberloid."(1)

(1)"How Would You Like to Live in a Portable House?" The Daily Picayune (30 April 1912): p. 10 [Advertisement].

Images above: Hodgson Portable Houses. Boston:  E.F. Hodgson Company, 1916. Architectural Trade Catalogs, Southeastern Architectural Archive, Special Collections Division, Tulane University Libraries.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

New Orleans Business Archive: George G. Sharp

After World War II, naval architect George G. Sharp (1874-1960) maintained a New Orleans office on the fourteenth floor of the Hibernia Bank building (812 Gravier Street).  Sharp first gained notice in the Crescent City during World War I, when he was employed as chief surveyor for the American Bureau of Shipping. By 1920, he founded an eponymous firm that rapidly became noted for its innovative ship designs. Sharp obtained numerous patents, and contributed to the establishment of new passenger vessels intended for ocean, inland bay, coastal and river systems. He sought to increase the number of desirable suites by rearranging passageways and clustering staterooms.

The Mississippi Shipping Company (MSC) sought Sharp's expertise to develop commodious cargo-passenger vessels that would serve its Delta Line, its New Orleans - Latin America routes. In 1931, Sharp converted a Hog Island freighter for this use (lounge stairway, top image) and in 1946, he similarly designed Del Norte, followed by Del Sud and Del Mar. The "Del" vessels were built at the Ingalls Shipbuilding Company in Pascagoula, Mississippi, and were amongst the earliest passenger ships to use commercial radar systems and air conditioning. With interior designs by Scottish-born architect John Heaney, Del Norte staterooms featured walls decorated with photographs of historic Louisiana plantations and ocean views through casement windows (deluxe stateroom, bottom image).(1)

Painter and educator Paul Ninas (1903-1964) was the artist responsible for the Del Norte's murals. The ship's lounge was decorated with his Mardi Gras scenes, the cafe with his swamp and bayou scenes. Plaques by French-born sculptor Raoul Josset (1899-1957) featured coats of arms of the nations that had historically controlled New Orleans. The Lonegren firm designed exclusive wallpaper depicting the historic Mississippi River delta.(2)

The Smithsonian's National Museum of American History/Kenneth E. Behring Center maintains Fred Boucher's circa 1946 wooden model of Sharp's Del Norte. View it here.

Images above:  Selections from the Work of George G. Sharp, Naval Architect and George G. Sharp Architectural Associates. Architecture and Design Vol. XIII (1949). Southeastern Architectural Archive, Special Collections Division, Tulane University Libraries. Details.

For more about the MSC, see: Gilbert Myer Mellin. "The Mississippi Shipping Company: A Case Study in the Development of Gulf Coast-South American and West African Shipping, 1919-1953." Ph.D. diss.,  Pittsburgh University, 1955 available in print through Tulane University Libraries. Digital format available through ProQuest Dissertations and Theses Full Text, a subscription database also at Tulane University Libraries.

(1)"Naval Architect Opens His Own Office Here." New York Times (13 June 1947): p. 41

(2)Mark H. Goldberg. "Delta Line--The Last Coffee Liners." Chap. in "Caviar & Cargo": The C3 Passenger Ships. Kings Point, NY, 1992. Southeastern Architectural Archive, Special Collections Division, Tulane University Libraries.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Field Trip: San Antonio, TX

What with the recent disappointments regarding Louis Lehle's Dixie Brewery on Tulane Avenue, the near-completion of the rehab of August Maritzen's Pearl Brewery [AKA San Antonio Brewing Association] in San Antonio by Roman and Williams was inspirational.

Over the course of his career, Chicago architect August Maritzen (fl. 1890s) worked on nearly eighty breweries in Canada, South Africa & the United States, including the Florida Brewing Company (Tampa FL).  He trained in the office of Fred W. Wolf, who had partnered with Louis Lehle from 1889-1894.(1) By 1896, he claimed to have received brewery contracts from nearly every state in the union.(2) His Pearl Brewery ceased operations in 2001.

This year, the building will reopen as a 146-room luxury hotel.(3)

Images above: Pearl Brewery, San Antonio, Texas, as photographed 13.02.2014 by K. Rylance; Dixie Brewing Company, New Orleans, Louisiana, as photographed 30.03.2014 by K. Rylance.

(1)Susan K. Appel. "Pre-Prohibition American Breweries." Journal of the Brewery History Society 136 as viewed online at:


Lynn Pearson. "Ale and Farewell: The German Style of Brewery Architecture." Brewery History 123 (Summer 2006) as viewed online at:

(2)"The New Brewery." The Plain Dealer (25 February 1896): p. 5.

(3)Valentino Lucio. "Development at the Pearl Heating Up." My SA (6 February 2013) as viewed online at:

Last Week: Architectural Photography on Display

Bellocq and beyond

By Ryan Rivet

A photograph of The Real Estate Exchange building taken and printed by famed New Orleans photographer Ernest J. Bellocq in 1913 is currently on display as part of an exhibit at the Southeastern Architectural Archive in Jones Hall on the Tulane University uptown campus. The exhibit affords photography aficionados an opportunity to see work that may not be typically associated with the early 20th century artist.  

Bellocq is typically remembered for photographs he made of the prostitutes of Storyville, the New Orleans legalized red light district, according to Keli Rylance, head of the Southeastern Architectural Archive.

“We’ve always known that he marketed himself as an architectural photographer,” Rylance says. “There are scattered examples of Bellocq’s photographs across our holdings and we recently discovered a photograph that isn’t stamped Bellocq, but the invoice included with it secured the attribution.”

The photograph and invoice on display were discovered within a collection related to New Orleans architect Martin Shepard. Both were in rough shape when they were found. 

“It had been water-damaged before it came to us,” Rylance says. “There was a sheet of correspondence that was soldered onto the photograph and the invoice was heavily stained and damaged.”

Annie Peterson, a preservation librarian at Tulane, procured the services of the Northeast Document Conservation Center to work on the photograph. When Rylance received it back, she thought it would be a great opportunity to highlight architectural photography in the archive’s collections. 

Rylance says this photo opens the door to the possibility that there are other, previously unidentified Bellocq photos out there. 

“It’s not stamped in any way as a Bellocq photo,” Rylance says. “There could be other photos of his in New Orleans repositories that aren’t identified, and this might provide people a means of accessing them on stylistic grounds.”

The exhibit in Room 300 of Jones Hall is open until Feb. 20 and in addition to the Bellocq photograph and invoice, there are images from C. Milo Williams, George Mugnier, John Teunisson, Morgan Whitney, W.C. Odiorne, Frances B. Johnston, Eugene Delcroix, Richard Koch, Clarence John Laughlin, Walter Cook Keenan, Frank Lotz Miller and Betsy Swanson. 

February 5, 2014 10:30 AM
Tulane New Wave

Monday, February 3, 2014

Early Curtis & Davis Project

In 1950, New Orleans architects Curtis & Davis received attention from Progressive Architecture for their 1949 rehabilitation of an automobile sales and service establishment. Klein Motors, Incorporated, 832-840 St. Charles Avenue, had been largely destroyed by fire.

The owner demanded the architects reuse the three remaining masonry walls (two sides and rear) and develop a new showroom, offices and service area. The budget was limited, and Curtis & Davis integrated pilaster-supported 100-foot clear span trusses with the salvaged walls. The terracotta-colored enameled aluminum upper portion of the facade emulated a billboard and supported Klein's commercial signage. The biomorphic white tiled canopy, in-sloping showroom curtain wall and strategically placed spotlights were intended to draw attention to the automobiles. When the project was completed, the young partners hired Clarence John Laughlin (1905-1985) to take photographs for the Progressive Architecture feature.

According to Curbed New Orleans, the structure recently sold for $1.63 million and will be used to house The New Orleans Advocate.

UPDATE:  The New Orleans Advocate plans to return the facade to its C & D era form.  Read more on The New Orleans Advocate.

Read more about the C&D rehabilitation in "Automobile Sales and Services Buildings." Progressive Architecture 31 (1950): pp. 75-78.

"Formal Reopening of Firm Set Today." The Times-Picayune (1 April 1949): p. 26.

Image above: Clarence John Laughlin, photographer. Klein Motors, Inc. 832-840 St. Charles Avenue. Circa 1949. Color positive film. Curtis and Davis Office Records, Southeastern Architectural Archive, Special Collections Division, Tulane University Libraries.