Monday, March 10, 2014

From New Orleans to Minneapolis & Back

In 1921, the Architects' Small House Survey Bureau of Minnesota published a guide to home financing and building for the Southern Pine Association in New Orleans. The result of six months' research and over fifty meetings, How to Plan, Finance and Build Your Home (1921) presented potential homeowners with over 100 building plans developed by Minneapolis and New York architects. Of particular note are three plans rendered by architect Jefferson Merritt Hamilton (1891-1982), who worked in Minneapolis and later practiced in Louisiana, Georgia and Florida.

In the early 1920s, New Orleans bungalow advocate Morgan D.E. Hite (1882-1959) traveled to Minneapolis at the request of the Southern Pine Association. He went armed with renderings and photographs of raised bungalow houses that had been constructed in New Orleans. According to Hite, the Florida-born Hamilton was especially sympathetic to this house type "so foreign to the Northern architects" and developed related plans and perspective sketches that appeared in the 1921 pattern book:

"Mr. Hamilton's designs have proved among the most popular shown in the book, and, in particular, one of his raised-basement types has been used widely as a means of advertising the beauty of design."(1)

For Hite, the raised bungalow type had its origins in Louisiana's "Spanish-style" plantation homes, which united all rooms on a single floor that was raised 9-10 feet above ground to facilitate cool breezes and flood protection. For the Architects' Small House Survey Bureau, plans such as the one above were geared towards property owners in the Gulf Coast states.(2) For New Orleans builders, Hamilton's plan could be implemented on a very narrow lot, as the basement level extended only 28'6".

Image above: Jefferson M. Hamilton, architect. "A Beautiful Southern Type--Home Plan No. 615."  How to Plan, Finance and Build Your Home (Southern Pine Association and the Architects' Small House Survey Bureau of Minnesota, Inc., 1921), p. 100. Architectural Trade Catalogs, Southeastern Architectural Archive, Special Collections Division, Tulane University Libraries.

(1)Morgan D.E. Hite. "The New Orleans Raised House Type." Architecture (May 1922): p. 150.

(2)How to Plan, Finance and Build Your Home.  Southern Pine Association and the Architects' Small House Survey Bureau of Minnesota, Inc., 1921. See plans on pages 58,99 & 100.

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