Tuesday, April 14, 2015

New Orleans Business Archive: Lhote Lumber (1847-1910)

In 1904, the Lhote Lumber Company significantly expanded its operations and built a new $500,000 plant in the Second Municipal District along the Old Basin [Carondelet] Canal. Lhote employed over 150 workers at this new site. As a transition, the company briefly maintained its former operations in the Storyville neighborhood (1300 Toulouse Street) as a branch facility.(1)
Relocating the lumber plant afforded Lhote more direct access to schooners and railroad cars from which to distribute its products.(2) Its old location had required a treacherous hairpin turn at the Old Basin Canal (1873 atlas shown above).
First established in 1847, the company was known for its mill work and "manufacturing cabins and dwellings framed for shipment."(3) By 1904, its manufactured dwellings were being referred to as "Ready-Made Houses."(4)  Lhote maintained an international business, shipping its products through the Gulf of Mexico. From Mexico, Lhote was hired to manufacture the 1900 Orizaba exposition buildings and the Vera Cruz quarantine station.(3)

Hard times quickly fell on the operation. In July 1910, New Orleans auctioneer W.A. Kernaghan offered the plant for $200,000.(5) When it failed to realize this price, the National Realty Company acquired it for $188,000.(6) National Realty promptly flipped the mill, selling to the National Sash and Door Company for $200,000.(7) George V. Lhote eventually became the operation's general manager.

National Sash and Door Company experienced an economic upswing after World War I, becoming the recipient of numerous commissions for residential and commercial projects. In 1918, the Southern Pine Association hired the company to construct a model children's bungalow that was displayed in Lafayette Square.(8)  National Sash & Door also supplied mill work for the Lafayette model school on Carrollton Avenue, the Bohn Motor Company Garage, and for new branches of the Whitney-Central Bank. It exported its products to clients in Arkansas, Mississippi and Texas, as well as to those in the Caribbean, Central America, Mexico and South America.(9)

Records from a number of different Southeastern Architectural Archive collections document the Lhote Lumber Company and the National Sash & Door Company.

Architect James Freret produced drawings for the company's 1883 millwork catalog, housed in the SEAA's Architectural Trade Catalogs.

Architect C. Milo Williams photographed Lhote's Storyville lumber operation in the last decade of the nineteenth century. His image is housed in the SEAA's Williams Family Records.

Architect Martin Shepard, who frequently worked for construction and real estate concerns, kept various mill work company ephemera, including an advertising notebook from the National Sash and Door Company. Shepard's records are housed in the Southeastern Architectural Archive as Collection 109.

(1)"To Our Customers and the Public." The Times-Picayune  24 July 1904.

(2)"New Lhote Plant the Largest Lumbering Mill in the South." The Times-Picayune 19 July 1904.

(3)Henry Rightor. Standard History of New Orleans, 1900.  p. 531.

(4)Advertisement.  The Times-Picayune 1 September 1904.

(5)"Lhote Mill May Reorganize." The Daily Picayune 29 July 1910.

(6)"Lhote Lumber Plant Bought." The Daily Picayune 9 September 1910.

(7)"National Sash and Door Company Files Its Charter." The Daily Picayune 22 October 1910.

(8)"Model Bungalow of Southern Pine." Lumber World Review 25 June 1918: p. 58.

(9)"Lhote Sees Big Future for Millwork Industry." The Times-Picayune 24 May 1925.

Images above:  Lhote Lumber Company, Second Municipal District. Sanborn Atlas. 1908-1909.

Lhote Lumber Company Properties, Squares 132, 152, 153. Auguste B. Langermann. Plan book containing the improved part of the city of New Orleans. Second district. Compiled for fire insurance companies.  New Orleans, 1873.  Southeastern Architectural Archive, Special Collections Division, Tulane University Libraries.

Advertisement.  The Times-Picayune 1 September 1904.

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