Saturday, April 22, 2023

Field Trip: Ciudad de Mexico

Knowing that the former Mexican Mining Pavilion from the World's Industrial and Cotton Centennial Exposition (New Orleans, 1884-85) had been returned to Mexico after the fair, I ventured up to Santa María la Ribera to see it. 

When it debuted in New Orleans, the pavilion was immensely popular. Designed by Mexican architect José Ramón Ibarrola, the $200,0000 iron structure was cast at the Union Mills Steel Foundry in Lawrenceville, Pennsylvania under the patronage of Andrew Carnegie. Certain ornamental features emulated Spain's Alhambra Palace, and subsequently the pavilion was dubbed "the Mexican Alhambra." It was used in promotions for the Exposition Universelle (Paris, 1889) and the Louisiana Purchase Exposition (St. Louis, 1904) although it never seems to have traveled to either place.

When the pavilion was re-erected in Mexico City, it was originally placed in the Parque Alameda Central. Diego de Rivera included it in the background of his mural Sueño de una tarde dominical en la Alameda Central (1948). The pavilion had been moved by 1948 to its current location in the center of the Alameda de Santa María la Ribera.

There was a photo shoot happening as I arrived, the model undergoing numerous costume changes over the course of an hour. My favorite for its relationship with the site was her Jarabe Tapatío dress, shown above.

Image above: Kiosko Morisco (Mexican Pavilion). Santa María la Ribera, Ciudad de Mexico, as photographed 4.19.2023 by K. Rylance.


Monday, May 22, 2017

Chisholm Trail

Kansas State University is celebrating the legendary cattle trail’s sesquicentennial with a notable exhibit featuring historic books, music, photographs, maps, cowboy attire and artifacts. “Chisholm Trail: History & Legacy” is a collaboration between the Libraries’ Morse Department of Special Collections, the K-State College of Human Ecology’s Historic Costume & Textile Museum, and the Kansas City Museum.

The exhibit focuses on Kansas cattle towns, trailblazers, ranchers, farmers, drovers, lawmen and outlaws. It includes historic railroad and Indian Bureau maps, wood engravings, stereocards, advertisements and first-hand accounts of the trail that brought Texas cattle to Kansas markets.

The free exhibit runs through October 13, 2017 in Hale Library's Fifth Floor Gallery.

Kansas State University Libraries is home to William J. Keeler's incredibly scarce 1876 National Map of the Territory of the United States from the Mississippi River to the Pacific Ocean (detail above). Printed under the authority of then-Secretary of the Interior Orville Hickman Browning (1806-1881), the map documents the locations of tribal and ceded territories, leases and trusts. It reveals the westward expansion of the nation's Public Land Survey System, its overland mail route and its railways.

Map, detailed above:

William J. Keeler. National Map of the Territory of the United States from the Mississippi River to the Pacific Ocean Made by the authority of the Hon. O.H. Browning Secretary of the Interior. In the Office of the Indian Bureau Chiefly for Government Purposes under the direction of the Hon. N.G. Taylor Commise. of Indian affairs & Hon. Chas. E. Mix Chief Clerk of the Indian Bureau. 1876. Detail. Richard L. D. & Marjorie J. Morse Department of Special Collections, Kansas State University Libraries.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Iron Jail (1859)

I've been conducting a lot of research on American prison architecture lately, and came across this story in the Patriot (Harrisburg, Pennsylvania) newspaper:

Famous Iron Prison Soon to be Replaced by a Modern Building

Lawrence, Kan., is building a new county jail, and the Gazette gives an interesting account of the old prison which will soon be abandoned. It was famous as the first iron jail west of the Missouri river. It was contracted for in 1859 and built in Pennsylvania under the supervision of Capt. John G. Haskell, the well-known Kansas architect. It came by steamboat down the Ohio, up the Missouri, and then up the Kaw.

Patriot (31 August 1904).

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Field Trip: St. Petersburg, FL

In October, a wrecking crew demolished the former Pheil Hotel (410-424 Central Avenue, 1916-23). Built by an early St. Petersburg mayor and his heirs,  the eleven-story building became a bank when First National acquired it circa 1959. During the 1960s, architects attached an aluminum brise soleil to unify it with an adjacent property, the former Central National Bank (400-406 Central Avenue, 1911-12).

Attempts to save the two structures failed in early 2016.  Read St. Petersburg Preservation, Inc.'s synopsis here.

Image above: 410-424 Central Avenue, St. Petersburg, Florida, as photographed 10.26.2016 by K. Rylance.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Goblet Tanks (1917)

100 years ago, the Roger W. Hunt & Company Employees' Bulletin reported on the use of reinforced concrete in the design of water tanks along the Gulf Coast. Featuring an image of the tallest tank, located at Bay Minette, Alabama, the Bulletin drew its report from Modern Building. Measuring 80 feet from ground to tank bottom, the supporting form emulated the stem of a drinking goblet. Tested by a June 29 hurricane, the Bay Minette goblet tower quickly became an engineering marvel. Wealthy coastal property owners sought information from Leonard Henderson White (1882-1962), an engineer who developed the method for his Concrete Steel Construction Company of Birmingham, Alabama.

Some Miami patrons despaired at the goblet tank's austerity, and hired prominent architects to modify White's method with neoclassical ornamentation. August Geiger (1887-1968) developed a 100,000 gallon tank at Alton Beach and Harold Hastings Mundy (1878-1932) utilized reinforced concrete on a combined tank and observatory for the John H. Eastwood Estate.

Dothan, Alabama's Dixie Standpipe (1897) was added to the National Register this month.

Image above:  "Interesting Things in Print." Employees' Bulletin [Roger W. Hunt & Company]. 4:3 (January 1917): p. 12.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Segregation Forms: Redlining

The University of Richmond's Digital Scholarship Lab has developed a fantastic resource that provides access to hundreds of so-called "security maps" created between 1935 and 1940. The product of the Home Owners' Loan Corporation [HOLC], the maps and area descriptions represent the neighborhood risk assessments generated by mortgage lenders, developers and real estate appraisers. HOLC's analyses were the basis for what came to be referred to as redlining, segregationist housing and real estate practices.

Image above: Wichita Mapping & Engineering Company. Wichita, Kansas. 29 May 1937. Robert K. Nelson, LaDale Winling, Richard Marciano, Nathan Connolly, et al. "Mapping Inequality," American Panorama, ed. Robert K. Nelson and Edward L. Ayers, accessed 20 October 2016,

Tuesday, October 4, 2016


The S.P. Dinsmoor Residence located in Lucas, Kansas contains some fine examples of early twentieth-century sheet linoleum. The parlor features a printed woven pattern (above) and the upstairs area has a floral-foliate motif (below). Varnished by successive property owners, the linoleum has darkened and is highly reflective.
By about 1910, American linoleum was frequently being made with linseed oil (derived from flax) and "lumber flour" (pulverized sawdust).(1) The product was considered sanitary, and thus was also used to line pantry shelves and protect kitchen tables.(2)  Blabon's and Cork's were two period manufacturers. Their products were priced by grade and sold in different patterns. To preserve one's flooring, home economists recommended polishing the surface with skim milk and a flannel cloth, then allowing it to dry completely.(3)

(1)Cork flour was a more expensive (and traditional) element. Lumber flour was also utilized in making a less expensive dynamite. See:  "Make Flour From Lumber." Hutchinson Daily News 7 December 1909.

(2)"Of Feminine Interest." Lawrence Journal World 25 December 1907.

(3)"Clever Ways of Doing Things." Belleville Telescope 17 May 1907.

Images above: Flooring, S.P. Dinsmoor Residence, Lucas, Kansas, as photographed 1.10.2016 by K. Rylance.