Thursday, January 29, 2009


London's Wellcome Centre has recently made available thousands of images from its notable collections related to the history of medical science. These include historical images from both the Wellcome Library and Museum collections, such as Tibetan Buddhist paintings, Sanksrit manuscripts, maps, Ecuadorian shrunken heads and other talismans, etc. Click
here to access.

Last year, Edward Rothstein wrote a New York Times review of the Wellcome Centre's Museum, titled "One Man's Jigsaw Puzzle." Read it here.

Toviyah Kats. The Work of Tobias. Illustration of the Parts of the Body Compared to the Sections of a House, Vinitsia, 1707. Courtesy Wellcome Images 2009.

Field Trip: Venice, California

The House:  Himmelhaus aka Drier House
Address:  513 Grand Boulevard/Venice/California
Architects:  Wolf Prix and Michael Volk of Coop Himmelblau (1995) with renovations by Michael Hricak and Roland Tso (2006)

To read more, see Michael Webb's article in Architectural Review 221:1323 (May 2007): pp. 64-67 available in the TSA Library.

Photograph:  Himmelhaus, 27.01.2009 by K. Rylance.

Thursday, January 22, 2009


As I head out to Los Angeles tomorrow, I will make a plug for two of my favorite places, both located in Culver City:

9331 Venice Blvd.
Culver City, CA  90232
310.839.5722 tele/310.839.6678 fax

CLUI is  a research organization involved in exploring, examining and understanding land and landscape issues (

New titles coming to the TSA LIBRARY Related to CLui programs:

Up River:  Man-Made Sites of Interest on the Hudson from the Battery to Troy, edited by Sarah Simons.  2008.

Birdfoot:  Where America's River Dissolves into the Sea.  2007.

9341 Venice Blvd.
Culver City, CA  90232
310.836.6131 tele

The Museum of Jurassic Technology is an educational institution dedicated to the advancement of knowledge and the public appreciation of the lower Jurassic ( Want to read more about the museum?  Pick up a copy of Lawrence Weschler's Mr. Wilson's Cabinet of Wonders: Pronged Ants, Horned Humans, Mice on Toast and Other Marvels of Jurassic Technology. 1996.  Available from amazon and Powells, to name a couple of sources.

TITLES in tulane university LIBRARies RELATED TO the museum:

Inhaling the Spore: A Journey through the Museum of Jurassic Technology.  DVD, 2004. Music Library.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Architectural Salvage Then

Between 1924 and 1926, Robert Philip Pope's Clare Lawn house [Richmond, London (U.K.), 1862, with additions by Sir Aston Webb and Ingress Bell begun 1893], built for hop merchant and orchid enthusiast Sir Frederick Wigan, was demolished. At the turn of the previous century, the structure had been ornately adorned with plasters by Walter Crane, marquetry by Stephen Webb, and a painting by John Everett Millais. Christie's of London auctioned the family's painting collection in 1915.

Four of Clare Lawn's cream marble/verde antique fireplace mantels were removed from the building before demolition. The Todhunter Company of New York offered the mantel above for sale from its 414 Madison Avenue showroom. Arthur Todhunter, a British immigrant, established the company to sell salvaged architectural materials (panelling, mantels, fireplaces, lighting fixtures) from his homeland. By the mid-1910s, Todhunter was creating its own reproductions of fine metal work and fireplace mantels. Clients for the mantels were not just New Yorkers: requests included a mantel for New Orleans architect Moise Goldstein (Craig Residence, 1925) and one for architect John F. Staub in Houston (Chris Miller Residence, 1929). Plans and drawings of the Todhunter mantelpieces are in the Joseph Downs Collection of Manuscripts and Printed Ephemera at the Winterthur Library in Delaware.

Image above: Arthur Todhunter, "Gleanings from Old English Fireplaces." Arthur Todhunter, 414 Madison Avenue, New York City. undated catalogue, printed in England by Geo. Pulman and Sons, Ltd., London and Harrow. Architectural Trade Catalogs Collection, Southeastern Architectural Archive, Special Collections Division, Tulane University Libraries.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Fifty-five Miles of Azaleas

In 1935, the New Orleans City Administration, the New Orleans Parkway Commission and the Works Progress Adminstration collaborated to develop a New Orleans Floral Trail that was sponsored by the city's Young Men's Business Club. At a cost of $1 million, the 55-mile trail featured a continuous path of some 50,000 azaleas. Part of then Mayor Robert S. Maestri's city wide beautification program, the New Orleans Floral Trail inaugurated spring with its "dazzling array of varied colors."

The map above was part of a brochure produced by the Young Men's Business Club, highlighting the Marked Trail. Along this route, markers such as that reproduced in the lower right-hand corner of the map were placed. The marked route started and finished at Lee Circle and St. Charles Avenue, home to the Robert E. Lee monument.

Map from the "New Orleans Flower Trail" Brochure. undated. William S. Wiedorn Collection, Box 1. Southeastern Architectural Archive, Special Collections Division, Tulane University Libraries.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Ringling's Isles

In 1924, Ohio landscape architect John J. Watson (1876-1950) was hired by circus tycoon John Ringling (1866-1936) to design "Ringling Isles" on four western Florida keys: St. Armand's, Coon, Lido, and Otter. Harding Circle, at the center of St. Armand's Key, was to be the jewel in the crown of this enormous venture consisting of resorts, a casino, and a subdivision of fine residences. When Ringling purchased St. Armand's Key in 1923 it had been uninhabited; Watson's plan bifurcated the oval-shaped key with two main arteries, Boulevard of the Presidents and Ringling Boulevard, converging on a circular park called Harding Place.

In its first year, Ringling Isles was accessible only by boat from the mainland. By 1925, Ringling had subsidized a causeway leading from Sarasota, and it became the primary artery to his developments. Although he was unsuccessful in convincing President Warren Harding to establish a Winter White House in New Edzell Castle on Bird Key (Harding died before the structure was completed), Ringling and investor Owen Burns were able to sell over $1 million worth of property shortly after the Isles opened and in advance of the Wall Street Crash of 1929.

On January 16, 2001, Harding Circle (now called St. Armand's Circle) was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Above: John J. Watson, General Plan of Ringling Isles, Sarasota, FL. November 1924. Photograph of plan mounted to canvas. William S. Wiedorn Collection, Box 5. Southeastern Architectural Archive, Special Collections Division, Tulane University Libraries. Wiedorn, known for his landscape work in New Orleans City Park, was in independent practice as an associate with John J. Watson from 1924-1927.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Twelfth Night Delights in the Prison Yard

"Midnight Revels in the Great Court Yard
of the Famous New Orleans Jail."

Reported by The Galveston Daily News following a story from the Picayune January 1895:

One of the show places of New Orleans has for years been the old parish prison. A gloomy, gray pile, with forbidding exterior of stuccoed walls, it has been the "bogy man" of the thousands of children who have played near it in Congo square. Its slimy corridors have re-echoed the hopeless tread of the condemned, the timid walk of the curious, and the defiant step of the captured bandit, whose pinions have been plucked by the strong arm of the law. But no more will its walls be re-stormed by outraged populace nor its gates swing on rusty hinges to receive unfortunates who enter and leave all hope behind. The old prison has served its time as such, and is now given over to spooks and spirits, that they may hold their orgies unchecked by human presence.
* * *
What could be better adapted to the visitations of ghosts than the parish prison? Where could a more ideal place be found for their constant habitation and abode? The fact that they live in the old pile is established by the fact. They have been seen roaming the courtyards and climbing invisible ladders to the roofs. It is their wont to play a pantomime near a condemned cell and peep with lifeless eyes between the grated doors upon the sleeping prisoners. Often in the still hours of the night, when the fog settles down over the city, these ghosts come out of the crannied walls, assume earthly habiliments, and with the striking of the midnight clock begin their carnival of weird delights.

To read more of this article, consult the database 19th-Century U.S. Newspapers available to Tulane affiliates through its portal here.

The Old Parish Prison, built between 1832 and 1836, was located on Orleans Street between Marais and Treme. The three-story structure was designed by Joseph H. Pilié and A. Voilquin, was vacated in 1894 and razed in 1939.

Image above. Unidentified photographer. Old Parish Prison. circa 1915-30. Miscellaneous Photographs Collection, Southeastern Architectural Archive, Special Collections Division, Tulane University Libraries.