Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Building Letterheads IX

In June 1949, Guaranty Savings and Homestead Association's Curtis F. Scott, Jr. wrote to New Orleans surveyor Guy Seghers requesting clarification related to a lot subdivision in the Second Municipal District (above). One month later, Seghers developed a Sixth District property survey, and used the verso of Curtis' letter to take notes. Seghers' office then inter-filed the letter with the most recent survey inquiry, made by Mr. J.L. Banos for a property located at 2424 Octavia Street, Sixth Municipal District Square 613. The Curtis letter subsequently became detritus, discarded information severed from the lot surveys cited in the correspondence but now included in a lot survey file associated with a different property in an altogether different district.

For a researcher interested in the Guaranty Savings and Homestead Association, it would normally be a matter of luck or perseverance to locate this letter amid the Guy Seghers Office Records, since documents were organized by municipal district and square numbers.

Lately, this blog has featured images of buildings found on company stationery, and so we have included the letter here as another such example.

The Guaranty Savings and Homestead Association had moved into the Pere Marquette building in April 1939. The 18-story skyscraper was then  nearly 14 years old, having been constructed in late 1925. Built by Chicago investor-architect Stephen Scott Joy for $2 million, the Pere Marquette was touted as "the largest real estate deal in the city's history."(1) Its accouterments were some of the finest locally available: iron railings by Hinderers' Iron Works; walnut and mahogany fixtures by Riecke Cabinet Works; and bricks by Standard Brick & Clay Products Company. Jesuit College granted the investors a 99-year-lease on the site. The American Terra Cotta Company, based in Illinois, provided the ornamental terracotta.

In 1928, the Pere Marquette was sold to the Chicago-based Straus Trust Company, a deal that was brokered by Meyer Eiseman and included the 99-year-lease provision. The selling price was $1,600,000.(2)

The Southeastern Architectural Archive retains plans for the building in its William T. Nolan Collection. American Terra Cotta and Ceramic Company records -- including historic photographs -- associated with the Pere Marquette are housed at the Northwest Architectural Archive.

(1) "2,000,000 Skyscraper for Jesuit Site." The Times-Picayune 25 July 1925, p. 1.

(2) "Pere Marquette Building Is Sold." The Times-Picayune 15 April 1928, p. 33.

Image above: Detail & Full Page, C[urtis]. F. Scott, Jr., letter to Guy Seghers, 22 June 1949, Guy Seghers Office Records, "6th District, Square 613 (Rickerville 76)," Southeastern Architectural Archive, Special Collections Division, Tulane University Libraries.

Building Letterheads VIII

In July 1914, the Louisiana Abstract Company purchased the Perrin Building, a ten-story Favrot and Livaudais skyscraper that had been constructed by W.T. Carey & Brothers in 1907 for an estimated $350,000. When the building was christened in October 1907, The Daily Picayune reported that the opening event "was an interesting as well as a notable one, and unique in that it is the first of the big buildings constructed here in recent years that has had this touch of sentiment attached to its completion."(1)

The newly formed Louisiana Abstract Company was able to acquire the structure for $325,000 in a transaction that allowed for a reduced mortgage in exchange for stock options. Meyer Eiseman spearheaded the negotiations, touting the new company as a means of expediting real estate transactions.(2) Shortly after the Perrin property transfer, the building was renamed the Louisiana Abstract & Title Guarantee Building. The company brandished its building on its letterhead by 1919.

(1) "Perrin Building Named with Ceremony." The Daily Picayune 4 October 1907, p. 4.

(2) "Perrin Building is Transferred to New Company." The Times-Picayune 7 June 1914, p. 40.

Image above: A. Lippman, letter to Walter J. Seghers, 13 October 1919, Guy Seghers Office Records, "District 6 Square 606," Southeastern Architectural Archive, Special Collections Division, Tulane University Libraries.

Friday, May 25, 2012

At Large in the Library: 194X

In October 1942, New Orleans surveyor Guy Seghers received this advertisement from The Architectural Forum. Months after the United States had entered World War II, AF was recognizing the need for postwar building initiatives and expressed this future as "194X".
Andrew M. Shanken's recent 194X: Architecture, Planning and Consumer Culture on the American Home Front tackles the subject of revolutionary architecture conceived during a period of austerity:

In a major study of American architecture during World War II, Andrew M. Shanken focuses on the culture of anticipation that arose in this period, as out-of-work architects turned their energies from the built to the unbuilt, redefining themselves as planners and creating original designs to excite the public about postwar architecture. Shanken recasts the wartime era as a crucible for the intermingling of modernist architecture and consumer culture.(1)

Shanken's book is available at Tulane University's School of Architecture Library.  

(1) Publisher summary, University of Minnesota Press.  URL:

Image above: The Architectural Forum, letter to Guy Seghers, 9 October 1942, "Guy Seghers Office Records, "District 6, Square 482," Southeastern Architectural Archive, Special Collections Division, Tulane University Libraries. Note: page 2 lacking.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Lost New Orleans

In May 1894, New Orleans businessman Jules A. Gauche hired surveyor D.E. Seghers to review his lots located in West Bouligny Square 70 (Sixth District Square 437). Gauche and his brothers owned a prominent structure -- the Moresque or Gauche building --  located in the First District square bounded by Camp, Poydras, Church and North Streets. It was on the first floor of this building that they operated a china, crockery and glassware store.
Their wares came from a variety of sources, regional and international. In February 1894, John Gauche's Sons received a letter from a Selma, Alabama supplier named E. Gillman, Jr., whose envelope (above) featured a wood engraving with a wash basin and pitcher.
The Gauche building was designed by New Orleans architects James and William Freret, and was noted for its decorative and prophylactic use of iron. Despite its presumed fire-proof construction, it was destroyed by a dramatic blaze in April 1897. The chief firefighter on the scene claimed it was the hottest fire "with one exception" he had ever seen, ostensibly an enormous furnace filled with combustible matter.(1)  Firefighters' hoses melted in the heat. The wood furniture and willowware that third-floor occupant B.J. Montgomery & Company specialized in provided the fuel.
The Daily Picayune reported that "the immense columns of iron doubled up as if they were made of paper and fell with crashes resembling cannon shots."(2)

(1) & (2) "Flames at the City's Heart." The Daily Picayune 16 April 1897, p. 1.

Images above: First: Jules A. Gauche, letter to D.E. Seghers, 14 May 1894, Guy Seghers Office Records, "District 6 Square 437"; Second: E. Gillman, Jr., envelope addressed to Mess. Jno. Gauche's Sons, 1 February 1894, Guy Seghers Office Records, "District 6 Square 437"; Third: Moresque Building, wood engraving, Miscellaneous Photographs Collection, "Camp Street"; Fourth: Moresque Building Column, photograph, Miscellaneous Photographs Collection, "Camp Street."  All Southeastern Architectural Archive, Special Collections Division, Tulane University Libraries.

Friday, May 18, 2012

NEW in the SEAA

The Southeastern Architectural Archive has recently acquired an early eighteenth-century French engineers' manual written by Nicolas Buchotte, a royal engineer during the reign of Louis XV (1715-74). Dedicated to the Marquis D'Asfeld (1665-1743), Knight of the Golden Fleece and Director-General of French Fortifications, Buchotte's Les Règles du dessin et du lavis established graphic standards (rules and maxims) for France's elite surveyors and engineers.

Buchotte's engraved illustrations serve as exemplars of his representational schemes and at the same time represent France's frontier-building endeavors: above, the book's sixth plate illustrates a barracks structure, including an officers' pavilion.

Recently, the Research Laboratories of Archaeology (RLA) have made available a number of similar drawings related to engineering projects in colonial Louisiana. RLA's selections are informed by the research of New Orleans architect and preservationist, Samuel Wilson, Jr. (1911-1993).

Image above: Plate 6 from BUCHOTTE, Nicolas, Ingenieur ordinaire du Roy. Les Règles du dessin et du lavis, pour les plans particuliers des Ouvrages & des Batimens, & pour leurs Coupes, Profils, Elevations & Facades, tant de l'Architecture Militaire que Civile: Comme aussi pour le Plan en entier d'une Place; pour sa Carte particuliere, & pour celles des Elections, des Provinces, & des Royaumes. Paris: Claude Jombert, 1722. Southeastern Architectural Archive, Special Collections Division, Tulane University Libraries.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Building Letterheads VII

In 1926, Algiers businessman August Schabel commissioned New Orleans surveyor Elbert Sandoz to subdivide a property into four 30-foot sections.  His letter to Sandoz prominently featured an image of his 601-03 Patterson Street corner store, Schabel's Sanitary Grocery & Meat Market.

An advertisement on the letter's verso listed Schabel's specialties as:

Fresh killed beef, veal, pork, mutton, lamb, sausage

Poultry, game, fish, shrimp, crabs, oysters

Apples, oranges, lemons, grapefruit, berries, cherries, melons, canteloupes, bananas

Dried prunes, apples, peaches

Fresh milk, cream, cheese, butter, buttermilk, domestic and imported cheese, eggs

Potatoes, onions, cabbage

Pigs' feet, spare ribs, tongues, kraut, imported olive oil, Italian paste, jams, preserves, pickles, relishes, etc.

Fancy cakes, candies, plum pudding, mince meat, jellies, fruit cake, assorted crackers, extracts

Sugar, rice, barley, meal

Toilet and laundry soaps

Poultry and stock feed

Images above:  Aug[ust] Schabel, letter to Elbert G. Sandoz, 21 January 1926, Guy Seghers Office Records, "District 5 Square 39," Southeastern Architectural Archive, Special Collections Division, Tulane University Libraries.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

House Proud 1967

This blog has recently been featuring a series of digital images of buildings emblazoned on business letterheads.

This is the first example we have encountered that has a large image of the company's building printed across the body of its stationery.

The Jackson Homestead Association, located at 311 Baronne Street, was formally dedicated 15 June 1965. Occupying the site that had earlier been part of Labiche's department store, the Jackson Homestead building was designed by the New Orleans firm of Saputo & Rowe.

Jackson Homestead had been founded in 1887, and survived the 1929 stock market crash. For its 1965 grand opening, the association caroled its glass curtain wall and its "dramatically different" banking space:

"Handsome foliage, richly grained wood and tasteful furnishings, as well as the most modern business machines add to the beauty and efficient operation of our new home."(1)

Mayor Victor Schiro presided over the ceremonies, cutting the ribbon to formally open the extensively remodeled $550,000 building.

(1) "Jackson Homestead Association: New Home" Dixie Magazine, feature of The Times-Picayune 13 June 1965: pp. 17-20.

Image above: Santo D'Arcanegelo, letter to Guy Seghers, 15 March 1967, Guy Seghers Office Records, "District 4 Square 237," Southeastern Architectural Archive, Special Collections Division, Tulane University Libraries.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Building Letterheads VI

In May 1954, the Third District Homestead Association contacted New Orleans surveyor Guy Seghers, Sr. regarding a lot subdivision he had supervised in October 1950. The association's letterhead featured an image of its recently expanded building, located at 2345 St. Claude Avenue. Building plans may be found in the City Archives, New Orleans Public Library.

Image from Hattie B. Scheele, letter to Guy Seghers, 20 May 1954, Guy Seghers Office Records, "District 3 Square 5097," Southeastern Architectural Archive, Special Collections Division, Tulane University Libraries.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012


Louisiana State University geographer Jay Dearborn Edwards has frequently addressed the relationship between Saint-Domingue (Haiti) and New Orleans building typologies by drawing on pictorial sources housed in the New Orleans Notarial Archive, the Historic New Orleans Collection and the Southeastern Architectural Archive.(1)  Late architectural historian and architect Samuel Wilson, Jr. (1911-1993) shared an interest in Saint-Domingue, an interest that is reflected in a small collection of historic photographs and research notes that may be located amid his personal papers. From what remains, Wilson was particularly interested in Cap François, the French colony's administrative capitol.  He gathered together a 1723 perspective view of the village, and translated Médéric-Louis-Elie Moreau de Saint-Méry's 1797 narrative description:

"The houses almost all have the same arrangement. There are rooms fifteen to eighteen feet square which have very high ceilings, and which have on the street a doorway between two windows, or one doorway and one window. These openings are repeated on the courtyard side where ordinarily there is a more or less wide gallery. There are lean-to sheds along the walls of this courtyard, and their division into small rooms furnishes kitchens, offices, and lodgings for the negroes."(2)

His file includes two twentieth-century photographs of structures in Port-au-Prince, one identified as "old house near cathedral" (undated, top image); the other as "Old House" (1961, lower image).

(1) See, for example his "Shotgun: The Most Contested House in America." Buildings & Landscapes XVI:1 (Spring 2009): pp. 62-96.

(2) Médéric-Louis-Elie Moreau de Saint-Méry. Description topographique, physique, civile, politique et historique de la partie francaise de l'isle Saint-Domingue. Avec des observations générales sur la population, sur le caractère & les moeurs de ses divers habitans; sur son climat, sa culture, ses productions, son administration, &c. &c. Accompagnées des détails les plus propres à faire connâitre l'état de cette colonie à l'époque du 18 octobre 1789; et d'une nouvelle carte de la totalité de l'isle. (Philadelphia, Paris, & Hamburg, 1797) Volume I, p. 300. The John Carter Brown Library's copy has been digitized and is available via the Internet Archive at:

Images above:  Old House Near Cathedral/Port-au-Prince, undated; & Port-au-Prince/Old House, 1961. Box 27, "Saint-Domingue," Samuel Wilson, Jr. Papers, Southeastern Architectural Archive, Special Collections Division, Tulane University Libraries.