Wednesday, April 29, 2015

UDOs [Unidentified Drawn Objects]

Often times, architects did not include municipal addresses or client names on their renderings. Similarly, kit home catalogs sometimes did not reference geographic location or the name of the designing architect.

For the SEAA's recent "Bungalows" exhibit, we incorporated a number of drawings that bore scant identifying information. My colleague, Kevin Williams, was able to identify the locales for the New Orleans residences. Recently, Jeff Rosenberg provided us with more information regarding the bungalows constructed in Mississippi.

Images from top to bottom:

Number 1

R.B. Williamson, architect. Habitation for a Hot Climate, with a "Plein Air" Sleeping Porch. Plate 16, [AKA "Aeroplane Bungalow."] From Georges Benoît-Lévy's Maisons de Campagne sans étage et bungalows. Paris: Massin, c. 1920. Garden Library of the New Orleans Town Gardeners, Southeastern Architectural Archive, Special Collections Division, Tulane University Libraries.

Williamson's bungalow was constructed at 1084 Lafayette Avenue, Biloxi, Mississippi.

Number 2

Edward Sporl, architect. Raised Basement Shingle and Cobblestone Bungalow. Undated. Edward F. Sporl Office Records, Southeastern Architectural Archive, Special Collections Division, Tulane University Libraries.Southern Pine Association.

Sporl's bungalow was constructed for the Edwards family in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi. Its address is 119 Washington Street.

Number 3

Nolan & Torre, architects. Bungalow for Fernwood Lumber Company. Fernwood, MS. Undated. William T. Nolan Office Records, Southeastern Architectural Archive, Special Collections Division, Tulane University Libraries.Southern Pine Association.

The bungalow is located at 1023 Dogwood Drive.

Number 4

Morgan D.E. Hite and Harry Moses. Residence. Corner Broadway and Green Street. New Orleans, LA. 1926. Harry Moses Office Records.

We knew from decorator Harry Moses' blueprint that this residence was built in two places: New Orleans and Ocean Springs. Kevin identified the residence at 1703 Broadway, but we didn't know the location of the Ocean Springs residence for Mrs. F.E. Lee, referred to in an annotation on the sheet.

Jeff identified the Mississippi residence as "Casa Flores," which was located at 4010 Government Street.

Thank you, Jeff!

Monday, April 27, 2015

Plantation Prefab

After the Civil War, labor shortages on plantation properties drove one New Orleans lumberman, Walter W. Carré, to begin selling manufactured portable cabins (top image). The steam-cut lumber was framed, marked and shipped to clients in Arkansas, Honduras, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas. Carré claimed that his cabins were so easy to use, they didn't even require a carpenter's skills.(1) In April 1869, his company received the "Best Portable Cabin" prize at the Third Grand State Fair and two years later The Daily Picayune touted his cabins  "marvels of ingenuity."(2)

Other New Orleans lumber concerns also offered pre-cut plantation cabins. The Lhote Lumber Company's 1883 catalog featured its double cabin (center image), as did the Louisiana Steam, Sash and Door Company's 1891 catalog (bottom). In their advertisements, each company placed cabin doors and windows in a different arrangement.

For those interested in early portable structures shipped out of New Orleans, see the following articles:

Charles E. Peterson. ”Early American Prefabrication.” Gazette des Beaux-Arts XXXIII (January 1948): pp. 37-46.

Samuel Wilson Jr. “New Orleans Prefab, 1867.” The Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians 22:1 (March 1963): pp. 38-39.

(1)"Portable Plantation Cabins." The Times-Picayune 12 November 1870.

(2)"Wonderful Mechanism." The Daily Picayune 27 April 1871.

Images above: "Plantation Cabins." The Daily Picayune 9 September 1882.

"Plantation Cabins." Lhote Lumber  Company Catalog. n.p.,1883. Architectural Trade Catalogs, Southeastern Architectural Archive, Special Collections Division, Tulane University Libraries.

"Plantation Cabins." Roberts & Company's Illustrated Catalogue of Mouldings, Architectural and Ornamental Wood Work, Door and Window Frames, Sash, Doors and Blinds, Brackets and Cornices, Porch Columns, Balustrades, Fences, Counters, Shelving and Store Fittings, designed and compiled by William Bell, superintendent, Louisiana Steam Sash, Blind and Door Factory. New Orleans, 1891.Architectural Trade Catalogs, Southeastern Architectural Archive, Special Collections Division, Tulane University Libraries. Now digitized via the Internet Archive's Building Technology Heritage Library.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Lexicon: Hi-Lo

In the late 1920s, New Orleans realtors began advertising “Hi-Lo”s to indicate a new type of raised basement bungalow that accommodated ground-level parking.  Edward Sporl proposed a Craftsman Hi-Lo elevated nine feet above grade (above).

Hi-Lo Bungalows, Hi-Lo Houses and Spanish Hi-Los came to describe story-and-a-half residences with garages. Colonial Revival and  Mission Style residences most frequently adopted the bi-level profile. “La Jolla,” the house at  6 Trianon Place (built circa 1925), originally had a two-car garage.

While the phraseology seems to have originated in New Orleans, Hi-Los became a national phenomenon when direct mail catalogs adopted the expression. The Southern Pine Association first featured a Hi-Lo in its 1937 catalog, Livable Homes of Southern Pine. The Ideal Plan Service published its Hi-Lo ten years later.

Early bi-level residences in San Francisco were referred to as "Doelgers," named for the developer -- Henry Doelger -- who frequently built them. Hi-Los and Doelgers were precursors to split levels.

Image above:  Edward F. Sporl. Raised  Basement [“Hi-Lo”] Bungalow. Ink and colored ink on linen. Undated. Edward F. Sporl Office Records, Southeastern Architectural Archive, Special Collections Division, Tulane University Libraries.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

NOLA Catalog Homes

I was recently invited to write a short piece for the Sears Homes of Chicagoland Blog. The entry focuses on catalog homes in New Orleans.

If any of the above houses look familiar, the post may be of interest.

Images above, top to bottom:

Harris Homes. Model 1512. A Plan Book of Harris Homes.  1915. Courtesy Building Technology Heritage Library.

Harris Homes. Model 61/AKA Model 1514. A Plan Book of Harris Homes. 1915. Courtesy Building Technology Heritage Library.

Sears Roebuck Company. Avondale Model. Honor Bilt Modern Homes. Chicago-Philadelphia: Sears, Roebuck & Co. 1921. Courtesy Building Technology Heritage Library.

Aladdin Homes. Pomona Model. Aladdin Homes “Sold by the Golden Rule.” Catalog No. 33. 1921. Courtesy Architectural Trade Catalogs, Southeastern Architectural Archive.

Aladdin Homes. Lamberton Model. Aladdin Homes “Built in a Day.” Catalog No. 32. 1920. Courtesy Architectural Trade Catalogs, Southeastern Architectural Archive.

For additional information, see the Southeastern Architectural Archive's guide, "Catalog Homes."

Monday, April 20, 2015

BUNGALOWS Closing Month

The Southeastern Architectural Archive's Bungalows exhibit will be closing next month. If you have not yet had a chance to stop by the archive's reading room, consider doing so. The exhibit is the first such to focus on Gulf Coast vernacular bungalow and cottage architecture. Issues of stylistic and typological adaptation, sustainability and climate-specific design are highlighted with the use of original architectural drawings, historic photographs, building trade catalogs, material samples and subdivision surveys. The focus of the exhibit is on regional innovation and adaptation.

Co-curated by Keli Rylance and Kevin Williams, BUNGALOWS  runs through 20 May 2015.  The SEAA is located at 6801 Freret Street/300 Jones Hall, on Tulane University’s campus.  Hours are 9-12 and 1-5 Mondays-Fridays. Admission is free.

Image above:  FAB-RIK-O-NA. Cloth Wall Coverings. Bloomfield, New Jersey, circa 1923.

Friday, April 17, 2015


As of today, the Southeastern Architectural Archive's "Architecture Research" Blog has tallied 1/4 million page views.  What was initiated as an attempt to provide a research portal has resulted in both a tool and a reference publication.

Happy Milestone!

Image above: Truscon Steel Company. "Welded Steel Fabric for Permanence, Contraction Joints for Safety/Bars for Reinforcing, Road Forms for Speed." From Modern Road Construction. Youngstown, OH: The Company, 1930. Architectural Trade Catalogs, Southeastern Architectural Archive, Special Collections Division, Tulane University Libraries.

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.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

TBT: 1960's Motel Culture

Cape Coral, Florida will be celebrating its SIXTIETH birthday in 2017. In the spring of 1969, my grandparents stayed at the modernist Nautilus Motel  and Garden Apartments.
There were other Nautilus Motels in Treasure Island and Daytona Beach, Florida.

Images above: Laura Mae Rylance at the Nautilus Motel and Garden Apartments. May 1969. Private collection.

The Nautilus Motel and Garden Apartments. 1965. As viewed 9 April 2015 via "About Coral Gables." URL:

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Hattiesburg Homes II

The previous post mentioned the Aladdin Company's plant based in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. In 1920, Davenport, Iowa's Gordon-Van Tine Company similarly established a southern yellow pine and cypress mill operation at 22 Pine between Florence and Scooba Streets (shown below). Mill employees marked pre-cut elements with blue lumber crayon for easy assembly.
Home builders in southern states could order Gordon-Van Tine "Ready-Cut" and "Not-Ready-Cut" dwellings for shipment by rail. Clients were required to pick up the house kits at the appropriate railroad station.

From 1922-1932 Gordon-Van Tine also produced Wardway Homes for the Montgomery Ward Company. Its Hattiesburg mill served as the distribution point for the southern United States (shown below).
The Southeastern Architectural Archive retains undated building plans associated with Ward's "The Illlinois" in its Miscellaneous Drawings.
In September 1922, the Gordon-Van Tine Company placed an advertisement in The Times-Picayune, emphasizing that it offered "southern house" plans designed by New Orleans architects (shown above). During the 1920s, agents representing the company's Home Planning Division often sought residential plans from architects across the country. John Andrew Ross, the company's chief architect during this period, emphasized that all plans were carefully considered by "twenty experts" who assessed them based on architectural as well as "housekeeping" criteria.(1)

In  November 1925, Gordon-Van Tine executives Horace G. Roberts and M.L. Grant acquired the former Aladdin Company plant on North Street in Hattiesburg. They rapidly renovated the structure for use as a yellow pine and hardwood flooring factory, the Hattiesburg Flooring Company.(2)

(1)John Andrew Ross. "The Plan-Cut Home from the Architect's Standpoint." Gordon-Van Tine Company. Gordon-Van Tine Homes. Davenport, IA: 1926.  Building Technology Heritage Library via Internet Archive.

(2)"Ready-Cut House Plant Purchased." The Times-Picayune 28 November 1925.

Images above:

Gordon-Van Tine Co. Gordon-Van Tine Homes. Davenport, IA: 1920.  Building Technology Heritage Library via Internet Archive.

"Hattiesburg, Mississippi Plant." Gordon-Van Tine Co. Gordon-Van Tine Homes. Davenport, IA: 1926.  Building Technology Heritage Library via Internet Archive.

Montgomery Ward Co. Wardway Homes. Chicago:  1924.  Building Technology Heritage Library via Internet Archive.

"Buy Direct from Mill!" The Times-Picayune 24 September 1922.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Hattiesburg Homes

In the early 1920s, the Aladdin Company -- headquartered in Bay City, Michigan -- maintained regional divisions in the West, Southeast and South central United States. Boasting awards from the Panama-Pacific Exposition (San Francisco), Aladdin developed a "Readi-Cut" construction system. Using machine-cut timber to reduce labor costs and lumber waste, Aladdin could supply house kits to buyers nationwide. The Hattiesburg, Mississippi office shipped Aladdin homes to customers in Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Texas.
The company's so-called "Board of Seven" approved individual plans for its products. Once accepted, plans were named and marketed, and then printed into catalogs which were distributed with "Dear Friend" letters via direct mail.

Homes such as "The Franklin" (shown above) could be purchased for less than $3,000.(1) The company also had various rear and side dependencies which buyers could order to harmonize with their desired kit houses. At additional cost, Aladdin supplied kitchen and bathroom cabinetry, mantle book cases and buffets. Customers could also purchase the works, an entire home, its fixtures and furnishings.

It would be interesting to analyze the diffusion of the Aladdin Readi-Cut Homes across the country. Aladdin's corporate records, including those of its Order Department, are housed at the Clarke Historical Library, Central Michigan University. Sears Home and Plan Books researcher Cindy Catanzaro has done extensive work with the Clarke's records, and would be better equipped to discuss Aladdin "hotspots."

In New Orleans, M.E. Messenger established a business relationship with the Aladdin Company to build its Readi-Cut dwellings. Interested parties could inquire at the 6-room Readi-Cut "Pomona" model bungalow located at 122 Polk Street in Lakeview.(2)

(1) Pricing 1 April 1920. The Aladdin Company. Aladdin Homes: Sold by the Golden Rule. Bay City, Michigan: The Aladdin Company, 1920. Catalog Number 32. NA 8480.A5 1920
Architectural Trade Catalogs, Special Collections Division, Tulane University Libraries.

(2)Advertisement. The Times-Picayune 13 November 1921.

Images above from the publications cited above, with the exception of the 11 April 2015 photograph of 122 Polk Street. K. Rylance.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Street Addresses

We are developing a series of blog posts pertaining to Frequently Asked Questions. In the last post, we addressed finding information about historic New Orleans mill work.

With today's post, we want to focus on ways in which to establish variant street addresses associated with a given property. Tracking down information related to corner lots can be especially tricky because business owners and tenants (especially saloons) would often alter address information with some frequency.  When we came across the stretch of St. Bernard Avenue shown above -- which boasts three completely different street numbers above its roll down security shutter, it provided us with the opportunity to mention some helpful resources.

If you don't know the name of the owner, tenant or business associated with a property,* fire insurance atlases can be especially beneficial tools for establishing historic street addresses. Most researchers are familiar with those produced by the Sanborn Map & Publishing Company. It is worth mentioning that for New Orleans, there were a number of notable late nineteenth century atlases independently developed by surveyor-architects Braun, Celles and Langermann.

Establishing the municipal district and square number for a property can be a great starting place. An easy way to do this is to consult the City of New Orleans Property Viewer and the District Guide to the Robinson Atlas. Using that method for the property shown above yields the following information:

Municipal District 3
Square 378 B 

John Braun's 1877 atlas shows the irregularly shaped square as:
As you can see, St. Bernard did not run through Rampart and St. Claude during that period. Square 378 had not yet been divided into two parts, A and B. Braun utilized the old street numbering system, which was replaced in 1895.

Nearly twenty years later, the Sanborn Company similarly mapped the square, this time with the new street numbering system in place:
When the company documented it again in 1908, it remained much the same. But between 1908 and 1934, the square changed dramatically:
The riverside section of North Rampart Street was widened and renamed McShane Place, and St. Bernard was cut between St. Claude and McShane. Square 378 was now divided in half and significantly reduced in scale.

By 1964, what had been a residential square had largely become commercialized. Structures in close proximity to the corner filling station were built of concrete block ("C.B." in blue).

Knowing the variant street addresses for a property provides researchers with additional access points by which they may search historic newspapers, legal documents and surveyors' records. The Southeastern Architectural Archive's Guy Seghers Office Records, for example, is largely organized by municipal district and square number. Searching historic newspaper databases using variant street addresses can be especially beneficial.

For online access to Sanborn Fire Insurance Atlases, consult Tulane University Libraries' Databases.

Images above:  1131-1139 St. Bernard Avenue. Google Street View. April 2014.

"Square 378." John Braun. Plan book of the third district comprising 7th., 8th., and 9th., ward, New Orleans; showing subdivisions of squares, with the present improvements thereon. New Orleans, 1877. Southeastern Architectural Archive, Special Collections Division, Tulane University Libraries.

"Square 378." Sanborn Atlas, 1896. Southeastern Architectural Archive, Special Collections Division, Tulane University Libraries.

"Square 378" Sanborn Atlas, 1908 corrected to 1934. Southeastern Architectural Archive, Special Collections Division, Tulane University Libraries.

"Square 378." Sanborn Atlas, 1937 corrected to 1964. Southeastern Architectural Archive, Special Collections Division, Tulane University Libraries.

*If you do know this information, city directories can yield street address information. Most of New Orleans' city directories are digitized and available through Tulane University Library's subscription to Ancestry Library.