Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Affordable Housing & The Argonauts (1880)

In 1880 The Galveston Daily News reported on the establishment of a new architecture /planning syndicate in San Antonio, Texas. The secret society --- led by Confederate brigadier general Hamilton Prioleau Bee (1822-97) -- formed to develop new suburban oases:

"Each subordinate body, which is termed a syndicate, procures a tract of land in a suitable locality, and subdividing it into town lots, streets, squares, parks, etc., proceeds to sell the building lots to such persons as may desire them. Thus far the society is identical with a city company, like the Galveston city company, but by the combination of all these companies into an alliance, and by the publication of an official journal, it affords a means of advertising each of these speculations more fully than could be done by any other manner. While this new order is without limit in its jurisdiction, it will be of the greatest benefit to Texas in providing new-comers with cheap homes in desirable localities, as well as enabling those possessed of large tracts of lands, to dispose of them at an advantage. Throughout our entire state there are localities that would become popular health resorts, on account of mineral springs, salubrious climate, providing persons seeking those homes could obtain a cheap home there. By starting a syndicate in these localities this benefit will be secured. The alliance is fully organized, and will secure a charter from the state of Texas. The first syndicate, called [?] Jason No. 1, was organized here Friday, and already a move is on foot to translate the laws and rituals into German and French, and starting other syndicates composed of persons of those nationalities. One feature of this society is that there is no restriction as to sex or physical infirmity, except what each syndicate may specially provide in its bylaws."(1)

The San Antonio Herald reported that the secret society -- the Alliance of the Golden Fleece -- lacked the features that made such organizations "so objectionable to a large portion of citizens."(2) Louis Giraud was its surveyor and Alfred Giles (1853-1920) was named its architect.

(1)"The Alliance of the Golden Fleece." Galveston Daily News 1 September 1880, Issue 139.

(2) Cited in Galveston Daily News 23 June 1880, Issue 79.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Architect Otho McCrackin

Hutchinson, Kansas architect Otho McCrackin (1893-1962) attended Washington University before serving as a pilot in the balloon division during the First World War. His drawing skills were utilized in the creation of strategic bird's eye views.(1)

After the war, he was associated first with the short-lived Curtis & McCrackin firm in Paris, Texas, and then joined the Hutchinson-based Mann & Company as a draftsman. In 1927, with encouragement from A.R. Mann, McCrackin submitted drawings to the West Coast Woods Architectural Competition. The jury awarded him $2,000 for his frame residence incorporating four Pacific Northwest woods: Douglas fir, West Coast hemlock, Sitka spruce and Western red cedar.
Unusual for a trade competition, McCrackin's West Coast Woods House was actually constructed in Portland, Oregon. In 1928, The American Lumberman reported that 10,000 prospective visitors were turned away the first week it opened due to the high demand.(2)  Photographs of the award-winning design graced such publications as Pencil Points, American Architect and Better Homes and Gardens. It is now a private residence.
Later in life, McCrackin partnered with Russell H. Heit and became a mentor to Kansas State University architecture graduate Leon Quincy Jackson (B.S. Arch. 1950).

(1)"Awards in West Coast Woods Architectural Competition." Pencil Points VIII:10 (October 1927): 635.

(2)"Prize Home Built at Portland, Ore." The American Lumberman (1928).

Images Above:  Otho McCrackin. Pencil Points VIII:10 (October 1927): 635.

Otho McCrackin, architect. "First Prize Design for A Residence and Garage." Pencil Points VIII:10 (October 1927): 634.

Otho McCrackin, architect. "House in Portland, Oregon, Built from Plans Submitted in the 1927 Competition Sponsored by the West Coast Lumber Bureau." The American Architect CXXXIV (20 July 1928): 131.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Moulins à Vents

Since moving to Kansas, I've become fascinated with historic windmills. They still populate the landscape, some remarkably intact and others denuded of every moving part. T. Lindsay Baker's American Windmills: An Album of Historic Photographs (2007) and A Field Guide to American Windmills (1985) are handy resources. The former was developed out of the author's personal collection of windmill photographs, which he began to acquire sometime before 1974.

Some amazing windmill images were drawn from world's fairs, where the mechanistic towers were clustered together as entertainment venues. The Columbian Exposition (Chicago 1893; below), the Exposition Universelle (Paris 1900) and the Louisiana Purchase Exposition (St. Louis 1904) all featured prominent windmill displays.

K-State Libraries' Richard L. D. & Marjorie J. Morse Department of Special Collections retains a copy of agronomy professor Max Ringelmann's Matériel Agricole à l'Exposition de 1900 (Paris, 1901). The author -- reporting on the fifth Parisian fair -- was particularly enamored of American improvements over the Eclipse model, which had been introduced at the nation's third fair (1878), namely that the new models could work under less windy conditions. He also acknowledged French models by Plissonier, Bompard et Grégoire (above, left), Vidal-Beaume (top; below, right) and Édouard-Émile Lebert's ÉolienneBollée (below, left).
For the North American models, he featured Stover Manufacturing Company's Ideal (center, right). The windmill had curved wings comprised of fabricated steel and its galvanized supporting pylon could be erected without any scaffolding. He perceived -- accurately -- that the Ideal would be of great service on French farms. It and other American models proliferated in the countryside prior to the First World War.(1)

Today there are windmill museums that display multiple models in a single setting:

Dalley Windmill Collection, Fairgrounds, Portales, NM

Windmills of the Riverwalk, Batavia Historical Society, Batavia, IL

Mid-American Windmill Museum, Kendallville, IN

Shattuck Windmill Museum, Shattuck, OK

Windmill Museum, Wind Experience Center, Lubbock, TX

(1)See John Walter & Régis Gerard. A History of the Éolienne Bollée. N.p.: By the authors, 2002-2015. As viewed 15 March 2016. URL: http://www.archivingindustry.com/Eolienne/webhistorybook-2015-1.pdf

Images above:  1, 3, 4 from Max Ringelmann. "Moulins à Vents." Section in Matériel Agricole à l'Exposition de 1900. Paris: Librairie Agricole, 1901, pp. 9-13. Richard L. D. & Marjorie J. Morse Department of Special Collections, K-State Libraries.

2 from "Vue d'ensemble de l'expositions de moulins à vents et turbines atmosphériques a l'Exposition universelle de Chicago." Le Génie civil XXIII: 9 (1 July 1893): p. 133.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Builded by the People (1906)

In 1906, Graham County, Kansas reported on its progress. The Reveille Souvenir (Hill City) promoted the western county's alfalfa and hay production, and its 2200 quarter sections of land available for $10-25 per acre. Referring to its governmental seat, the Reveille boasted:

"Hill City, like Kansas, was builded by great effort and hard struggles and the future for her is full of promise. Her history reads like fiction--it is a living poem, the best illustration of the motto of our great state that can be found within her borders.A great heroic stormy epic of more than Homeric grandeur is the story of her growth. She has come up through many difficulties,--drouths [sic], hot winds, cyclones, county seat fights, prairie fires, but she has ever kept her face towards the Sun of Progress, and these difficulties are as 'a tale that is told.' Today the air is full of prosperity. The rumble of the locomotives, the shrieks of the whistles, the whirl of the wheels of industry are born to the ear of the prosperous happy citizen. The strike of the carpenter's hammers is incessant and homes, for which there is a constant demand, are growing rapidly under the hands of the mechanics.

"Hill City is not a one-man's-town--it was builded by the people. She has the confidence of the entire county as is demonstrated by the hundreds of her farmer friends who crowd her streets on Saturday. To these friends she is indebted by her marvelous growth and phenomenal business prosperity. Hill City, unlike most western towns, has grown rich with the producers and not off of them. Competition is close, --merchants buy and sell to one advantage, but prices are reasonable and the country folk do not feel that out of the exorbitant prices paid to them the town is afforded luxuries and advantages of which they are deprived. We have borne the trials of adversity, and shared the joys of prosperity together. Hill City, the peerless gem of the prairies, lies in the central part of the county, on the Solomon River. It was surveyed in 1880 and incorporated in 1882. The surveying for the railroad precipitated one of the fiercest county seat contests that was ever waged with five towns contesting. In 1888, the year that the railroad was completed, Hill City was made the county seat. It bears the name of it's [sic] founder and first mayor, W.R. Hill.


"Hill City boasts of a strong and active W.C.T.U. Literary and social clubs are found throughout the city. In short Hill City furnishes ideal opportuunities [sic] for activity in business and social life. It is a good place to live; a good place to own a home; a good place in which to become prosperous; a good place to rear a family. We think we have a future of unlimited opportunities. We aspire to be the grain and stock market of the west. The Chicago of the prairies."

Image above: Frank Lee, photographer. "A.W. McVey Residence." Graham County, Kansas. 1906. This and excerpts above from Miss Chance.  Writer and Engraver's Picture of Graham County's Progress Since Its Organization. Hill City, Kansas: The Reveille Publishing Company, 1906. Richard L. D. and Marjorie J. Morse Department of Special Collections, Kansas State University Libraries.

There are a lot of these flat-topped hipped roofs around Kansas. I guess it's a lopped off pyramidal folk house type.

Image above: A.W. McVey Properties. Township 12 S Range 23 W. Sections 1 & 12. Graham County, Kansas. Detail from Standard Atlas of Graham County, Kansas: Including a Plat Book of Villages, Cities and Townships of the County. Chicago: George A. Ogle & Co., 1906. Available via Kansas Memory. The atlas includes a portrait of Mr. McVey.