Monday, December 18, 2017

Architect's Christmas Cards

For the holidays we thought we would share some of the Christmas cards made by New Orleans modernist architect, James R. Lamantia, Jr. (1923-2011). Most noted for his designs for area churches, including St. Pius X in New Orleans, St. Catherine Siena in Metairie, and Our Lady of Prompt Succor in Chalmette, all done under Burk, LeBreton, and Lamantia, architects. One of his most controversial projects was turning a mid-19th century townhouse on St. Charles Avenue into the uber-modern 20th Century Shop of home furnishings in the 1950s. He also did quite a bit of work in New York City, including restaurants for Tavern on the Green, JFK International Airport, Grand Central Station, and the World Trade Center. Many are surprised to find he did a great deal of restoration projects for Central Park in Manhattan.

Below is a sampling of Lamantia designed Christmas cards he sent to friends--several to his good friend and fellow modernist New Orleans architect, Victor Bruno. Some are hand drawn or painted, others are woodblock prints--some with applied watercolor, and one has gold foil glued on. They date from the 1950s through 2003. We wish you happy holidays and all the best for 2018!

Monday, December 11, 2017

Swedish Architects & Artists in New Orleans

We are excited for this week's opening of the exhibit, "Bror Anders Wikstrom: Bringing Fantasy to Carnival", December 14, 2017 through April 1, 2018, at the New Orleans Museum of Art. The exhibit focuses on Swedish born Wikstrom (1854-1909), who was a noted artist, designer of early New Orleans carnival floats, and a founding member of the New Orleans Artists Association in 1885. Many of the beautiful original drawings in the exhibit are being loaned by the Louisiana Research Collection (LaRC) of the Howard-Tilton Memorial Library.

This post was suggested by Cecilia Kjellgren, Tulane alum and Honorary Consul of Sweden for New Orleans. While SEAA doesn't hold any records of Swedish-born architects working in New Orleans, our friends in the Louisiana Research Collection kindly let us photograph items from their holdings that showcase buildings for the 1884 World's Industrial and Cotton Centennial Exposition held in New Orleans on the site of what is now the current Audubon Park. The supervising architect for the fair, and architect of the Main Building, was Gustavus M. Torgerson, who was born in Sweden, immigrated to the United States ca. 1865, and settled in Oxford, Mississippi in 1868 to practice as an architect. He proved to be prolific, designing many residences and public buildings in that state, many still standing today.

The posters below are from the Image Collection in the Louisiana Research Collection. Top: "View of the World's Exposition from St. Charles Avenue North East, City Park (current Audubon Park), New Orleans". Krebs Lithographing Company, Cincinnati, Ohio. Middle: Detail of Main Building from poster at bottom. Bottom: "The World's Industrial and Cotton Centennial Exposition, New Orleans". J.S. Rivers, Lithographer, Printer, and Stationer, New Orleans. 

Below are stereopticon cards from LaRC's Image Collection, Edward L. Wilson, photographer.

Below is an undated photo of the interior of Horticultural Hall, which stood until the 1915 hurricane; in addition, below are two advertising cards for the fair, all from LaRC's Image Collection.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Architecture of Place Class Visit

Last week we did an instruction session, tour of SEAA's current exhibit "The Modernism of Albert C. Ledner", and a tour of our stacks for Professor Laura Blokker's Architecture of Place class. We showed the students examples of what they might use in SEAA by presenting materials documenting the demolished French Opera (1859-1919) in New Orleans. We showed the class an original 1859 watercolor perspective drawing by Marie Adrien Persac for the architect of the building, James Gallier, Jr., an 1876 Sanborn Fire Insurance Map to give them an idea of the opera's neighborhood in it's heyday, drawings dating from the 1920s to document the opera not long after it was destroyed by fire in 1919, and drawings for various proposals to rebuild it in the 1940s through the 1960s. We included photographs and prints from the late-19th to the early-20th centuries, and photos from the fire of 1919. 

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Albert C. Ledner Passing

We are sad to learn of the passing of New Orleans architect and SEAA friend, Albert C. Ledner. Our condolences go out to his daughter Catherine, sons David and Robert, and grandchildren. We are grateful to have had the opportunity to work with him this past summer to mount our current exhibit "The Organic Modernism of Albert C. Ledner."

Judy and Albert Ledner at the National Maritime Union Exhibit at the 1964 New York World's Fair.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Cypress Water Pipe

We gave a tour of SEAA and our collections to colleagues from the Newcomb Art Museum earlier this week. We spent quite a bit of time examining one of SEAA's artifacts--a hollowed out cypress log, which was part of early New Orleans' water system, dating to the late-18th to early-19th centuries. The bored log would have been connected by iron rings to other logs to create the city's first water main. With recent interest in the New Orleans waterworks...this artifact seems rather charming. The log measures 64.5" long x 13" diameter. Here is a link with a vintage advertisement from Southern Cypress Manufacturers Association about the cypress pipes--

                                                                                                                              Photos by K. Williams

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Garden Library of the New Orleans Town Gardeners

We had a nice visit last week with Fionuala McGlinchey-Monsted, the newly elected chair of the library committee of the New Orleans Town Gardeners. Fionuala replaces long-serving chair, Ruthie Frierson. Thank you Ruthie for all your help in strengthening the library's holdings.

The Garden Library of the New Orleans Town Gardeners, a collection of the Southeastern Architectural Archive, has extensive holdings of published works dealing with gardens, gardening, and related subjects. The library contains well over 1,000 volumes representing approximately 800 titles. Founded in 1983, and given to Tulane in 1986, the library is a project of the New Orleans Town Gardeners, a New Orleans garden club affiliated with the Garden Club of America. The library has its own dedicated space within the archive's reading room.

The Garden Library is open to the public by appointment during normal SEAA hours, and is a great resource for general information on gardening and plants, but is also useful for more in-depth scholarly research. Areas of special interest include gardening of the southern United States, garden design and landscaping, and books by and about women in gardening. Of note are the handwritten gardening journals of Genevieve Munson Trimble, documenting her Afton Villa gardens in St. Francisville, Louisiana.

Please see our webpage for the library, which includes a search box to help locate items specifically in the Garden Library's holdings. You might also want to use the search tools on the Howard-Tilton Memorial Library's homepage, which will give you items in the Garden Library, as well as books, journals, and other materials on gardening and botanical subjects in other Tulane collections. The Louisiana Research Collection is the main source for published material on Louisiana gardens and gardening at Tulane.


Thursday, October 5, 2017

Tulane Cemeteries Class Visit

We did a class instruction/archive tour session for Professor Heather Knight's TIDES class (Tulane Interdisciplinary Experience Seminar) on New Orleans cemeteries. We brought out examples of our cemetery/tomb holdings, including an 1830s wrought iron cross with cast zinc rosettes, a plaster inverted flame relief from an unknown tomb, an elevation drawing for the Egyptian Revival pyramid Brunshwig tomb in Metairie Cemetery by late-19th century New Orleans architect Thomas Sully (1855-1939), and from our Albert Weiblen Marble & Granite Co. Office Records--watercolor presentation renderings of tombs in Metairie Cemetery including the Brady/Arlington (now Morales family), Chapman Hyams, Cassard, and Dantoni tombs, granite and marble samples, and bronze reliefs, including the 3' tall mourning lady with roses. 

In our stacks, we gave the class a tour of our holdings to give the students an idea of what an archives looks like and how we store nearly 1.5 million drawings, 45,000 photographs, models, and other records of Louisiana architects and firms. We focused on more Weiblen Co. items--plaster presentation models for tombs in Metairie Cemetery that include the Joseph Harrington, Pearl Wight, and Buck family tombs.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Bendel Family Memorial

We gave a tour of SEAA to two donors last week, and judging from their reactions, the highlight was the presentation model (above) for the memorial/tomb for the family of Henri Bendel, including his father, William Bendel, step-father, Benjamin Falk, and his mother Mary Plonsky Bendel Falk, at Menachim Aveilim Cemetery (formerly Jewish Cemetery and Hebrew Rest Cemetery) in Lafayette, Louisiana. The model is part of our Albert Weiblen Marble & Granite Co. Office Records, which include construction drawings, beautiful watercolor presentation renderings, models, and other records. The Weiblen Company designed and built tombs and other funereal projects, public monuments, and also supplied stone work for buildings. Many of the tombs of New Orleans' Gilded Age in Metairie Cemetery were created by the Albert Weiblen Marble & Granite Company.

The memorial was commissioned by Henri Bendel in 1918, built by the Weiblen Company and designed by Weiblen architect, Charles L. Lawhon. The memorial contains catacombs in the rear of the structure, and is made of Dorian Gray Granite, with figures of Italian bronze. The model is made of concrete, with plaster figures encased in copper foil. Weiblen also installed additional headstones, and created a plan for the Bendel family plot at the cemetery.

Henri Willis Bendel (1868-1936) was born in Vermilionville, Louisiana. His father died when he was six years old. His mother ran several businesses, until she married Benjamin Falk in 1878. The couple operated a successful dry goods store and Falk's Opera House in Lafayette, Louisiana. Henri married Blanche Lehman in 1894, and established a millinery shop in Morgan City, Louisiana. After the shop was destroyed by fire, Henri and Blanche relocated to New York City, where Henri worked for the department store B. Altman & Co. After Blanche died shortly after, he established a millinery shop, eventually adding custom dresses and imported fashions from Paris. This evolved into the iconic store, Henri Bendel, which still operates in New York and several other U.S. cities. Bendel's was reputedly the first U.S. store to offer clothes by Chanel.

Top image: Bendel Memorial model, K. Williams.
Bottom images: Drawings from Albert Weilben Marble & Granite Co. Office Records, SEAA.

Friday, September 22, 2017

SEAA's New Blog

Welcome to our new blog! For our first post, we thought we'd focus on our current exhibit, The Organic Modernism of Albert C. Ledner, which opened in August. This exhibit was done in collaboration with the premier of the documentary on Albert C. Ledner, Designing Life: The Modernist Architecture of Albert C. Ledner

Sponsors for the exhibit are Lettermans and the Louisiana Architectural Foundation, with additional support provided by the Marjorie Peirce Geiser and John Geiser, Jr. Fund of the Southeastern Architectural Archive. Our opening night reception, held August 17, was sponsored by the Louisiana Architectural Foundation. We are grateful for the wonderful turnout, and thank everyone who attended. You helped make this the most successful reception we've had to date!

This exhibit features drawings, photographs, and other items from the records of New Orleans modernist architect Albert Charles Ledner. Born in 1924 in the Bronx, New York City, Ledner was raised in New Orleans. After graduating from the Tulane School of Architecture in 1948, Ledner attended the Frank Lloyd Wright Fellowship in Spring Green, Wisconsin. He returned to New Orleans in 1950, and soon had a commission to design a house for C.V. Goldate in Metairie, Louisiana. This led to a career designing many residences in the New Orleans region, several commercial projects, the First Unitarian Church on Jefferson Avenue in New Orleans, and buildings for the National Maritime Union, including New Orleans, Baltimore, San Francisco, Norfolk, Virginia, and the national headquarters in New York City.

Drawings are supplemented by period photographs, b/w snapshots, and prints made from 35mm slides of projects. Photographs taken by Ledner on trips to see Frank Lloyd Wright buildings are in cases under the windows. Included is an ashtray from the A.C. Sunkel residence, aka “the Ashtray House’ on Park Island, New Orleans, acrylic and glass shades made by Ledner for lighting fixtures, and a plan for an electric tunnel oven for Ledner’s mother’s bakery, and a cookbook from 1987 of his mother’s recipes. Ledner’s mother, Beulah Ledner, is credited with the creation of the New Orleans doberge cake.

Earlier this week, we had an unexpected gift of a ceramic model of the Galatoire/Massey residence (see above pencil drawing) designed by Ledner in 1962 for Leonie Galatoire, of the famed New Orleans restaurant family, Galatoire's. Judy and Morris Massey owned the house in the 1970s and 1980s, and had this model made in 1982. A long-time SEAA donor introduced us to Mrs. and Dr. Massey, who decided to preserve their model with us. It has been included in the Ledner exhibit. SEAA has benefited from the generous support from donors like the Masseys since its founding in 1979. Thank you! 

Printmaking Class Talk and Buck Tomb

We recently spoke to Tulane Professor Pippin Frisbie-Calder's printmaking class. We were asked to show the students ou...