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...