Wednesday, February 24, 2016

DIY Architecture (1885)

In 1885, The Weekly Kansas Chief reported on the availability of plans and specification forms that could be easily adapted for frame or masonry construction. Bridgeport, Connecticut architects Palliser, Palliser & Co. circulated advertisements of their pattern books to American states and territories; their designs eventually impacted architecture nationwide.

"Messrs. Pilliser, Pilliser [sic] & Co., of Bridgeport, Ct., the well-known Architects and Publishers of standard works on architecture, have lately issued a sheet containing plans and specifications of a very tasteful modern eight-room cottage with tower, and also with the necessary modifications for building it without the tower, and with but six rooms if desired. In its most costly form, the outlay is estimated at $3,000: without the tower, it has been built for $2,500; and if only six rooms are included, the cost may be reduced to $1,700 or $2,000. Details are given of mantels, stairs, doors and casings, cornices, etc. The publishers have found it the most popular plan they have ever issued, and state that it has been adopted in more than five hundred instances within their knowledge. The same firm issues Specifications in blank, adapted for frame or brick buildings of any cost; also forms of building contract, and several books on modern inexpensive, artistic cottage plans, which are of great practical value and convenience to everyone interested."

The Weekly Kansas Chief (17 May 1883). Available through Chronicling America.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Message in a Building (2016)

A mason replacing damaged limestone on Kansas State University's East Memorial Stadium (1922-28) recently discovered a note written by his predecessors in 1928. Lamenting the plight of the working man, five laborers signed the document:

"Dear Folks, Will place a not[e] in wall as it may some day be found and perhaps the men that Built it will be dead and forgotten. We are having nice weather was 18 above zero this morning. Hope when this is opened things will be better for the working man than [now?]. Mason got $10 per day and labor $3.20 there will have to be a change soon or the labor will be out of luck. Please print this if found signed CK Bell, Geo H Bell, W. Sowell, Jim Kelley, Ray [Disney?] Good luck."

For more on the story, see the Associated Press.

Friday, February 12, 2016

NYPL - NEW Digital Resource

Brian Foo with the New York Public Library has developed a great interface for digital content gleaned from NYPL and University of South Carolina resources. With guidance from the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, the team generated heat and cluster maps based on Victor Green's automobile travel directories.
Consulting the 1947 cluster map, one can then link to the digital Negro Motorists' Green Book of the same year.

At that time, Manhattan, Kansas had two Yuma Street tourist homes that catered to black travellers. Kansas City was a regional epicenter, with beauty parlors, a country club, garage, hotels, night clubs and tourist homes.

Consulting the 1956 cluster map reveals that while Manhattan venues remained virtually the same, options had diminished quite a bit in Kansas City.

Of course, highways have changed and many regions did not provide amenities, so the interface that allows you to map from one location to another based on the 1947 and 1956 guides may yield some wonky results.  Try going from New York City to Grand Forks, ND and see where the pathfinders take you.

Images above:  NYPL Labs. Navigating the Green Book. Screen shots captured 12 February 2016. Main URL:

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

"Everybody Plays Today" 1915

In February 1915, Westfield, New Jersey Methodist Episcopal pastor G. Franklin Ream received a postcard from "F.B.H." The latter remarked that "Mardi Gras" was great, but mentioned that he had difficulties finding a protestant church near his hotel.
Happy Mardi Gras!!

Monday, February 8, 2016

NOLA in Kansas

Listening to WWOZ this weekend, I heard Truckstop Honeymoon's "Mardi Gras in Kansas" for the first time. The duo left Ninth Ward New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina and settled in Lawrence, Kansas. They established their 9th Ward Pickin' Parlor, a recording studio in a "barn-style cottage."

Listen to their August 2010 NPR displacement interview here.

Happy Lundi Gras!