Purcell and Elmslie, Architects
Firm active: 1907-1921
Minneapolis, Minnesota :: Chicago, Illinois
The most extensive resource available for the study of Purcell & Elmslie, Architects, is of course found in the personal and professional papers of principal William Gray Purcell. The Purcell Papers are held at the Northwest Architectural Archives, University of Minnesota Libraries.
An on-line version of the Guide to the William Gray Purcell Papers is available on Organica through the HyperFind interface. The Guide contains biographical narratives and descriptions of the contents of the collection. You can get there from here. Highly indexed, automated finding aid with an archival point of view. Information includes scope and content notes, provenance, and inventories of the materials. Some of these are available in the context of the P&E web site, e.g. these scope and content notes about the Purcell & Elmslie Archives, which form a particular record group of the Purcell Papers. These archival notes help understand the history, treatment, and historical uses of the records, and are enlightening as a long term view of organic process as consideration of P&E work has matured over the decadesStill, of course, a work-in-progress, but useful anyway.
The University of Minnesota Libraries IMAGES
system has mounted an
image database of the documentation in the shelf-boxed Purcell and Elmslie job
files of the William Gray Purcell Papers.
Their XML-based interface provides several search options, including
geographical location, date, and string. Links to their presentation of document sets
related to specific commissions are provided within this site under their
individual job titles. READ MORE about the
contents of the IMAGES database as it relates to this web site, and how to
work around some of the problems in their search engine and result displays.
"Be here now" sets the tone. Original writings and illustrations of how these people saw themselves, from the rare and hard to find sources.
The Minneapolis Institute of Art offers a very interesting and well-designed web exhibit about the Prairie School, illustrated by their excellent collection of original works. The museum displayed revolutionary courage in adopting the Edna S. Purcell residence ("Lake Place," now called the "Purcell-Cutts house") as part of their permanent collection, even though the house lies some distance away from their main building. The restoration of this supreme jewel of P&E residential design is a tribute to what some museums can get right--and the expansive possibilities for presenting artistic achievement in a complete context, as opposed to bits arrayed in the artifice of galleries.
An image base of work by the company that made the terracotta found in Purcell and Elmslie buildings, which collection is held at the Northwest Architectural Archives, University of Minnesota Libraries.
Furniture, decorations, and disembodied architectural fragments on the block and under the hammer after a bout with the crow bar.