Purcell and Elmslie, Architects
Firm active :: 1907-1921
Minneapolis, Minnesota :: Chicago,
Started in on the Lake Place (Edna S. Purcell residence) documentation, and discovered to great unhappiness that one of the most significant electronic files of transcribed letters was corrupted. Sigh. There goes 100 or so hours. Moved forward with what was left, which presently amounts to 32 letters dating from late 1913 to 1916. The Lake Place correspondence is broken down into three groups: 1912-1913: Design and Construction; 1913-1919: Artist Commissions and Sale of the House; and a group of miscellaneous documents from later years between Purcell and the Cutts family that owned the house until it became part of the permanent collection of the Minneapolis Institute of Art. Also got up the wonderful manuscript written by Purcell in 1915 called "Own House Notes" and started in on the Parabiographies entry--that will take another hour or so than held in the hourglass tonight.
The program to furnish Lake Place with artworks began with the mural painted by Charles Livingston Bull. Miles Sater, the brother-in-law of Walter Burley Griffin, had prepared sketches for the area above the fireplace, but Purcell was especially taken with Bull's illustrations of children's books and eventually hired him. During the three years that the Purcells lived in the house they sought to purchase an additional piece. The first was "a study of the Chicago River," by Albert Fleury [which now again hangs in the house], then they commissioned a sculpture group called "Nils and His Goose" (but often referred to as "Nils the Gooseboy") from Richard Bock. Finally, along the way, there were some incidental items that were custom made by Chicago metalsmith Robert Jarvie. The best summary of the idea behind this decoration program can be seen in a letter from William Gray Purcell to artist Maynard Dixon in 1915.
And, oh yes, in celestial compensation for the loss of the Elmslie letters (which will only make me study them again as well as revive my ability to read Elmslie's hieroglyphic holograph), I discovered an electronic version of my monograph on P&E, which I had earlier thought lost to time and departed hard drives: "Purcell and Elmslie, Architects." I need to massage that down to more web friendly pages. Only those with high speed access should venture there for the moment (294 KB)
Sawed wood diagram
Leaded glass diagram
Before I dig into the hundreds of Lake Place documents, queue clearing continues today with something new: Virtual Catalogs. Although I had my qualms about doing this and I express them as a caveat on the index page, the benefit/risk analysis seems to be on the positive side. So herewith a first blush of drawing catalogs arranged for sawed wood diagrams, leaded glass diagrams, light fixture diagrams, terra-cotta diagrams and moldings, furniture diagrams, and stencil patterns. Some tidying up needs to be done with the job citations. These downloads are large, and may take a few minutes for people with dial-up connections. For the moment, only drawings published by the University of Minnesota Libraries digital database (IMAGES) are shown. This web resource includes only smaller documents kept in shelf boxes, not the many larger forms stored in flat files. Thus, these catalogs are hardly a complete inventory of the existing documentation. Also, there are other sources yet to be added (The Western Architect, principally) that have patterns whose records do not survive in the Purcell and Elmslie archives. I'll get to those in due course. In addition, I have altered the appearance of the rest of the primary access pages for Institutional and Civic, Furnishings and Decorations, and Landscaping. The addition of sample images also increases download time for these pages, but the evolution toward graphics is appropriate for an architectural site. Bon appetit!
Edna S. Purcell residence
Living room, looking west
Sawed wood finial
The delays of life took three weeks. Saturn has gone direct, finally (2/22--and out of Gemini completely 7/3), Mars has moved past a nasty aspect to my sun, Uranus entered my tenth house of career honors for the first time this incarnation (starting 3/4, where it remains for SEVEN hopefully beneficent years), and the New Moon of March 2 fell in my tenth house, as well. All this and more, I am told in LA-speak, bodes well for the remainder of the year--particularly for my occupational activities. Hopefully that means something like financial stability, after all the grinding anxiety and harsh drama of the past two and a half years. Started out the present P&E working cycle by adding links to external web resources like the Unified Vision: The Architecture and Design of the Prairie School web exhibit presented by the Minneapolis Institute of Art. The museum maintains Lake Place (formally, the "Edna S. Purcell residence," now called "Purcell-Cutts house") as part of their permanent collection, and the abovementioned web pages show off their excellent collection of P&E and Prairie School objects. I took the opportunity to start revising the Lake Pages, and decided to organize getting up the correspondence and working drawings over the next little while. And a while it may be a while, too, given the number of documents...and the creaking slowness of FrontPage on this ever-aging equipment. Before getting into all that, I cleared up the desktop by starting the working drawings for the Gallagher house and did a little window dressing for a new look on the Residence and Commercial pages. Some of that means long download times for those without a high speed connection, but almost everyone using this site seems to have one.
John Adair residence
Added the working drawings for the John Adair house.