firm active: 1907-1921

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philadelphia, pennsylvania :: portland, oregon

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"Side Lights on Human Relations," by William Gray Purcell

This takes the form of a transcribed letter; and also appears as a Parabiography entry: "Purcell & Elmslie Office Continuity 1922-1933"

From a draft dated 1953:

All through the 1920s, during the final era of good times, George Elmslie, in his subconscious, had become so much a part of the "p and E" idea and routine, that (like Sullivan after George left him) George seemed unable to do for himself the simplest drafting job. Even when he had little work and plenty of time he mailed up to Fred Strauel who was maintaining our Minneapolis headquarters a large amount of routine drafting that George should have done himself. And there were times when he could ill afford unnecessary expense.

Of course when I went to Oregon in November 1919, I too sent all my drafting back to the Minneapolis office, brought Fred Strauel out to Portland for two months in 1922. But I was running a full-time business, with a superintendent (who could not draft), bookkeeper, foreman, etc., and it kept me jumping all day, making sketches evenings and Sundays, calling on clients. I was desperately trying to rebuild in a new field (and feeling like the devil - pulled down with t.b. [tuberculosis] - didn't know what was the matter with me.)

By 1932 the depression of course finished George's basic morale and finished me physically. I was forced to quit and went to be in California, February, 1930. George was just in no emotional condition to face anything - and I was in no physical condition to do so.

Life is not like a novel, all in nice chapters - with plot and characters for each type. One's life is like a forest - a cosmos teaming with events, people streaming through on seemingly unrelated errands, grouping and regrouping, with no discernable pattern.

And it is thus you too will see it. Embed your soul in God's grace, daily invest acts in a real saving, practice a Christianity cleansed of theology, ethics, condescension. Reinforce at all turns the pure democracy on which primitive Christianity is based. You will thus possess the only "salvation" worthy of an honest man's acceptance, and find yourself able to sustain any fate - even success! (most dangerous of all!)


[signed] W. G. Purcell

[This draft noted as sent to John Jager in 1953 and returned from Red Cedar Lane in 1964]

      Collection: William Gray Purcell Papers, Northwest Architectural Archives, University of Minnesota Libraries
research courtesy mark hammons