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Thomas W. Snelling Residence
Purcell and Elmslie
Waukegan, Illinois  1913

Text by William Gray Purcell
Parabiographies entry, Volume for 1913

Job Date (in Parabiographies): February 26, 1913

THOMAS W. SNELLING, Waukegan, Illinois

Thomas W. Snelling was a high spot malt salesman who covered his territory "from a telephone booth", and with two or three mornings of long distance calls a month was able to earn enough commissions to live luxuriously. He married one of the fanciest little creatures that I had seen up to that time, and wanted to give her a setting worthy of the admiration he had for her. He asked us to do our best, and he spent enough money to carry out everything that we put down on the working drawings. In addition he surrounded the property with a six-foot wrought iron fence and ornamental gates which he had not put on the drawings.

We were very much interested at the time in the idea of a flat roof tar and gravel construction for dwellings, and with the further idea of sloping the roof toward the center to free the house of gutters and down spouts and winter icicles. The cast iron soil pipe rain conductor in the center of the building would thus be kept free from ice by the warmth from the chimney.

We stuck to this constructional idea, and from a practical point of view it proved an entire success, the roof being intact 25 years later and having given no trouble. But it tended to boost the cornice line in a design that very decidedly called for as little height as could be obtained. An 18-inch lower eave line which sloping the roof toward the eaves would have been a blessing to the aesthetics of this building. A no eave system would doubtless have been even better. It worried me in the working drawings, but photographs of the building indicate that the result was not quite as bad as my worries over the matter led me to believe it would be.

   Collection: William Gray Purcell Papers, Northwest Architectural Archives, University of Minnesota [AR:B4d1.7]
research courtesy mark hammons