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John H. Adair residence
Purcell and Elmslie
Owatonna, Minnesota  1913

Text by William Gray Purcell
Parabiographies entry, Volume for 1910

Job Date (in Parabiography): September 26, 1913


George Elmslie made an excellent drawing for this house but was way out of line in cost. When preliminary estimates were completed, George was in Chicago and unavailable for the necessary conferences of restudy. So, Miss Parker and I got busy on this project and developed a wholly new design.  One can see how I was always yearning for buildings with tall teep roofs and turned to that form whenever the occasion offered.  When I came to design Backus, our building 283, one with a flat and one with a tall, steep, wedgy roof, and have him his choice. Much to my surprise he chose the flat roof design. His wife didn't like the idea of bedrooms "with a corner cut off". But we had planned to do better than that and give the rooms an interesting un-cubic space form with higher than ordinary room ceilings - peaked ceilings, and so on.

I like that Adair house. Its only fault is one that constantly plagued me. The entrance hall is too tight. Even a couple of feet more at this critical point would have saved these plans and not added a dollar to construction costs, but there was always the terrific pressure from the clients who were demanding more general living space and more equipment than their funds would cover.

Mrs. Adair died within a year of the completion of the house, and the old doctor lived there for some years with his two daughters.

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