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Minnesota State Art Commission
Brick and Tile Competition
Purcell and Elmslie

Parabiographies entry, Volume for 1910
Text by William Gray Purcell
for 1914

Job Date (in Parabiography): January 16, 1914

State Art Commission

This was a competition by the Minnesota State Art Society for a model house for a single family with two children. Hundreds of designs were submitted, all followed the conventional little Colonial or English type of architectural design with closed plans. There was no serious attempt to solve the low cost problem either in construction or household economics.

Whether we solved either of the factors is questionable, but at any rate, we made on of the very first serious attempts to do so. We certainly pointed the way definitely to one solution of which there have been many current examples.  We set up the [form] organism [?] which I afterward built with very slight modifications for my own home during World War I at Moylan-Rose Valley, a suburb of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Since 1919 and to this day Mr. and Mrs. Errol White have owned the house. It is known as Blue Gate, on Possum Hole Road.

Briefly, my thesis was a single room with the heat unit in the cetner to conserve every calorie, the food preparation department being simple a screened area in one corner behind thew chimney, and the bathroom an enclosed part of the other corner - enclosed in such a way that the walls were not too obvious as an enclosure.

An unusually large store room, about 10 x 12 with banks of shelf storage, built in files and cupboards, provided the combined functions of attic and basement.

Sleeping accomodations for four adults and two children were provided by "in-a-door" beds, which had just been patented and had appeared on the market for the first time in 1913.

The best idea of our solution can be had by an examination of the competition drawings, and those made for the Rose Valley bungalow.

It is, of course, hardly necessary to say that our radical solution, which would seem perfectly at home in any architectural competition today, received no consideration whatever from the jury at that time.


   Collection: William Gray Purcell Papers, Northwest Architectural Archives, University of Minnesota [AR:B4d1.8]
research courtesy mark hammons