firm active: 1907-1921

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Margaret Little residence
Purcell and Elmslie
Berkeley, California   1914

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

Job Date (in Parabiography): [1914]


It was a coincidence that we happened to secure two commissions in San Francisco, and only two, and both built at the same time. Mr. Elmslie went out the summer of 1914, combining a vacation in Yosemite with supervision of the two operations. The Margaret Little House was a charming dwelling on the hills of North Berkeley, looking directly out from the Golden Gate. The first drawings called for too costly a project, and we revised it without too much injury to the general scheme. Looking back on this project and many others, it is evident that the revision of the projects to make them less costly was often both unnecessary and unwise. The young business men would, in the next several years, throw away in general extravagance of living enough margin of cash to beautifully cover the more complete original scheme, and more to the point, they would have found themselves in the end possessed of a building which would have had a much better equity value for emergency sale. There was a tendency to apply the bargaining principles of business of the creation of something which was not "on the other side of the table" but was to be one's own implement of beautiful living. In this instance, the history of the family and its fortunes, their subsequent move and purchase of a more expensive house in Palo Alto, all indicated that the original scheme could have been built and financed very comfortably. The house follows the general feeling of the Crane gardener's cottage and Congregational parsonage at Eau Claire, but with a certain poetic quality of its own. The interior and arrangement throughout was highly satisfying.

Along about 1925, the new owners built a new living room to the west, an addition which, I understand, was carried out with not much feeling. [Annotation on draft: How wrong a statement of this kind can be!] [See below]

[Annotation on draft by WGP: This extensive addition more than doubling the size was a perfect solution - at least outside - I have not had a report on the inside. The [-illegible ] communication is wholly retained - color - detail - relation to site, etc., etc. This is one of the best preserved and reserved of all our little dwellings.]


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