firm active: 1907-1921

minneapolis, minnesota :: chicago, illinois
philadelphia, pennsylvania :: portland, oregon

Navigation :: Home :: Commission List :: Parabiographies
Mrs. H. H. Bell residence, alterations
Purcell, Feick and Elmslie
Minneapolis, Minnesota  910

Text by William Gray Purcell
Parabiographies entry, Volume for 1910

Job Date (in Parabiographies): December 1, 1909

MRS. H. H. BELL, 3325 Second Avenue

This was a "sun-parlor" addition, in the rear of a large barn of a house, with a glassed-in sleeping porch above. George Feick handled the whole work from start to finish. I looked over his shoulder to make use, articulation, and construction tie into the old house.

Porchless Porches

1908 was the heyday of the sleeping porch. Thousands of them were built. They were added to every existing house from Casco, Maine, to Coronado. They were demanded for every new one. They swept the entire U.S.A., like the "covered-wagon" Automobile-Trailer frenzy of 1936. The whole idea seemed to be sort of outgrowth of the "mission" furniture cult. After Elbert Hubbard, from his Roycroft Olympus, had got people to take the clothes off furniture, they developed a yen to take off their own clothes--or someone else's, but that was a twenty-year job and took a great deal more educating of the public.

Sun Worship

The human form, and its expression in clothes or without them, from Carlyle to bubble dancers, is outside the scope of this record, but [insert from 1939 version of the draft: this paragraph from the "column" I wrote for "The Spectator, Portland, Oregon, over a period of two years, is revealing of the progress which had been made] the gradually shortening skirts of the 1920s focussed (sic) public attention and increased automobile accidents without the necessity for much propaganda. The architecture and engineering of the short skirt did much to condition the nation to legs. Skirts reached their high point, about an inch above the knees, in the spring of 1928, but it was not until the Chicago Fair of 1933-34 that Sally Rand accomplished a complete Roycroft effect for the human body, and the men of the bathing beaches no longer kept their shirts on after 1935. In 1936 Life could publish photographs of unclad ladies entering the surf without disturbing the U.S. males, and the great emancipation caravan, from the Saturday night bath to the bathing beauty that didn't need to be bathing, had accomplished its crusade.

    Collection: William Gray Purcell Papers, Northwest Architectural Archives, University of Minnesota [AR:B4d1.4]
research courtesy mark hammons