firm active: 1907-1921

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Duplex House for Harry Blair, project
Purcell, Feick and Elmslie
Winona, Minnesota  910

Text by William Gray Purcell
Parabiographies entry, Volume for 1910

Job Date (in Parabiographies): December 20, 1909

Harry Blair, Winona

Sketches for a double house

In the manufacture of malt out of barley before the machine age, the wet barley was spread out on the floor of a damp, dark room to sprout, and was turned over several times be very skilful men with wooden snow shovels. My father found a bright young fellow among these malt shovelers to whom he took a great fancy.  His name was Harry Blair. He put him in the office, and from there, through all the experiences of selling, manufacture, and executive direction. He became plant manager, and president of the Winona Malting Company, at Winona, Minnesota, then a director, and later vice-president of the Merchant's Bank of that city. He liked me because I was like my father, and it was his friendship that in 1912 secured for us the commission to do the Merchants' Bank.


Mr. Blair was a small town potentate, and enjoyed his life there. His wife did not, and wanted to move to the city. In December, 1909, Harry asked us to design a nice double house for his and make it as convenient and labor-saving for housekeeping as possible, in the hope of making Mrs. Blair happy and contented in Winona.

Mrs. Blair was domestic politician enough to realize that if she let a house be built, she would be anchored in Winona forever, so she turned a cold shoulder on our beautiful drawings, and shortly after the World War Mr. and Mrs. Blair compromised by moving to Minneapolis, where Harry for thirty years has been rattling around like a restless pea in a cardboard box, and thinking about the grand old days in Winona.


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