firm active: 1907-1921

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

Navigation :: Home :: Commission List :: Parabiographies
Edward Goetzenberger Residence
Purcell, Feick and Elmslie
Minneapolis, Minnesota  1910

Text by William Gray Purcell
Parabiographies entry, Volume for 1910

Job Date (in Parabiographies): February 7, 1910


Working drawings, March 31, 1910 Draughting: Marion S. Parker; W.G.P.

Abraham Lincoln's "common men of whom God made so many because he liked them best," have been my warmest friends. One of the joys of our architectural life has been the opportunity for contacts with a particular group of these common men--the mechanics of the Building Trades. Something resting in the balance between the demand on intelligence and working with the hands produces a satisfying personality and character.

Ed Goetzenberger was a tinsmith. He did the work on my home, #5, and we got to be such fast friends that he appeared on most of our work and often did the warm air heating when a house warranted my excursions into air conditioning.

Ed was a moose of a man in appearance, with handlebar moustaches and an extra serious deportment. He was proud of his business, his home, and his family, when when he got ready to build his real home, I was "the architect who had to do it."  It was a satisfaction to have gained the confidence and respect of these men, for it proved that my understanding of their trade and craft and my feeling for the materials in which they worked was sound. I respected their world, honored their inanimate friends, the wood, the steel, the glass, in which they worked--and they honored me for it.C. T. Backus, our piano tuner, Building No. 283, let me show him how to spend his savings for a home, and Fritz Carlson, Building No. 335, was a carpenter who wanted me to plan his home when he got married, and I did.

The Goetzenberger house followed logically in the plan trail mapped out by Jones, McCosker, Atkinson and Meyers.

Lady Architect

Mr. Elmslie had no hand in this house. Miss Parker and I, alone, hung over the draughting boards and gave it the best we had and it proved on this house a good best. The house is plain and rather severe, but these types, like the early Colonial houses, provide plain wall surfaces like neutral mounts, against which a gay awning, the flowers and the changing sun and light make atmospheric play of decoration and color, which too much "architecture" seems to disturb. Frank Lloyd Wright, in his earlier work especially, felt that this aspect of Nature's design patterns on the finished building as distinct from architectural composition on the drawing board, and his decoration was localized in window glass or at other focal points, leaving borad walls of smooth plaster upon which the flowers and sunshine could cast their color motives.

World War No. 1 Gets a Result

Ed's young son was a school kid about the place when the house was going up. One day of 1917, Ed told me that the boy had invented some anti-submarine device which had been accepted by the United States Navy and he had been made a minor officer. From this point, he was rapidly advanced and since then he has continued as a high official in the Navy. Thus, from the families of forgotten men arise leaders.


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