firm active: 1907-1921
minneapolis, minnesota :: chicago, illinois
Note describing Ralph B. Pelton
William Gray Purcell, circa 1950s
RALPH B. PELTON FORMED his first contact with the new firm as contractor for the Gallaher house at the far end of Lake Minnetonka. He was a well educated man of most charming natural manner; seemed a gentleman born, without pretense, and since he was a very able craftsman in wood, a jeweler in fact, he represented a good example of William Morris' builder of the Democratic Future of Man.
We liked each other from the first and since this dwelling was his first contact with the new world in architecture, extensive accounts of Sullivan's work were in order. This all met his idea of the world. Our friendship continued until his death around 1930. I last saw him the summer of 1925, he looking very ruddy and fit, with a mop of curly white hair and dignified but genial deportment.
He built the mahogany lamp for 2328 Lake Place, now in the possession of David Gebhard, and a number of beautiful mahogany photograph cases. This work was all carried out with precision and a perfection far beyond the call of any contract. His charges bore no relation to the time spent - as I recall, $60 for the lamp and $6 for the cases. Hand dovetailed they were - the last of this art I have met with. I should say he could not have made 50 cents an hour on these jobs - just worked for the love of it.
He was a bachelor. One of the few friends I never seem to have photographed. I wish now I might have seen more of him other than our operations contacts and when he came to the office for his certificates, smiling and pleasant, all hands glad to see him. In 1955 Strauel was unable to locate any family relations or even friends who knew him. So we do honor here in our record for an extrovert of character, a contributing citizen, now passed from recorded life as a summer rain.