“an enormously successful architectural work,” 1935

Here’s something from deep down in my laptop, a letter from Ralph Adams Cram to William Ward Watkin that I found ages ago in Ray Watkin’s papers. I’m not completely certain what book he’s referring to and am a bit haunted by the thought that there are some great photographs floating around somewhere that I haven’t found:

Much of the time we just don’t pay attention to it and sometimes I get aggravated that people keep taking the exact same picture over and over but there’s no denying that Cram is right about this. It’s really a smashing success of a building:


Bonus: We’ve got a skeleton crew working in the Woodson and I was able to go in for a while this afternoon. Campus is still extremely quiet, but I did run across two young women who came to have their pictures taken, the first to celebrate her graduation from Elkins High School, the second her quinceañera. They lifted my spirits.

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3 Responses to “an enormously successful architectural work,” 1935

  1. William Watson says:

    This appears to have been it, reviewed in the New York Times:
    Ralph Adams Cram’s Gothic Ideal; “My Life in Architecture” Is the Autobiography of a Man Whose Influence Is Widely Reflected in America’s Buildings MY LIFE IN ARCHITECTURE. By Ralph Adams Cram. 325 pp. Boston: Little, Brown & Co. $3.50. Ralph Adams Cram’s Gothic Ideal

    The review fills more than half a page of The Times.

    There’s a copy in the Woodson:

    He evidently is a popular subject of books:
    Ralph Adams Cram: An Architect’s Four Quests Hardcover – August 10, 2005, $107

    This looks like a modern book on Cram, from 2007:
    The Architecture of Ralph Adams Cram and His Office, $60.00

    The Architecture of Ralph Adams Cram and His Office by Ethan Anthony; Published by WW Norton, New York; 2007. 256 pages.

    Contents include 39 page biography of Cram, 320 Photographs and drawings from the firm files and a catalog of his work. A personal inscription by author on request.

    Oh, but that’s available from Amazon for $39:

    • almadenmike says:

      That’s the book that Cram wrote. But it’s not the “charming little book” that Watkin apparently sent Cram, as mentioned in the May 8 letter that Melissa posted above.

      Here’s a link to an April 15 letter that Cram wrote to Watkin, asking for a photo “looking west” of “the central tower with its great arch” of “the first of our buildings for the Rice Institute” (i.e. what we now call Lovett Hall): https://scholarship.rice.edu/bitstream/handle/1911/12405/document.pdf

      Perhaps some archive somewhere has a copy of Watkin’s letter to Cram that might identify the “charming little book” that Watkin sent to Cram.

      BTW, I searched the text and index of Stephen Fox’s 1980 publication, “The General Plan of the William M. Rice Institute and Its Architectural Development” (Architecture at Rice/Monograph 29 — https://scholarship.rice.edu/bitstream/handle/1911/35961/generalplanofwil00foxs.pdf) for mention of anything published on or shortly before 1935 that might contain photos of Rice that might match the “charming little book”. I didn’t find anything. But maybe my search was too limited.

      (I did find, however, this note that relates to the debate regarding the similarity our Lovett Hall to USC’s Doheny Library (completed in 1932), which Cram’s firm designed in collaboration with Samuel E. Lunden): “353. “The Edward Doheny, Jr. Memorial Library,” Architecture, 72 (October 1935), p. 187. A note in the CF Drawings Log indicates that elevation drawings of the administration building were sent by Cram and Ferguson to Samuel E. Lunden in December 1930.”)

      • Neil S. says:

        It’s possible that what Watkin sent was a local civic league or chamber of commerce-style viewbook of Houston showing the latest progress in the city, including multiple photographs of the campus plantings.

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