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Hotel room: Park Hyatt, Seoul
Image by Bobbie
I spend quite a lot of time in hotel rooms. This is one of my favourites; not big, but well designed and cleverly organised (with a lovely bathroom). The desk by the window didn’t have any internet ports, though (boo).
1917? Cram & Ferguson – Plan for Cleveland Sewall House, Owner’s Bath #1
Image by blacque_jacques
Watercolor on linen paper, 36 x 25 cm (14-3/16 x 9-13/16 in)
This is an architectural drawing I found at the Noordermarkt flea market here in Amsterdam for €2,50.
What’s so special about it? Well, the architecture firm, Cram and Ferguson, based in Boston, designed the original buildings of Rice University. I graduated from there in 1985. I recognized the name (a descendant of one of the founders was in my graduating class) and then the color scheme.
Cleveland Sewall, or William Cleveland Sewall (1881-1942), was the son of a successful Houston wholesale grocer. His wife, Blanche (1889-1973), nee Harding, of Fort Worth, studied art at the Rice Institiute in 1917. She was impressed by the Mediterranean style of the Rice campus, so the Sewalls engaged Cram and Ferguson to build their new house, on 3452 Inwood Drive, in River Oaks. The house is still standing. After Cleveland Sewall died, Blanche donated funds to build Sewall Hall (completed 1971). I took a sociology elective under Dr. Stephen Klineberg there.
According to campus legend, Sewall’s "gay" ghost wanders about, accompanied by his little dog Muffy. This sounds like it was lifted from "Funky Phantom," a Hanna-Barbera cartoon that aired about the time Sewall Hall opened. But it seems to fuel rumors that Sewall was gay (the couple had no children). One blog poster thought Sewall had designed the first gay Confederate flag (!!).
So how did the drawing wind up in Amsterdam? I found it in a pile of drawings and other papers belonging to Herman Krikhaar (1930-2010), a Dutch gallery owner and artist. Krikhaar’s grandfather, it turned out, had worked for Cram and Ferguson, now HDB.
Google yielded the catalog of Blanche Harding Sewall’s papers at Fondren Library, at Rice. The catalog lists 170 architectural drawings for the Sewall House, built in the Spanish Revival style and completed in 1926. The house is still standing, having been put on a list of heritage sites in 1979 (Houston? Heritage? 1979?). This drawing is not listed in the catalog.
There’s a rubber stamp, lower right, saying "Property of E. Stanley Wires Co." with an address in Boylston, Massachusetts. The company specialized in tiles, which is logical enough for a bathroom design. E. Stanley Wires.
A problematic detail in the drawing is "1917" written in an unknown hand above right. The drawing is otherwise undated. I gave it an arbitrary of 1926, when the house was completed. 1917 would be years too early for the drawings commissioned for the house (1923-1926). Is it for the Sewalls’ previous residence in Houston? They were married in Fort Worth (Blanche’s home town) in 1910, and moved to Houston that year.
Whoever owns the house now or anyone who has seen the master bathroom, asssuming it hasn’t been remodeled since, could settle the question easily.