This collection highlights the career of Donald Barthelme (1907–1996), the first Houston architect to gain national prominence in the years after World War II. These 57 items illustrate his work through pencil sketches, photographs, and the detailed working drawings used to construct his buildings.
Barthelme first gained attention in 1936 as the lead designer for the Hall of State, the principal building of the Texas Centennial Exposition in Dallas. In 1948 he won an award from the American Institute of Architects for Houston’s St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church, applauded for its simple Scandinavian modern forms. Yet he made his reputation with the West Columbia Elementary School of 1951, which won many awards and was published internationally. Its innovative design departed from the traditional practice of placing classrooms along both sides of a long corridor. Instead, Barthelme arranged the building around two large courtyards; classrooms opened to the courts through floor-to-ceiling glass walls. This flooded the rooms with light while providing a sheltered environment for the students. At the main entrance a flamboyant scalloped canopy greeted visitors.
In addition to the St. Rose and West Columbia buildings, the collection includes Barthelme’s own residence. He built this small modernist house for his family about 1939. The original drawings are lost, but he enlarged it slightly a decade later, and the collection preserves his 1949 drawings for this remodeling.
Of particular interest, and rarely seen, are a few of his studies for the Adams Petroleum Center (1954–58), his largest and most ambitious project. The Ada Oil Company, owned by K.S. "Bud" Adams Jr., wanted to develop its large site as an office park. Barthelme planned to build the complex in four phases, beginning with the client’s own building. He spent hundreds of hours studying different designs for the APC tower and preparing a dramatic aerial view. The company later abandoned the scheme and constructed only a modest building without the tower.
Barthelme helped shaped the look of Houston during its postwar boom. Today only the church buildings still stand, but the West Columbia school district has preserved his entrance canopy at the original site of the elementary school.
Several of Barthelme’s children became prominent writers, and the works of his eldest son, Donald Barthelme, Jr., are preserved in the Donald Barthelme Literary Papers.
The original materials are available in the UH Libraries Special Collections in the Donald Barthelme, Sr. Architectural Papers.
This digital collection features fascinating photographs of early 20th century India under British rule. The 217 black and white photographs come from a rare book called India Illustrated: Being a Collection of Pictures of the Cities of Bombay, Calcutta and Madras, Together with a Selection of the Most Interesting Buildings and Scenes throughout India. The book was published by Bennett, Coleman, & Co., publishers of the English language newspaper Times of India, around the year 1905.
Complete with captions and descriptions taken directly from the book, the images capture the full scope of India’s scenery: from cities to farmland; from rivers and beaches to jungles and mountains; from crowded streets to idyllic countryside; from Western-style cathedrals to elaborate Indian temples. Of particular interest are photographs of the majestic Taj Mahal and the historic Chepauk Palace, which was constructed in the mid-1700s. A handful of the photographs are set in the cities of Lahore and Karachi, in what is now Pakistan.
Hallmarks of British colonialism are evident in images of the Madras Cricket Club, the Royal Bombay Yacht Club, the Adyar Club for golf and tennis, the Gymkhana Club, which hosted polo matches, and a top-coated huntsman leading a pack of hounds on a fox hunt.
The collection also shows villagers engaged in a variety of daily activities, such as fishing, basket-weaving, harvesting the fields, and washing clothes on riverbanks.
The original materials are available in UH Libraries’ Special Collections in India Illustrated: Being a Collection of Pictures of the Cities of Bombay, Calcutta and Madras, Together with a Selection of the Most Interesting Buildings and Scenes throughout India.
Significant to the architectural history of Houston was the work of architect Kenneth Franzheim (1890–1959). The Kenneth Franzheim Collection is comprised of photographs and architectural drawings and models of Franzheim’s work. In addition to Houston landmarks such as the Foley’s Building and the Gulf Building, the collection surveys a broad range of works; included are corporate offices, high-rise apartments, theaters, private residences, airport facilities and others. Beyond Houston, the works contained herein were built and/or proposed for a variety of locales within and outside Texas. Represented are Franzheim’s contributions to the architectural landscapes of New York, Boston, Chicago and elsewhere. The collection’s images comprise the collected works of Franzheim as they appear in three self-published volumes: Kenneth Franzheim, Architect, New York City (1940), Drawings and Models of Some of the Recent Work of Kenneth Franzheim, Architect, Together with Sketches of a Few Proposed Buildings (1952ca) and Drawings and Models of Some of the Recent Work of Kenneth Franzheim, Architect, Together with Sketches of a Few Proposed Buildings (1960).
Through his early drawings, this digital collection captures architect Lucian Hood’s eye for detail and exemplifies his artistry and graphic skills. These drawings, done before architects were aided by AutoCAD and other drafting software, embody the craftsmanship and sense of detail from a bygone era. In all, the collection contains 116 drawings done by hand in pencil. The drawings include floor plans, interior and exterior elevations, foundations, and plots.
Many of the drawings are from Hood’s early work on residential homes, which are representative of the architectural trends and influences of the early 1960s. These homes, located throughout the Houston neighborhoods of River Oaks, Tanglewood, and Memorial, are highly sought after in the marketplace, and owners are often interested in the original drawings in order to restore the homes to their original specifications.
Hood was a 1952 graduate of the University of Houston who studied under Donald Barthelme. He was one of Houston’s early modernist architects and his work was in great demand for more than 40 years, from the 1950s through the 1990s.
From the Kenneth Franzheim II Rare Books Room at the University of Houston’s William R. Jenkins Architecture and Art Library comes Moderner Volkskunst Zierat (Modern Folk Art Ornaments). This undated German volume features 18 vivid color plates. Designed for use as templates in the decoration of household items (furniture, ceramic ware, and the like), these bold, ornamental motifs offer a unique glimpse of the vernacular aesthetic found in early twentieth-century German home décor.
SEM (1863–1934), né Georges Goursat, was a French illustrator and caricaturist who rose to fame during the Belle Époque. The Digital Library’s SEM Collection is comprised of four volumes from the UH Architecture and Art Library’s Kenneth Franzheim II Rare Books Room. Le Vrai & le Faux Chic (1914), White Bottoms (ca. 1920), the self-titled SEM (ca. 1920) and Le Nouveau Monde (1925) affectionately and mercilessly document the Parisian high society of a bygone era, and showcase the wild and whimsical work of SEM.
This collection of 114 images from three books provides a view of life in the Middle East during the nineteenth century through colored and tinted sketches of the people and places of Afghanistan, Constantinople, and Jerusalem. The digital collection also includes pages of printed text highlighting descriptive passages about these areas.
Of great artistic and historical interest, these illustrations have been culled from three rare books held by the University of Houston Libraries’ Special Collections: Sketches in Afghaunistan (1842), by James Atkinson; Lewis's Illustrations of Constantinople (approximately 1837), by John Frederick Lewis; and Sinai and Jerusalem; or, Scenes from Bible Lands (1870), by F.W. Holland.
During this time period, Afghanistan found itself in the middle of the British-Russian conflict known as the “Great Game,” and James Atkinson’s sketches depict troop movements and scenes of conflict amid the country’s rugged landscape.
The drawings by Royal Academy of Arts Associate John Frederick Lewis and the colorful illustrations by F.W. Holland capture a time when Constantinople and Jerusalem were part of the declining Ottoman Empire. The works offer a glimpse into the everyday lives of residents, as well as the regions’ natural beauty, ancient ruins, mosques, and other buildings.
The original materials are available in UH Libraries’ Special Collections.
The Park People hosted Annual Awards Dinners to honor the efforts of organizations and individuals who shared a mission. This collection includes invitations for events held from 1992 to 2005 that reflect the mission championed by The Park People: to preserve and expand green space in Houston. Because the awards event began as a simple affair in 1981 without formal invitations, a summary is included that lists awardees through 1990.
The Park People emerged in 1978 as an organization devoted to advocacy for parks and green space in the Houston area. Following the environmental protest organizations of the 1960s, The Park People became a model for collaboration and cooperation by inviting government, business interests, non-profit organizations, and private citizens to join the effort to preserve and expand Houston’s green spaces.
The Park People relied on multiple avenues of community outreach to carry their message and expand support, and the awards ceremony became an anticipated avenue of outreach. An innovation in 1981, the awards event grew into a gala affair welcomed by those who spearheaded community-wide efforts to promote parks and green space.
From the 1992 event that heralded publication of Sarah Emmott’s Memorial Park: A Priceless Legacy to introduction of the Green Tie Affair concept in 1996, these creative invitations reflect not only The Park People’s success but also the spirit of woodsy and easy elegance that characterized the organization.