December 11, 2014

Donald Barthelme Sr., Architectural Drawings and Photographs Now Available in UHDL

We are pleased to announce the Donald Barthelme Sr., Architectural Drawings and Photographs collection is now available in the UH Digital Library!

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 Adams Petroleum Company 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 UH Libraries’ Special Collections in the Donald Barthelme, Sr. Architectural Papers. Many thanks to all those who helped make this digital collection possible. Make sure to check out our other collections here at the UH Digital Library.

November 18, 2014

Selections from the Franzheim Rare Books Room Now Available in UHDL

We are pleased to announce the ongoing project Selections from the Franzheim Rare Books Room is now available in the UH Digital Library!

This digital collection presents examples of notable works housed in the University of Houston’s Kenneth Franzheim II Rare Books Room.

The room contains approximately 1000 rare or unique books, journals, and pamphlets on fine art and design. Highlights of the collection include portfolios of building types, architectural product catalogs, and first editions of some of the 20th century’s greatest books on art and architecture.

The books in the collection date from the mid-16th century to artists’ books published in the 21st century. The Kenneth Franzheim II Rare Books Room is located within the William R. Jenkins Architecture and Art Library on the first floor of the College of Architecture.

This collection is expected to grow over the coming months and years, so please check back occasionally to discover newly added volumes! Many thanks to all those who helped make this digital collection possible. Make sure to check out our other exciting collections here at the UH Digital Library.

October 30, 2014

The Cullen Legacy

Everywhere on campus the name "Cullen" is plastered everywhere, whether it's a street, building, or college.  Who was Cullen and why can it be seen everywhere at the University of Houston?  Cullen is the last name of Hugh Roy who was one of the main oilman during the Texas Oil Boom era of the early 20th century.  He lent a major hand in industrializing Houston and contributed to making the Houston area home to the greatest concentration of refineries and petrochemical plants in the U.S.

After his first big gusher in the Pierce Junction oil field, he encountered several failed attempts.  So he decided to drill deeper into the ground in order to capture the oil-rich sands, known as the Frio sands.  As a result of this endeavor, oil gushed out and cemented Cullen as a respectable oilman.  Later on he ran West's Western Production Company with his partner, Jim West, a highly successful Texas lumberman.  Through this company he was able to add to his fortune by successfully extracting oil in the Blue Ridge dome and Humble Field.
In 1938, Hugh and his wife, Lillie Cranz Cullen, made a contribution to build the Roy Gustav Cullen Building.  It was named after their son who had died in an oil field accident.  He later served as a Chairman of the Board of Regents for the university and donated over $11 million to UH through The Cullen Foundation.

To check out more images of Mr. Cullen, look through our University of Houston People Collection provided by the UH Digital Library.

September 4, 2014

USS Houston (CA-30) Photographs Now Available in UHDL

We are pleased to announce USS Houston (CA-30) Photographs is now available in the UH Digital Library!

The heavy cruiser USS Houston (CA-30) traveled the world during peacetime, served as flagship of the Asiatic Fleet during World War II, and was tragically sunk by the Imperial Japanese Navy during the Battle of Sunda Strait. More than 350 black and white photographs from the 1920s to the 1940s tell the incredible story of the Houston and her crew.

Named for the city of Houston, the USS Houston (CA-30) was launched in 1929 in Newport News, Virginia, a celebratory occasion well-represented in the collection. Many photographs depict the new Northampton class cruiser in various ports or at sea during early cruises, including visits to the Houston Ship Channel. Other photographs capture individual officers and crew members and depict life aboard the ship.

The ship’s most famous passenger was President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who took four cruises on the Houston during his presidency to relax and enjoy deep sea fishing. Photographs in the collection show Roosevelt fishing from a smaller vessel, even catching a shark. In 1942, following the United States’ entry into World War II, the Houston became part of the multi-national American-British-Dutch-Australian (ABDA) force in the Pacific. Led by the able Captain Albert H. Rooks, Houston participated in the Battle of Makassar Strait and the Battle of the Java Sea before being sunk. Due to the wartime need for secrecy, only a few photographs exist from this period.

Of the 1068 crew members on the Houston when it was sunk, 368 survived and became prisoners of the Japanese. Many were forced to work building the Burma-Thai Railway, 79 more dying in the process. Photographs document the POW camps, the deplorable conditions endured by the POWs, and the evacuation of POWs at the end of the war in August 1945.

The original materials are available in UH Libraries Special Collections in the Cruiser Houston Collection. Many thanks to all those who helped make this digital collection possible. You can find this and our many other collections here at the UH Digital Library!