Historic Structures

Beverly Wilshire Hotel, Beverly Hills California

As the first major hotel to be constructed in the rapidly growing community of Beverly Hills since 1912, the Beverly Wilshire Hotel is representative of the quality of commercial architecture built in the city during its prime period of development. Associated with one of the city's most influential citizens, the hotel was constructed in 1927 for Walter G. McCarty, a real estate developer who once owned a quarter of the city, and was designed by the eminent Southern California architectural firm of Walker and Eisen in the Second Renaissance Revival style. The structure is the most prominent example of this noted firm's work in Beverly Hills. It was one of the first major buildings to be constructed on Wilshire Boulevard, and acted as an anchor for that street's commercial development. From its inception, the hotel has catered to many notables, including film stars, wealLthy business and social luminaries, and visiting royalty. Walter G. McCarty, the founder of the establishment, was instrumental in the development of the southern half of Beverly Hills. To draw attention to the tracts of residential homesites he controlled and to demonstrate his faith in the community's potential for growth and as a desirable destination, he commissioned the firm of Walker and Eisen to create a nine story hostelry on Wilshire Boulevard in the center of the city. Percy Eisen and Albert Walker were among the premier architectural firms in the area. Particularly renowned for their traditional Second Renaissance Revival designs, the pair had been in partnership for eight years when the hotel was commissioned, and would continue until 1941, during that time providing to Los Angeles and its environs buildings of exceptional merit. The Beverly Wilshire is the most famous of their work in hotel design; others in the area are the Hollywood Plaza, the Gaylord Apartment Hotel, and the El Cortez Hotel in San Diego. Significant examples of their commercial work include the California Lutheran Hospital; the Taft Building in Hollywood; Security Title Insurance, Fine Arts/Signal Oil, and California Fruit Growers Exchange in Los Angeles; Bay Cities Guaranty in Santa Monica; and the City Hall, Civic Auditorium, Public Library, and Police Station in Torrance, California. Both Walker and Eisen were natives of California. Percy Eisen gained his training in the office of his father, Theodore; Albert Walker trained at Brown University in Rhode Island before working in the offices of prominent Southern California architects Parkinson and Bergstrum, A.F. Rosenheim, and Hunt and Grey. By 1924, the firm of Walker and Eisen were obtaining a large percentage of the contracts for height-limit buildings in the Los Angeles area, employing over fifty draftsmen. The Beverly Wilshire is a prime example of their work in the area of housing for the tourist trade, an apartment-hotel which provided for all the amenities wealthy travellers had come to expect from a resort facility, yet also contained provisions for extended stays and the privacy of a residence. The conservative design represented a combination of traditional styles, yet a continuity was achieved through the architects' use of well-proportioned spaces and the judicious use of decorative elements. The Beaux Arts tradition appealed to owner McCarty, who imported the finest materials from Europe, including Carrara marble, for use in the execution of Walker and Eisen's design. The design of the hotel exhibits a number of the characteristics associated with the style, including the tripartite composition of the facade, its street level arcade, classical embellishment, and use of terra cotta. The construction was supervised by the William Simpson Company. Interior decoration was done by noted muralist and designer Anthony B. Heinsbergen. Furnishings were from Barker Brothers, a Southern California furniture dealer who dominated the market in the 1920s.

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New Albany Hotel, Albany Georgia

The New Albany Hotel was one of two major hotels built in Albany during the 1920's. By this time Albany had become the hub of railroad transportation in southwest Georgia, serviced by seven rail lines and over thirty-five trains daily. It was a regional trade center, and these first-class hotels were built to accommodate the tourists, business people and traveling salespeople whose presence in town was stimulated by the railroads. The hotel was a major downtown commercial venture. It was completed in 1925 shortly after the elegant Hotel Gordon opened nearby on Pine Avenue, next to the county courthouse. A hotel had been located on the New Albany Hotel site since before 1886. The owners of the then wood frame New Albany Hotel, spurred on by the competition, determined to build an equally modern and elegant facility. The westerm portion of the old hotel was torn down (the eastern portion remained standing, adjacent to the present building, for many years) and was replaced with the new structure. It featured tubs and shower baths, telephones in every room, hot and cold water and the finest furnishings and other modern conveniences. The hotel also housed several local businesses including offices, shops and restaurants. The cost of the building, $425,000, was the largest amount issued in an Albany building permit during 1925. The hotel was an instant success. With its large restaurant and ballroom it bacame an important center of social life in Albany during the 1920's and 1930's. Sunday dinner in its dining room was an Albany tradition for many years while it remained an elegant hostelry.

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Bridge House - Tifts Hall, Albany Georgia

The Classical-Italianate style Bridge House, built circa 1857 is significant as the only known extant bridge house in Georgia. Once a center of Albany, economically and socially, with its theater - ballroom above the busy agricultural bridge traffic below, the Bridge House now houses the Keenan Auto Parts Company. The Bridge House was built as a result of a dispute between Colonel Nelson Tift and the Baker County Commissioners over the building of Albany's first bridge over the Flint River. Before this bridge was built, travel across the Flint River from Albany was hampered by the use of a hand operated ferry. Colonel Tift, the owner of the ferry, had wanted the County Commissioners to build a bridge on this spot for the town. When they refused to dc so, Tift hired Horace King, a well known black bridge builder of Georgia, to build a bridge that he could run as a business. The Bridge House was built at the same time as a bridge with a tunnel through its ground floor as a collection point for tolls on wagons and horses using the bridge. The charging of a toll was one of Tift's methods of recouping the large sum of money that he had spent in building the bridge and the Bridge House. The citizens of Albany were pleased to finally have a bridge and gladly paid the toll at first; however, the toll soon became a burden. This resentment against Tift and the bridge may have led directly to the burning of the first bridge several years after it was built. A second bridge was soon built on the foundations of the first one and sold to the county for $20,000. However, Tift still owned the land at either end of the bridge and the Bridge House.

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Arcadia Railroad Depot, Arcadia Louisiana

The Vicksburg, Shreveport and Pacific Railroad Depot (1910) is a single story board and batten building located on the railroad corridor of downtown Arcadia. Although there were a few railroad lines constructed in Louisiana prior to the Civil War, railroading did not begin in earnest until about 1880. For example, by 1860 only 335 miles of track had been laid, and by 1880 that figure had not even doubled. But between 1880 and 1910 over 4,000 miles of track were laid. These were the boom years of Louisiana railroading, a period during which railroads competed with, and generally defeated, older forms of transportation such as steamboats. In many ways the railroad remade the state. In choosing major outlines of their routes, railroad officials were governed not by existing settlement patterns, but by their overall plan for continental development. Many new towns were created as a result of railroad expansion. Examples include Crowley, DeRidder, Eunice, and Many, to name just a few. In addition, there were cases like Arcadia where existing towns relocated to be near the railroad. Moreover, it is certain that the rice boom and the lumber boom, which were so important to the economy of Louisiana, would not have been possible without a well developed railroad network. In the late nineteenth century railroads were as much desired as interstate highways were in the mid-twentieth century. Every small town Chamber of Commerce waited for the great day when the railroad would come. Those towns which were bypassed by the railroad ceased to thrive and ultimately became economic backwaters with small populations.

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Kent Plantation, Alexandria Louisiana

The structure was the second house built by Pierre Baillio II between 1796 and 1800. Records indicate that his father, Pierre I, was a native of France and a soldier in the King f s Army at Natchitoches, where he married in 1743. Pierre II was his eldest son. Young Pierre moved to Point Coupee Parish and at the age of 18 married Magdelain Emelie LaCour in 1791. The wedding is recorded in St. Ann's Catholic Church at Morganza. The couple moved to Rapides Parish about 1793 or 1794. In 1794 he was given a land grant of 501 acres north of the present Alexandria and later received five additional land grants for himself and his children totaling approximately 1741 acres. The land grant which apparently covers the site of Kent House is dated 1795, was signed by Baron de Carondelet and is on display at Louisiana State University at Alexandria. Pierre II built one house, then prior to 1800, started another which is the present Kent House. Family tradition relates that Pierre started his slaves on construction of the foundation and left for New Orleans to purchase furnishings. His was delayed, and upon his tardy return, he found the work still continuing. This resulted in the house being unusually high off the ground, but with the local flooding characteristics, it was just as well. This occurred some 12 years before Alexander Fulton was to lay out the town of Alexandria, then known as El Rapide. The house was built from the land itself—clay for the rose colored brick, huge handhewn cypress trunks for the beams, pillars and floors, and deer hair and mud for the bouzillage walls. Construction was by slaves belonging to Pierre. The deep, wide windows were designed with the possibility of fighting hostile Indians in mind. Pierre II died in 1824 and his wife in 1838. They are buried, side by side, in the old and historic Rapides Cemetery across the Red River on the high ground of Pineville.

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