Lillian Peek Home Economics Building

home economics building 2entrance detailIn 1933, the state of Texas sent Lillian Peek, the state supervisor of home economics, to seek a site for a new home economics program.  She selected Mineral Wells, a community located not far from Fort Worth, in rural Palo Pinto county.  Originally intended to be located in a former school building, the city instead decided to demolish the old school and build the first free-standing house built for home economics educators in Texas.

The building was constructed of native stone.  The WPA, led by contractor W. W. Brassel, worked one day for pay and one day for free to complete the building for occupancy on February 21, 1934.  The “semi-Georgian” style cottage was designed by architect A. Howell, and cost $11,200, with additional cost for the furnishings of just over $2,000.  The cottage contained a foods laboratory (kitchen with 6 units), clothing laboratory (containing sewing machines), living and dining room with rustic faux fireplace, bedroom, bathroom, and terrace. (“Lillian Peek homemaking building finished in 1934″, February 12, 2013, Mountaineer Heritage Park Blog)

The 50 Year Club of Mineral Wells is working on restoration and renovation of the building, and it has been partially completed.  Both current and historic images and updates can be seen at their blog, Mountaineer Heritage Park Blog.

Sources: “Creative Arts Center on Sunday’s Zonta Tour,” December 1, 2006,; Judith Richards Shubert digitized photographs from 1934, 1935, and 1939 Mineral Wells High School Burros yearbook and minutes from the October 1935 school board, retrieved from; Living Room in Home Econmics., Photograph, n.d.; ( : accessed November 13, 2014), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History,; crediting Boyce Ditto Public Library, Mineral Wells, Texas.

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1913 Mineral Wells High School

Mineral Wells High SchoolIn 1913, the city of Mineral Wells voted a bond issue to build a new high school.  Architect Cornelius Granbery Lancaster designed the building (Beil, 2010) with its “Mission Revival style parapets and polychromatic brickwork along the roofline” (Texas Historical Commission State Marker).  Contractor J. S. Murphy completed it in 1914, and the first class graduated 1915.  The last high school graduating class was 1953; it remained in use first as a junior high, and then as an elementary school until 1973.  Renovation began in 2001 for use as a community center (Texas Historical Commission).

Side and rear elevationAccording to the Old Mineral Wells High School Foundation (, the building is undergoing restoration one room at a time.  Two rooms have been completed, one which contain a history of the school from 1913 through 1953, and one which is a restoration of a room to circa 1950s.  Several educational exhibits were planned for 2014.  The 250-seat auditorium is ready for renovation.

I confess to feeling a nostalgia for small towns, and the desire to be part of such an activity.  I can actually visualize a committed group of town-folk being able to tackle one room at a time until the building is complete–a task far more doable when a building is still structurally sound and the roof hasn’t leaked or caved.  Whatever Mineral Wells did to keep this building viable since its was put out to pasture in 1973, they deserve credit.  Perhaps on the next trip by this building, the doors will be open for a visit.

Beil, G. K. (uploaded June 15, 2010). Lancaster, Cornelius Granbery. Handbook of Texas Online. Texas State Historical Association.

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Tampa City Hall

Old City Hall 2The Eclectic style old City Hall of Tampa was designed by M. Leo Elliott and B. C. Bonfoey and constructed in 1915 by McGucken and Hyer contractors.  The drawings for the city hall were completed in 1914 by H. G. Perring Engineering Company.  The tower is seven stories, including the two in the bell and clock tower.

The clock is known as “Hortense the Beautiful” after the young girl who spearheaded the fundraising drive to purchase a clock.  Cost of construction was $235,000.  A twin annex of the first three floors was added in 1916 to serve as the police station.  That annex has been demolished, as have other early buildings that were near by. OCH painting


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Tampa Municipal Building

Municipal BuildingThe brutalist Tampa Municipal Building was constructed when the City Hall would no longer contain the necessary records due to Tampa’s growth.  I have done my due diligence in searching for information about the building, and maybe it is because brutalist architecture is just not much loved among some, but there is nothing I can locate other than a brief mention.  I was excited to locate a blog that included a photograph, and yet, the only comment about the building was “And then there was this ‘Municipal Building.’  On the other side, nestled in the rear corner of the concrete fortress, I found one of the few old buildings in the city” and then the author moves right past and further down the street.MB side elevationAn architectural walking tour for downtown mentions buildings all around this one, but nary a remark about it.  I have always liked fortresses and castles, so perhaps it is just natural that now I have come to see brutalist architecture as a thing of beauty in its massive form, that I would come to embrace this modern concept of the fortress.

I am in awe of the power it evokes, and the sense of protection it offers at the same moment.

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Macon Masonic Temple

Masonic TempleLess elaborate than Penn Jeffries Krouse’s Masonic Temple in Lexington, nonetheless, this stand alone building has some pleasing qualities to me.  Like many of the temples, it held retail space on the lower floor, and meeting space on the upper level.  In particular, I like the 3-brick basket weave pattern, set on an angle, over the upper windows.  I surmise the center door was the entrance to the stairs.  Take a closer look at the details of the front elevation:

front elevation closeFrom the National Register of Historic Places nomination form for the Macon Historic District,

…symmetrical building…giving a strong vertical emphasis, three engaged piers rise to the top of the parapet, one on the north and south corners, with one in the center of the building. Tablets placed between the piers and below, the second floor windows are accented with decorative brickwork in a round arch design anchoring the vertical block….most fenestration is steel projecting or “hopper window” type…(E. Pauline Barrow, 2001)

Constructed in 1929 by builder B. H. Cline, and designed by architect F. A. Livingston of Louisville, the retail floor offers “Hot Fashions” so get get some “Quality for Less” next time you are in Macon.

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Masonic Temple, Lexington

Masonic TempleThe former Masonic Temple Lodge # 24 on 126 Court Square was designed by architect Penn Jeffries Krouse, and completed in 1910 (Mississippi Department of Archives and History, Historic Resources Inventory).  Jennifer V. O. Baughn described the building in the nomination form for the Lexington Historic District, National Register of Historic Places, 2000:

…red and brown brick…flat roof and slightly stepped parapet capped with concrete…lost original pressed metal cornice (eastern and southern facades)…first floor pressed metal cornice with heavy brackets…

side elevation…features three round-arched, tripartite windows, with arches resting on pilasters topped by acanthus-leaf capitals and inset Masonic symbol…

I have no idea what is going on with those first floor bricked up areas.  The three to the right of the entrance feature the same type of brick as the building, but the ones to the left and the far right are different.  The ones to the left are larger also, and almost seem like garage bays.window detailBut just look at the detail in the arches as described above!

A circa 1970 Masonic Lodge # 24, F&AM, was constructed on Vine Street.  I had to laugh out loud at the description from the MDAH/HRI database in Comments and Notes:

A wretchedly dull, thoroughly graceless one-story, slab-on-grade brick box, typical of the ugly meeting halls erected by small-town Masonic lodges since the 1940s.

Masonic HallI had to see what could cause such utter contempt, so I took a Google map drive down Vine Street.  I am going to have to agree with the graceless brick box, but then, I guess a meeting hall is supposed to be just that–a meeting hall.  Certainly, Penn Jeffries Krouse’s building on Court Square, even in its slightly dilapidated-looking state, retains the grandeur of past architecture.

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Carnegie Library in Okolona

Carnegie Library and labyrynthArchitect John Gaisford of Memphis designed the Carnegie Library in Okolona in 1914.  The building was completed in 1915, with one large room and a full basement that contained four small rooms and two baths (Okolona, Mississippi Carnegie Library).  Carnegie provided $7,500 toward the construction.  An addition in 1986 added a conference room and more shelf space.  It is currently under renovation again.

The “storytelling” labyrinth in the front has interesting symbolic meaning.  You can read the full piece at the link, but I particularly liked the final few words:

The project will hopefully be seen by the community as a landmark of not only something that happened in the past, but of a positive step taken by the townspeople towards an openness concerning the town’s history and the possibility of a united future. (The Carnegie Library Story Labyrinth, retrieved from City of Okolona website)

Gaisford also designed the Como Methodist Church.  The last building before his death in 1918 was the Paramount Theater in Clarksdale. The Paramount was originally named the Marion when it opened in 1918. Its most recent reincarnation was as the Super Soul Shop.Super sould shop Clarksdale

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