More Casa Ricardo by Architect, Louis S. Curtiss

Some people may say I am obsessed, but I cannot get enough of the Casa Ricardo Hotel in Kingsville Texas by Kansas City Architect, Louis S. Curtiss. I dug a little deeper online and found some very old photos of the building.
View from the top of a train looking back at the Casa Ricardo entry gates and the courtyard of the hotel.

View from the Casa Ricardo Hotel balcony back towards the in-hotel, Harvey House Restaurant. You have to love the quintessential Louis Curtiss detailing of the ironwork in this photo.

View from the Casa Ricardo back to the hotel entry gate and the waiting train with the Kings Inn Theatre in the distance. The hipped roof train station, built in 1904 by the Saint Louis, Brownsville & Mexico Railroad is visible to the right just beyond the train. This is the present location of the Louis S. Curtiss Mystery Urns.

Casa Ricardo Hotel with soldiers circa World War I.

Casa Ricardo Hotel in the 1910's or 1920's judging from the Model T Ford.

Casa Ricardo Hotel by Architect, Louis S. Curtiss in Kingsville, Texas

I was able to find a few additional postcard images of various vintages of the Casa Ricardo Hotel by Louis S. Curtiss on the internet. I also found this online mention by KCMODERN friend, Cydney E. Millstein of the Hotel in this application to the United States Department of the Interior, National Park Service, applying for the National Register of Historic Places.

In 1911-1912, Curtiss undertook a number of projects for the St. Louis, Brownsville and Mexico Railroad in the new town of Kingsville, Texas. One of these was for a tourist hotel called the Casa Ricardo, to be operated under Fred Harvey management. An L-shaped structure with broad eaves and continuous balconies along the interior of the L, the design was one of Curtiss' finest and set the pattern for the Bernard Corrigan residence on Ward Parkway in Kansas City, built the following year.

Cydney E. Millstein. "The Norman Tromanhauser House," National Register of Historic Places Nomination. August 18, 2000.
I think Cydney is right on target with the parallels between the 1912, Casa Ricardo and the 1913, Corrigan Mansion. I also see some resemblance of the Casa Ricardo end elevations to the work of the Greene brothers of Pasadena and their 1909, Gamble Residence.

This image appears to be from the early 1930's judging from the Model A Fords in the parking lot.

Judging from the cars this one is from the 1940's.

Louis S. Curtiss Mystery Planters at Casa Ricardo Hotel - Kingsville, Texas

Armed with some new search words I began Googling for some images of Casa Ricardo in Kingsville, Texas by Architect, Louis Curtiss. After filtering my results to remove Ricardo Montalban and Ricki Ricardo, I was able to find another Kingsville postcard. This postcard depicted Casa Ricardo fully landscaped in subtropical slendor and embellished with some beautiful planters near the entrance gate. I had finally found the source of the Louis Curtiss Mystery Urns. I bet that they were even more beautiful in person and in there original setting!

More on Louis S. Curtiss in Kingsville, Texas

So... Upon returning from our stay on South Padre Island, Texas, I wanted to look in my book, Stalking Louis Curtiss by Wilda Sandy and Larry K Hanks. I had to see if the St. Louis, Brownsville and Mexico Railroad General Offices in Kingsville, Texas were included in the locally published monograph. Turns out that the St.L.B.&M General Offices project was a Louis Curtiss design and it was not some long lost or forgotten project. There it was on page 59 and it was a black and white image cropped from the exact same photograph that was used in the post card, minus the color tinting. By the way, the building was built in 1911 and if you blow the photo up large enough you can make out FRISCO on the front of the building. Frisco was the railroad that purchased the St.L.B.&M. line.

But the biggest surprise was on page 58, which depicted another Curtiss project in Kingsville, a rendering of a hotel for Fred Harvey of Harvey House fame, called Casa Gertrudis and a construction photograph of the same project renamed, Casa Ricardo.
I was disappointed to read that both the Hotel and the railroad offices were demolished sometime around 1970.

Still, there were no Louis Curtiss mystery urns visible in either image.

More to come....

Architect, Louis S. Curtiss in Kingsville, TX - St.L.B.&M. General Offices

After spending the remaining three hour drive from Kingsville to the southernmost tip of Texas being perplexed by the Louis S. Curtiss Mystery Urns and the brief fuzzy image of a "railroad station" that appeared to be a Curtiss design, I set out to do an internet search on the worlds slowest wireless internet connection from our condo. I was in search of an image of the Kingsville railroad station. After quite a few strategic shuffles of key words, some five minute waits for photo downloads and some google magic, I discovered a postcard image of my quest.

It turns out that the station was not a railroad station at all, but was the headquarters or "general offices" of the St. Louis, Brownsville and Mexico Railroad (St.L.B.&M.) in Kingsville, Texas. This was the only image that I could find on the internet and it definitely was the hand of Kansas City Architectural hero Louis S. Curtiss.

But what about the mystery urns? There were none in the colorized photo postcard. Hmmm...

More to come....

Kingsville, Texas and the Louis S. Curtiss Mystery Urns

On my recent trip to South Texas my father wanted to stop our caravan and visit the King Ranch, which is the largest ranch in the world with over 1 million acres of land. The next two bus tours were full, so we browsed the exhibits and read about the ranch in a small museum that they have on the property. We decided to see a twenty minute film about the King Ranch, the King family, their Santa Gertrudis cattle and Triple Crown winning race horses. Near the end of the film the narrator documents the King family donating the land and platting the new town of Kingsville, Texas to be a new rail hub and headquarters for the St. Louis, Brownsville and Mexico Railroad. Vintage photos were shown of an imposing railway station and headquarters for the fledgling railroad.

EUREKA, I thought that I had found a lost Louis S. Curtiss building! I recognized the structure as a Louis Curtiss building right away. And knowing that Curtiss had designed several railroad stations reinforced my resolve. I immediately asked the Museum personnel for the location of the train station, which they showed me on a city map. We drove there, family caravan in tow, and much to my disappointment there sat a rather conventional brick train station with wide overhangs. Not the building that I had hoped to find.

BUT there was one clue there that mad me think that I was not completely off base. There in front of this rather unremarkable train station sat a series of unusual Prairie Style Urns. Unusual, in that they were vertically proportioned... They were almost in the style of Arts and Crafts, Teco art pottery and very eclectic. Eclectic is the word most often used to describe the work of Louis S. Curtiss. Maybe I was on to something.

More to come....

Louis S. Curtiss or Victor Buetner-"What's the Story on That House?"

At risk is this once fabulous home with pergola gardens. (Photo courtesy of the Missouri Valley Collection) We did a post on this house and with some studied responses like Nate's, it's led us on an adventure of "architectology", just kidding, but seriously trying to get to the root of how this house came about, who designed it, who built it and for whom was it built. Simple enough but it has not turned out that way..."Stalking Louis Curtiss" perhaps the best resource on Curtiss, did not have this house in the book, the author Wilda Sandy, did note that a project for a residence was located at 39th St. and Manheim, KCMO. We have approached numerous people whom we consider scholars on Curtiss about this specific house, also Nate and Anne have kept us informed on their extensive efforts to hopefully prove that this was a Curtiss design. We look forward to having a thorough analysis posted soon, we still can't quite believe that Curtiss was not somehow involved in the design of the house.

Bernard Corrigan Mansion by Louis S. Curtiss, Architect - Modern Illustration - Modern Photo of the Week

Corrigan residence in final constructio stage, 1913, scanned from Stalking Louis Curtiss by Wilda Sandy and Larry K. Hancks

Bernard Corrigan residence 1200 West 55th, Kansas City, Missouri rendering dated June 22, 1912, scanned from Stalking Louis Curtiss by Wilda Sandy and Larry K. Hancks

Since the Frank Loyd Wright Conservancy is coming to town and this is one of the houses that they are touring, I thought that I would add some images from the book Stalking Louis Curtiss by Wilda Sandy and Larry K. Hancks.

Bernard Corrigan Mansion by Louis S. Curtiss, Architect - "What's the Story on That House?"

Construction on the Bernard Corrigan Mansion started in 1913. Corrigan was successful as a building contractor, street railway developer and real estate investor. His company was the builder of the house. He died before it's completion.
After several short ownerships, the Sutherland family (think lumber) bought the home and lived here for a number of years. It is often called the Corrigan-Sutherland house. Located at 55th and Ward Parkway, the house was built on the southern edge of town at the time (the Plaza Shopping District is dated 1922) The black and white photo was taken in 1940.
One of the most architecturally distinctive houses situated on one of the most dominant lots in Kansas City, this Louis Curtiss design is a Tour de Force. Curtiss meshed a number of elements creating at first look, the Prairie Style and Frank Lloyd Wright's work. On closer examination one sees Art Noveau masonry relief, Arts and Crafts ornamentation under a mediterranean tile roof. The art glass windows are remarkable.
This unique home was constructed with long span girders and reinforced concrete, unusual for it's day. The craftsmanship is impeccable. The eclectic mix of elements creates a house of subdued exuberance...truly a masterpiece.
Curtiss was so eclectic...perhaps inspired by Charles R. Mackintosh and Louis Sullivan on the clock and staircase... (recent photos courtesy of Gary Kabrink)