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Rusty_S

Old Blueprints, do they still exist?

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Is there any place to check to obtain copies of old blueprints of buildings?

 

Im looking for two sets of blueprints if possible, first one would be the original of the building in question at 1102 yale St which was built in 1936.  The other blueprint would be for the same building but after it was modified some time in the late 1940`s or the early 1950`s when the property changed hands.

 

Surely something like this should still exist.

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13 hours ago, Rusty_S said:

Is there any place to check to obtain copies of old blueprints of buildings?

 

Im looking for two sets of blueprints if possible, first one would be the original of the building in question at 1102 yale St which was built in 1936.  The other blueprint would be for the same building but after it was modified some time in the late 1940`s or the early 1950`s when the property changed hands.

 

Surely something like this should still exist.

You can check with the Houston Permitting Center, but I don't know if those documents are still available or public.

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2 minutes ago, Ross said:

You can check with the Houston Permitting Center, but I don't know if those documents are still available or public.

 

Thanks for the reply, I sent a email to the texas land commission as I saw on google earth their name was listed on a 1943 and a 1952 aerial photograph of the Houston area that showed this building.  It looks like the dealership took control in 1952 cause the shape of the building has its art deco styling in the dec 1952 aerial photo while the dec 1943 aerial photo shows a square boxy building with none of the art deco styling.

 

I hope that they would have something but I might check with the permitting center.  I really only need dimensions so I can scale everything down.  But if blueprints exist showing the layout of the interior of the building as well post 1952 that would work out great for me as it takes more guess work out on my build.

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Rusty, I'm assuming you are referring to the Russell Ivey automobile dealership from another thread. If you can find who the architect was there might be drawings on file in the Houston Metropolitan Research Center of the Houston Public Library which is in the Julia Ideson Building adjacent to the main library. I was able to find drawings for an automobile dealership on Main Street that is now the Ensemble Theater back when the structure was first altered to become the Ensemble. IIRC the building was originally completed soon after the second World War and was a Mercury dealership but I'm not certain. Memories tend to fade also after 25+ years. :mellow:

 

Most significant buildings or those designed by significant architects could have original prints located in the HMRC. Understand that these are not available for "check out" and some may only be viewed in archived form such as microfiche.

 

You used the term "blueprints" which is exactly what most drawings that were used to construct buildings of that era were. Originals may have been ink on vellum (or even ink on linen in earlier times) but the copies were printed on a relatively light-weight paper using a diazo process. Blueprints, unfortunately, are not very stable and tend to fade or even disintegrate if not stored properly.

 

I wish you good luck in your endeavor. It sounds like a very interesting project.

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2 hours ago, Specwriter said:

Rusty, I'm assuming you are referring to the Russell Ivey automobile dealership from another thread. If you can find who the architect was there might be drawings on file in the Houston Metropolitan Research Center of the Houston Public Library which is in the Julia Ideson Building adjacent to the main library. I was able to find drawings for an automobile dealership on Main Street that is now the Ensemble Theater back when the structure was first altered to become the Ensemble. IIRC the building was originally completed soon after the second World War and was a Mercury dealership but I'm not certain. Memories tend to fade also after 25+ years. :mellow:

 

Most significant buildings or those designed by significant architects could have original prints located in the HMRC. Understand that these are not available for "check out" and some may only be viewed in archived form such as microfiche.

 

You used the term "blueprints" which is exactly what most drawings that were used to construct buildings of that era were. Originals may have been ink on vellum (or even ink on linen in earlier times) but the copies were printed on a relatively light-weight paper using a diazo process. Blueprints, unfortunately, are not very stable and tend to fade or even disintegrate if not stored properly.

 

I wish you good luck in your endeavor. It sounds like a very interesting project.

 

Correct, the Ivy Russell Ford dealership on Yale @ 11th street.

 

I spent about 4 hours last night getting measurements from google earth which I am not fully sure how accurate they are.  blue prints of the building would be more accurate I feel but I don't know if new blueprints were drawn up when the building was renovated into the dealership.

 

The first image attached from Google earth is dated as Dec 31 1943 for the 1944 year period.  To me the building while it was an Henke Pillot grocery store was a rectangular building.

 

The second image attached from google earth is dated as Dec 31 1952 for the 1953 year period and you can clearly see the divot facing Yale street which is part of the art deco styling done to the building.  This tells me that the building was remodeled when it became a dealership.  It also tells me that the huge lot to the north of the building was the actual car lot with the parking at the dealership itself was customer parking.  The divot area I believe was the service department area because the divot where it first curves in is still a glass wall for what I believe to be a show room area.  This leaves the sliver after which is not glassed in to be what I believe is the garage area.  This photo how ever does not help me because I do not know actual dimensions just guestimations of the dimensions.

 

Using the ruler feature the building comes up with 122.67 ft length by 76.33 ft width.  I honestly think its probably 120 ft length by 75 ft width.  Its hard to tell in this grainy photo and I cant really trust clearer new modern photos as there was an addition to the building in the late 70s which made the building longer and makes it hard to tell exactly where the old building existed and where the new addition started at.

 

So for me I do not know if there would be any plans for renovation when the artdeco style treatment was done some time in the late 40`s or very early 50`s.  But if there is dimensions and heights of the building from hits 1936 construction date which is what I found online then the building wasn't enlarged its the same dimensions just the styling was changed.

 

As far as the architect goes I do not know who that would be.

Google Earth Pro 12_25_2018 10_38_35 PM.png

Google Earth Pro 12_25_2018 10_37_29 PM.png

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Project wise this is what I am looking at doing, I am looking at maximizing my space by building only a right trangle of the building omitting areas that are not clear enough in the single photograph that exist.  This allows me in the future to build a modular base to connect with this one to build the rest of the building if new information comes to light to get it right.

 

But it also cuts down on size cause to build that building based off 122.67ft x 76.33ft real world dimensions scaled down to 1/25 scale would put the building at 10.53ft x 5.92ft which would be very hard to find a place to display something that huge.

 

With it chopped down to the bare essentials to preserve all the cool art deco styling and the dealership painted banner and everything I am looking at a base with these rough estimations to be 3.2ft x 2.2ft.

 

Below is a drawing I did in paint, the orange triangle is what I shrunk down to for my 3rd attempt and the final iteration is the orange triangle ending where the pink line is which puts it at 3.2ft x 2.2 ft vs 3.2ft by 3.2ft square.

 

The next image a sat image from google earth from March 3, 2016 which is a fairly clear image that shows quite a bit of detail and what appears to be where the new structure was added on.

 

And below that is the same image but with line drawings showing what I am working with on my idea.  The red line shows the original shape of the art deco styling of the building before the 1970`s addition and the black X is crossing off what wouldn't have existed in my opinion in 1956 when this diorama will be set in.  The blue line represents where I believe the service department started because that divot inwards is the last of the paned glass that I can see in the photo below that.  So I believe everything between the blue and red line to be a service bay area.

 

The yellow right triangle is showing what of the structure would be used on my diorama fitting up along one corner edge.  I would extend the edge outward a bit more past the building to incorporate the divot inwards as that looks to be a glass paned wall as well.  This would make it complicated to add in the service bay at a later date but I believe if I followed with a triangle I might be able to blend it in with the main diorama I want to build but it would be hard considering the weird offset nature of the two bases.  Unless I did something more L shaped but if I did that I would have to find a 1/25 scale F600 truck as I don't want to attempt to try and scratch build a F100 into a F600 truck along with the car hauler trailer.

 

But the orange lines is roughly how I plan to have the diorama laid out maybe extend the bottom a bit out more so the overhang will be contained with in the model as I would be building a case for it when finished.  My main thing is figuring out how to do the show room inside with the huge glass windows, that yellow right triangle wont allow me to put many vehicles inside and I don't know how to terminate the show room without just simply having a huge wall at a right angle.  Wouldn't be so bad if you could just see the cars with everything else being a shadow but I was thinking of doing some LED warm white LED strip lights to emulate over head lighting to illuminate the inside for night time settings.

Untitled - Paint 12_26_2018 2_07_07 AM.png

Google Earth Pro 12_26_2018 2_54_46 PM.png

Diorama 2.0.jpg

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Well I got word back from the Harris County Archives today.  Seems like the whole file for that property has been lost aside from a land valuation card from 1969.  Hopefully my reply email asking how are the property organized, could it be possible it was filed along with what I am finding out right now a main location with a different address.

 

Maybe someone goofed on that at one time.  I always thought though that the downtown location came after they moved from this location here but apparently what I am hearing is they both existed at the same time and this was their small second location doing sales only which makes me wonder what is in those walled off areas surely they cant be all offices.  Seems like way too many offices for such a small dealership with such a small lot selection as evident by the parking along the northern fence in the 1952/53 aerial image.

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Made some more headway.

 

In going from person to person being passed along I finally got in touch with someone that was able to give me enough information that I have enough to go on to start from the beginning and work my way forward.

 

From what I was told was the building was designed by Stayton Nunn-Milton McGinty as an A-B-C Grocery store in 1936.  Newspapers said the cost of construction would be between $35,000 and $40,000.

 

Then in 1941 Henke and Pillot purchased the lot from A-B-C Grocery store and there they remained till Ivy Russell Ford purchased the lot from them in 1955.  I thought they were there longer but apparently Henke and Pillot was the owners of the building in 1950 which is when the art deco remodeling took place as evident by this updated sanborn firemap that was provided to me.

 

The sanborn firemap doesn't give dimensions of the building but does state that it is a Steel Frame with interior column and beam construction with curtain walls.  It also shows like I suspected that the awning wrapped around the entire building.  Like wise it states 18ft which would have to be the height I don't think the awning was 18ft above the ground so I think that would be the height from the ground to the roof or maybe the interior ceiling.  Hard to tell but enough to progress my research for my diorama along though.

 

Just need to find time to make a trip down town to some of the libraries I was informed of that has records that I could check and then I can start from the beginning.  I don't believe the artdeco remodeling that was done was done without some kind of architect doing the design work first so I need to find his name and maybe I can find the plans for the remodeling of the building.  Wont be showing interior layout of Ivy Russell though as this one in 1950 is showing it while it was still a grocery store.

 

I do have a email placed with the library of congress in DC that has a sanborn maps of the harris county region of Houston dated 1955.  But no online access.  Trying to find out how I can obtain access to it to get a copy of this address itself.  That's all I need maybe if its from 1955 with Ivy Russell Ford moving in to the location in 1955 maybe the 1955 maps would show interior layout as the dealership.

Sanborn Fire Inusrance map - Volume 7 Sheet 727 1927 - 1950.png

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Posted (edited)

Again, good luck, Rusty. It seems you are on the right path. Stayton Nunn and Milton McGinty were two well known architects in this city during the last century. Hopefully, some of their drawings have been preserved in the HMRC including those of this building. Perhaps they also did the mid-1950s remodel. That would not be unusual given the short time between the original construction and the remodel.

Edited by Specwriter

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On 12/26/2018 at 11:33 AM, Ross said:

You can check with the Houston Permitting Center, but I don't know if those documents are still available or public.

 

Drawings at the Houston Permitting office are public, to an extent. I often have to get old building drawings from CoH. Heres how it works. 

 

From basically 1989-present, all drawings are digitized. So a call into the permitting office see if they have it, and scheduling an appointment, you'll be able to go view the drawings. To take digital copies home or printed copy normally runs a fee. I forget the price (I normally expense it, so I pay little attention to the price). Secondly, if the building drawings have a copyright on them, sometimes they will require a letter from the property owner or drawing owner releasing them -- sometimes. 

 

From 1971-1989 (roughly) they have most of the drawings on microfilm. This one requires setting an appointment and allowing the permitting office to find the drawings. Couple of things help here: The address, Name of the building, and year it was constructed. They'll email you back, telling you they found it or found something. Then you go in examine the drawings and tell them which ones you want. Some cities you can print straight from microfilm, but Not Houston. They have to send them offsite, its normally about 2-3 weeks before you can get all your drawings. 

 

Pre 1971, Records are more spotty. They've allegedly lost drawings in floods, etc... and I've had mixed results for drawings pre-1971 in Houston. A small retail building from the 1930's will be tough. Specwriter has a great point too. Because if that building has had a substantial renovation that required permitting, they might have that set, which might have enough info for you to work with. 

 

As for options if the city doesnt have the drawings. There are few archival groups in city of houston, Rice and UH have some old city drawings in storage. But I've only seen them have large public structures, or the early high rises of the city. Ive had to get a few drawings from Rice in the past. Your last option actually, is to hire someone like an architect who then hires a structural engineer (like me!) who specializes in remodeling old buildings. Ill go out there and measure every beam for the right price :) 

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