Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Houses of Convenience-Wildwood Magazine

Joel’s Aspirations - Houses of Convenience

Perhaps because Joel had grown up during a time when the popular architecture was formal, ornate, and pompous, in combination with the possibility of living in the dark Italian villa of her father-in-law, she felt a need to build for comfort instead of to impress the neighbors.[i] Joel’s aspiration was to develop a new style of architecture that was more user-friendly to the inhabitants or “houses of convenience.” [ii] Joel found the selection of houses in most neighborhoods undesirable for the homemaker. Dreary, seldom painted box-style houses with shabby lawns and the useless plate-glass doors of garish colored Victorian houses for only the rich were not acceptable housing. Joel focused her artistic creativity in designing comfortable houses for the modern women. Joel’s eye for detail and her design prowess made these houses very popular with the public. [iii]

Perhaps the wide range of social contacts and constant moves as a child stimulated Joel Ninde’s drive and determination to build houses. Like her parents who moved constantly, in 1902 Joel and Lee Ninde built, lived in, and sold five houses in Fort Wayne, Indiana.

Lee saw the prestige and satisfaction to be gained in promoting Joel’s economical housing designs and gave up his law career to devote his time promoting Joel’s career. [iv]
[i] Joel and Lee built their first home in 1901 on the northeast corner of the Wildwood estate on a small plot of land donated by Judge Ninde, Lee’s father. Joel’s first architectural design was a Dutch Colonial Revival house that had a main hallway which connected the rest of the first floor. To the left of the hallway was the dining room and to the right the living room. Located at the rear of the house was a kitchen with plenty of cupboards built for efficiency. Upstairs was a centrally located bathroom with four adjoining bedrooms. Fort Wayne Journal Gazette, February 8, 1914, n.p. (ARCH files).
[ii] Ibid.[iii] “Houses of Convenience,” The Wildwood Magazine, Christmas 1914, p 23, (Allen County-Fort Wayne Historical Museum ) An article written by Joel R. Ninde and Grace E. Crosby describes a prototype, the house of convenience house plan, which provides the homemaker with an efficient comfortable house. Joel and Grace house designs contained most or all of these features.)[iv] Harold Lopshire, ARCH, interview by Corinne Toth Friday, April 7, 1998.

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