Recently the Department for Library Special Collections purchased a rare promotional book produced by the Louisville architectural firm of Kenneth McDonald and J.F. Sheblessy. Kenneth McDonald worked as an architect in the Falls City for a number of decades. He graduated with a civil engineering degree from Virginia Military Institute in 1873. While teaching, he worked for the architectural firm ran by his brother, Harry Peake McDonald. In 1878 the two brothers joined forces under the firm name H.P. McDonald and Brother. When they were joined by two of their other brothers, the firm became McDonald Brothers and enjoyed an enviable practice with commissions from around Kentucky and several contiguous states. The building type for which the firm was most noted was the fortress-like jails built across the Commonwealth. The old Simpson County Jail (now the Simpson County Archives) is the closest extant example of a McDonald Brothers’ jail. They eventually designed over 100 jails in seven states. The main building for the Southern Exposition in Louisville is perhaps their best known design, but one that remains a favorite is the old Presbyterian Theological Seminary (today Jefferson County Community College) which can be viewed from the raised Interstate 65 as one passes through downtown Louisville. In their wisdom, McDonald & Dodd selected Bowling Green limestone as the building material for that Gothic campus.
The Presbyterian Theological Seminary designed was designed by McDonald & Dodd.
Kenneth McDonald left the firm in 1895 and practiced solo for several years before forming the practice with John F. Sheblessy in 1901. This practice lasted less than five years, for in 1906 McDonald joined with architect William J. Dodd, a partnership that lasted until 1913, when McDonald moved to San Francisco. Sheblessy (1873-1938) moved on to Cincinnati and enjoyed a long architectural career. The brevity of the McDonald and Shelbessy partnership makes this promotional book quite rare. Printing companies that specialized in this specific genre of architectural firm “advertising” were not uncommon, but this book was printed by the Courier-Journal Job Printing Company, again making it a rarity.
The Louisville Tobacco Warehouse.
This book, containing both photographs and drawings, highlights some of the practice’s most important projects, including several churches–most notably Walnut Street Baptist Church, courthouses, residences, commercial buildings, and sprawling government structures such as the East Tennessee Insane Asylum. The booklet also includes twenty-five pages of ads for regional contractors, building supply operators, lumber companies, fixture suppliers, etc. One contractor of note is Peter & Burghard Stone Company whose name is mentioned in captions alongside a number of the photographs as providing the cut stone work for the highlighted projects. Peter & Burghard was known across the south for their tombstones and their other stonework. When Van Meter Hall was built at WKU in 1911, Louisville architect Brinton B. Davis insisted on employing Peter & Burghard as the stone contractor. According to WorldCat, WKU’s Library Special Collections is the only repository to hold this illustrated promotional piece. To see other architectural treatises, drawings, and plan books in Special Collections search our catalog, KenCat.
Advertisement J.N. Struck & Brother Lumber Co.
No building could accommodate the crowds that swarmed to these religious meetings.
The Reverend John Steele was in the right place at the right time to observe the natal days of America’s Second Great Awakening, a great religious revival that spawned novel methods of worship and new Christian denominations. Reverend Steele (b. 1772) was a minister within the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church. In 1801, he was serving as pastor of a congregation in Bourbon County, Kentucky, when the tremendously influential religious camp meetings took place at Cane Ridge. His religious background provided a unique perspective when he witnessed the events occurring at Cane Ridge.
A Steele letter from February 1802, recently added to the Manuscripts & Folklife Archives unit of the Special Collections Library, contains some of the cleric’s observations to another minister, John Hemphill of Chester County, South Carolina. He begins his missive by asking Hemphill if he has “heard about the news of our Country…I mean that concerning religion?” He then describes the “extra ordinary” modes of worship exhibited at these peculiar outdoor services. “They fall down some as in swooning fits,” declares Steele, and are “quite motionless” while “others are affected when they fall as if in a convulsive fit. Usually after they recover they address those around them in declaring what comfort they have had with God & their surety of salvation & exhort all around them to come to Christ. When they fall a number usually encompass them & sing hymns around them and they also pray over them — Generally I understand more fall under the singing than under that of preaching.”
Not fitting his decorous style of worship, Steele called the meetings ones “of confusion and disorder” where “in the same house & in the same assembly you may hear & see people engaged in preaching, praying, exhorting, singing, falling, rising, running, walking, talking, sitting, lying. See people in all positions–in all situations, all exercises at the same time–their united sounds of different voices” making “the Sylvan plain to reecho from afar.” Steele doubted the sincerity and veracity of the erratic worship, telling Hemphill: “I cannot find on what principles I can call it the Religion of Jesus.” After leaving Kentucky in the early-1830s, Steele continued to pastor Associate Reformed churches in southern Ohio.
To see other religious related collections in Manuscripts & Folklife Archives search TopSCHOLAR. To see a finding aid for the Steele small collection or view a full-text typescript of the letter click here.
On the evening of March 17 at Barnes & Noble, the WKU Libraries’ “Far Away Places” international talk series featured Professor John All from WKU’s Department of Geography & Geology. While studying climate change in the Himalayas in 2010 as part of the Fulbright Scholar program, he scaled the treacherous northeast ridge and reached the summit of Mount Everest, at 29,035 ft. the world’s highest mountain on May 23rd.
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Some 371,000 German prisoners of war were held in the United States between 1941 and 1947 including 9,000 in Kentucky. On the evening of February 10, 2011, Professor Antonio Thompson, a historian from Austin Peay University, who recently taught at West Point, talked about how they came to be here, what they did during the war, the problems involved in managing POW camps and their eventual return to Europe after the war at Barnes & Noble in Bowling Green Kentucky. His talk was part of the WKU Libraries’ Kentucky Live! talk series.
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