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Our holdings include hundreds of glass and film negatives/transparencies that we've scanned ourselves; in addition, many other photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs) in the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) They are adjusted, restored and reworked by your webmaster in accordance with his aesthetic sensibilities before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here. All of these images (including "derivative works") are protected by copyright laws of the United States and other jurisdictions and may not be sold, reproduced or otherwise used for commercial purposes without permission.

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[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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Rustic Modern: 1944

Rustic Modern: 1944

May 4, 1944. "Jesse Oser residence, Elkins Park, Pennsylvania. Louis I. Kahn, architect. Living room to fireplace." With a nice view of the avant-garden. Large-format acetate negative by Gottscho-Schleisner. View full size.

On Shorpy:
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Nude in the window

I do like that vase.

May I touch your shillelagh

The one in the corner?

Painful Seating and floor

In spite of the sleek, modern look in this room, there is no welcoming softness or warmth, even with a fireplace. I would have to stand the entire time because there would be no hope of getting up out of any of the furnishings and falling on the floor would require a trip to the emergency room. Sorry, but it's not my idea of "home", no matter how new and stylish Louis Kahn thought it was.

Huge cord

Then as now, interior photographers went to some length to hide clutter, moving furniture to conceal electrical outlets, and unplugging lamps and appliances to hide the cords. It appears that this has been done here, but what is that huge industrial-grade cord to the left? I would imagine the photographer couldn't find any other place to plug in his floodlights, except the shadows give no evidence of any lighting other than daylight through the ample windows.

For that matter, how did one go about building a high-quality custom home amid wartime rationing? Mr. Oser must have paid his contractor well to begin hoarding material in December 1941. My family once had a house which according to records was built in 1943, but the quality of original wiring and plumbing seemed to make that date impossible. The original owner was a retired stockbroker.

[The use of supplementary lighting is evidenced by some sharp shadows - in particular that cast by the goose-neck lamp - as well as the reflection in its shade. -tterrace]

Children's table?

The low table and chairs remind me a little of a curved-leg children's table and chair set from my childhood. The US Census shows this family with 2 young children so my guess is the table is sometimes a place for the kids to write or color but easily becomes a cocktail/coffee table when guests are present.

They'll have to rearrange things when the TV arrives in the fifties.

House with a flat roof

I'll bet it leaks. It's the price of being modern.


The furniture has sort of a purposeless look about it. Today
we have a focus for its arrangement; the TV. That's progress!

Fireplace Bricks

The fireplace wall using square bricks or brick ends looks fantastic. Might have to do that myself.

Have a seat.

A most uncomfortable seat.

A wedding Present?

Everything is modern design - except the end table! Must have been a gift from a relative that was due to visit just after the picture was taken.

Louis Kahn - Architect

Read more about the designer of that house, with a few more pics here.

Located at 628 Stetson Road, Elkins Park PA:

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It is amazing

It is amazing how sad and how uncomfortable the room looks.

Inside out

Looks like you might think it would.

Gotta love the "lawn chair" in the room

The look was progressive, shiek and new back then.

Today, you almost want to ask where the stylized Pink Flamingo is.

[Or Rudolph Valentino. -tterrace]

The forward look

Could almost as likely be 1954.

SHORPY HISTORICAL PHOTO ARCHIVE | History in HD is a vintage photo archive featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1960s. (Available as fine-art prints from the Shorpy Archive.) The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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