Saturday, February 7, 2009

Welcome to the JHT Journal

In 1997 I assembled my photos of the work of John Hudson Thomas on a website and called it the John Hudson Thomas Gallery. Over the years I have received many emails from people who own houses designed by JHT. I have also been given tips on where to find other JHT houses that are missing from the Gallery. I try to keep the site updated but because this is just one hobby among others, and they all have to compete with my "day job", I don't always have time to keep it up as I should. When someone tells me about a house I haven't posted yet, I try to get out and photograph it, research the background a bit--at least enough to confirm it actually is by JHT--and post it to the site. I create new pages the old fashioned way, by tediously entering HTML code and I try to keep links updated and remove any dead ones.

I try to keep the the information on the Gallery site as factual as I can. I'm not always convinced when someone tells me a house is JHT's. I need to see it for myself, see signed drawings, names on building permits, or photos from old periodicals. It's a lot of work, but it is exciting to find little fragments of fact and fill in the missing pieces of the story. It is difficult to find biographical information about JHT (the best reference I've found is Signature Architects of the San Francisco Bay Area, by Dave Weinstein). I have heard from just one living relative of JHT but, unfortunately she didn't have much information about him.

Combing through old newspapers and magazines in Cal's CED history room or shuffling through old photos in the files of the California History room of the Oakland Main Library is very solitary work. Over the years, some of these resources have made their way onto the web (here's a site I love: CALIFA) But at some point it's hard to find anything anymore. That's why it is so helpful to hear from other people who just happen to live in a JHT house; or who have an uncle whose father used to rent office space to JHT; or who have some old photos in their basement or attic. So I am starting this blog as an adjunct to the JHT Gallery. Blogging may be a little outside the box of traditional historical research, but I think it has potential. It is a two-way street. I can pose questions and answer questions--and so can others who come upon this site. If enough people each have just a little information it can add up to a huge resource when it is all focused and organized in one place. So that is the purpose of this blog. It's an experiment and it will certainly have some rough edges in the beginning but I would like your feedback and ideas for improvement so feel free to speakup. And get over to the JHT Gallery--I've added a few new things recently.
--js

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