James Betelle, Where Are You?

The Search for a Lost Architect

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Let us live with our children — Friedrich Froebel, Inscription over kindergarten entrance, State Normal School, Jersey City

Bald, Smiling School Builder Betelle

July 28th, 2006 · No Comments · Diary, Miscellaneous

James O. BetelleToday I ventured over to the Boston Public Library (I’m up in Massachussets this week on vacation), to try and get some odds-and-ends info on Betelle. Having gotten hold of the text of his Time Magazine article a few weeks ago, I wondered if there might have been a photograph to accompany it.

After marveling at the beautiful mosaic ceilings in the entrance hall (awaiting my guest card to be processed), I headed up to the book delivery desk, where my volumes were waiting for me. Wisely I had called ahead the day before to have them pulled. I heaved the three, 800lb. volumes up to the 3rd floor, where another one (the May, 1932 issue of Architecture; a post on this is coming soon) was stored.

Flipping open the bound volume of the 1931 Time Magazines, I fanned and leafed towards the August issue, brimming with cautious anticipation. Ignoring the cover, ignoring the quaint period ads and articles, a skimmed the table of contents and plowed right to page 29. And there he was– James O. Betelle, looking right at me from seventy-five years ago, bald and smiling as promised in the text. His photo is captioned, “One cannot play hard a greater part of the night…”

Nice to finally meet you, James.

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