People Pictures

I don’t usually have pictures with people in them because, well, I guess I’m always focused on the buildings, but after mentioning architect R.W. Naef’s picture yesterday, I figured I’d better rustle it up and show what I was talking about. Unfortunately, the photo I was thinking of was in a book at the archives called The Story of Jackson, and I found that the photocopy I have of that is so dark (have I mentioned the problems of photocopying photographs before?) that it’s not worth showing. However, I do have this picture of Naef, about a decade later, as far as I can tell, maybe in the early 1950s. This picture was in the Kiwanis Club directory.

R.W. Naef (c.1950)

R.W. Naef (c.1950)

I like the Story of Jackson photo better, but even in this one, he seems to have a kind face, so unless I learn for sure otherwise, I’m going to assume he was a kind gentleman who saw a special spirit in smutty brick. As Carunzel mentioned in a comment on yesterday’s post, he was also a member of the Jackson Citizen’s Council at least in the mid-1950s, so he was obviously a complex creature, as are we all, I suppose. And as Frank pointed out, many businessmen of the time felt compelled to join these groups at that time for fear of being ostracized and losing their livelihood.

I should mention that Naef grew up in Whiting, Indiana and got his architectural degree at University of Illinois. He moved to Jackson because his wife was from here. He served as Vice-President on the Jackson School Board in the 1950s, a service that was considered a real sacrifice because he effectively took himself out of the very lucrative school building boom that the city was undergoing at that time–he essentially offered his architectural expertise for free to the board.

Anyway, as I was rummaging around to find this photo, I came across this one and had to post it. It’s a picture of architects N.W. Overstreet, Frank Gates, R.W. Naef, and Carl Matthes at a big Mississippi AIA shin-dig in 1970 in their honor. They were the last of the “founding generation” of Mississippi architects and all of them were dead within a few years. I love this picture:

Naef, Gates, Matthes, and Overstreet (1970)

Naef, Gates, Matthes, and Overstreet (1970)

Ok, here’s the question: who’s who? Is Overstreet to the far right or the second from right? Doesn’t the man at the far right look like he’s been photoshopped [or I guess it would be “airbushed”] in? And don’t the two men on the right look alot alike? Do you think Naef (based on the photograph above) is the one second from the left, or at the far left? I don’t know that I’ve ever seen a picture of Matthes, a Biloxi architect, to compare to this one. Unfortunately, this picture didn’t come with a caption, just the four names written around the sides over and over. Surely there’s got to be a captioned photo somewhere to help us.



Categories: Architectural Research, Biloxi, Jackson

13 replies

  1. That’s hilarious! I’ve seen the program for the function in question, but it uses portraits of the four as young men. I think you have Overstreet right as the one on the far right. I’ve seen several photos of him in the ’50s at library groundbreakings and grand openings; he was VERY tall and always had a flat top (and he seems to have always had white hair) and he wore glasses. I think the already receding hairline in your younger picture of Naef suggests that he’s probably the one on the far left (and he does look lovably goofy).

    I had known that about him being on the school board. That reminds me to go look through those files; maybe I’ll find something interesting there. I totally agree with y’all’s assessment of the CCs as almost professional organizations; I hadn’t thought of it like that and, when I found his name there, I was extremely disappointed. I imagine it was more to be on the school board than to be a practicing architect; there seem to have been many architects who were not involved with the CC.

    Anyway, it’s my contrariness that made me bring it up. I should have learned long ago that one can’t look too closely into the lives of one’s heroes. Need I say more than Frank Lloyd Wright?

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  2. It almost looks like they were lined up according to size of head except first guy should be second …

    I feel I must acknowledge that “I’m going to assume he was a kind gentleman who saw a special spirit in smutty brick” is one of the most hilarious sentences I’ve ever read.

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  3. I meant to say “smutty buff brick,” if that makes any difference, but I’ll take hilarious anywhere I can get it. :-)

    Frank Lloyd Wright, Louis Kahn (“My Architect” anyone?), Louis Sullivan, etc. Yes, successful architects do tend to be less successful in their personal lives. Although you could probably say the same about any profession–the more time they spend being uber-competent professionally, the less energy have to spend on their personal relationships.

    I think we can all agree that Overstreet is the very large man on the far right, which I think means the next largest man to his left is Matthes. Maybe I do recall a photo of Matthes as a younger man that showed he was a big guy too. And I didn’t catch the receding hairline, but you’re right, Naef must be our far left guy–and R.W.? it wasn’t me who called you goofy, ok?–which means the mystery man second to the left must be Gates. Naef, Gates, Matthes, Overstreet–you heard it here first!

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    • Just coming across this photo completely by random because I was trying to find a picture of my grandfather, Dr. Richard W. Naef, but was not successful. My great grandfather was Robert Naef. You’ve got the first picture of my great grandfather alone correct, but unfortunately he is not one of the men pictured in the second photo of 4 men. He was a very small man who died of a heart attacked well before 1970, so now you have a mystery man!

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  4. I spoke with a friend who knew Carl Matthes and showed him the photo with four men in it. He said that Matthes was the second from the right, with a bow tie and without glasses. Malvaney you sure can pick out people you’ve never seen before!

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  5. That is Overstreet on the far right. I know – he is my great grandfaher.

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