We’ve featured several architects’ homes here on MissPres, with the most recent being the Jackson residence of Emmett J. Hull. Today’s featured residence might be the first house featured that is neither still standing, nor was built by the architect that resided in it. But that did not keep Biloxi architect Carl E. Matthes Sr. (1896-1972) from making his imprint on the structure he called home for more than thirty years. Here is his bio from the MDAH artisan database:
Born in Chicago in 1896 to German immigrants, attended college at R.T. Grape Technical School and later, the Beaux Arts Institute of Design in Chicago, while also working as a draftsman in the offices of Chatten & Hammond, 1912-1917. During WWI, he entered the Navy, and served at the Gulfport Naval Training Center, the headquarters of the Seabees Construction Battalions. According to the American Architects Directory, 1962, he spent 1918-1919 as a draftsman in the offices of Howard Van Doran Shaw, and it is unclear at what point he served in the Navy. According to a newspaper account, he stayed on the Gulf Coast after the war, marrying Beula Dukate, a member of a prominent Biloxi family, in 1919. They had three children together. During the Depression, with his business practically destroyed, he worked in construction, but by 1937, business was good enough to join with Juan G. Landry in the firm LANDRY & MATTHES. This firm was based in Hattiesburg, and Matthes initially commuted each day from Biloxi, but later worked out of the Biloxi office. He was registered in Alabama and Mississippi. During his career, Matthes served as president of the State Board of Architecture. In 1962, his office was listed at 1640 W. Beach Drive, Biloxi.
Not included in his MDAH HRI entry is that in 1916-1917 he was a committee member of the Chicago Architectural Club and in 1942 he served as Vice Commodore of the Biloxi Yacht Club. But when Carl and Beula were first married life must have been a little tough. In the city directories their address moves around from several rural residences on the outskirts of Biloxi, just west of the city. The success that he found working with partner Juan Landry gave the stability to purchase a permanent home. In 1940 he purchased a house at 1640 West Beach Boulevard and began drawing up remodeling plans right away. 1640 West Beach was built some time prior to 1914, so it’s possible the structure needed some general repairs by 1940 in addition to Matthes’ desire to put his thumbprint on the building. While the house originally was late Victorian in detailing, Matthes’ changes were in-line with mid-century colonial revival tastes. Later in 1962 he added a carport to the rear of the structure. To my knowledge nothing of the house survived Katrina. The site today is an empty lot, a sad tribute to a man in a city that has demolished many of his landmark works.