Belhaven Craftsman: Emmett J. Hull House

One of the things on my To-Do list for November is to go down to the Mississippi Museum of Art and spend time looking at the big exhibit on Jackson artist Marie Hull, “Bright Fields: The Mastery of Marie Hull.”

Marie Atkinson Hull (1890 – 1980) remains one of Mississippi’s most significant artists and teachers, beloved by generations of collectors and students, including renowned artists such as Andrew Bucci. Curated by acclaimed concert pianist and Mississippi native Bruce Levingston, Bright Fields: The Mastery of Marie Hull features approximately 100 works in various media, drawn from the Museum’s own unsurpassed collection of Hull’s work as well as those found at Delta State University, the Ogden Museum of Southern Art, the University of Mississippi Museum, and many private collections.

The “Hull” part of Marie Hull’s name came from her husband, architect Emmett J. Hull. Emmett may have met Marie after his father, F.B. Hull bought the house now known as the Lowry House in 1910. (It’s now owned by MHT and is the setting for tonight’s 10 Most Endangered Places unveiling.) Marie lived nearby, and the two were married in 1917. If you’ve been by the Lowry House, you may have noticed the Craftsman-style entryway with its multi-light doorway and small-paned sidelights and transom. It appears that this entry, along with other alterations like the columnar screen and a couple of mantels inside, were the work of either F.B. himself or Emmett, who had recently returned from New York, where he received two years of architectural training at Cornell and worked as a draftsman.

I’ve already featured the Hull house, designed by Emmett in 1923, here on MissPres, but I thought it was worth highlighting again because it fits with our Mississippi Craftsman theme and is at the heart of a couple who were integral to the Jackson and larger Mississippi art scene through much of the twentieth century. The Hulls were friends of Walter Anderson, and according to several sources, took him in on weekends when he was “staying” at the state hospital at Whitfield. Emmett lobbied hard for Anderson’s submission to do the mural in the Eastland federal building, but lost out when the feds chose Simka Simkhavitch instead (and the rest of us lost out too–I think Anderson’s would have been grand).

One of my favorite features of the Hull house, second only to the fabulous variegated barrel-tile roof, is the Asian-inspired interlocking stickwork column capitals. Otherwise, the geometry of the casement windows provide the functional ornament on a straightforward and boxy volume.

Emmett and Marie Hull House, 825 Belhaven, Jackson (c.1923)

Emmett and Marie Hull House, 825 Belhaven, Jackson (c.1923)

E J Hull House02

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Categories: Architectural Research, Jackson

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4 replies

  1. This post is filled with many good things to take note of and go see.

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  2. Emmett also attended the Ecole Des Beaux-Arts. (He was much more than a ‘draftsman’.)
    I believe I remember being told he was also in Overstreet’s firm.
    My mother was a good friend of Marie’s. I never knew Emmett, but did meet Marie on a number of occasions. I only remember these facts because (as I understand) my grandfather was the GC for several of Overstreet’s projects, and when I became interested in Architecture mother fed me these tidbits about Emmett Hull. Several of his renderings, made when he was in the Beaux-Arts, were sold through Choctaw Books along with his copy of Graphic Standards, probably after Marie died and her estate was being resolved. I believe my friend purchased these items of his in the early 80s from Choctaw Books, and probably still has them.

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  3. In his application for membership to the AIA, dated January 22, 1925, Emmett Hull doesn’t mention attending the Ecole des Beaux Arts. In the space labeled “Collegiate and office training” he has hand-written the following: “Cornell (2), New York offices about 7 months and in office of my uncle, Mr. Wm. S. Hull, F.A.I.A.” and after the label “Graduate in architecture” is written “Completed 2-year Special Course at Cornell–1906.” Cornell followed the rigorous and formal Beaux-Arts teaching method and so he would definitely have considered himself in the Beaux Arts tradition, but I don’t see any evidence that he attended the Beaux Arts in Paris. We have a file on Emmett Hull here at the Historic Preservation Division of MDAH that contains this application along with numerous other documents about Mr. Hull, including a brief biographical sketch written by recently retired MSU archivist Mattie Abraham.

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