MARY ROCKWELL HOOK Correspondence 1940 I Box 19: 2-84

Pine Mountain Settlement School
Series 09: Biography
Series 05: Board of Trustees
Series 10: Built Environment
Published: 2018-07-15 hw
Updated with Contents: 2021-10-29 aae

MARY ROCKWELL HOOK Correspondence 1940 I Box 19: 2-84
April & June 1939, February – May 1940

TAGS: Mary Rockwell Hook, correspondence, 1940, Board of Trustees, built environment, architects, architecture, Mrs. Inghram D. Hook, Schoolhouse fire, guest house, Girls’ House, West Wind, Fanny Gratz, Dorothy Olcott Elsmith, Glyn Morris, Gladys Morris, donations, Laurel House fire, telegrams, sketch plans, Buildings & Grounds Committee, Miss Hewins, blueprints, Saxe & Zimmerman architectural firm

When Mary Rockwell Hook began work on both Laurel House II and West Wind in the early 1940s she was well into her 70s and an active member of the PMSS Board of Trustees.

Throughout the correspondence, she refers to the new girls’ house or girls’ building, as the building did not yet have the name “West Wind.”

CONTENTS: Mary Rockwell Hook Correspondence 1940 I Box 19: 2-84

[Note: Letters from PMSS staff in the PMSS Collections are carbon copies, typewritten, unsigned, and meant for the Office files. The original signed copies were sent to the correspondents. Letters from Mary Rockwell Hook are handwritten originals. The following list of contents is in chronological order and not necessarily in the order of the image numbers.]

April & June 1939

[NOTE: The following images, 009a through 012, are out of chronological order. They belong on a page for 1939 correspondence which has not yet been created.]

009a-009d April 19-22, 1939. Three-page report to the PMSS Board from Mary Rockwell Hook on PMSS stationary. [009a] “Jottings from a three-day intensive study of the physical features of the Pine Mountain School submitted to the Board of Trustees by Mary Rockwell Hook.” Asks for a session or special committee (Mrs. [Fanny] Gratz, Mrs. [Dorothy Olcott] Elsmith, Mrs. [Gladys] Morris, Hook) to consider building and grounds. PMSS’s plan was designed for 20 years into the future: flat area for growing food and livestock; buildings in non-productive areas; “build a school on the cottage system to preserve the family feeling and to teach improved methods of living”; entrance, admin and classrooms in the center. Mentions the effects of the Schoolhouse fire. Now that 25 years have passed, the buildings are in good condition due to good upkeep; and have been made less “primitive.” [009b] The school still needs a “guest house and a big play room which can be used as a stage.” Mr. and Mrs. Morris are now ready for another 20-year plan, which Hook began to create. Needs include a new girls’ house on Pole House Hill, converting Big Log or Open House into guest houses, and converting the present stone tool house into two apartments for married couples. Hook lists the possible changes to the Grounds (improve roads and parking spaces; outdoor theater), [009c] (DUPLICATE OF 009b.) [009d] and Buildings (new girls’ house, Big Log, Open House, Laurel House, Tool House, playroom and stage, garage, Boys’ House, Far House). Penciled comments in margin are likely by Glyn Morris.

010 June 6, 1939(?). Handwritten note to Hook from Mary Bell Decker, in Kansas City, MO, who encloses a gift to “your best-loved brain child, …just a thank(?) offering for your friendship.” Notations in Hook’s handwriting suggest putting Mrs. Clarence Decker on the mailing list. “Her husband is president of Kansas City University”; adding the gift to the Stage Fund.

011 June 15, 1939. To Hook from (unsigned, apparently Morris), who has sent a thank-you letter to Mrs. Decker; and thanks Hook for her part. Describes progress on building the stage. He wants to discuss her idea about a fundraising trip to Miami, Palm Beach, and Sarasota and asks for details. He is planning a midwestern tour in October and November and showing new motion pictures of the School.

012 N.D. To Hook from Parker Elsmith, reporting that he “secured fine knabe grand piano gift to school….”

February 1940

003a-003b, 002 February 6, 1940. Three-page letter to Mrs. Inghram D. Hook (Mary Rockwell Hook), Kansas City, MO, from Morris [003a, page 1] who is glad Hook will be attending the Board meeting along with Mrs. Elsmith. One of the issues to be discussed will be the burning of Laurel House and its replacement. At Hook’s request, he lists the pressing issues that the Board should deal with. The Laurel House replacement should include “as many features as possible which were so much a part of the spirit of the school….” which he lists. He suggests how the students should be housed (“smaller, home-like units” which have been PMSS’s tradition); [003b, page 2] Other needs: housing for married staff members (he lists possibilities); Big Log’s problems; replacing Boys’ House; housing facilities for the (Guidance) Institute.

[002, page 3] “I should tell you too how reassuring it was to hear your voice over the phone the Wednesday morning after the fire.” 

008 February 8, 1940. Western Union telegram to Hook from Morris, asking her to meet him in Lexington to discuss building plan before meeting.

004 February 16, 1940. To Hook, Whispering Sands, Sarasota, FL, from (unsigned), thanking her for her $50 gift; encloses a photo of students working with the cows.

013 N.D. (Later notation: “Mr. Morris 2-16-40”). Message side of postcard to (no salutation) from Mary Hook, en route to Sarasota. The Wilsons and D. (Dorothy Olcott) Elsmith took a bus to Lexington; Elsmith hope to meet with Mrs. (Fanny) Gratz about Hook’s plans. Hook will send suggested changes for the “Contrast House.”

005 February 16, 1940. Typewritten carbon copy of handwritten letter to Hook from (unsigned, possibly Morris) expressing “our appreciation for all you do. Your understanding – your loyalty and devotion to Pine Mountain are a source of both comfort and inspiration to us both. We marvel at the patience with which you have worked these past few days.” Mentions Hook’s stay at PMSS and the writer’s possible visit with her in Florida.

006a-006b February 22, (no year). Two-page letter to Morris from Hook en route to Kansas City, MO, [006a] who encloses a plan; gives reasons for returning home; describes her activities at Whispering Sands. [006b] Her contractor provided figures for the contrast house. It was “More house than we should put up for a couple” so she described how she changed the plans.

007 February 27, 1940. To Hook from (unsigned, apparently Morris), who is glad that Mrs. Morris is tending to the details of the building, since he is more interested in the “impression of the finished building” instead. Reports that Mr. Gratz visited PMSS and made only minor changes to the plans.

March-April 1940

014 March 4, (no year. Later notation: 3-4-40). Message side of postcard to (no salutation) from Hook, with an invitation to come to Whispering Sands.

015a March 11, (no year). Western Union telegram to Morris from Hook, sending her changes to (?) House to accommodate four people.

015b (Reverse side of 015a with figures.)

016 N.D. To Morris from Hook, who has received no word from Gratz; has telegraphed Gratz to airmail the sketch plan to her.

017a-017d April 3, 1940. Four-page letter to Gladys (Morris) from Hook. [017a] Mentions working on the plan; met with Mrs. Gratz at Ft. Meyers, asking to change to a Sarasota architect “without hurting Mr. Gratz’s feelings.” But Gratz “reports everything set, so she made no suggestions.” Now Hook is wondering whether Mr. Gratz has made another plan. [017b] “D. Elsmith & me (a self-appointed building committee). I am chairman of Buildings & Grounds Committee & I am acting advisory architect for Pine Mt. (nobody has put me off yet). I am personally responsible to you & the Board for anything or all that is built on the grounds.” Therefore, Hook and Elsmith sent a telegram to Gratz and encloses a copy. She expects to okay the final plan but the delay caused 10 days to be lost. [017c] Hook will begin plans for the girls’ house and asks that Mrs. Keith send “a copy of contours she took on Pole House Hill” with the locations of Far House and the road. She recommends Bill Noles, a carpenter who has worked for her, to work with (Leon) Deschamps; tells how much he earns. [017d] He may help finish Doctor’s House. Asks about accommodations in Open House. She met Miss Hewins who was assistant housemother to Miss Pettit and is now teaching at Windsor School, Boston. She is reading James Still’s “River of Earth.” Offers help with Laurel House, that “must serve us well for 20 years!”

018 April 3, 1930. Western Union telegram to Hook, Sarasota, FL, from Gladys Morris, who has hired a new architect, “[c]onsidering extent Gratz involved need for haste increasing complications….”

019a-019b April 4, 1940. Typewritten two-page letter to “Gladys and Glyn” from Dorothy Elsmith on stationery for Whispering Sands, Sarasota, Florida. [019a] She regrets the confusion, stating “we are at a loss to know which plans are in process of completion, the blueprint one from here, your sketch from Pine mountain or another one of Mr. Gratz.” Explains Hook’s need to give her final approval of the sketches of buildings; understands the awkwardness of hiring a new man since PMSS is already involved with Mr. Gratz. Tells when she and Hook will visit PMSS. [019b] Mentions Miss Hewins from Boston who would be a good board member. “Very able and resourceful and interested in the educational leadership angle….” Tells how her family enjoyed visiting Florida; will be stopping in Tyron, NC, then PMSS.

020 April 6, 1940. Western Union telegram to Mrs. Leonard Elsmith, Tryon, NC, from Morris, who has Gratz’s sketch and suggests arriving early before others arrive.

021 April 6, 1940. Western Union telegram to Hook, Sarasota, FL, Siesta Key, from Gladys Morris, “Distressed by delay in plans but in complete harmony with you.” 

022 April 6, 1940. Western Union telegram to Hook from Gladys Morris, who received Gratz’s sketch; awaiting final decision and urges Hook and Mrs. Elsmith to “come quickly as possible.”

023a-023b N.D. Two-page handwritten note on Western Union telegram stationery to Mr. Warfield Gratz, Lexington, KY, from Hook. “As (the) Chairman Building Committee (I) feel I must approve your final sketch plan before proceeding with working drawings.” Hook asks Gratz to telegraph whether he is following her last blueprint. Mrs. Morris disapproves of parts of it. Hook hopes to see drawings and specifications by April 15tlh when she and Mrs. Elsmith will arrive at PMSS. 


023d N.D. Note in Hook’s handwriting, stating that she “considered it essential to have final conference at Pine Mt on the site. So I await wood & plans from him.”

024a-024g April 13, (no year). Seven-page letter to “Gladys, Glyn & Dorothy” from Hook, explaining that Mrs. Gratz telegraphed that Warfield (Gratz) had another plan ready. Hook also has made another plan and hopes to meet them before seeing Gratz “so it won’t be confusing for him. … I feel the building, like wine, is improving with age!” 

025a-025b April 15, (no year). Two-page letter to Gladys (Morris) from Hook. [025a] She received Mr. Gratz’s plan and quotes a telegram that she sent him, suggesting that she employ a Sarasota architect to complete the plans. She has made working drawings in the office of Mr. Saxe, an architect friend. [025b] Hook urges Gladys and Glyn to visit her to finalize the plans. She hopes Mr. Gratz will let her do the plans in Florida.

026 April 15, 1940. To Eugene Hook from (unsigned), commenting on the pictures he took of Pine Mountain; ask for negatives, especially of the church organ, kitchen interior and the Chapel “showing the crosses silhouetted against the sky.”

027 April 15, 1940. Western Union telegram to Morris from Hook. A shortened version of her April 15 letter to Gladys.

028, 029 April 16, 1940. Copy and original of Western Union telegram to Morris from Hook. Mr. Gratz agrees to traveling to Sarasota with Gladys to finish plans.

030a-030d April 19, 1940. Four-page letter to Gladys (Morris) from Hook on stationery for “Whispering Sands, Sarasota, Florida.” [030a] Hook regrets hearing that Gladys cannot make it to Florida. Explains why she took the plans away from Gratz. [030b] Describes the background of the Saxe & Zimmerman architectural firm. Zimmerman will work on the plans; she may bring the “young Saxe” to PMSS to help her design the girls’ house and guest house. [030c] Writes about excavation for the building; her itinerary en route to PMSS; [030d] Asks about the electricity; tells how she wants certain features, such as “the building to build up as the hill does.” 

May 1940

031a-031f May(?) 2, (no year). Six-page letter to Morris from Hook, [031a] commenting on receiving news about the Laurel House(?) fire. “Fire often gives us opportunity for development. This may be our chance to get two buildings instead of one.” [031b] Hook wonders how the School managed without the kitchen; offers to collect and send bedding and clothing. [031c] She lists her ideas on improvements in the next Laurel House, such as a better road approach and parking space; move kitchen closer to supplies and have a back porch, etc.; indirect lighting. [031d] Continues with suggestions. She feels it shouldn’t be rushed only to “regret later not giving it more thought, as we did with the Schoolhouse.” [031e] ‘We really should treat this building, a girls’ house & the guest house all in one problem.” Asks for Mrs. Morris’s suggestions. [031f] Asks how the fire occurred; “Three are too many.” 

032 May 27, 1940. To Hook in Kansas City, MO, from (unsigned), who is sending Hook a copy of the Director’s Annual Report to the Board and Mrs. Elsmith’s supplementary report.

033 May 30, 1940. Copy of a Western Union telegram to Hook from Morris, asking if she can complete girls’ house plans before he leaves for vacation. “Laurel footings being laid today ; machine excavation.”


July 1979

001 July 7, 1979. Handwritten note on a form titled “Supplement to Clinic Record.” DHS 1775 (6/73) Crippled Children, Division of Health Services.” (Address at bottom of the form: “Crippled Children, Division of Health Services.”)
“Taken from folder by Alc?) for Elsmith, July 7, 1979.
May 27, 1940 – Letter from Mrs. Hook to Board of Trustees.
Aug 5, 1940 Copy of letter to Mrs. Gratz.
April 15 – Mr Morris report to Board re: physical features of School”

GALLERY: Mary Rockwell Hook Correspondence 1940 I Box 19: 2-84
Box 19 – Folder 2-84 (38 items)

MARY ROCKWELL HOOK Correspondence 1940 II Box 19: 2-85

See Also:


MARY ROCKWELL HOOK 1940 Architectural Review

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MARY ROCKWELL HOOK Correspondence Guide