Guide to the Carl F. Saalbach Collection 1954-2006 Bulk dates: 1954-1994 MG 1679
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Series Descriptions and Container List
Bulk dates: 1954-1994
The New Jersey Historical Society
52 Park Place
Newark, New Jersey 07102
Contact: NJHS Library
Phone: (973) 596-8500 x249
© 2007 All rights reserved.
The New Jersey Historical Society, Publisher
Inventory prepared by Julia Telonidis.Finding aid encoded by Julia Telonidis. March 2007. Production of the EAD 2002 version of this finding aid was made possible by a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Finding aid written in English.
Born in 1918, Carl F. Saalbach AIA PE is a licensed professional engineer, a registered architect and a licensed professional (land) planner who studied at Stuyvesant High School, City College of New York, New York University, and the Institute of Design and Construction. On graduating during the depression, he worked in shipbuilding and naval architecture and then on various large engineering and building projects for industrial firms.
In the early 1950s, he set up a single man office, which he ran for 41 years, in the town of Emerson, Bergen County, NJ. His combination of qualifications enabled him to serve as the site engineer as well as the architect for many of his clients. He also worked as a consultant to the local planning board. This was a period of rapid change and growth as the area changed from a series of small towns bordering on woods and farmland into the mature suburbs, shopping and service region it is today.
His primary focus was on good design, which was fit for purpose and met the brief given to him by the client. Most often, this meant delivering practical and affordable buildings representing mainstream taste, a good example being the two story single family house design which he reissued 66 times between 1972 and 1988, as well as modifying it for a number of additional jobs. However, meeting the client’s requirements occasionally meant providing a flavor of Frank Lloyd Wright (as in the Woodcliff Lake house municipally identified by a jury as one of the borough’s aesthetically pleasing houses), catering for individual ideas of glamour (such as a bathroom containing a bathtub built in an extension of a fireplace hearth together with a chandelier) or providing extremely flexible commercial spaces (an example being a 504′-7″ x 93′-6″ building, also municipally recognized as outstanding, which included research laboratories and offices).
During his career he designed single-family dwellings (detached houses including split levels, ranches, bi-levels, and two story houses, townhouses, duplexes and condominium conversions); subdivisions, apartment houses (ranging from a few apartments to 265 apartments); retail space; offices; warehouses and light industrial buildings, ranging from small bagel bakeries to large warehouses.
He is a member of these associations: American Institute of Architects (National); AIA New Jersey (State); AIA Architects League of Northern New Jersey (Local); and the National Society of Professional Engineers. He was also a councilman of the Borough of Emerson, NJ from 1952-1954.
This collection consists of full size copies of construction drawings for about 549 single-family and two-family houses of different sizes. These drawings were drawn by Carl F. Saalbach from 1954 to 1995 as a professional architectural and engineering service and used for construction in various locations in New Jersey and New York. Except for Job 1653 each set of house plans is complete and additional general drawings are not required to visualize or build the house. All the drawing sheets for one house design have the same job number in their title boxes and are bound together. Sets are organized by house type (see next paragraph below) and are arranged in ascending order of house size (the square footage of the foundation, excluding open porches). This area is stated on the first page of drawing sheets for each job number.
The drawing collection includes houses of 1, 1½, 2 and 3 stories and split-level and bilevel houses. Split-level houses have no floor at one level extending throughout the entire house. Instead, levels are staggered on opposite sides of the house at half-story intervals from each other. For example, the lowest level may consist of a cellar floor on one side and, half a story higher, a garage floor on the other. A half flight stair will connect the two. The floors above the cellar will proceed upward half a story higher than the floors above the garage. Each floor will be separated by a full story from the floors above and below it on its own side. Each staircase will cover a half flight, leading from a level on one side to the next level on the other side. Split-level houses are rarely built now. In a bilevel house, floors are level throughout the house and front entry door sill is between the upper and lower floor levels, at a landing on the stairway between these floor levels. Few bilevels houses are built now. They were popular in the 1960s and 1970s in widths from 43 feet to 51 feet and depths from 23 feet to 28 feet. The collection includes houses sized from hovels to mansions
The large number of house designs, the big selection of building dimensions and the extensive scope of building attributes make the drawing collection a comprehensive reference source of local house design of its time. In a drawing collection of this size, it is almost always possible to find an approximate example of any house built in the era and location here involved. The drawing collection has about 549 house plans of different sizes. Almost all of these plan sets were used for construction of at least one house. Many house plan sets were used again and again for construction of additional houses without changes in the drawings. Several drawing sets were used this way for construction of an estimated 100 houses each. In addition, other house drawings were reused with new drawing changes for construction of additional houses. As complete records are not available, the total number of houses built from the drawing collection is not known, but it is substantial. In all, the houses constructed are a major and significant example of all the houses built in the years and area served. Importantly, this sample of houses was not selected by any person or by a small group. Instead, it was shaped by the house building market, being selected by home buyers and home builders influenced by home buyers. The sample consisted of many examples of the prevailing style and size and house arrangement and a fewer number of examples made for the exceptional wishes of the architect’s client or exceptional site conditions at the house. In other words, the house drawing collection shows what actually happened in the local house building industry, and not what someone thought was important in such activities. This would help serious observers of the era, its houses, society and history.
See Box 1, Folder 1 for additional printed information on the drawings.
The papers are organized into four series, according to the type of house represented:
For other materials related to architects and architectural drawings, see:
This collection should be cited as: Manuscript Group 1679, Carl F. Saalbach Collection, The New Jersey Historical Society.
Donated by Carl F. Saalbach, 2006.