The University Record, April 24, 2000

Post cards recall early 1900s travel

By Joanne Nesbit
News and Information Services

This post card featuring a Cornwall cottage is part of a boxed set available from the Friends of the Library.
Now you can travel from Cornwall to Cairo without a passport or even leaving your armchair. And you can make that trip in another era without benefit of a “time machine.”

New note cards offered by the Friends of the Library are based on post cards collected by Detroit architect Leonard Willeke during his world journeys in 1908–10. The full-color replications of post cards depict a cottage in Cornwall, a panorama of Cairo and two scenes of Venice.

An avid collector of photographs and post cards of the places he visited, Willeke amassed a collection of about 2,800 black-and-white photographs and more than 12,000 post cards. The photos and cards, along with a collection of books on architecture, were given to the University Library at the death of Willeke’s widow in 1982. Willeke died in 1970.

Willeke practiced in the Detroit area as a residential architect, at one time designing additions to the Edsel and Clay Ford houses. He also was interested in “industrial housing,” and drew up plans for what would have been housing for 3,700 families of workers at the Ford Rouge Complex, formerly known as the Fordson Tractor Plant. The surveying for “Fordson Village: A Model Industrial Suburb” began in 1918, but was slowed by World War I and an influenza epidemic. The entire project of single and four-family homes, duplexes, boarding houses, workingmen’s hotels, banks, shops, parking and grassy areas was scrapped in early 1920 because of the precarious financial position of the Ford Motor Co. at that time.

The Willeke Collection is at the Media Union Library Rare Book and Special Collections Room, with some photos and drawings of his work at the Bentley Historical Library.

Boxed sets of the cards (two of each design) are available at the circulation desk of the Harlan Hatcher Graduate Library and the Media Union Library for $10.60 per set (tax included). Proceeds from the sales will benefit the University Library.