Evarts Tracy, pioneer of American military camouflage, was renowned architect
By Nancy Piwowar
Plainfield, NJ -- Evarts Tracy was one of the foremost architects in America in 1915, but as World War One came closer to America, he was one of the first men to offer his services to the government. Such patriotism was a family tradition: Tracy was the great-great grandson of Roger Sherman, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence and the only one to sign three other historic documents: The Association of 1774, The Articles of Confederation, and the Constitution of the United States.
Tracy was born in New York on May 23, 1868, and moved with his family at the age of six to Plainfield, New Jersey. His parents' house is located on West Eighth Street in the Van Wyck Brooks Historic District, Plainfield, New Jersey. He graduated from Yale in 1890.
Tracy married Caroline Streuli on June 23, 1894. In 1900, Evarts Tracy built his own house in Plainfield, New Jersey and occupied it in 1901. Tracy's residence was built perpendicular to the road, and one could surmise that he watched the construction of Muhlenberg Hospital from his residence on Hillside Avenue, which is on a hill overlooking Muhlenberg. His residence was also built to the points of the compass just like his Muhlenberg buildings. Tracy's residence is now part of the Hillside Avenue Historic District, Plainfield, New Jersey.
Earlier in 1896, Tracy designed a Nurses' Home for the "old" Muhlenberg in the west end of Plainfield, and it was completed in 1897 (now demolished).
Tracy was into the latest inventions of his time. He purchased a locomobile, "Best Built Car in America," and it was expensive and elegant. He thought so much of his locomobile that the architectural plans of his Hillside Avenue residence shows that he designed a large locomobile opening and door so that he could drive his locomobile right into the basement of his house. This no longer exists at the residence. He enjoyed giving rides to people around the city in his locomobile.
References are made that Tracy retired from the Tracy and Swartwout architectural firm in 1915, but in actuality he offered his services to the country in the Great World War.
Read more: Evarts Tracy
Documenting the First Modern War 100 Years Ago
By Darroch Greer
In 2007, a friend of mine from college called me after seeing a photograph of his grandfather on a cover of a book about World War One aviation. He asked me how to make a documentary. Ron King is the grandson of First Yale Unit member John Vorys (Yale 1918, ten-term congressman from Ohio), and his grandfather was sitting next to six classmates in Palm Beach Florida on the cover of a book called The Millionaires' Unit by Marc Wortman (Public Affairs, 2006). The photo was taken in April 1917, and the Yale students had left school to train as pilots in more hospitable weather ten days before the United States declared war on Germany. The Yale Unit became the founding squadron of the U.S. Navy Air Reserve.
Having done most of my documentary work in 19th century American history, I didn't have a strong frame of reference for the Great War. It wasn't touched on at all in secondary school, and my college degree had been in fine arts. Ron attended a talk by the book's author at the Yale Club in Manhattan, and it seemed there might be some unique photos in private family collections. The story was a good one: young, dynamic personalities tackling a new and dangerous technology, running off to war at a time when it seemed romantic.
Read more: Darroch Greer -- The Millionaires' Unit