The Lone Star Cement Corporation hired the architects to demonstrate that a well-designed, soundly constructed house could be built of concrete at moderate cost. Lone Star maintained that a concrete house–safe from termites, moisture, and decay, stable in hurricanes, and fire resistant–was ideal for the New Orleans climate. The hollow-ribbed concrete walls provided air space for insulation against heat and cold and accommodated pipes and conduits. The construction cost of the demonstration house was $10,200. Weiss, Dreyfous and Seiferth, a firm favored by Governor Huey P. Long and known for its contemporary designs, was selected by the cement company. August Perez Jr. (1907–1998), then recently hired by the firm, gave the house an appropriately modern look: a geometric composition with wraparound windows and no decoration other than polished black concrete panels between the windows and plain horizontal moldings on the wall area between the first and second stories. Lone Star insisted, for “aesthetic reasons,” on a pitched roof rather than a modern flat one, but the hipped roof, with a small chimney at the center, has a low profile, so that the modern appearance of the house is not diluted. An outdoor terrace was placed on the garage roof. The interior was organized traditionally; the combination of living and dining areas created the only integration of spaces; the staircase is of cast concrete. The house, completed within three months and provided with Russel Wright furnishings from the Maison Blanche department store, was opened to sightseers at ten cents each. Despite all the publicity and interest in the project, concrete houses never caught on in New Orleans. Recent exterior attention makes the house look new; however, a new incongruous fence detracts from the purity and simplicity of this small but distinctive building.
In 1936, the year after this demonstration model was constructed, the Times-Picayune commissioned Moise Goldstein to design a “New American Home” in celebration of the newspaper’s one-hundredth anniversary. Located at 1514 Henry Clay Avenue, the streamlined, white-painted brick house with modern wraparound windows and all-electric appliances had no more influence on residential design in New Orleans than did the concrete house.