Queer Places:
1013 Main St, Antioch, IL 60002

Emmett Morley Webb (born November 21, 1909) was a furniture designer. He was born in Antioch, Illinois, the son of Ira Chase Webb (1863–1935), an Antioch merchant and civic leader, and Susan Robinson Morley (1883–1955). Susan Morley was the daughter of Antioch pioneers, William G. and Mary Jones Morley.

E. Morley Webb inherited around 40.000$ in 1935 (more than 750.000$ today) at the death of his father, a former Antioch Village Treasurer. His mother, who lived with him, inherited 47.000$ (more than 900.000$).

Mexico City attracted international gay visitors between the 1940s and 1960s, with its cultural life, low cost of living, the intelligentsia’s leftist orientation, and the city’s architectural beauty. Political, cultural and sexual dissidents found the fast-growing city welcoming despite its rapid population growth: from 1.5 to 6 million between 1930 and 1960. Allen Ginsberg – who had regularly visited Mexico City from 1951 – reported its affordability to his friend Gary Snyder as well as his homosexual encountersduring a 1956 visit with Jack Kerouac and Peter Orlovsky. Some international visitors settled permanently. Foreign homosexuals found opportunities in couture and design, including milliner Henri de Châtillon, furniture designer Emmett Morley Webb and restaurateur and designer Jay de Laval. Earl Sennett, an instructor at Mexico City College in the 1940s and 1950s, directed the Mexico City Players, a theatrical troupe that included political dissidents like John T. Herrmann.

The structure and design of homes answered gay households’ needs, such as a ‘modern residence for a family consisting of two persons’ advertised in 1937. Projected for an urban lot of 225 square metres, it featured a small front garden and carport, a dining room, a living room, a kitchen with butler’s pantry, a breakfast nook on the ground floor and a guest powder room. The main stairwell led to the bathroom, a small hall or den, two bedrooms, a library and a sewing room. A metal spiral staircase in the kitchen led to separate servants’ quarters on the second floor, but their rooms did not connect at all to those of the homeowners on the same floor, on the other side of the bathroom wall. Such designs guaranteed gay couples privacy – and a spare bedroom for visitors. The isolation of the master bedroom from the rest of the house, with an en-suite bathroom, facilitated pre- and post-coital hygiene. The library and sewing room offered couples separate home workspaces, or perhaps a studio for artists. Native and foreign designers decorated these modern residences. Sophisticated, natural, organic design elements incorporated elements of Frank Lloyd Wright’s prairiestyle architecture – particularly in the homes society architect Jorge Rubio built – but also went well with Luis Barragán’s minimalist landscape projects. The furnishings of designers like Cuban-born Clara Porset and American expatriates Michael Van Beuren and Emmett Morley Webb allowed apartment owners to incorporate a modern aesthetic into their domestic spaces that rejected the ornate historicist aesthetics of Porfirian furnishings or the rough-hewn, quaint furniture of rural folk. Modern style thus represented the values and stability to which the middle class aspired, and offered clean lines and high-quality natural finishes. Gay interior designers such as Arturo Pani (with Jay de Laval) and Webb were also in great demand among the gay elite. Posh gays competed to outdo each other in their homes’ expressions of originality, taste and elegance. Composer Gabriel Ruiz and physician Elías Nandino constantly re-upholstered and reappointed their homes, fighting over the best tradesmen and decorators; Nandino’s one-upmanship went so far as to use fishbowls – with live fish – as lampshades.

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