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American Architects and Their Books, 18401915

American Architects and Their Books, 18401915

Kenneth Hafertepe
James F. O’Gorman
Copyright Date: 2007
Pages: 320
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  • Book Info
    American Architects and Their Books, 18401915
    Book Description:

    Since the Renaissance, architects have been authors and architecture has been the subject of publications. Architectural forms and theories are spread not just by buildings, but by the distribution of images and descriptions fed through the printing press. The study of an architect's library is an essential avenue to understanding that architect's intentions and judging his or her achievements. In this wellillustrated volume, a chronological sequel to American Architects and Their Books to 1848, twelve distinguished historians of architecture discuss from various points of view the books that inspired architects both famous and notsofamous, and the books the architects themselves produced. They examine the multifaceted relationship of nineteenth and early twentiethcentury architects to print culture—the literary works that architects collected, used, argued over, wrote, illustrated, designed, printed, were inspired by, cribbed from, educated clients with, advertised their services through, designed libraries for, or just plain enjoyed. The result is a volume that presents the intersection of the history of architecture, the history of ideas, and the history of the book. Changes in print culture during this period had a significant impact on the architectural profession, as revealed in these wellinformed scholarly essays. In addition to the editors, contributors include Jhennifer A. Amundson, Edward R. Bosley, Ted Cavanagh, Elspeth Cowell, Elaine Harrington, Michael J. Lewis, Anne E. Mallek, Daniel D. Reiff, Earle G. Shettleworth, Jr., and Chris SzczesnyAdams. Among the architects discussed are A. J. Downing, Charles Sumner Greene, James Sims, Samuel Sloan, John Calvin Stevens, Thomas U. Walter, and Frank Lloyd Wright.

    eISBN: 978-1-61376-103-8
    Subjects: Language & Literature, Art & Art History, Architecture and Architectural History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-xvi)
  4. INTRODUCTION: Architects and Their Books, 1840–1915
    (pp. xvii-xxviii)
    Kenneth Hafertepe and James F. O’Gorman

    “‘What is the use of a book,’ thought Alice, ‘without pictures or conversations?’” LewisCarroll surely hadn’t architects in mind when he wrote that memorable line; nonetheless, Alice’s question can overarch the following studies. Pictures in architectural books and the conversations such books include or engender are two of the most important ingredients of the genre, the one illustrating content, the other directing its effect. (And surely there have been clients who thought of their architect’s office as located down a rabbit hole and presided over by a hookah-smoking caterpillar.) Architects’ books, in all the dimensions that phrase implies, including...

    (pp. 1-30)
    Kenneth Hafertepe

    A. J. Downing was one of the most influential American architectural writers of thenineteenth century, setting the pattern, so to speak, for a generation or more of books aimed at American builders and their potential clients. Though many have hailed him as an arbiter of American taste and as a prophet with honor, others have castigated him as an elitist masquerading as a man of the people. Such assessments have drawn on Downing’s own writings, the writings of his nineteenth-century competitors, and the architectural treatises that influenced him. I suggest that the method of Downing scholars has fallen short...

    (pp. 31-62)
    Ted Cavanagh

    Historians of architectural practice emphasize two paths to becoming an architect in theUnited States of the nineteenth century: the “English” method of apprenticeship, and the “French” method of education.¹ There was a third source—the indigenous carpenter—builders. Without exaggeration, they made up the majority of the best-trained architects in the Antebellum period.²

    Many carpenters taught themselves architecture. This remained an important route to becoming an architect throughout the nineteenth century, in fact, several master builders were early proponents of professionalism in architecture. But the “rise “ to professional status is not the entire story.³ Though historians often dismiss...

  7. III “VAST AVENUES TO KNOWLEDGE”: Thomas Ustick Walter’s Books
    (pp. 63-94)
    Jhennifer A. Amundson

    Early in his career Thomas Ustick Walter (figure 3.1) acquired a self-described “strongdisposition to indulge in books” that lasted through the fluctuations of his frequently successful, and occasionally tragic, life (1804–87).¹ The expansion and contraction of his library across his six-decade career indicates the ebb and flow of his professional fortunes as clearly as any office ledger could. Even as its size changed, the library’s content remained remarkably consistent. From the start of his career during the historically derived stylistic revivals of the 1820s to its culmination in the aesthetically indeterminate 1880s, Walter maintained a preference for certain...

    (pp. 95-128)
    Elspeth Cowell

    In the preface to his first book, The Model Architect(1852–53), Philadelphia architectSamuel Sloan observed, referring to contemporary pattern books, that “a great number of handsomely engraved designs on fine paper have been presented to the public, threatening annihilation to the architect’s bill.” Sloan’s book, rather than contributing to this “annihilation,” would be “a ‘matter of fact’ business like book on cottages and country residences” which would “furnish valuable information to the experienced man and to the learner.”¹ Underlying Sloan’s intention of providing a practical guide to the reader was a less explicit aim of promoting the importance...

  9. V “AT THE CORE OF HIS CAREER”: Enoch A. Curtis and Architectural Books
    (pp. 129-148)
    Daniel D. Reiff

    Enoch A. Curtis (1831–1907), a little-studied regional architect who designed more thansixty buildings in western New York and northwestern Pennsylvania, epitomizes the carpenter who turned architect thanks to books. It is recorded that before and after serving in the Civil War, Curtis studied architecture from books, and in 1867 he opened an architectural office in Fredonia, New York. But to put his method of designing with the prompting—or the aid—of books in context, one must first look at how essential books were to the “average” architect in the late nineteenth century. This can be determined by...

  10. VI EDWARD TOWNSEND MIX: Books and the Professional Architect in Nineteenth-Century Milwaukee
    (pp. 149-172)
    Chris Szczesny-Adams

    Edward Townsend Mix (1831–1890), a Milwaukee architect working 1855–90, owned avariety of architectural books that enhanced his professional practice (figure 6.1). Although not commonly recognized as a major figure in American architecture, Mix designed and built structures throughout the Midwest and played a critical role in Milwaukee’s architectural development. His designs encompassed various architectural styles, including Italianate, Second Empire, Romanesque, and Queen Anne, all of which were reflected in his book collection.

    To understand E. Townsend Mix, his books, and his impact on Milwaukee’s architectural development, one must consider a variety of issues. It is important, first,...

    (pp. 173-194)
    Michael J. Lewis

    Two charges used to be made against Victorian architects, and both cannot be true: it wassaid that they copied their designs from booksandthat they made them up out of their heads. But if someone cannot simultaneously be a shameless copyist and a capricious fantasist, he may combine aspects of each. The peculiar mixture of bookishness and originality is perhaps the most distinctive trait of the High Victorian era. It is not always clear, however, what the extent of this bookishness was, for although we know in copious detail what books architects had at their fingertips, in many...

  12. VIII “EITHER IN BOOKS OR ARCHITECTURE”: Bertram Grosvenor Goodhue in the Nineties
    (pp. 195-214)
    James F. O’Gorman

    In a letter of 28 June 1894, Bertram Grosvenor Goodhue (1869–1924) reported to thephotographer-publisher F. Holland Day that he was experiencing a momentary lull in his labors, “either in books or architecture.”¹ Within three years of his arrival in Boston, then, Goodhue was looking for work in two specialized fields, the two on which his fame principally rests, and the lull he then remarked was the last he was to enjoy for many years.

    In preparing a brief profile that emphasizes his double-barreled career in the 1890s, I have visited some of his major buildings, held in hand...

    (pp. 215-230)
    Earle G. Shettleworth Jr.

    In 1997, Paul S. Stevens presented the 400-volume architectural library of his great-grandfather, John Calvin Stevens (1855–1940), to the Maine Historical Society in Portland. This impressive collection of eighteenth-, nineteenth-, and twentieth-century architectural books had been owned by three subsequent generations of architects before joining the historical society’s Stevens collection of drawings, specifications, sketchbooks, and photographs given in 1973 by Paul’s father, John Calvin Stevens II (1908–1990). Thus, the library completed an extensive archive devoted to Maine’s leading architect of the late nineteenth to early twentieth century, now widely appreciated for his work in the Shingle Style.


    (pp. 231-256)
    Elaine Harrington

    Before Frank Lloyd Wright devoted his long life to architecture, he had discovered booksand reading. They were central themes throughout his career. Since his death in 1959, Wright’s legacy remains an American cultural heritage of buildings and a wealth of books about that architecture. Indeed, booksaboutWright are a growth industry for scholarly and popular historians, inspiring several bibliographies.¹ During his architectural career, Wright also produced and wrote books himself, many about his architectural thinking and work.

    Wright went from reading books to making books to writing books. He owned and used books important to his professional development...

    (pp. 257-264)
    James F. O’Gorman

    As is well known, between 1889 and 1909, Frank Lloyd Wright developed a suburban, middle-class domestic building type known as the Prairie House.¹ Simply described, this was a hearth-centered, frequently cruciform or quasi-cruciform plan realized in three dimensions as a broad masonry core from which low, floating, horizontal roofs covering the arms of the house radiated out into a typically wooded surrounding landscape. The type appeared in embryonic form in the house he designed for his own family in Oak Park, Illinois (1889) and in the Winslow House in nearby River Forest (1893); it was unveiled in its full maturity...

  16. XII EXOTIC AND AESTHETIC: The Library of Charles Sumner Greene
    (pp. 265-288)
    Edward R. Bosley and Anne E. Mallek

    As principal designer in the southern California firm of Greene & Greene (1894–1922), Charles Sumner Greene (1868–1957), with his younger brother Henry Mather Greene (1870–1954), created compelling works of domestic architecture and decorative arts that today define a rarified niche within the American Arts and Crafts movement. During the first decade of the twentieth century the firm rose from local obscurity to international prominence through the strength of their designs for refined wooden houses and furnishings that celebrated the inherent visual and tactile beauty of superbly crafted materials. A quiet man of slight stature, Charles Greene had a...

    (pp. 289-292)
  18. INDEX
    (pp. 293-303)
  19. Back Matter
    (pp. 304-305)