READINGS, Part 3: 1845-95

Bluestone, Daniel, “Chicago Skyscrapers: A City Under One Roof”, Eggener, Keith, American Architectural History: A Contemporary Reader (New York, 2004), pp. 177-205. (lw)

a) Frame: The article examines the emergence of the skyscraper in Chicago and its resulting impact on the center city.
b) Point: The author describes the skyscraper as the triumph of function and utility over sentiment, and notes that it captures the industrial and commercial spirit of the late 19th century. Skyscrapers were the result of new technologies, such as elevators and steel frames, but they were also the result of an increasing need to accomodate more workers in the center city. The article also focuses on how skyscrapers became cities unto themselves by incorporating human sevices and recreation. The skyscraper became the epidomy of efficiency, comfort, and pleasure.

Bluestone, Daniel. "A City Under One Roof: Chicago Skyscrapers, 1880-1895." American architectural history : a contemporary reader. Ed. Keith L. Eggener. 2004. 177-205. (kc)

Frame: Bluestone proceeds from the idea that in the 1880s architecture was
at a critical moment, there was a "gap between: architecture and
engineering, design and construction, art and industry, feeling and
ration." (179) Bluestone argues from a point made by Gideon that in
Chicago, commercial architecture took part in an aesthetic revolution, not
bound by rules of the past. Instead, Bluestone details much of the
skyscraper architecture of the late 19th Century showing that while it
made developments necessary (with new materials like iron and steel and
lack of space meant building farther up) a prevailing sense of style and
symbolic representation pervaded the new urban commercial enterprise.
Grand entrances, interior decoration and workplace differentiation (the
hierarchical organization of workers) were important aspects of the
Chicago skyscraper during this period.
Point: Ultimately Bluestone proposes that with these details and
technological improvements like plumbing and artificial lighting, the
skyscrapers attempted to reflect refined culture and a comfort from the
bustling polluted urban spaces they occupied. However, this expression of
ultimate greed˛to attract business and stylize the Œwealthy‚˛inevitably
contributed to the decline of urban space (maybe he doesn‚t say it so
explicitly, but the money and energy towards heating, cooling, water, etc
contributed to pollution) and was a representation of class differences
that was not at all transformative. Using traditional form, these
buildings maintained a sense of order. I think Bluestone is ambivalent
about how he feels about the skyscrapers of this time, I think in the end
he just wants to undermine such a moral judgment that is implied in
Gideon‚s discuss, that these buildings were so innovative. Instead they
were ingrained within the times, and while incorporating technological
improvements, they used some forms of style and organization of space
reflexive of a prevailing American commercialism.

Wodehouse, Lawrence, “Alfred B. Mullett and His French Style Governement Buildings,” The Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians Vol. 31 (1972): pp. 22-37. (lw)

a) Frame: The article explores the life and personality of Alfred Mullett and his role in bringing the Second Empire Style to the United States.
b) Point: The article states that Alfred Mullett is solely responsible for bringing the French Second Empire style to America in his role as supervising architect for the Treasury of the United States. He used this style on small post offices to elaborate city structures, most notably the State, War, and Navy building. Wodehouse describes Mullett as an honest man, but a man who is never satisfied with his work. The style died out for being overly expensive, and Mullet shot himself over financial worries and a sense of failure.

Hubka, Thomas, Ochsner, Jeffrey, “H.H. Richardson: The Design of the William Watts Sherman House,” The Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians Vol. 51 (1992): pp. 121-145. (lw)

a) Frame: The article examines the design of the Watts Sherman house in Newport, RI, and the effect of Richardson’s work on greater scale.
b) Point: The article characterizes the design of the Watts Sherman house as a blend between English and colonial American architecture. The authors highlight how contemporary the building was for its time and how its design transcended stylistic boundaries of the era. The ability of Richardson to synthesize many styles into a cohesive form is underrated, according to the authors. Richardson’s use of a wide gable to create interior space approached the idea of the creative architect. His work on this house inspired the shingle and Queen Anne styles, and is therefore a turning point in the development of domestic architecture.

Schiller, Ann, “Charles F. McKim and his Francis Blake House,” The Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians Vol. 47 (1998): pp.5-13. (lw)

a) Frame: The article explores the life and work of Charles F. McKim, most notably on the Francis Blake House.
b) Point: Schiller characterizes McKim as a young and enthusiastic architect who accepts more projects than he can handle, and eventaully suffers from anxiety and overwork. His work on the Francis Blake house was his first major project as an architect and reflected the shingle style of Richardson, his former employer. Though the client was satisfied with the completed prodduct, McKim struggled to meet deadlines. Schiller contests that McKims ambition was too great for one man.

Garvin, James, “Mail Order House Plans and American Victorian Architecture,” Winterthur Portfolio Vol.16 (1981): pp. 309-334. (lw)

a) Frame: The article describes the spread of the Queen Anne style and Victorian houses to the middle class through mail orders.
b) Point: Garvin points out that the architect and client relationship in the late 19th century was too personal to extend into the suburbs and the middle class. According to him, the mail order house plans were an important but hidden factor in suburban growth. Many companies offered books of mail order houses, but the most successful was Robert Shopell, who used new technologies to reach out to an untapped market. The middle class could now select plans for their house from a book and have a local contractor construct it. This was an important factor in spreading the Queen Anne and Victorian style houses across the United States,

James L. Garvin. "Mail Order House Plans and American Victorian Architecture" Winterthur Portfolio, Vol. 16 No. 4, 309-334. (kla)

-Article discusses the increasing speed of new designs being applied in
suburbs through mail order house plans (available in builders books),
rather than an architect-client relationship.
-The author asserts that mail order house plans present in architectural
and builders books sped up the development of architecture and show the
use of new technologies in the late nineteenth century, specifically
after the Civil War.

Abigail A. van Slyck. "The Lady and the Library Loafer: Gender and Public Space in Victorian America" Winterthur Portfolio, Vol. 31 No. 4, Gendered Spaces and Aesthetics, 221-242. (kla)

-Article uses Victorian gender ideology and its separate spheres to
increase the understanding of physical space and architecture,
specifically in reading rooms and library settings.
-Although a more descriptive article on the nature of reading rooms and
the introduction of public libraries, and the issues associated with the
gender spheres, it does outline different views on the ladies' reading
room, such as spectacle and strategy.

Kerry Dean Carso, “The Theatrical Spectacle of Medieval Revival,” Winterthur Portfolio, 39:1, p. 21-41 (jk)

Edwin Forrest, an immensely popular stage actor in the mid nineteenth century, was an icon of American nationalism due to his American-bred training and success. He felt that a person’s house should reflect the person, and Forrest was intimately involved in the design of his own medieval residence Fonthill Castle. Forrest’s choice to use the medieval revival iterates its “American-ness” and also the theatrical flare inherit in it.

Martha Crabill McClaugherty, "Household Art: Creating the Artistic Home, 1868-1893," Winterthur Portfolio, Vol. 18, No.1 (1983) 1-26. (ag)

Frame: McClaugherty discusses the goal and idea of aestheticism, which is
that art should be in every household , which was now possible due to the
Industrial Revolution, and it should be the "Beautiful married to the
Useful," (pg. 2). These ideas caused a profusion of books to printed,
which helped to guide women in the correct way of decorating their homes.
Point: She argues that these books on how to decorate one‚s home not only
gave the reader specific ideas and patterns to follow, but they also
stressed the idea that morality can be brought to one‚s house through the
use of household art. The idea of "moral Materialism" (pg. 11) was used
in many books to justify the use and placement of objects of art in the
house because if people were surrounded by beautiful things then they in
turn would be happier and better people.

Karen J. Weitze, "Charles Beasley, Architect (1827-1913): Issues and Images," The Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians Vol. 39, No. 3 (1980) 187-207. (ag)

Frame: Weitze begins her monograph on Beasley with his early childhood on
a farm and follows his life from his apprenticeship in a small town in
Missouri to his being one of Stockton, CA most prominent
builder-architects and finally to his help in rebuilding San Francisco‚s
China town after the 1906 earthquake. Weitze is interested in
understanding not only Beasley‚s life but also why he was one of the first
builder-architects in California to embrace and use oriental themes and
details in his later architecture, including one his most famous works:
the Agricultural Pavilion in Stockton.
Point: She argues that Beasley‚s involvement in the Methodist church,
which was abolitionist as well as open to understanding and learning about
the Chinese culture made him sensitive to the difficulties of the Chinese
laborers. His progressive belief that the Chinese laborers should be
treated more fairly caused him to become interested in their culture, and
this new knowledge of oriental culture, which he learned through the
Chinese laborers he worked with and James Fergson‚s book on architectural
history was manifested in his later buildings.

Fred W. Peterson, "Vernacular Building and Victorian Architecture: Midwestern American Farm Homes," in Dell Upton and J. M. Vlach, eds., Common Places: Readings in American Vernacular Architecture (Athens, GA, 1986), 433-446. (ag)

Frame: Peterson begins his article by discussing the general aesthetics
and ideas of Andrew Jackson Downing, as well as, the moral and social
theories such as Social Darwinism that were prevalent at the time. He
then discusses how the vernacular architecture of Minnesotan farm houses
did not necessarily follow any of these ideas/ideals.
Point: Peterson tries to prove through using 12 farm houses in rural
Minnesota that the builders of these vernacular houses did not follow or
care about the fashionable architectural details that were used in more
urban Victorian architecture. He argues that the farmers built their
houses in regards to the economic and environmental needs of their farms,
as well as, their own practical experience. However, all of these factors
cumulated in a few similar types that characterize the farm house

Fred W. Peterson, “Vernacular Building and Victorian Architecture: Midwest American Farm Homes”, 433-447 in Dell Upton and John Michael Vlach, eds., Common Places: Readings in American Vernacular Architecture (Athens, GA, 1986). (mmh)

This article considers the influence of factors outside of local and regional character that influenced the form of rural dwellings across the Midwest.
Peterson, in his discussion, points to the factors of economics and expediency of construction taking priority over the style of these homes. While based on designs of the time, such as A.J. Downing’s suggestions for farm homes, the final product was typically employed the use of structure and elements, but in much simpler and disjointed form, particularly as the dwellings were usually built in phases.

Daniel Bluestone. "Civic and Aesthetic Reserve: Ammi Burnham Young's 1850s Federal Customhouse Designs" Winterthur Portfolio, Vol. 25 No. 2/3, 131-156. (kla)

-Article explores why Young abandoned the Greek temple facade for his
customhouses and includes the relationships between politics, the
institution, design, and city planning in this exploration. As for time
period, the article covers from the 1850s designs of Young to post-Civil
war Baroque designs by a different supervising architect.
-A main argument of the article is that Young 'borrowed' the change of
design from Thomas S. James during a competition, but this cannot be
proven due to the loss of James's designs.

Gavin Townsend. "Airborne Toxins and the American House, 1865-1895" Winterthur Portfolio, Vol. 24 No. 1, 29-42. (kla)

-Article discusses the different thoughts on exhaled and illness
(focusing on carbon dioxide) and the resulting architectural elements of
such awareness in a late nineteenth century house.
-Another more descriptive/historical article, fear of illness and
scientific findings relating to exhalations and poor ventilation are cited
as main causes of the architectural adaptations of house designs for
better circulation.

"Airborne Toxins and the American House, 1865-1895," by Townsend, Gavin Winterthur Portfolio 24, 1 (Spring 1989): 29-42 (co)

In the late 1800s it was widely thought that air which had already been
breathed, if reinhaled, could make a person ill, due to the bacteria and
CO2 it contained. Fear of this may have contributed to a number of
features of the the homes of the time, including the lower ceilings
(preventing stale air from collecting near the ceiling, out of cross
breezes) and the large central hallway, which made it much easier for air
to circulate through an entire house. Stoves and fireplaces were also
designed to maximize the amount of air they moved.

Beecher, C.; Stowe, HB. "The American Woman's Home (1869)." America Builds. (Leland Roth) pg. 57-68. (blf)

The authors agrue that the women's role--one whose importance is typically
overlooked--is to train God's children for the 'eternal home.' To do this
well, however, the earthly home, too, must be well constructed. The
authors give very specific direction about dimensions of room such as
space in kitchens and the importance of conservatories. Being women, they
seem to have much practical knowledge about how form follows function.

Theodore M, Brown. "Thoreau's Prophetic Architectural Program." The New England Quarterly. March 1965. pg. 3-20. (blf)

Known for his emphasis on simplicity, THoreau was not one to glorify the
decadent buildings of his time. Rather, he emphasized the importance of
connecting buildings to the nature around them. Moreever, he championed
domestic architecture which "complements the spiritual life within."

Hoagland, Alison K. "Village Constructions: U.S. Army Forts on the Plains, 1848-1890." Winterthur Portfolio, 34:4 (Winter 1999): 215-237. (kc)

Frame: Hoagland details travelers‚ accounts, officer and soldier (and
soldier‚s wives) journals, and other written record as describing U.S.
Army forts in the 19th Century like villages˛an unexpected description.
Contrary to an image of heavy fortification, she details fort plans, like
that of Laramie and D.A. Russel. These forts incorporated parading
grounds (like common greens), traditional wood houses and purpose space
with front porches in an openly constructed and burgeoning design that
sprawled onto the sweeping western landscape. This was in stark contrast
to the regional (Native American) materials and traditional military
Point: Hoagland makes the point that these Œvillage constructions‚
developed from the multi-faceted purpose of the military base in the West.
As a staging ground for offensive actions rather than the object of
attack and defense, these locations were able to involve and protect
civilian populations, grow (somewhat haphazardly) with the emigration of
settlers and develop a sense of community that ultimately served to
disseminate aspects of Anglo-American culture like class distinctions.
Although this account focuses primarily on form and plan of space, it also
includes markers of an American form of construction that I believe is now
still evident in the West, utilizing style of a new national tradition yet
in an expansive way in relation to the open spaces. Could this production
of traditional East Coast, Anglo American forms adapted in this space be a
sort of vernacular? Officers were given independence in planning their
forts and their growth occurred haphazardly and further from the
introduction of new technologies. Just a thought.

McMurry, Sally. "City Parlor, Country Sitting Room: Rural Vernacular Design and the American Parlor, 1840-1900." Winterthur Portfolio, 20:4 (Winter 1985): 261-280. (kc)

Frame: McMurry attempts to set the reader up for the Œdecline‚ of the
parlor as an important residential space in the 20th Century. She
contrasts plans of urban middle-class homes and details of their
decoration and formal usage with agricultural periodicals that criticized
the parlor. In urban homes, the parlor became a woman‚s domain, mediating
between the family and the outside world. Used somewhat often, but to
engage in more formal encounters, the parlor was a space that symbolized
the family‚s personality in much the same ways as a house façade. These
parlors were characterized by fashionable architectural details (paneling
and molding, pilasters, etc) and designer furniture and collections of
books, instruments and pictures. The parlor was accepted and important to
middle class urban social life. Contrastingly, Northern rural
agricultural based families rarely used their parlors only for the
reception of unfamiliar and formal guests or in the event of life
milestones like funerals. The parlor was a place of decadence,
contradictory to the economic enterprise of farming. In the end, the
rural parlor was wasted space, time and money.
Point: McMurry describes the late 19th Century transformation of the
rural parlor. Designs began to distinguish the parlor as an area to be
reclaimed, transforming it into a sitting room, family room or living room
area. Instead of detaching it from the house, the room was shifted in
location, reduced in size, linked with more areas of the house or
discarded altogether. (274) The meaning of the room was also transformed,
becoming an area of familial gathering and daily importance that connected
generations and created continuities of tradition. The movements in
design to reform the parlor space are important to consider because they
preceded and prepared the discipline to accommodate the "significant and
numerous misgivings" that urbanites developed about parlor culture. (279)

Jennings, Jan. "Drawing on the Vernacular Interior," Winterthur Portfolio, Vol. 27, No. 4 (Chicago, 1992). 255-279. (jp)

This is an intriguing and very specifically focused article. It discusses
the relationship between changing American views on home ownership, the
shift in social norms that affected who necessarily made the decision
about the design of a home, and the rise and prevalence of an industry
that allowed houses to be mass-produced by plan and for those plans to be
circulated and marketed to specific groups. The article focuses
especially on women's new role in the late 1800's in this plan/home
ownership process. While not strictly about architecture, I feel that
this article provided an interesting insight into an aspect of
architectural changes during this period.

Hayward, Mary Ellen. "Urban Vernacular Architecture in Nineteenth-Century Baltimore," Winterthur Portfolio, Vol. 16, No. 1 (Chicago, 1981), 33-63. (jp)

This article discusses the history and development of residential
architecture for the working class in Baltimore. It shows the progression
both fo trying to put more units of housing onto available land as well as
the enlargement (from two-story-plus-attic to three-and-a-half story) of
buildings to accomodate a growing middle class. It discusses the
reflection of popular architectural styles of the period, from Greek
Revival to Italianate, in middle-class housing, but simultaneously
addresses the incorporation of the new machine industry into ease and cost
of construction. Italianate moldings, cornices, and other details, for
example, were chosen for row house styles only if they could be easily
factory produced. Hayward provides an interesting illustration of
architecture in a specific social context.

John Archer, “Country and City in the American Romantic Suburb”, The Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians, Vol. 42, No. 2 (May, 1983), 139-156. (mmh)

Archer discusses the development of the early American suburbs in the context of the dynamic between urban and rural lifestyles.
This text works to distinguish that suburban development arose from more than the traditionally considered influences of romantic cemetery planning, the picturesque parks of Britain, a growing interest in family life, and the works of A. J. Downing. The author, while incorporating these more common ideals, infers from a host of texts on suburban, rural, and urban writings that the rise of the suburban form was a desire to achieve a middle ground between the best characteristics of the city and the country.

Samuel Wilson, Jr., “New Orleans Prefab, 1867”, The Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians, Vol. 22, No. 1 (March, 1963), 38-39. (mmh)

Succinctly, this article discusses the first prefabricated homes.
Enabled by the technology of mass-production, the “New Orleans Prefab” serves as one of the earliest examples of completely packaged homes—from the ornamental fixtures to the nails. What began as a “mobile emergency structure” to support the mass population influx to the area became a popular form, whose details, plans, and specifics could be selected conveniently from a catalogue.

John Zukowsky, “Castles on the Hudson”, Winterthur Portfolio, Vol. 14, No. 1(Spring 1979), 73-92. (mmh)

Zukowsky draws a strong line of comparison between the Hudson River Valley Gothic mansions and the castles of the Rhine Valley.
Constructed with romanticism as a common undertone, Zukowsky categories these Gothic homes into three more specific forms: chateaux, manor homes, and castellated. In sum, all three of these “castles” are derived and constructed with particular popularity in a seemingly narrow corridor of land because two reasons, for the author—the literary image of the Hudson as the “American Rhine” with innumerable allusions, and the social status of the owners who considered themselves ‘proper lords’ of this American Rhine.

"H. H. Richardson, Frederick Law Olmsted, and the House for Robert Treat Paine," by Floyd, Margaret Henderson Winterthur Portfolio 18, 4 (Winter 1983): 227-248 (co)

Case study of one of the few residences designed by Richardson. Actually
a remodel and expansion of an existing house, it was ultimately converted
to the shingle style. Richardson collaborated with his friend Olmstead in
desiging the house. Interesting examination of the type of relationship
that would exist between a wealthy client and the premier architects of
the time, much more personal than would ever occur today.