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American Architecture; Studies

American Architecture; Studies
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Title: American Architecture; Studies
Release Date: 2019-01-14
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Copyright Status: Public domain in the USA.
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{i}

AMERICAN
ARCHITECTURE

Studies
BY
MONTGOMERY   SCHUYLER

WITH   ILLUSTRATIONS

NEW   YORK
HARPER & BROTHERS, PUBLISHERS
1892

Copyright, 1892, by Harper & Brothers.
All rights reserved.

{ii} 

{iii} 

TO
K. L. S.

{iv} 

{v} 

CONTENTS

 PAGE
The Point of View1
Concerning Queen Anne6
The Vanderbilt Houses52
The Brooklyn Bridge as a Monument68
An American Cathedral86
Glimpses of Western Architecture:
 I. Chicago112
II. St. Paul and Minneapolis168

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ILLUSTRATIONS

New York:
 PAGE
Recessed Balcony, W. H. Vanderbilt’s House13
Doorways on Madison Avenue17
Oriel of House in Fifty-Fifth Street19
Doorway, Fifth Avenue, Below Seventy-Fifth Street21
House in Fifty-Sixth Street22
Houses in Madison Avenue25
Doorway at Fifth Avenue and Sixty-Seventh Street33
Glimpse of Columbia College from Madison Avenue35
From Governor Tilden’s House37
Oriel in W. K. Vanderbilt’s House39
Rear of Roof, House of Cornelius Vanderbilt, Fifth Avenue42
Doorway of Guernsey Building, Broadway44
United Bank Building46
Post Building47
Gateway of Mills Building49
The Vanderbilt Houses:
House of W. K. Vanderbilt53
House of Cornelius Vanderbilt59
Houses of W. H. Vanderbilt63
Post and Railing, W. H. Vanderbilt’s House67
The Brooklyn Bridge
The Bridge from the Brooklyn Side69
Bridge at Minneapolis75
Section of Brooklyn Bridge Tower77
Section of Anchorage. (Side View.)81
An American Cathedral
Proposed Cathedral at Albany87
West Elevation91
East Elevation95
Ground-Plan99
Transverse Section through Choir105
Chicago:
Clock Tower, Dearborn Station112
From the City and County Building118
The Art Institute121
Entrance to the Art Institute123
Balcony of Auditorium125
Tower of Auditorium127
The Field Building131
Arcade from the Studebaker Building135
The Owings Building139
Corner of Insurance Exchange141
Entrance to the Phœnix Building145
Oriel, Phœnix Building147
Janua Richardsoniensis152
Oriel of Dwelling154
Dwelling in Lake Shore Drive156
Dwelling in Prairie Avenue158
Front in Dearborn Avenue163
A House of Bowlders165
A Byzantine Corbel166
St. Paul and Minneapolis
Public Library, Minneapolis176
Entrance to Public Library, Minneapolis177
The People’s Church, St. Paul178
Unitarian Church, Minneapolis180
Presbyterian Church, St. Paul182
West Hotel, Minneapolis183
Lumber Exchange, Minneapolis187
Entrance to Bank of Commerce, Minneapolis188
Corner of Bank of Commerce, Minneapolis190
The “Globe” Building, Minneapolis191
Entrance to “Pioneer Press” Building, St. Paul192
Corner of “Pioneer Press” Building193
Bank of Minnesota, St. Paul195
Top of New York Life Insurance Building, St. Paul196
Entrance to New York Life Insurance Building, St. Paul198
New York Life Insurance Building, Minneapolis200
Vestibule of New York Life Insurance Building, Minneapolis201
Dwelling in Minneapolis202
Dwelling in St. Paul203
Porte-Cochère, St. Paul204
Porch in St. Paul205
From a Dwelling in St. Paul206
Dwellings in St. Paul207
Porch in St. Paul209

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THE POINT OF VIEW

THE connection between the papers here collected, in addition to theircommon subject-matter, is their common point of view. Of this I do notknow that I can make a clearer or briefer statement than I made in aspeech delivered, in response to the toast of “Architecture,” at thefifth annual banquet of the National Association of Builders, givenFebruary 12, 1891, at the Lenox Lyceum, in New York. Accordingly Ireprint here the report of my remarks:

“Mr. Chairman and Gentlemen of the National Association ofBuilders,—You will not expect from me, in responding to thistoast, any exhibition of that facetious spirit with which some ofmy predecessors have entertained you. It has, indeed, been saidthat American humor has never found full expression except inarchitecture. It has also been said by an honored friend of mine,himself an architect, whom I hoped to see here to-night, thatAmerican architecture was the art of covering one thing withanother thing to imitate a third thing, which, if genuine, wouldnot be desirable. But I hope you will agree with me that, thoughthe expression is comic, the fact, so far as it is a fact, is{2}serious even to sadness. It is a great pleasure and a greatprivilege for me to speak to this sentiment, and it is especially aprivilege for me to speak upon it to an association of builders,because it seems to me that the real, radical defect of modernarchitecture in general, if not of American architecture inparticular, is the estrangement between architecture andbuilding—between the poetry and the prose, so to speak, of the artof building, which can never be disjoined without injury to both.If you look into any dictionary or into any cyclopædia under‘architecture,’ you will find that it is the art of building; but Idon’t think that you would arrive at that definition from aninspection of the streets of any modern city. I think, on thecontrary, that if you were to scrape down to the face of the mainwall of the buildings of these streets, you would find that you hadsimply removed all the architecture, and that you had left thebuildings as good as ever; that is to say, the buildings in whichthe definition I have quoted is illustrated are in the minority,and the buildings of which I have just spoken are in the majority;and the more architectural pretensions the building has, the moreapt it is to illustrate this defect of which I have spoken.

“It is, I believe, historically true, in the history of the world,with one conspicuous exception, that down to the ItalianRenaissance, some four centuries ago, the architect was himself abuilder. The exception is the classical period in Rome. The Grecianbuilders, as all of you know, had taken the simplest possibleconstruction, that of the post and lintel, two uprights carrying acrossbeam, and they had developed that into a refined and beautifulthing. The Romans admired that, and they wished to reproduce it intheir own buildings, but the construction of their own buildingswas an arched{3} construction; it was a wall pierced with arches.They did not develop that construction into what it might havebeen. They simply pierced their wall with arches and overlaid itwith an envelope of the artistic expression of anotherconstruction, which they coarsened in the process. According tosome accounts, they hired Greek decorators to overlay it with thisarchitecture which had nothing to do with it, and there was thefirst illustration in all history of this difference between theart of architecture and the art of building. In every other countryin the world the architect had been the builder. I think that istrue down to the Italian Renaissance; and then building was reallya lost art. There hadn’t been anything really built in thefifteenth century; and they began to employ general artists,painters and sculptors and goldsmiths, to design their buildings,and these men had no models before them except this Grecian-Romanarchitecture of which I speak.[A] These men reproduced that intheir designs, and left the builder to construct it the best way hecould, and that, I am told, is a process which sometimes prevailsin the present time. But before that everything had been a simpledevelopment of the construction and the material of the building,and since that men have thought they perceived that architecturewas one thing and building was another, and they have gone on todesign buildings without any sort of reference to the materials ofwhich they were composed, or the manner in which they were puttogether. That is the origin of the exclusively modern practice ofworking in architectural{4} styles, as it is called. Why, before thefifteenth century, I don’t suppose any man who began to build abuilding ever thought in what style he should compose it any morethan I thought before I got up here in what language I shouldaddress you; he simply built in the language to which he wasaccustomed and which he knew. You will find this perfect truth isthe great charm of Grecian architecture, and ten or fifteencenturies later it was the great charm of Gothic architecture; thatis to say, that it was founded upon fact, that it was the truth,that it was the thing the man was doing that he was concernedabout, even in those pieces of architecture which seem to us themost exuberant, the most fantastic, like the front of Rouen, orlike the cathedral of which Longfellow speaks, as you all remember:

How strange the sculptures that adorn these towers!
This crowd of statues, in whose folded sleeves
Birds build their nests; while, canopied with leaves,
Parvis and portal bloom like trellised bowers,
And the vast minster seems a cross of flowers.’

Even in those things there was that logical, law-abiding, sensible,practical adherence to the facts of construction, to the art ofbuilding, which we have so long lost, and which I hope we aregetting back again.

“There are examples, in the work of our modern architecture, ofarchitects who design with this same truth, with this same reality,with this same sincerity that animated the old builders before thecoming-in of this artificial and irrelevant system of design, andone of them is the building in which I am informed a great many ofyou spent last evening; I mean the Casino. I don’t know any moreadmirable illustration of real, genuine, modern architecture thanthat building; and among all its merits I don’t know any meritgreater than the{5} fidelity with which the design follows the factsof structure in the features, in the material, in everything. It isa building in baked clay; there isn’t a feature in it in brick orin terra-cotta which could be translated into any other materialwithout loss. It is a beautiful, adequate, modern performance. Isay this without any reservation, because unfortunately the geniuswho, in great part, designed that building has gone from us; andthere are many things by living architects, whom I cannot mentionbecause they are living, which exhibit these same merits. There isone other example that I would like to mention here, because manyof you know his work; I mean the late John Wellborn Root, ofChicago. I shouldn’t mention him either if he

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