Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Walking to Lancaster

Ben Leech has a habit of putting wild ideas in my head. Most recently, he suggested walking from Lancaster to Philadelphia. The distance of about 60 miles travels along one of the oldest roads in North America, the King's Highway. The year 2014 seems like a good year to walk the walk.

On the left you see my little study of King's Highway (in black) along the Pennsylvania Main Railroad line (in red) as mapped in 1855. I commute from Philadelphia to Lancaster, while Ben commutes from Lancaster to Philadelphia, sharing a common view along the red line. I have blogged before about this amazing Trainscape, that presents the most succinct navigation of America's social history in one hour. In a British context, Patrick Keiller entitled his collection of essays, The View from the Train: Cities and other Landscapes (2013), which gets to the heart of this vantage point.

Is a walking journey realistic? In my estimation, it would take 20 hours. Before committing to the whole stretch, I hope to complete it in seven pieces, by riding the train between stations. The segments would look something like this.


1.  Philadelphia-Ardmore, 2:00 hrs
2.  Ardmore-Paoli, 3:45 hours
3.  Paoli-Exton, 2:40 hours
4.  Exton-Downingtown, 1:45 hours
5.  Downingtown-Coatesville, 1:10 hours
6.  Coatesville-Parkesburg, 2:10 hours
7.  Parkesburg-Lancaster, 7:10 hours

Friday, December 13, 2013

The Man Who Put Me Next to Camels Was Some Friend of Mine


Next time I teach Lancaster Architecture, the syllabus will contain only the following text:

THE MAN WHO PUT ME NEXT TO CAMELS WAS SOME FRIEND OF MINE. OF COURSE IT'S MARROW'S QUALITY ICE CREAM. S CIGARS. FOR RENT. THE FULTON NATIONAL BANK. FURNISHERS.

All texts readable in a 1923 photograph of Penn Square to be studied at greater detail in a reproduction along the north wall of Prince Street Cafe.

The seminar will naturally start at the cafe. The final exam will have a single question. What are the architectural implications of the Sailor at Penn Square?


Saturday, December 07, 2013

Overbrook Station

After open house at the International French School, I found myself at Overbrook Station, along the Pennsylvania Main Line. I usually see the station at 40 miles per hours, zipping along my train to Lancaster. With 15 mins of waiting, I had the treat to look closely at the beautiful carpentry of its shed. Constructed around 1860 it contains the hallmarks of its period, turning, tapering, picturesque compositions.


Monday, November 25, 2013

Podcasting Architecture

This week marks the anniversary of Swann's Way, the first installment of Marcel Proust's In Search of Lost Time. Ira Glass, creator of This American Life, begins a marathon reading of the novel from a hotel room in Brooklyn. After constructing a replica of Proust's own room (left), Yale's French Department embarks on a similar marathon. With Proust, the modern self encountered a subjective re-awakening through architectural memory. Recent experiments in the medium of Podcasts genealogically connect with Proust's narrative stream, where, “I was more destitute than a cave dweller; but then the memory—not yet of the place where I was, but of several of those where I had lived and where I might have been—would come to me like help from on high to pull me out of the void from which I could not have got out on my own.”

The soothing voices of radio theater have long disappeared from the airwaves, but a new medium, radio podcasts, have taken their place. The discipline of architectural history seems to have finally exerted some creative real estate in this medium. Radio nonfiction has became a dominant form of narrative, beginning with WBEZ's This American Life in 1995. Its creator, Ira Glass, went as far as to herald a new era when in 2007 he published The New Kings of Nonfiction. “We're living in an age of great nonfiction writing,” writes Glass, “in the same way that the 1920s and '30s were a golden age of American popular song. Giants walk among us. Cole Porters and George Gershwins and Duke Ellingtons of nonfiction storytelling. They're trying new things and doing pirouettes with the form. But nobody talks about it that way.” The success of such alternative voices morphed further into podcast radio shows, seriated online rather than the syndicated radio waves. July 2013 seems to have marked a watershed moment for podcasts, when Welcome to the NIght Vale became the most downloadable podcast from iTunes. Another marker of success came, when 99% Invisible, the premier architectural podcast, raised double the amounts it had pledged on Kickstarter for Season Four. With Proust and the podcast in mind, I review the podcasts that I have found to be most relevant to architectural history.

99% INVISIBLE
This is the most exciting podcast on architecture and design. It was created by Roman Mars in San Francisco and produced by KALW and the San Francisco American Institute of Architects. Roman Mars has been called the Ira Glass of architecture. Although he commands an increasing presence in the podcast universe, Mars is interested in the deflated, the historical detail and its traction daily life. In a recent interview in Mother Jones, he noted,  “I really wanted to focus on the everyday, even the mundane, and not the things that were shiny and new and exciting.” This month's fundraising success on Kickstarter means that the fourth season of 99% Invisible will be aired daily.

STUDIO 360Kurt Andersen's Studio 360, produced by WNYC in New York, is the oldest and most respected podcast on arts and culture with a Peabody Award under its belt. Although not devoted exclusively to architectural history, it often addresses issues of history and design. Its series, Design for the Real World and Redesigns, focus on issues of design, but the most useful series for architectural historians is the award-winning American Icons. So far, five episodes focus on architectural monuments: the Lincoln MemorialMonticelloFalling Water, the Vietnam Memorial andDisneyland. Typically about 45 minutes long, these episodes have been excellent for teaching.

DnA: DESIGN AND ARCHITECTURE
Hosted by Frances Anderton, this KCRW production centers on architecture and design with a focus on the Los Angeles area. Anderton is a seasoned architectural journalist (The Architectural ReviewL.A. Architect) who has become the voice of design in southern California. (See an Anderton interview here.) DnA's perspective balances the other geographic anchors (New York, Chicago, and San Francisco).

BUILDING MUSEUM
The National Building Museum in Washington, D.C., produces a different kind of podcast that distributes audio recordings of its programming. Typically based on lectures given at the museum, this podcast is exclusively dedicated to architectural history and is a MUST in the cadre of architecture listening. Two recent episodes by historian Elizabeth Hope Cushing and landscape architect Laurie Olin, for example, bring to the general audience the museum's symposium on Frederic Law Olmstead that took place on October 10.

ARCHITECTURAL LEAGUE OF NEW YORK
Like the National Building Museum, the Architectural League of New York podcasts all of its events and makes them available to general readers.

AIA PODNETSimilarly, the American Institute of Architects aggregates podcasts that relate to practicing architecture. "Architecture Knowledge Review is a podcast series for design professionals, featuring interviews, discussions, and best practices by architects and other design professionals who are at the forefront of the profession."

BBC - ARTS AND IDEAS
One way to remain adrift with what Britain's cultural conversation is to listen to Arts and Ideas, a podcast that weekly aggregates the best interviews by BBC Radio 3's Night Waves. Literature, fine arts, theater, and music predominate, but there is a strong architectural presence. New buildings are discussed and old buildings are reconsidered. A recent favorite is the discussion of zoo architecture. Here one can also learn about new buildings, such as Zaha Hadid's Aquatics Centre. Based entirely on interviews and conversations, this is one of the most intellectually charged podcasts. What makes British journalism interesting is the tradition of correspondents pushing their interviewers critically, rather than simply asking polite questions. Night Wave's correspondents (Matthew Sweet, Philip Dodd, Rana Mitter, and Anne McElvoy) press their interviewers with a critical edge.

BBC - IN OUR TIMES
Hosted by Melvyn Bragg, In Our Times is another highlight of British cultural journalism. The podcast's premise is simple. Bragg chooses a topic every week and invites three notable academics to discuss it. The topics are broad and rarely target individual monuments. As in other programs on arts and culture, architectural coverage is episodic. Programs include Architecture and Power (with architectural historians Adrian Tinniswood, Gavin Stamp, and Gillian Darley),Archaeology and Imperialism, the Gothic, Architecture in the 20th Century, Modernist Utopias, John Ruskin, and the Baroque.  

WELCOME TO NIGHT VALE
Although most tangentially related to architectural history, Welcome to Night Vale is by far the most ambitious podcast. Narrated as a series of community announcements, Welcome to Night Vale transports the listener to an imaginary American town in the southwest. In its indeterminate subject, it touches on some fundamental issues of architecture and meaning. This podcast is impossible to describe, it must be experienced. In July 2013, it became the most downloaded podcast, surpassing the pioneering This American Life.

Given the rising number of podcasts and radio shows targeting architectural issues, it becomes increasingly apparent that certain other culture shows shy away from architecture. One of my favorite podcasts, Slate's CULTURE GABFEST, for instance, is pathetically poor on design. Similarly, the best Canadian culture show, Q,with Jian Ghomeshi, rarely tackles the built environment. Different productions have different strengths, and it makes no sense to DEMAND for venues greater architectural coverage. But it is disconcerting how certain articulations of cultural journalism do not see architecture in the same level as text or media creations. A different podcast genre is dedicated to traditional histories, such as Mike Duncan's THoR (The History of Rome) or Robin Pierson's HISTORY OF BYZANTIUM. These, too, spare little audio space for architecture. 

To conclude, architectural podcasts fit into four categories that, for convenience, we might categorize as: 1. Story Driven, 2. Interview Driven, 3. Lecture Driven, and 4. Fantastical. The Story-Driven podcasts (99% Invisible) experiment with the journalistic voice by pursuing a story or a theme from the ground (replicating the experimental journalism of This American Life). The Interview-Driven podcasts take their cue from the radio interview show (Fresh Air, Radio Times, etc.) but target architectural guests. Lecture-Driven podcasts are simple translations of a live event that is recorded and made available on the internet. These proliferate across museums and organizations and are typically the least interesting in form. Finally, the Fantastical podcasts (Welcome to Night Vale) open new grounds to speak about architectural experience in unexpected ways.


In an era of digital uncertainties, architectural historians worry that their subject matter resists the digital translation. Its very physicality and three-dimensionality precluded the digital flatness. Podcasts offer one avenue of dreamy materialization.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Athos and Gothic Beams

Lecture on early monasticism at Athos under Tudor ceiling at Sheffield-Sterling-Strathcona Auditorium

















Monday, November 18, 2013

Education (1890)

Busily thematizing Modernity and Byzantium, we missed Byzantium surrounding us.

Conference held in Simeon Baldwin Chittenden Memorial Room with "Education" window by Louis Comfort Tiffany, Yale University.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Lefkaditi


Why would you know of Leukaditi, a quite village in the remote mountains of Greece? You might know of Delphi, a world-famous ancient site nearby, but Leukaditi is just another dot in a sea of toponyms. At Delphi, the omphalos of the universe, even the most staunch materialist cannot help but succumb to the mysteries of place. My own revelation took place in the modest neighboring village, where I encountered four crumbling houses from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. I revisit my field notes from June 27, 2012, as I plan two undergraduate research collaborations to take place next summer. The houses of Leukaditi are important because they encapsulate an eternal struggle between organic and inorganic matter, in this case, between stone and wood. As in Delphi, the site is located at the nexus of two amply available building material: beautiful limestone from the mountain outcroppings and beautiful cedar from the forests that cover those mountains. Unlike vernacular architecture in other parts of the Mediterranean where wood and stone are clearly separated in the structure of the house (typically masonry walls; wooden openings and roof system), the vernacular of Phokis (as the region was known in antiquity) blends wood and stone on the exterior surface. Our research was first presented in Athens a few weeks ago in a conference on Mediterranean cultural heritage.

“The Lidoriki Project: A Historical Topography,” by Miltiadis Katsaros , Kostis Kourelis and Todd Brenningmeyer, Sixth Annual Congress, Science and Technology for the Safeguard of Cultural Heritage in the Mediterranean Basin, Athens, Greece, Oct. 25, 2013.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Ellsworth Kelly Charter 1959

Charter, I realize, is one of my favorite paintings, which I discovered half a decade ago when living in Connecticut and teaching at an SOM-designed art building with bright orange chairs. I was reunited with the orange mass last weekend at the Yale Art Gallery. Contemplating the neighboring Lichtenstein (BLAM!) and Albers (squares), I found myself reminiscing of Fred Cooper, who came of age in Albers classroom and the tutelage of Marcel Proust. Incidentally, In Search of Lost Time is celebrating its centennial, and the Yale French Department has reconstructed Proust's claustrophobic room to host a reading marathon (see here). Two days before the Proust marathon, Vanity Fair published a list of the six greatest living artists, including Ellsworth Kelly (see here). Five years ago (almost exactly since I was last united with Charter), I was asked to defend the value of Ellsworth Kelly in a liberal arts curriculum. It's difficult to explain the elation this work solicits.

Friday, September 27, 2013

F&M's Gothic Revival Chair

Franklin and Marshall's Gothic Revival heritage has been eclipsed by its 1920s Georgian makeover. A chair from the 1840s in the vaults of the Phillips Museum, thus, becomes increasingly interesting. It came to my attention at the beginning of the semester, while going through the museum vaults to pick three exceptional chairs to use for an interpretive exercise in my Methods in Art History (461) capstone seminar. Marissa Sobel (Art History alumna and Mellon Education Assistant Fellow) gave me a generous tour of the Phillips' furniture collection from which I picked three representative chairs (Chippendale, Gothic Revival, Rococo Revival). The task of the assignment was 1) to draw a measured elevation of the chair, 2) formally analyze the design of the chair, based on the elevation drawing, and 3) to think broadly about construction, decoration, and the role of furniture in constructing domestic identity.

When I give my students an assignment, I feel the responsibility to execute it myself, and show my students how I did  it. On Monday, I went down to the Phillips Museum to do a quick drawing of the Gothic Revival chair, which fits well into my research interests and my ongoing survey of the college's Gothic treasures (here), while also thinking about other Gothic Revival museum pieces (here). The drawing above is what I circulated to the students. I should also note that the students' drawings were very good, as well. An introductory drawing class is mandatory for our Art History majors, which is rare in most undergraduate programs. If we require our studio majors to take history, we should also require our history majors take studio. The drawing exercise proved to me the wisdom of that institutional requirement.

After pulling the chairs from the vault, Marissa also gave me all the information from the Phillips Museum's database (eHive), which I quote below. I am not sure of the chair's provenance. It may have come to us from the North Museum, or other collections in Lancaster.

EC1057: Gothic Armchair

The turned rear leg and posts have pairs of rings interrupted by ball turnings where other chair parts are joined. The posts terminate in ball and steeple finials. The upholstered back panel is arched at the top and scalloped along the bottom. An elaborately pierced crest rail has trefoil tracery and three finials, some of which are missing. The front legs and integral arm supports are turned like the rear posts. The turned arms have upholstered sections. Handholds are large balls. New York or Philadelphia.

Maker:  Unknown
Date Made:  1840s
Place Made:  U.S.A.
Medium and Materials:  Walnut/unidentified hardwood
Measurements:  53 x 35 x 21 inches




Thursday, September 26, 2013

Pugin on Hinges


On the structural advantages of medieval door hinges (fig. 3) over modern door hinges (fig. 2)
A. W. Pugin, The True Principles of Pointed or Christian Architecture (London, 1841)

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Pugin on Weathering Slopes


A. W. Pugin, The True Principles of Pointed or Christian Architecture (London, 1841), 17-18.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Pugin on Pinnacles


A. W. Pugin, The True Principles of Pointed or Christian Architecture (London, 1841), 10.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Two Gelato Episodes





... for Kalliope and father at Capogiro, Summer 2013

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

F&M's Gothic Chair


Few people know (or fully appreciate) that Franklin and Marshall College has one of the earliest academic Gothic Revival buildings in the United States (the third one in my count). Constructed in 1854, it is flanked by identical literary societies (in the Princeton mode) of two years later. What makes Franklin and Marshall's Old Main special is its connection to one of the most interesting movements in American Protestantism, known as the Mercersburg Theology, which attempted to incorporate new ideas of German philosophy (Hegel) and Romanticism (Transcendentalism). Its leading figure, John Nevin, was our college's second president. During my sabbatical leave, I took advantage of the research time afforded to me by my college to answer some fundamental questions in its architectural heritage. Did Nevin have anything to do with the design of Old Main? If not, the connections between the building and the Mercersburg Theology would be weak. I sought for an answer in the meetings of the board of trustees, and I am excited to report  that Nevin was, indeed, involved. Moreover, I discovered an alternate design scheme by leading Philadelphia architect Samuel Sloan (who designed four buildings for the College 20 years later).

Like most other old American colleges, Franklin and Marshall has distanced itself from its seminarian roots, especially after a new Seminary was built across the street from Old Main (a beautiful Richardson Revival building of 1893). The process of substituting religious heritage (the German Reformed Church) with secular ideals (Franklin's Liberal Arts) has produced the occasional white-washing and erasure through renovation. But enough remains visible to help the viewer make vivid connections. One such item stands in one of my favorite spots on campus in the tower (of course) of our Gothic masterpiece. After a suspended staircase leading to the second floor of Old Main (where the chapel is located), you will find an upholstered chair with distinct Gothic features (detail above).

Since it now stands right in front of the chapel, one would think that this chair must have once belonged to the chapel. One of the earliest photos of the altar (1892) show cathedra chairs, but they are very different from this. Conversations with the College archivist determined that we still do not know its origin. One idea is that the chair came from one of the literary societies.

Looking at the Gothic Revival furniture at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston reminded me of the pricelessness of Franklin and Marshall's Gothic jewel. But I was also saddened by the utter disregard for architectural heritage during the chapel's 1992 renovation. The chair is located in a spot that is both intimate (away from the foot traffic of the administration that uses Old Main) but within the vertical axis of the tower. As we begin our academic semester with Convocation, I hope to visit it regularly and reflect on America's wonderful intellectual history. If

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Boston Gothic Revival Chairs

Two lovely Gothic Revival chairs at Boston MFA in the recently re-installed American galleries. Thanks to the Arts-and-Crafts movement, Frank Lloyd Wright, etc., the Gothic Revival seems to have eclipsed from American interests.

There are two similar chairs that I would love to research further, both are still in use, tucked in corners where few may notice. One is at Franklin & Marshall's Old Main, second floor landing (1856), and the other is at the gallery of Saint George Greek Orthodox Church in Philadelphia (1825). Some future posting may be in order.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Boston Canaletto

Zooming into the windows of Canaletto's Fonteghetto della Farina (one of two Canaletto's in Boston MFA), I see the clear prototype for countless American windows from the 1850s with double brackets below the ledge. I guess they don't call it "Italianette" for no reason. The painting is rich enough in its depiction of the port (immediately to the right), that you don't want to miss the asymmetrical balance of this facade. Make your choice: Athens or Venice? The Fonteghetto prefigures Giorgio de Chirico's metaphysical sensibilities.

I don't know enough about the actual building depicted. I am intrigued that another Canaletto Fonteghetto della Farina of five year earlier (in a private collection) is slightly different in the arrangement of the windows.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Boston Turner

Given to Ruskin as a present by his father in 1843, this painting changed the course of cultural history. According to some, the sky as subject of aesthetic revelation did not exist before Ruskin. And Ruskin's sky did not exist before Turner's Slave Ship, now in Boston. So, thank Turner for the sky, and the clouds, and the storm brooding in your hearts.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Boston Bargeu

I did not known this Turkish Sentinel, or much about Bargeu (who wrote a famous drawing course with 
Gérôme based on copying plaster casts). Most interesting about this Orientalist sentinel is that he is not guarding some important mosque or mausoleum (for instance, Gérôme's sentinel in Philadelphia). Rather he seduces us into domestic consumption though a "pop up" store. Not situated in a suq or bazar, the ideology of this interaction between painter, sentinel, and viewer involves household goods (cloth, vessels, carpet, waterpipe).
The sentinel opens his house for us to purchase the touristic memorabilia that we will display us trophies upon our return in the West. He keeps a lookout for we know that there is something illegal happening in this illicit place of commerce. Suggestively leaning his body on the wall, the sentinel directs the axis of meaning from left to right, through his body, towards an invisible interior that might offer additional "experiences."The wooden shutter, precariously held, might close at any moment and return the scene into an ordinary corner rather than a locus of transgressive exchange.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Boston Gérôme

I am surprised that Jean-Léon Gérôme's painting at the MFA Boston, Pigment Seller in North Africa (1891), does not receive more central attention in art-historical coverage. As I see it, Orientalism works on two levels. The first level is iconographic, selecting sexy scenes from the Middle East to generate in the viewer a possessive desire. Naturally, Moorish Bath (also at the MFA), or the Snake Charmer (at the Clark) are the best illustrations of this "gaze" politics (and explains why the latter was used as Edward Said's cover for Orientalism)

But the second level in which Orientalism operates is to create a sensual visual surface (regardless of subject matter) that we cannot resist. The luscious mode of representation becomes its own erotic experience, full of the anxieties of voyeurism. The Pigment Seller touches at the heart of this second process. We are at the market watching a North African man pound color pigments. Purely colored vulvas are vigorously pounded. The painting is truly disturbing in a way that the better known and sleeker Snake Charmer or Moorish Bath. Unexpectedly, The Pigment Seller makes a prophetic commentary to Clement Greenberg's definition of Modernism (as medium specificity) in the 1950s.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Boston Købke

I didn't know of Christen Købke, the Danish Neoclassical painter. His painting at the MFA made me realize the affinities between Capri and Greece in the visual imagination of the Grand Tour. Neoclassicism in Greece is heavily Danish, thanks to the second royal house in 1862 that replaced the first royal house that had been deposed. Accustomed to thinking of the Bavarian cultural connections in the Modern Greece of King Otto (1830s), we forget of the Danish cultural connection of King George I (1860s).


Monday, August 12, 2013

Boston El Greco

Thanks to John Singer Sargeant, the Boston Museum of Fine Art has an amazing portrait by El Greco. Friar Paravicino is enveloped in the black of his cape and chair. The leather chair with the brass studs and the carved verticals can be seen in real life at the Gardner Museum. Look for the two 18th-century chairs set perpendicularly to the window looking out into the cortile.

Friday, August 09, 2013

Boston Zurbarán

Thinking of Jon Seydl, curator at Cleveland Museum of Art

Monday, July 29, 2013

Ruskin's Greek Shadow

Time has come to get serious about a paper that I will be delivering on September 6 at King's College, London. This is a conference I have been most eagerly anticipating on the Byzantine Influence of the Arts and Crafts Movement. Much gratitude to Amalia Kakissis at BSA (conference organizer) and to Franklin & Marshall College for funding my airfare. It will be an honor to share the podium with Gavin Stamp, J.B. Bullen, and Robin Cormack and to catch up with some old friends. See conference details here. Here is what I have just sent for the program.

Ruskin’s Greek Shadow
The British School in Athens and the Byzantine House

ABSTRACT
The creation of the Modern Greek nation-state was posited on the virtual manifestation of Athens’ g
olden age, which European architects and archaeologists fully endorsed. In practice, this resulted into the suppression of Greece’s complex post-classical heritage and the demolition of medieval houses impeding on the purity of white temples. John Ruskin’s layered sense of historical accumulation, the Arts and Crafts ethos, and the preservation principles of the Anti-Scrape Society had no place in Greece. Ruskin's Venice and Neoclassical Athens incorporated two diametrically opposed epistemologies. The Arts and Crafts' movement staged an early assault on the purist construct of Greece through the archaeology of houses. The paper focuses on Walter S. George’s unpublished studies of three houses at Mystras. They present a radical departure from contemporary practices by French (Gabriel Millet) and Greek (Anastasios Orlandos) scholars. George’s stratigraphic approach, also evident in his excavations in Sudan, offered a critical voice in the development of medieval archaeology. Related work by George’s colleague Ramsay Traquair lead to the foundation of Canadian vernacular architectural studies. The activities of Rhys Carpenter on the houses of medieval Corinth suggest an additional trajectory of influence. Ruskin was not translated into Greek until 1935. His shadow, however, seems to have been already cast on Greek soil through the prominence that Anglo-American architects placed on the house.

BIOGRAPHY
Kostis Kourelis teaches architectural history at Franklin & Marshall College. He is an archaeologist with a specialty on medieval settlements and extensive field experience in Greece, Italy, Tunisia, and Ukraine. He has co-authored Houses of the Morea: Vernacular Architecture in the Northwestern Peloponnese (1205-1955) (Melissa 2003) and edited The Archaeology of Xenitia: Greek Immigration and Material Culture (New Griffon 10, 2008), and The Abandoned Countryside: (Re)Settlement in the Archaeological Narrative of Post-Classical Greece (International Journal of Historical Archaeology 14, 2010). While excavating archives rather than medieval houses, Kourelis has discovered a forgotten collaboration between domestic archaeology and the artistic avant-garde. He has investigated the American aesthetes of Corinth, in “Byzantium and the Avant-Garde: Excavations at Corinth, 1920s-1930s” (Hesperia 76, 2007), and the Greek modernists of Mystras, in “Byzantine Houses and Modern Fictions: Domesticating Mystras in 1930s Greece,” (Dumbarton Oaks Papers 65-66, 2011–2012). The Ruskinian origins of Anglo-American aestheticism have brought him to the archives of the British School in Athens.

Image: Courtesy of the Byzantine Research Fund, Archives of the British School in Athens

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Rittenhouse Trinity Windows

During last week's heat-wave, I took refuge in Trinity Church, on Rittenhouse Square, Philadelphia, and chanced on a fabulous jazz concert. I sat across two stained glass windows and took some notes. Trinity is an important landmark designed by John Notman (1857) in a Romanesque style. Notman's Saint Mark (1849) is considered one of the earliest American buildings to reflect the Oxford Movement. Holy Trinity's Romanesque style is also important in the development of the Romanesque Revival movement which we associate with H. H. Richardson and his Trinity Church in Boston, built twenty years later (1872). The critical link is Philip Brooks, who was rector of Philadelphia Trinity before taking over Boston Trinity. Brooks supervised Richardson masterpiece.

My favorite two windows (sketched above) are the Archimbault Memorial window and the E.A.H. Memorial by Luc-Olivier Merson. Victor Archimbault was a carpet manufacturer in Philadelphia (see obituary here). The top of the window includes a nice representation of a medieval city with the Biblical quote "in my father's house are many mansions" (John 14:2), which make a subtle reference to Archimbault's profession of carpeting America's mansions. The figurative panel below includes angels holding a scroll with yet another architectural reference, "For here have we no continuing city, but we seek one to come" (Hebrews 13:14). I have not yet determined who was the maker of the window. It is located on the north wall and it is the third in from the east.

The second window, immediately to the west, was designed by the prominent French painter Luc-Olivier Merson in 1894. The window is spectacular for its Japonisme. The woman kneeling below Christ is clad in Japanese dress. Both the flowers and the pot in which they grow signify the Near East. I suspect that the window makes a subtle reference to Trinity's missionary activities. More importantly, the window speaks of the popularity of Japan in the aestheticist circles of France (and England).

I do not post images of those windows because you simply have to go see them yourselves. The church is open every Wednesday at lunch for an ongoing lunch concert series.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Riding the El to Church Street


Riding the El over Frankford Avenue to Church Street, heding to Hidden City Festival site Dye Globe Works. Discovering Presbyterian Church of Frankford (1860) and cemetery.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Paul Cret and the Landscape of War

Walking through the remote Greek mountain landscape is what I typically do this time of the year. For a variety of financial and institutional reasons, however, I must put a hold on project development for this summer, while I do my best to remotely contribute to the Lidoriki Project and the revival of the Morea Project (through the Parrhasian Heritage Park). My fieldwork this summer, has been entirely in archives. As colleagues post photos of their archaeological field seasons, I melt with jealousy. Bill Caraher's "Any Mediterranean Landscape"particularly compelled me to get out of my blogging hiatus and share a recent landscape discovery made in the Paul Cret Archives in Philadelphia.

I am curating an exhibit for Fall 2014 at the Phillips Museum of Art on the occasion of the 100 years since the eruption of the Great War. The show will explore how war experiences affected architecture among a sample of architects. Architecture was a unique American profession in that it stipulated a necessary research journey to Italy and Greece, according to Beaux Arts pedagogy (established at Columbia, MIT, and Penn). Once the war broke out, the pensionaire system was disrupted, while a number of American architects found themselves already in Europe.

A central figure in this discussion is, of course, Paul Cret, a central figure in American design and education. Cret, who was a French citizen, served his country through the war, while also trying to remotely manage the architectural program at the University of Pennsylvania, as well as ongoing projects. After the war, Cret's decorated war service earned him a special position in the American Battle Monument Commission, which erected memorials and cemeteries in France and Belgium. For my exhibit, I have decided to feature the Quentin Roosevelt memorial at Chamery that Cret designed for Theodore Roosevelt's youngest son, who was killed in an aerial battle. The other figure that the exhibit will examine is William Hough, Cret's student who was Rome Prize winner in 1914. Hough's case is fascinating; as a Quaker, he had to make some difficult decisions that, luckily for us, are documented in the letters that he sent back to his family in Philadelphia. Hough ended up finishing up his European education serving in the American Red Cross.

In order to reconstruct Cret's activities in the front, I have plowed through three archives at Penn (Van Pelt Special Collections, University Archives, Architectural Archives). Bill Whitaker, the curator and head of collections at Penn's Architectural Archives has had memorials in his mind, having just finished consulting on the new Louis Kahn Roosevelt Memorial in New York. Bill called to my attention a set five drawings in the Paul Cret archive, which is perfect for the exhibit. While fighting in the trenches of the Somme Valley, Cret used his architectural expertise to create panoramic drawings of the battle front. He would crawl into a camouflaged cabin and produce an annotated perspective of the landscape, as shown in Oct 1916 photo (left). In the evening, the strategists would take those drawings and plan the next day's offensive. The drawings are not only themselves beautiful but a rare document of landscape reconnaissance. Visible landmarks are noted on the upper and lower margins, while blue and red lines positioned the location of the enemy lines.

Although I would prefer to be producing documentation drawings myself, this summer's respite in the wilderness of the archive have been very enlightening. One thing that has become evident is the degree to which the Great War (and the preceding Balkan Wars) has cast a shadow over archaeological activities. Although little excavation took place by the American School in Greece between 1914 and 1925, it is difficult not to trace the war's shadow over the consequent years. To mention the most obvious, in 1931, Rhys Carpenter hired two engineers from the University of Zurich to fly over Acrocorinth and produce an aerial survey of the site. What we might today call "remote sensing" is the direct product of military experience. It was formalized in O.G.S. Crawford's landmark, Air Photography for Archaeologists (London, 1929) and used in Greece for the first time in Corinth.

The most evident consequence of the Great War in archaeology is in the human suffering that American archaeologists and architects confronted. I urge everyone to pick up this new volume to see how American archaeologists responded to the human crisis in Jack Davis' and Natalia Vogeikoff-Brogan's new volume, Philhellenism, Philanthropoy of Political Convenience (Princeton, 2013). Christopher Walker's The Sleepwalkers: How Europe Went to War in 1914 (New York, 2013) is the first of what will surely prove to be flurry of new scholarship planned for 2014. Walker reminds us how central Greece and the "the Eastern Question" were in this first global confrontation.

As the excavation season of Summer 2013 unfolds, we must keep reminding ourselves. Every time we turn on our GPS, we are simply freeloading on our military's technology intended for drones rather than archaeological find spots.

Friday, May 10, 2013

John and Martha

Franklin and Marshall College has just installed two of its greatest possessions at the Phillips Museum. Go see them. My labels below:

Rev. John W. Nevin Jacob Eichholtz (American, 1776-1842)
Lancaster, Pennsylvania c. 1841
Oil on canvas
Recent Gift of Nancy Swart and Donald Ray Meredith

John Williamson Nevin (1803-1886) was a pioneering American theologian incorporating Hegelian philosophy into the armature of Protestantism. Centered at the foothills of the Blue Mountains, Nevin’s radical theology took its name from Mercersburg, where Marshall College was located before moving to Lancaster. Nevin’s Mercersburg Theology placed new attention on the sacramental and Christological foundation of the church and sought to incorporate a dialectical understanding of church history from its foundation to the present. At a time when American Protestantism was dominated by Scottish “common sense” disseminating from Princeton, or the Second Great Awakening’s “new measures,” popularized by Methodist camp meetings, Nevin offered a historicist alternative grounded in German idealist philosophy. Nevin was radical enough to be threatened with excommunication, while Ursinus College was founded as the conservative alternative to what seemed as a “radical” Marshall College. Nevin served as Franklin & Marshall College’s second president (1866-1876) and conceived of the amalgamated school as an extraordinary experiment in American education destined to integrate its extremes, the German character (endowed with philosophical idealism) and the English character (endowed with applied practicality). Such a dialectical synthesis, Nevin argued at the college’s inauguration on June 7, 1853, would awake Pennsylvania, “the Sleeping Giant.” Nevin, Philip Schaff and Friederich Augustus Rauch succeeded in creating a unique intellectual paradigm and positioned Franklin & Marshall College at the forefront of American Romanticism. Although it has ceased to command the attention of the College, Nevin’s Mercersburg Theology is still evident in Franklin & Marshall’s ideals of a liberal education.

Nevin was born in a rural Shippensburg, Pa. He attended Union College in Schenectady, N.Y., and Princeton Theological Seminary, where he received the finest Presbyterian education. In 1830, he moved to Pittsburgh as professor at Western Theological Seminary and, in 1849, he moved to Mercersburg, where he was appointed professor of theology and biblical literature at the Theological Seminary of the German Reformed Church (1840) and president of Marshall College (1841). Jacob Eichholtz was commissioned to paint Nevin’s portrait officiating as president and chairman of the board of trustees at Mercersburg; at the same time, he retouched the portrait of Mrs. Nevin (below). The paintings accompanied the Nevins from Mercersburg to Lancaster in 1855. In addition to his presidency, Nevin was an admired professor of philosophy, history and aesthetics at Franklin & Marshall. He was so loved by faculty and students, that the College became unofficially known as “Nevonia.” After his death, a stained glass window was commissioned for the chapel of Old Main, where it still stands today. Nevin’s legacy is cherished at the Lancaster Theological Seminary, which moved across College Avenue in 1893.

Lancaster’s painter Jacob Eichholtz became one of Pennsylvania’s leading artists, building his reputation on portraiture. Before the proliferation of photography, official portraits sought to capture the essence of the subject’s physical, intellectual and spiritual beauty, but they also disseminated a visual standard of the figure’s prominence in society. Thus, Eichholtz’s portrait captures Nevin’s intellectual depth in the spirit of European Romanticism, as well as his leadership at the helm of Marshall College.

Eichholtz produced four identical copies. We are not certain of where they initially hung or of their intended dissemination. The Phillips Museum owns two of the portraits (gifted in 1963 and in 2012); a third version belongs to the Western Theological Seminary; and the fourth version is lost.


Martha Jenkins Nevin
Bass Otis (American, 1784-1861)
Repainted by Jacob Eichholtz (American, 1776-1842)
Lancaster, Pennsylvania, before 1835 and 1841
Oil on canvas
Gift of Rev. John Nevin Sayre, #4699

John Williamson Nevin (above) met Martha Jenkins (1805-1890), while professor at Western Theological Seminary at Pittsburgh. Their marriage, on New Year’s Day of 1835, began a life-long partnership and presented an ideal model of family life to the students of Franklin & Marshall College. Martha Jenkins belonged to one of Pennsylvania’s oldest families, bestowing on Nevin social prestige and financial stability. The Jenkins family had emigrated from Wales in the 17th century and received a grant from William Penn to develop a large track of land along the Conestoga Creek in Chester County. Jenkintown in Philadelphia is named after the family. After the American Revolution, Martha’s grandfather purchased the Windsor Iron Works, an old English company, and developed a profitable industry. Martha’s father, Robert Jenkins, was a member the U.S. House of Representatives and the Pennsylvania State of Representatives; Martha’s mother, Catharine Carmichael, was the daughter of a prominent Presbyterian pastor at Brandywine Manor. Like Nevin’s youth, Martha’s upbringing was steeped into the elite institutions of the Presbyterian Church.

Martha grew up in Windsor Place, her family’s prominent estate in Churchtown, where the young couple lived for five years after their marriage. The home survives as a historical home. The Nevins moved to Mercersburg in 1840 and to Lancaster in 1855. Martha gave birth of seven children, William Wilberforce, Robert Jenkins, Alice, Blanche, Martha Finley, Cecil and John (who died young), and Herbert (who died as an infant). Although Martha devoted her life to the family, she was well versed in literature and occasionally contributed articles to the newspaper. “A lady with practical ideas,” Martha assisted Nevin in designing their new home, Caernarvon Place, a farm in Lancaster County. She outlived her husband by four years and died in 1890. The bronze pulpit at Old Main was dedicated to her memory and matches the memorial window.

Martha Jenkins’ portrait bears the hands of two painters. Esteemed Philadelphia artist Bass Otis first painted Martha soon before her marriage in 1835. Six years later, however, Lancaster painter Jacob Eichholtz was asked to repaint parts of Martha’s portrait. Eichholtz had painted Martha’s parents in 1836, and in 1841 he was called anew to paint her husbands official portrait. While working on Nevin’s four official portraits, Eichholtz touched up Otis’ original. A short-sleeved dress in the earlier painting, for instance, was changed to a long-sleeved dress, reflecting more appropriate attire for a pastor’s wife. Scientific analysis might shed further light in differentiating the hands of the two painters who were friends and collaborators at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. In its double chronology, the portrait of Martha Jenkins Nevin reveals a process of painterly transformation, a veritable artistic wedlock between an old and a new image. A similar artistic marriage takes place between another couple, Thomas Emlen and Serena Mayer Franklin, whose double portrait Eichholtz painted in 1838 (also exhibited in the Nissley Gallery). Closer analysis on such double paintings will shed invaluable light into the contribution that women made in the lives of Lancaster’s most prestigious men and the intellectual life of Franklin & Marshall College.

The painting of Martha Jenkins Nevin was gifted to Franklin & Marshall College in 1967.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Corinth Architects 06: W. Stuart Thompson

W. Stuart Thompson (1890-1968) held the fourth Fellowship in Architecture at the American School in 1912-1915. He is a unique figure for capitalizing on the possibilities of becoming the de facto School architect. Since the beginning of the architecture fellowship, the School capitalized on the availability of architects in residence to assist in the real estate development of the institution. It is interesting that the School during this period did not ever consider hiring local Greek architects for its buildings. W. Stuart Thompson received his A.B. at Columbia University in 1912 and spent two academic years in Athens. When he returned to the U.S. he built a successful private practice in partnership with Henry Churchill.

Thompson is a fascinating figure in maintaining a building career across the ocean. His designs for the School include Loring Hall, the Gennadeion Library, a proposed Benaki Museum (not built), and the Stoat of Attalos Reconstruction in Athens, Oakley House (with Richard Stillwell) and the New Museum in Corinth (picture left), the Museum at Mytilene. Outside of Greece, he designed the Farm School in Albania, the Morris Schinasi Memorial Hospital at Manisa, Turkey, and the American Hospital in Istanbul.

In the United States, he won a major award on the neighborhood planning competition of the 1939 World's Fair. In addition to houses, major American buildings include the State Tower Building in Syracuse, N.Y., the Crucible Steel Building in Chicago, Ill, the terminal of the Connecticut State Airport in Stamford, Conn., the Sterling-Winthrop research plant in Rennselaer, N.Y., academic buildings for Finch College, N.Y., the Greek Orthodox Church of the Archangels in Stamford, Conn. (modeled on the Holy Apostles in the Agora), and a proposed New York Academy of Sciences.

Unfortunately, there is very little scholarly work on W. Stuart Thompson. Interestingly enough, his building in Greece have received the greatest attention. See most notably the issue of New Griffon 7 )(2004) dedicated to the Gennadeion Library. The material evidence is ample for a Thompson research project, and we must wait for a major synthetic research project before making any important conclusions about Thompson's contribution to architecture more broadly. A casual overview of the extant material raises a number of pertinent questions outlined as follows:


  • The F.L Wright Connection. During the 1930s, Churchill and Thompson was the New York office used by Frank Lloyd Wright. This relationship needs further exploration. An important collaborator in the firm was the engineer Howard Meier, who moved to Austin and began Texan modernism. 
  • A Multi-National Firm. Why did a prominent New York firm seek out commissions in Greece and Turkey? After 1929, the office of Churchill and Thompson was severely out of work. Projects in Greece and Turkey offered an important life line to the economic survival of the firm. Thompson's role as the European agent of the operation needs investigation, as it forms a model of an early multi-national firm.
  • Labor. Connected to the loss of projects by the Great Depression, interesting issues of labor organization arise in the work of Thompson. Running projects in both Greece and Turkey meant access to a multi-national labor force. When labor strikes interrupted the construction of the Gennadeion in Athens, Thompson made an interesting move. He imported a crew of Turkish workmen directly from Istanbul. Just as Thompson was capitalizing on the loss of jobs in the U.S. by seeking projects in the east, he was capitalizing on global capital to execute his projects.
  • Historicism versus Modernism. Thompson's architectural language is interestingly poised between modernism and historicism. Looking at the houses that he designed in the U.S., we find the appropriation of the International Style as well as some conservative Georgian revival house types. Thompson & Churchill's apartment building at 137 E 57th St (demolished), for instance, is one of the earliest Bauhaus apartment buildings in New York. The New Museum in Corinth is another interesting building in this respect. The building is designed as a Byzantine monastery centered around a courtyard. Its arched openings are traditional, but it's overall language and detailing are quite modern. When completed, it was heralded by the American architectural press as a pioneering modern museum. With its modernist flair, the Corinth Museum could not be more different than the severely Neoclassical Gennadeion Library. Is Thompson's multi-lingualism in design a matter of convenience? Or is there something more to be said about seeking a synthesis. How could an architect who had dealings with Frank Lloyd Wright be responsible for the ultra-historicism of the Stoa of Attalos? Thompson was clearly educated in the Beaux Arts architectural model at Columbia University. But even his most historicist buildings are strangely severe and un-Beaux Arts. At the end of his life, Paul Cret initiated an interesting modernism arising from within the Beaux Arts, which he so successfully introduced. New scholarship on Paul Cret might elucidate Thompson's mindset.
  • Design Interface Greece - America. Maintaining a parallel practice between the U.S. and Europe, the natural question would be if one influenced the other. The answer is obvious in some cases, where the Athenian Agora excavations provided the model for the Greek Orthodox Church of Stamford. A comprehensive overview of Thompson's production in the U.S. reveals a sophisticated understanding of historical models not limited to Greece. How does his Romanesque sensitivity or his Georgian houses fit into the interface between Greece and America? 
  • Personal Links. Thompson would make a terrific case study on how friendships and professional associations were forged in the American School. Interesting members in his personal life include his wife Anna McCann, who taught art and archaeology at Swarthmore College. He seems to have been close to a number of archaeologists. What was the nature of their relationship? How was the American School's social circle maintained in the United States outside of the academic sphere? At the local level, how did Thompson's social circle congregate at Stamford, Conn., where he lived?
Select Bibliography 

Kalligas, Haris ed. 2004. Το Γεννάδειον. Δημιουργία και Μεταμόρφωσις, The New Griffon 7, Athens.
New York Times. 1968. “W Stuart Thompson, Architect, 78, Dead. Did Work in Greece,” The New York Times (April 3, 1968)
Thompson, W. Stuart. 1936. “Corinth Museum. Corinth, Greece,” The Architectural Record 80, no. 6, (Dec. 1936), pp. 465-470
Mitchell Johnson, J. and W. Mark Gunderson. 2011. A Well-Made Object: Conversations with Howard Meyer, film.
Thompson and Churchill. 1930. “Loft, Inc., 2465 Broadway, New York. Thompson and Churchill, Architects,” Architectural Record 67, no. 2 (Feb. 1930), pp. 135-137.
Thompson and Churchill. 1932. “137 East 57th Street Loft Building, New York City, Thompson and Churchill, Architects,” Architectural Record 71, no. 2 (Feb. 1932), pp. 106-110. “Charles Mayer, consulting engineer.”
Wright, Henry. 1930. “The Place of the Apartment Buidling in the Modern Community,” Architectural Record 67, no. 3 (Feb. 1930), pp. 206, 207, 295

For more Corinth Architects, see here

Monday, March 18, 2013

Corinth Architects 05: William Bell Dinsmoor

By far the most famous Fellow of Architecture at the American School was William Bell Dinsmoor (1886-1973). He was a fellow for three years, 1908-1912, but then became the first official architect of the American School. The son of an architect, Dinsmoor received his BS in Architecture from Harvard University in 1906. He became professor of architecture at Columbia University in 1935 and presided over the discipline of ancient architectural history for most of the 20th century. His Architecture of Ancient Greece (first ed. 1927), remains the foundational textbook on the field. His professional architectural practice was limited to a few years in New York (1906-1908) and the design of the concrete Parthenon in Nashville (1925-1931).

Since Dinsmoor has been well studied, I will not summarize his accomplishment but will defer to Natalia Vogeikoff-Brogan's catalog of  the Dinsmoor Papers, which provides the best starting point for further readings (and source of photo left).

For more Corinth Architects, see here

Friday, March 15, 2013

Corinth Architects 04: Henry Dunn Wood

Another obscure architect at the American School was Henry Dunn Wood (1882-1940), the third Fellow in Architecture in residence in 1906-1908. Wood received his B.S. from the University of Pennsylvania in 1904, winning the Gold Medal in Design. He was a member of the first class at Penn graduating  under Paul Cret. It was known as a great class and it included Henry Hibbs, Dave Allison, Walter Mellor, Leicester Holland (also Corinth Architect), Bill Gordon, and Frank Reynolds. He received his fellowship at the American School after two years of professional practice in Philadelphia. While in Greece he worked on the Propylaia of the Acropolis, where he laid the foundations for William Bell Dinsmoor's future studies, and at the excavations of the Forum in Corinth.

Upon his return to Philadelphia Wood made a spectacular display of his drawings from Corinth (and Athens) at the 1909 annual exhibition of the American Institute of Architects in Philadelphia, which took place at he Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. Among the drawings that he exhibited were the plan for the excavations, a plan for the restoration of the North side of the Forum, along with five photographs: "Church of the Holy Preparation," "Temple of Apollo," "Excavations at Corinth, North Side of Market Place," "Courtyard of a House," and "Church of Saint George." The last photo was reproduced in the Year Book of the exhibition (see above). Although labeled "Saint George" it seems to be of the old Panagia Church, where Guy D. R. Sanders excavated in the 1990s. A copy of the North Market restoration drawing displayed in Philadelphia in 1909 is housed at the Corinth Excavation archive, and I thank James Herbst for finding it (Corinth Drawing No. 020-026).

Wood was an active member of the T Square Club and the Philadelphia chapter of the American Institute of Architects since 1903 and a lecturer at Penn in 1911-1912. Just as he was ready to embark on a private architectural practice, he was offered a position at Philadelphia's large utility company United Engineers, where he rose from draughtsman to head of his department. His temperament seems to have fitted such team work. As a result, he designed many industrial plans. When his mentor, Paul Cret, received the commission for the Central Heating Plant of Washington, D.C. (left), Wood designed the building's interior.

Wood lived on a 324 Earlham Terrace in the Germantown neighborhood of Philadelphia. He died at the age of 58, on March 26, 1940, a few days before the German invasion of Denmark and the beginning of World War II. His obituary by Paul Cret appeared in Federal Architect, a Washington journal edited by a fellow Penn student.

Select Bibliography:

Cret, Paul. 1940. “Obituary: Wood, Henry Dunn (1882-1940),” Federal Architect 10 (April 1940), p. 39.
Dinsmoor, William B. and William B. Dinsmoor, Jr. 2004. The Propylaia to the Athenian Akropolis 2: The Classical Building, Princeton."Foreword" by Charles K. Williams II, p. xxvi.
Philadelphia Chapter American Institute of Architects and T Square Club. 1909. Year Book and Catalogue of the Fifteenth Annual Architectural Exhibition, Philadelphia [pages not numbered]
University of Pennsylvania. 1904. University of Pennsylvania Proceedings of Commencement, June 15, 1904, pp. 4, 16, Philadelphia.
University of Pennsylvania. 1913. Catalogue of the University of Pennsylvania 1912-1913, p. 91, Philadelphia.

And now on a personal note. While researching Henry Wood at the Fine Arts Library at the University of Pennsylvania, I consulted the Year Books of the annual architectural exhibition in Philadelphia (which my student Chelsea Troppauer introduced me to, while working on her Preservation Master's thesis). Browsing through the 1917 issue, a magical thing happened. The very same volume I was reading was once owned by Henry D Wood. See his signature at the beginning of the volume. What serendipity. The volume that Chelsea had showed me earlier, I realized was owned by Paul Cret. The crazy thing is that Chelsea learned all about Paul Cret in my seminar on 1930s architecture two years ago at F&M. Here is Wood's signature:


Thursday, March 14, 2013

Corinth Architects 03: Gordon Allen

Gordon Allen was the second Fellow in Architecture at the American School of Classical Studies at Athens. Very little is known about him and he has been forgotten by the institutional history of the school. Allen graduated from Haverford College in 1898. His travel sketches were featured in the annual exhibit of the Boston Architecture Club. He was a fellow in Greece during the year 1905-1906. We have not yet determined what projects he worked on in Greece. Allen returned to the U.S. and practiced architecture in Boston. He was a member of the American Institute of Architects and served as secretary for the Boston Chapter. While in Athens, interestingly enough, he met King of Greece Constantine I and Queen Sophia, who in 1915 commissioned from him a series of buildings, most notably the suburban royal palace at Tatoi, a Home Economics School, and a Red Cross Hospital. Although raised in Germany, Queen Sophia was the grand-daughter of Queen Victoria and had met her husband during her grandmothers Jubilee in London. Sophia had an appreciation for American houses, their efficiency and sense of modernity. Allen was not in residence during the completion of the Palace in Tatoi, the project was managed by an American architect working in Istanbul. Soon after its completion, unfortunately, the Tatoi Palace was burned. It has thus receded in the architectural memory of Greece.

Select bibliography:

Adams, Frederick Johnstone. 1949. "The Plannign Schools," Town Planning Review 20 (July 1949) pp. 144-149.
American Contractor. 1915. "American Architect Builds Palace for King," The American Contractor 36 (May 8, 1915), p. 81j. (image above)
Architectural Record. 1933. "Small and Medium-Cost Houses," Architectural Record 74 (Aug. 1933), pp. 121-141.
Boston Architectural Club. 1902. "Travel Sketches," Catalogue of the Architectural Exhibition, Boston Architectural Club, p. 25, Boston.
Gordon, Allen. 1946. "A Cottage in Lancashire," The Builder 170, (Jan. 25, 1946), p. 93
Gordon, Allen. 1952. "The Vale," Old Time New England 42, no. 4, pp. 80-87.
Kardamitsi-Adami, Maro. 2009. Palaces in Greece, Athens

For more Corinth Architects, see here

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Corinth Architects 02: Gorham Stevens

Gorham Stevens (1876-1963) was the first architecture fellow at the American School of Classical Studies at Athens and one the most accomplished. Stevens was born in Staten Island and received his architectural education at the earliest bastion of Beaux Arts education in America, at M.I.T. After graduation in 1899, he spend a year at the Ecole de Beaux Arts in Paris and travelled through Europe. Upon his return to the U.S., he began working for McKim, Mead, and White, the premier Beaux Arts firm. After a year, he received the American School Architecture Fellowship and spent a year in Greece concentrating on the study of the Erechtheion and contributing a chapter on architecture in Howard Fowler and James Wheeler's Handbook of Greek Archaeology (1909). He returned to McKim, Mead, and White in 1905. In Greece, however, he had fallen in love with Annette Notara, whom he married in 1906. As far as I can tell, Stevens is the first American School member to marry a Greek, a tradition that continues with Alice Walker Kosmopoulos (1924). In 1912, Stevens became the natural choice as director of the American School of Architecture in Rome, which merged with the American School of Classical Studies in Rome. McKim had been the School's patrons and architects of its new building. After 20 years of service to the Academy, Stevens returned to Greece in 1932 and resumed his research on Athenian monuments. He served as director of the American School during the difficult years of World War II. He formally retired in 1947 but continued to be active in the School, including involvement in the restoration of the Stoa of Attalos. He died in Athens, leaving the School his archives, his car, and an endowed scholarship.

Stevens' architectural research was centered in Athens, on monuments of the Acropolis and the Agora. His contribution to Corinth include a study of Peirene Spring and some work at Isthmia. Stevens is an important figure in the precarious bridge between the Academy in Rome and the School in Athens. He also bolstered a personal connection to leading architectural firms in the U.S. (McKim, Mead, and White and their apprentices) and to the architecture program at M.I.T. Although removed from professional practice, Stevens was a powerful architectural force at the School. His reconstructions of ancient buildings (Peirene, Marathon Dam monument, Amphipolis Lion, Stoa of Attalos) had left their mark on the archaeological landscape.

Unfortunately, the scholarly literature on Gorham Stevens is limited. General biographical information is given in Lucy Shoe's obituary (American Journal of Archaeology 68 [1964], 189-190). His Papers reside at the American School Archive in Athens, see Finding Aid compiled by Natalia Vogeikoff. Additional material is found at the American Academy in Rome records housed at the Archives of American Art at the Smithsonian. For Stevens' work in Corinth and reconstruction of Peirene, see Betsey Robinson, Histories of Peirene (2012), pp. 106-107. Gorhams Stevens needs a dissertation.

Photo of Stevens above, from American School of Classical Studies at Athens, Archives
Reconstruction of Peirene above, from Corinth I.6, pl. X

For more Corinth Architects, see here

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Kostis Kourelis

Philadelphia, PA, United States