Architecture

Some of our finest public buildings were designed by a tormented young English architect whom the world has forgotten

George Hadfield was one of the most distinguished architects ever to practice in this country, yet he is so little known that no book has been written about him and very little has been published in architectural journals. Read more >>

A trackside album of celebrities from the days when the world went by train

A person used to enter New York City “like a god,” said the art critic Vincent Scully, but “one scuttles in now like a rat.” Read more >>

In designing, the University of Virginia, Jefferson sought not only to educate young men for leadership, but to bring aesthetic maturity to the new nation

ALTHOUGH THOMAS JEFFERSON had evolved very clear concepts of what a modern educational system should be, it was not until 1817 that he had the opportunity to put his theories into practice at Charlottesville, Virginia. Read more >>

A gathering of little-known drawings from Columbia
University’s Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library illuminates two centuries of American building

ONE OF THE WORLD’S most renowned architectural institutions is named for a virtually unknown architect who died at age thirty-eight, too young to have made more than a promising start in his own career. Read more >>

It was built by Roebling, connects two cities, is a landmark of American engineering, and looks just like it but is…

IN THE SPRING of 1869 a party of engineers, politicians, and businessmen left Brooklyn and headed west in a special train. Read more >>

A HERITAGE PRESERVED
The brief mid-nineteenth-century popularity of eight-sided houses has left us a strange and delightful architectural legacy

A GREAT MANY people have, at one time or another, happened to drive past a curious, eightsided house. And most who come across such a building believe it to be unique, the inexplicable architectural whim of a long-dead local. Read more >>

How a shy millionaire’s peculiar genius transformed his “country place” into an unparalleled showcase of American furnishings
A HERITAGE PRESERVED

SOME SIX MILES north of Wilmington lies a stretch of countryside chiefly inhabited by du Ponts, du Pont servants, and some two dozen major du Pont estates. Read more >>

It was a suburb of orange blossoms and gardens, of gracious homes and quiet, dignified lives—until a regrettable class of people moved in.

THE IDEA OF HOLLYWOOD as a boomtown would not have surprised those who lived there as this century began, for they worked hard toward that very ideal. Read more >>

J ohn Wenrich’s original drawings of Rockefeller Center helped attract tenants in the middle of the Depression. Fifty years later they survive as talismans of a golden moment in American architecture .

When John D. Rockefeller, Jr., announced his intention to build a great urban complex in December 1929, the project was meant to be “as beautiful as possible,” but it also had to be a solid business proposition. Read more >>

You’d never recognize it today. Perhaps this will refresh your memory.

The single-engine plane comes in low over the green hills of Zululand, then bounces to a landing on a grassy strip. The American tourists clamber out into the African sun. Read more >>

Fort Adobe

The building shown below may look like a low-rise adobe condominium, and in a sense, that is what it is today—someone’s house. Read more >>

How a brave and gifted woman defied her parents and her background to create the splendid collection that is Shelburne

What do the following items have in common—a peerless collection of old American juilts, a 220-foot steam-driven side-wheeler, last of its noble race, and the exact replica of six beautiful rooms in a millionaire’s Park Avenue apartment? Read more >>

“I’ll plan anything a man wants,” he said, “from a cathedral to a chicken coop.” The monumental results transformed American architecture

It was common ground among everyone who knew him in the late 1870’s and early 1880’s that Henry Hobson Richardson was one of the great Americans of his day. Read more >>

This puckish, nearly forgotten California architect built his own distinctive style on the simple principle that beauty alone endures

In the winter of 1953, a few days after his ninety-first birthday, Bernard Ralph Maybeck granted a lengthy interview to a public service radio station in Berkeley, California, the city in which he had lived and worked for six decades. Read more >>
It sits like an exclamation point at the easternmost tip of Long Island and has done so for 184 years—making the Montauk Point Lighthouse one of the oldest in the United States. It also has the distinction of having been authorized by President George Washington himself. Read more >>

He could build castles at his whim, but the ancient home of a small band of monks defeated him

During the early summer of the year 1213 Saint Martin of Finojosa was an old man and not in the best of health. Read more >>

MIAMI DECO

The past has a way of catching up to us in odd and unexpected ways. A friend of mine was once walking the streets of Venice and encountered the smell of sausages cooking somewhere. Read more >>

History by a Dam Site

The humble structure at the right—as the sign conveniently tells us—is indeed a dam, but it is no ordinary dam. Read more >>
As a nation we spend a disproportionate amount of time destroying the remnants of our immediate past. Read more >>
People who have never been to New Orleans usually can name several things that it’s famous for (Mardi Gras, jazz, A Streetcar Named Desire , the Superdome, jambalaya, red beans and rice), but they are apt to have only a hazy notion of what the ci Read more >>

THE EXTRAORDINARY ORIGINAL DRAWINGS OF THE BROOKLYN BRIDGE

An exclusive preserve of New York’s social elite —its rise, its flourishing years, and its slide into genteel decline

In a gazetteer of the geography of high society, Tuxedo Park, New York, might properly be described as a village (pop. 972), 40 miles NW of the Union Club in New York City, once famous for its rarefied social climate. Read more >>

The ups and downs of the invention that forever altered the American skyline

Of the mechanical wonders placed on view in the Crystal Palace, the great iron-and-glass exhibition hall erected in New York City in 1853 to house America’s first world’s fair, one of the most popular was a towering machine that was destined to transform the Read more >>

There are over 3,000 county courthouse across the country -- staunch hometown symbols of our faith in our ability to govern ourselves

Tallulah Bankhead called it “the most gruesomely named hotel in the western hemisphere.” Others, perhaps thinking of its curious architecture or the monumental hangovers that accompanied its boozy high life, called it simply the most gruesome hotel. Read more >>

Saving Hundred-Year-Old Buildings

The idea of urban renewal has traditionally been predicated on the superficially reasonable assumption that the best way to handle crumbling blight is to pluck it out—raze it, tear it down, get rid of it—and build something better: shopping malls and office c Read more >>
Of the skyscrapers that sprang up in American cities in the early years of this century and embodied in masonry and steel the swaggering vitality of American technology and American business enterprise, none took so firm a grip on the public imagination as th Read more >>
John Mason Hutchings, an Englishman, first, saw Yosemite Valley in 1855 and never got it out of his system. Nine years later he returned to the valley to be innkeeper of the Hutchings House, the frame hotel at left. Read more >>

High on a hill above the Hudson River Frederick Edwin Church indulged his passion for building an exotic dream castle

“Sometimes the desire to build attacks a man like a fever—and at it he rushes,” the successful young landscape painter Frederic Edwin Church wrote from abroad to his friend and patron William H. Osborn in 1868. Read more >>