The Lawn America’s Greatest Architectural Achievement

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. He was an old man by then, but there was nothing old-fashioned about his ideas. Age and experience had given him a majestic perspective, not merely of education but of American culture as a whole. Read more »

Avery

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. In 1890, the year of Henry Ogden Avery’s death, his parents founded the Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library at Columbia University in New York City and donated two thousand books from their son’s professional library as well as the drawings from his brief career. Read more »

Not The Brooklyn Bridge

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. With them was John Augustus Roebling, the sixtytwo-year-old German-born engineer who had completed his plans for a massive bridge over New York’s East River. Read more »

Age Of The Octagon

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. But in fact there are hundreds of these “unique” houses still standing, all of them testament to a vigorous, nationwide vogue that sprang up on the eve of the Civil War. Read more »

Henry Francis Du Pont And The Invention Of Winterthur

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. Of these the largest, the loveliest, and by far the most eccentric is Winterthur, for seventy years the home of a shy, fidgety collector of antiques named Henry Francis du Pont. In Winterthur’s heyday as a private residence, between 1930 and 1950, it was far more than a rich man’s estate.Read more »

The Day Before Hollywood

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. But they would have been astounded and dismayed had they foreseen the kind of boomtown it was destined to become. Read more »

The Artist Of The Center

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. Ultimately the Center was both, but not without a long process of negotiating, planning, designing, and redesigning—much of it heavily criticized by the press.Read more »

The Great American Motel

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. The surrounding countryside is dotted with clusters of thatch-roofed huts, and rhinoceros and wildebeest lurk nearby. The comfort and ease of home have been left far behind. And then, a stone’s throw from the strip, they spot a familiar green and yellow sign, topped by a star. It is a Holiday Inn. Read more »

A Heritage Preserved

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. But it was once something more: the quartermaster and commissary storehouse for Fort Lowell, Arizona Territory, one of a string of army posts scattered about the Southwest in the 1870’s and 1880’s as bastions against the raids of cunning, resourceful, diligent—and often nearly invisible—Apache Indians.Read more »

Electra Webb And Her American Past

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? The answer is nothing except that they all can be found at one of the most amiable public places in America: the Shelburne Museum at Shelburne, Vermont—”35 buildings on 45 acres and the S.S. Ticonderoga ,” as the little guide to the place puts it.Read more »