Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

Britannicus have handed down their pretentious ugli- coting extending from floor to ceiling. Oftener a ness to an admiring posterity. But the disciples of single broad panel was set above the chimney-piece, these masters who found a modest field for their talents finishing with a light wooden cornice under the ceiling. in the American colonies were fortunately prevented by the smallness of their opportunities from emulating the achievements of their teachers. On the limited scale of even the grandest of the colonial houses a very little architecture went a great way. A simple order of pilasters or engaged columns at the main entrance, with an entablature and pediment, an Italian cornice at the eaves, perhaps enriched with dentils or modillions, quoins at the main angles of the building, a hipped roof of rather low pitch crowning the whole,such is the most common type of the better class of colonial dwelling-houses in the generation just preced

[graphic]
[graphic]
[ocr errors]

Fig. 3.-Old State-House, Boston, Mass. Of all this work, simple and unambitious as it was, the invariable characteristic was a delicate reserve. No exaggeration or coarseness of profile in the mouldings, no excess or misuse of ornament; everywhere a certain timidity, not unmixed with refinement, and even elegance.

[graphic]
[ocr errors]

FIG. 2.-Christ Church, Philadelphia. ing the Revolution. Wood was the usual material throughout, but in the exceptional instances where the walls were of brick or stone the ornaments were alway's of wood, cut stone being practically unknown. In the interior an equally rigorous simplicity prevailed. The houses were extremely simple in plan, an entrancehall, seldom more than 10 to 12 feet wide, running through the middle from front to rear, with a straight staircase on one of its walls and two square rooms opening from each side. The staircase was commonly the most elaborately designed feature of the house, and much ingenuity of invention was often bestowed on its newel-posts, its twisted balusters, its carved

Fig. 4.—Spanish Cathedral, St. Augustine, Florida. string, and its panelled soffits. The walls of the hall and stairway and of the principal rooms were usually There were, however, two outlying settlements where wainscoted in square panels of no great height. In the conditions which produced this general type of colorare instances the best parlor was graced with a wains- ! nial architecture did not prevail. Florida and Louisi

[graphic][subsumed][ocr errors][merged small][graphic][merged small]

ana were, during the period of which we are now speak- | buildings for its various governmental departments. ing, as thoroughly Spanish and French as the Thirteen The new capital on the Potomac was to be the scene of Colonies were English. The architecture of St. Augus- active building operations for a generation. In 1792 tine and New Orleans reflected its continental origin. St. the Federal commissioners advertised in the newspapers Augustine indeed remains to this day a town of the Old of all the principal cities and towns for designs for a World, with its original physiognomy substantially un- Capitol building and President's house. They had changed; with its cathedral (fig. 4), its town-gate, its grand ideas of " expressing in some degree in the style of narrow streets, its balconied houses, its high garden- their architecture the sublime sentiments of liberty ... walls, its ancient fortress, its rude masonry constructed by exhibiting a grandeur of conception, a republican of that curious conglomerate of shells known as coquina, simplicity, and that true elegance of propriety which to which the moist and warm climate has imparted in corresponds to a tempered freedom. Their ideas of the course of two hundred years an aspect of venerable the interior accommodation required were much more age which in another latitude would require thrice the modest. The advertisement specified for the Capitol a time to produce.

building of brick, with a conference-room and a Representatives' chamber to contain each three hundred sittings, a Senate chamber with an area of 1200 square feet, lobbies for the two legislative chambers, and twelve rooms, each of 600 square feet area, for committees and clerks. A premium of $500 and a city lot was offered for the accepted design. A considerable number of plans were received, which were duly examined by the board of commissioners, assisted by Gen. Washington; and the premiums were at length awarded to Dr. Thornton and Mr. Hoban for the Capitol and the President's house respectively. Washington preferred for the Capitol a design of "" Judge Turner, because it had a dome. It appears to be true that of all the plans received only one was the work of a professional architect. The greater number were mere pictorial skctches, of no architectural character whatever, and for the most part quite incapable of translation into practicable form. Even the drawings of Dr. Thornton included neither ground-plan, geometrical elevations, nor sections. They were therefore put into the hands of Stephen Hallet, who was directed to perfect his own design and to embody in it as much as possible that was characteristic in Dr. Thornton's. He was especially to preserve what Jefferson called “that very capital beauty," the portico of the east front.

Hallet was thus installed as the first architect of the Capitol. Born in France, he received there a professional education, and, coming to the United States shortly before the war, lived in Philadelphia until the Capitol competition called him to Washington. The corner-stone of the new building was laid by Washington in Sept., 1793, and the work proceeded. But Hallet's position as architect was rendered uncomfortable by conflicts with Dr. Thornton on the one hand and Hoban on the other; the latter holding the position of superintendent of public buildings and exercising a certain authority over the architect. Hallet, therefore, resigned his office at the end of two years. His place was taken by George Hadfield, an Englishman, who had received in England a professional training, and had carried off the Royal Academy's prize for architectural design, in virtue of which he had spent four years in travel and

study. Hadfield found, on beginning his work at the Fig. 5.- French Cathedral, New Orleans, La.

Capitol, that the drawings left by his predecessor for the

execution of his design were insufficient. In proceeding In New Orleans also, though to a less remarkable to make good this deficiency he wished to incorporate in degree, the ancient European character of the town has the design some ideas of his own. In this desire he was been preserved. The growth of the modern city has overruled by the commissioners, and quarrels ensued left the old French quarter essentially untouched, and with them and with Hoban the superintendent, which its aspect is still that of a provincial town in the centre brought his connection with the works to a close in of France. There are few conspicuous buildings, either 1798, after three years of service. For five years the public or private, þut the old cathedral of St. Louis works were carried on slowly without an architect, under (fig. 5) still stands in the centre of one of the sides of Hoban's direction, until in 1803 the appointment was Jackson Square, fronting the river, and flanked by given to Benjamin H. Latrobe. Latrobe was born in two similar municipal buildings of eighteenth-century England in 1764, and after being educated in Germany architecture, the three buildings occupying the whole had been regularly trained in England to the profession breadth of the square and forming a group of remark- of architecture, studying in the office of Cockerell, an able picturesqueness.

architect of good standing in London, creating afterThe steady growth of the English colonies in wealth wards a respectable private practice, and still later filland taste was rudely interrupted by the War of the ing the office of surveyor of the public offices and arRevolution. The close of the war found the people in chitect and engineer of the city of London. He came a condition of exhaustion from which it required the to America in 1796, and was extensively employed both rest of the century to recover. A new nation had, how- as architect and engineer, building the State penitenever, been created, which required an outfit of public tiary at Richmond, the Bank of Pennsylvania at Phila

Vol. I.-T

[graphic]

delphia, many private houses, and the water-works of mony with that of the original Capitol, but the interior Philadelphia. His Virginia practice brought him into architecture is lamentably inferior in every respect. acquaintance with Jefferson, who while President offer- The old legislative chambers were noble rooms, not ed to Latrobe the position of architect of the Capitol. without a character of serious dignity befitting their It was at once accepted, and Latrobe held the office, not use. The new chambers are square, commonplace halls, without frequent difficulties and conflicts, until, upon almost destitute of architectural character. the breaking out of the War of 1812, the work was sus- Meanwhile, the other buildings of the Government at pended. The progress up to that time had been very Washington, the President's house (fig. 6) and the slow; the north and south wings, containing the two offices of the executive departments, had all been begun legislative chambers, were all that had been completed, and finished under the direction of James Hoban as the two wings being connected by a rude corridor of surveyor of public works. They were all built in a wood. During the brief occupation of Washington by similar style, of which the motive was to be found in the British the interior of both these wings was burned the Italian Renaissance as treated by the French archiby the British troops and left in a ruined condition. tects of the last century, but without the mansard roof

which was so prominent a characteristic of the French buildings. The same general style prevailed in the public buildings which arose in the early years of the republic in the older cities. The State-house at Bus ton (fig. 7) was begun at nearly the same time with the

[graphic]
[graphic]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

Fig. 6.-White House, Washington, D. C. When, at the close of the war, Latrobe was called to Washington to recommence the work, it was found necessary to rebuild entirely the interior portions of the building. It was then that the old Representatives' chamber took the semicircular form which it retains today. In 1817, Mr. Latrobe resigned his position. He

Fig. 7.-State-House, Boston, Mass. was succeeded by Charles Bulfinch of Boston, an archi- Capitol at Washington, from the designs of Charles Bultect of eminence and of long experience in his own city. finch. It is a building of great simplicity, depending Mr. Latrobe's plans for the central portion of the Cap- for its effect on the projecting centre with unadorned itol were so far matured that Mr. Bulfinch's work was round arches in the first story, supporting a fine Corinfor the most part confined to carrying his predecessor's thian colonnade with a pediment, above which rises a designs into execution. This work he performed with hemispherical dome. But the disposition of parts is so fidelity and good judgment. Some changes were, how- just and their treatment so broad and dignified that the ever, made in the former plans : a greater elevation was building has a monumental effect which we miss in most given to the central dome, and the approach to the west public edifices of greater size and costliness. front was greatly improved by the effective series of terraces and steps. Under Bulfinch the original Capitol was brought to completion in 1827. It had cost about $2,500,000. In less time than had been occupied in its erection it was found to be altogether insufficient to the growing needs of the country, and in 1851 work was commenced on its extension, which was prosecuted with vigor and without interruption, even during the War of the Rebellion, under the charge of a single architect, Mr. Thomas U. Walter, until its completion in 1867. Of the Capitol in its present form (Pl. IV) the original building finished by Bulfinch is but a fragment, enclosed on either side by wings nearly as large as itself, and surmounted by an overwhelming dome, which is a noble feature in itself, but which dwarfs everything beneath it. The old dome, which was removed to make way for the new structure, was of wood, of the diameter of the rotunda below, on which it rested, of less than hemispherical height, and without a lantern. The new dome is of iron, 288 feet high from the ground, of which 217 feet are above the roof balustrade of the building-an unprecedented and exaggerated proportion, born of ambition. Its diameter is 135 feet at the lower colonnade, the diameter of the rotunda on which it rests be

Fig. 8.-City Hall, New York, ing about 99 feet. The exterior design of the additions, The City Hall of New York (fig. 8), begun in 1803 with the exception of the dome, is sufficiently in har- and finished in 1812 at a cost of about $500,000, is a

[graphic]
« AnteriorContinuar »