George B. Post

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George Browne Post (December 15, 1837 – November 28, 1913)[1] was an American architect trained in the Beaux-Arts tradition.

Biography[edit]

Post was a student of Richard Morris Hunt (1858–60), but unlike many architects of his generation, he had previously received a degree in civil engineering (Scientific School, New York University, 1858). In 1860 he formed a partnership with a fellow-student in Hunt's office, Charles D. Gambrill, with a brief hiatus for service in the Civil War.

Many of his most characteristic projects were for commercial buildings where new requirements pushed the traditional boundaries of design. Many of them have also been demolished, since their central locations in New York and other cities made them vulnerable to rebuilding in the twentieth century. Some of his lost buildings were landmarks of their era, nevertheless. His eight-story Equitable Life Assurance Society (1868–70), was the first office building designed to use elevators; Post himself leased the upper floors when contemporaries predicted they could not be rented.[2] His Western Union Telegraph Building (1872–75) at Dey Street in Lower Manhattan, was the first office building to rise as high as ten stories, a forerunner of skyscrapers to come. When it was erected in "Newspaper Row" facing City Hall Park, Post's twenty-story New York World Building (1889–90) was the tallest building in New York City.

His vast New York Produce Exchange (1881–84) at 2 Broadway faced Bowling Green. Its grand skylighted hall, based on French retail structures, cast daylight into the lower floors. It was demolished in 1957.

At the World's Columbian Exposition, Chicago, 1893, Post was named to the architectural staff by Burnham and Root[3] and assigned the Manufactures and Liberal Arts Building, which exceeded by a few feet the clear span of the Machinery Building at the Paris Exposition of 1889. Post's on-site engineer E.C. Shankland of Chicago, has been over-credited in its design, Winston Weisman noted in 1973.

He also designed more staid public and semi-public structures: the New York Stock Exchange Building, Bronx Borough Hall, and the Wisconsin State Capitol. Among the prominent private houses by Post were the French chateau for Cornelius Vanderbilt II (1879–82) that once stood at Fifth Avenue and 57th Street (that was photographed by Albert Levy while being built), and the palazzo that faced it across the street, for Collis P. Huntington (1889–94). In Newport, Rhode Island he built for the president of the Louisville and Nashville Railroad, C.C. Baldwin, "Chateau-Nooga" or the Baldwin Cottage (1879–80), a polychromatic exercise in the "Quaint Style" with bargeboards and half-timbering; John La Farge provided stained glass panels.

He trained architect Arthur Bates Jennings.[4]

A true member of the American Renaissance, Post employed noted artists and artisans to produce decorative sculpture and murals. Among those who worked with him were the sculptor Karl Bitter and the painter Elihu Vedder. he was a founding member of the National Arts Club and served as its president from 1898 to 1905. In 1905 his two sons were taken into the partnership, and they continued in business after Post's death, notably as designers of many Statler Hotels in cities across the United States. The firm carried on under Post's grandson Edward Everett Post (1904–2006)[5] until the late twentieth century.[citation needed]

Post served as the sixth president of the American Institute of Architects, 1896-99[6] and received the AIA Gold Medal in 1911. His extensive archives are at the New-York Historical Society. Sarah Bradford Landau, George B. Post, Architect: Picturesque Designer and Determined Realist (1998) inspired the retrospective exhibition at the Society, 1998–99 that reassessed Post's work.

Selected works by George B. Post[edit]

Equitable Life Assurance Building, 1868–70: the exterior cladding and decorative features suggest three to four floors, when in fact there were eight floors
New York Produce Exchange (1883)
Interior of the Cleveland Trust Rotunda in Cleveland, Ohio
  • The original Williamsburgh Savings Bank, Brooklyn, New York, 1870-1875. Solidly classicizing and capped with a dome, "it might easily have been prepared in the nineties. Indeed it prefigures McKim's famous Columbia Library", Henry-Russell Hitchcock noted in his biography of H.H. Richardson
  • Troy Savings Bank, Troy, New York, 1875
  • Brooklyn Historical Society, Brooklyn, New York, 1878–1880, originally for the Long Island Historical Society; it employed architectural terracotta
  • New York Post Building, in which a deep central recess provided light and air to the interiors, a feature that quickly became standard for large commercial structures, 1880-1881
  • Mills Building, New York City, 1881–1883, called "the first modern office building", on a two-story base, the upper eight floors reached by ten elevators, it used architectural terracotta panels, which Post had helped to introduce to the United States, and eliminated the conventional mansard roofline
  • Produce Exchange (razed), New York City, in a modified neo-Renaissance mode that clad an interior iron skeletal framing, 1881-1885, razed 1957
  • New York Cotton Exchange (razed), New York City, 1883–1885
  • New York World Building, or Pulitzer Building, New York City, at the time of its completion the tallest building in the world, 1889-1890
  • New York Times Building, 41 Park Row, New York City, 1888–89
  • Union Trust Building (razed), 78-82 Broadway, New York City, 1889–1890
  • The Prudential Buildings, Newark, New Jersey, 1894, Romanesque, one for many years the largest in the state
  • Erie County Savings Bank building, Buffalo, New York, 1893, in Romanesque Revival. Destroyed in 1968.
  • Park Building, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, 1896, remodeled in the 1960s
  • Bronx Borough Hall, Bronx, NY, 1897
  • St. Paul Building, New York City, 1898
  • New York Stock Exchange, New York City, 1901–1903
  • City College of New York Campus, New York City, 1903–1907, in Gothic Revival style
  • Old Montreal Stock Exchange Building, Montreal, Quebec, 1904, now housing the Centaur Theatre
  • The Wisconsin State Capitol, Madison, Wisconsin, 1906
  • Cleveland Trust Company, Euclid Avenue, Cleveland, Ohio, 1908
  • Pontiac Hotel, Oswego, New York, 1912

Legacy[edit]

On February 3, 2014, an exhibit of Post's drawings and photographs for his design of the City College of New York opens at the college's Spitzer School of Architecture.[7]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ "GEO. B. POST DEAD; NOTED ARCHITECT; Designer of New York Stock Exchange and Many Famous Buildings Was Almost 76. PLANNED VANDERBILT HOME Awarded Gold Medal of American Institute of Architects in 1910 ;- Also Honored by France". The New York Times. 1913-11-29. 
  2. ^ Winston Weisman, "The Commercial Architecture of George B. Post" The Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians 31.3 (October 1972), pp. 176-203. Many details in this article are drawn from Weisman's sketch of Post's career.
  3. ^ Weisman 1972:176
  4. ^ "Guide to the Jennings Photograph Collection 1858-1957". The New-York Historical Society. 2003. Retrieved 2010-04-25. 
  5. ^ "Paid Notice: Deaths
    POST, EDWARD EVERETT"
    . New York Times. 2006-09-05. Retrieved 2008-08-07.
     
  6. ^ Post's numerous other positions of honor are noted in Weisman 1972:176.
  7. ^ Gray, Christopher (12 January 2014). "Streetscapes: City College -The Very Model of a University". The New York Times. Retrieved 11 January 2014. 

References[edit]

External links[edit]

Media related to George B. Post at Wikimedia Commons