Moorish Revival architecture

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Palace of the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation in Rio de Janeiro (Brazil)

Moorish Revival or Neo-Moorish is one of the exotic revival architectural styles that were adopted by architects of Europe and the Americas in the wake of the Romanticist fascination with all things oriental. It reached the height of its popularity after the mid-nineteenth century, part of a widening vocabulary of articulated decorative ornament drawn from historical sources beyond familiar classical and Gothic modes.

Moorish Revival in Europe[edit]

In Spain, the country conceived as the place of origin of Moorish ornamentation, the interest in this sort of architecture fluctuated from province to province. The mainstream was called Neo-Mudéjar. In Catalonia, Antoni Gaudí's profound interest in Mudéjar heritage governed the design of his early works, such as Casa Vicens or Astorga Palace. In Andalusia, the Neo-Mudéjar style gained belated popularity in connection with the Ibero-American Exposition of 1929 and was epitomized by Plaza de España (Seville) and Gran Teatro Falla in Cádiz. In Madrid, the Neo-Mudéjar was a characteristic style of housing and public buildings at the turn of the century, while the 1920s return of interest to the style resulted in such buildings as Las Ventas bullring and Diario ABC office. A Spanish nobleman built the Palazzo Sammezzano, one of Europe's largest and most elaborate Moorish Revival structures, in Tuscany between 1853 and 1889.

Although Carlo Bugatti employed Moorish arcading among the exotic features of his furniture, shown at the 1902 exhibition at Turin, by that time the Moorish Revival was very much on the wane everywhere but Imperial Russia, where the shell-encrusted Morozov House in Moscow (a stylisation of a Portuguese palace in Sintra) and the Neo-Mameluk palaces of Koreiz exemplify the continuing development of the style, and in Bosnia, where the Austrian government commissioned a range of Neo-Moorish structures. This included application of ornamentations and other Moorish design strategies neither of which had much to do with prior architectural direction of indigenous Bosnian architecture. The central post office in Sarajevo, for example, follows distinct formal characteristics of design like clarity of form, symmetry, and proportion while the interior followed the same doctrine. The Oriental Institute in Sarajevo is an example of Pseudo Moorish architectural language using decorations and pointed arches while still integrating other formal elements into the design.

Lithography of the Moorish Castle, a theater built in Moorish Architecture. Location was Frederiksberg, Denmark

The "Moorish" garden structures built at Sheringham Hall, Norfolk, ca. 1812, were an unusual touch at the time, a parallel to chinoiserie, as a dream vision of fanciful whimsy, not meant to be taken seriously; however, as early as 1826, Edward Blore used Islamic arches, domes of various size and shapes and other details of Near Eastern Islamic architecture to great effect in his design for Alupka Palace in Crimea, a cultural setting that had already been penetrated by authentic Ottoman styles. By the mid-19th century, the style was adopted by the Jews of Central Europe, who associated Mudéjar architectural forms with the golden age of Jewry in medieval Muslim Spain. As a consequence, Moorish Revival spread around the globe as a preferred style of synagogue architecture.

Development of the style in the United States[edit]

In the United States, Washington Irving's travel sketch, Tales of the Alhambra (1832) first brought Moorish Andalusia into readers' imaginations; one of the first neo-Moorish structures was Iranistan, a mansion of P. T. Barnum in Bridgeport, Connecticut. Constructed in 1848 and demolished by fire ten years later, this architectural extravaganza "sprouted bulbous domes and horseshoe arches".[1] In the 1860s, the style spread across America, with Olana, the painter Frederic Edwin Church's house overlooking the Hudson River, Castle Garden in Jacksonville and Longwood in Natchez, Mississippi usually cited among the more prominent examples. After the American Civil War, Moorish or Turkish smoking rooms achieved some popularity. There were Moorish details in the interiors created for the Henry Osborne Havemeyer residence on Fifth Avenue by Louis Comfort Tiffany. The 1914 Pittock Mansion in Portland, Oregon incorporates Turkish design features, as well as French, English, and Italian ones; the smoking room in particular has notable Moorish revival elements. In 1937, the Corn Palace in Mitchell, South Dakota added unusual minarets and Moorish domes, unusual because the polychrome decorations are made out of corn cobs of various colors assembled like mosaic tiles to create patterns. The 1891 Tampa Bay Hotel, whose minarets and Moorish domes are now the pride of the University of Tampa, was a particularly extravagant example of the style. Other schools with Moorish Revival buildings include Yeshiva University in New York City. George Washington Smith used the style in his design for the 1920s Isham Beach Estate in Santa Barbara, California.[2]

Moorish Revival theaters in the U.S.A.[edit]

Theater City and State Architect Date
Alhambra Theatre El Paso, Texas Henry C. Trost 1914
Alhambra Theatre Evansville, Indiana Frank J. Schlotter 1913
Alhambra Theatre Birmingham, Alabama Graven & Maygar 1927
Alhambra Theatre Hopkinsville, Kentucky John Walker 1928
Alhambra Theatre San Francisco, California Miller and Pflueger 1925
Bagdad Theatre Portland, Oregon Thomas & Mercier 1927
The Carpenter Center Richmond, Virginia John Eberson 1928
Civic Theatre Akron, Ohio John Eberson 1929
Emporia Granada Theatre Emporia, Kansas Boller Brothers 1929
Fox Theatre Atlanta, Georgia Mayre, Alger & Vinour 1929
Fox Theatre North Platte, Nebraska Elmer F. Behrens 1929
Granada Theater The Dalles, Oregon William Cutts 1929
Keith's Flushing Theater Queens, New York Thomas Lamb 1928
The Landmark Theater Richmond, Virginia Marcellus Wright Sr., Charles M. Robinson 1927
Olympic Theatre Miami, Florida John Eberson 1926
Lincoln Theater Los Angeles, California John Paxton Perrine 1927
Loew's 72nd Street Theatre New York City Thomas W. Lamb 1932 (dem.)
The Majestic Theatre San Antonio, Texas John Eberson 1929
Mount Baker Theatre Bellingham, Washington Robert Reamer 1927
Music Box Theatre Chicago, Illinois Louis J. Simon 1929
Palace Theatre Canton, Ohio John Eberson 1926
Palace Theatre Marion, Ohio John Eberson 1928
Plaza Theatre El Paso, Texas W. Scott Donne 1930
Saenger Theater Hattiesburg, Mississippi Emile Weil 1929
Shrine Auditorium Los Angeles, California Lansburgh, Austin and Edelman 1926
Sooner Theatre Norman, Oklahoma Harold Gimeno 1929
Temple Theatre Meridian, Mississippi Emile Weil 1927
Tennessee Theatre Knoxville, Tennessee Graven & Mayger 1928
Tower Theatre Los Angeles, California S. Charles Lee 1927

Theatres outside the United States[edit]

Theater Photo City and State Country Architect Date
State/Forum Theatre Forum Theatre Melbourne.jpg Melbourne, Victoria Australia Bohringer, Taylor & Johnson 1929
Eastern Arcade (former Palace/Metro Theatre) Building on bourke street melbourne.jpg Melbourne, Victoria Australia Hyndman & Bates 1894 (demolished in 2008)
Ukraine/Odessa Philharmonic Theater Vue de Odessa La Bourse.JPG Odessa, Ukraine Ukraine Alexander Bernardazzi 1898

Odessa Philharmonic Theater

Moorish revival synagogues[edit]

Europe[edit]

United States[edit]

Latin America[edit]

Churches and cathedrals[edit]

  • Immaculate Conception Church (New Orleans), (a.k.a. Jesuit Church) is a striking example of Moorish Revival Architecture. Across the street was the College of the Immaculate Conception, housing a chapel with two stained glass domes. The chapel was disassembled and about half of it (one of the stained glass domes, eleven of the windows) was installed in the present Jesuit High School.
  • The Cathedral of the Holy Trinity, Gibraltar (1825–1832) an early example of Moorish revival architecture is located in Gibraltar, which formed part of Moorish Al-Andalus between 711 and 1462 AD.

Shriners Temples[edit]

Murat Shrine, Indianapolis, Indiana
Tripoli Shrine Temple, Milwaukee, Wisconsin

The Shriners, a fraternal organization, often chose a Moorish Revival style for their Temples. Architecturally notable Shriners Temples include:

Factories[edit]

Assorted examples[edit]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ John C. Poppeliers, S. Allen Chambers Jr. What Style Is It: A Guide to American Architecture, p. 63. ISBN 0-471-25036-8 .
  2. ^ Gebhard, David. Santa Barbara Architecture, from Spanish Colonial to Modern. Capra Press. Santa Barbara. 1980. (later editions avail.) p. 109
  3. ^ [1]

Sources[edit]

  • Naylor, David, Great American Movie Theaters, The Preservation Press, Washington, D.C., 1987
  • Thorne, Ross, Picture Palace Architecture in Australia, Sun Books Pty. Ltd., South Melbourne, Australia, 1976

External links[edit]

Moorish Revival in New York Architecture http://www.nyc-architecture.com/STYLES/STY-MoorishRev.htm