Alfred Hopkins

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S. Alfred Hopkins (1870 — May 1941[1]) was an American architect, an "estate architect" who specialized in country houses and especially in model farms in an invented "vernacular" style suited to the American elite. His practice, established in 1912 as Alfred Hopkins & Associates, was mostly based in New York, where he was the "dean of farm group architecture,"[2] in Westchester County, northern New Jersey and Long Island; he also built two gentlemen's farms in Illinois. He built fifteen of his practical and esthetic farm group complexes on Long Island, including one for Louis Comfort Tiffany at Laurelton Hall. An article on farm groupings published in Architectural Record in 1915[3] notes that Hopkins was often called upon to design the farm groups on estates where the residences were the work of other architects, such as Bertram Goodhue, John Russell Pope and Charles A. Platt.

Hopkins was among the contributors to Stables and Farm Buildings: A Special Number of the Architectural Review produced by the staff of Architectural Review in 1902. His Modern Farm Buildings[4] served to publicize his practical and picturesque esthetic, and in common with all architects' publications since the sixteenth century, to attract clients. Hopkins' book went into a third edition.

Hopkins laid out his farm buildings around paved courts or grassed paddocks, keeping rooflines and eaves low to blend with the landscape, and carefully separating the necessary farming functions. He preferred to remove hay storage from its traditional loft over the stables to eliminate dust infiltration and ammonia pollution. Open-sided sheds housed farm vehicles. The spatial routes of cows and horses were kept separate. Farmhands' quarters were integrated with the buildings. An outstanding late survival of Hopkins' Cotswolds-inspired vernacular manner is the stable court at Hartwood, near Pittsburgh (1929). The same year he published a brochure distributed among architects, Two Cotswolds Villages, describing the vernacular architecture and stone-tiled roofs of two picturesque English villages: Bibury, Gloucestershire and Castle Combe, Wiltshire.[5]

Hopkins is less known for his Prisons and Prison Building (New York: Architectural Book Publishing 1930), where rational planning met other ends, in a progressive and humane program based on the classification of prisoners and their segregation by groups in small units; proposals that argued against walled prisons and for the uplifting effect of good architecture. His practical experience was founded on his work at Westchester County Penitentiary, Berks County Prison, and his proposed designs for a federal prison to be built at Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, Lewisburg Federal Penitentiary, completed in 1934.

Hopkins was also among the architects who published plans for inexpensive carpenter-built housing in Carpentry and Building.[6] and his small book Planning for sunshine and fresh air: Being sundry discourses & excursions in the pleasant art of building homes, set forth in a manner and upon a theory ... how best to effect their proper economies appeared in 1931.

He also published The Fundamentals of Good Bank Building (1929).

After an interim following his death, an architectural firm was founded in 1954 by six associates from his office, as La Pierre, Litchfield & Partners.[7]

Some characteristic projects[edit]

  • Elawa Farm, Lake Forest, Illinois, Neo-Georgian farm complex for A. Watson Armour, 1917, built as a weekend house[8] Armour, an heir of the Armour and Company meatpacking fortune, lived on Lake Shore Drive in Chicago. The projected main house, designed by David Adler in neo-Georgian style, to which the farm group was expressly suited, was never built; instead paired gatehouses were linked to the farm group by extensive gardens. Low eaved pitched roofs and linking covered passageways characterize Hopkins' symmetrically-massed brick farm group at Elawa Farms.[9]
  • Hartwood, for Mr. and Mrs. John Lawrence, 1929. Lawrence's wife Mary was the daughter of Pennsylvania State Senator William Flinn, a construction magnate. The thirty-one room slate-roofed stone house constructed around a Great Hall and a picturesquely massed stable compound are in a Cotswolds vernacular Tudor style. Sold to the Allegheny Parks Commission in 1964 with 400 acres (1.6 km2) of parkland and riding trails, the grounds are now enlarged to 629 acres (2.55 km2); house and grounds are open to the public within Hartwood Acres Park.[10]
  • Farm group for Sen. Joseph Medill McCormick and Ruth Hanna McCormick, in Byron, Illinois, a dairy and cattle breeding farm.
  • Sprawling lakeside estate and farm complex just north of Cooperstown, New York for William Telow Hyde known as Glimmerglen in 1916.[11] The manor house, stables, dependency cottages, and sheep farm complex have since been razed. The estate was featured in Country Life magazine in late 1922. The stone gate house featured in the Architectural Record is extant today as is the boathouse and distinctive cottage known as the Winter House.


  1. ^ "Alfred Hopkins, 71, An Architect Here, Designer of Federal Prisons at Lursburg, Pa., and Terre Haute, Ind., is Dead, also Planned Estates, Wrote Book on Specialties: Was musician, Composer and Student of Bookbinding." New York Times, 6 May 1941.
  2. ^ Robert B. Mackay, Anthony K. Baker and Carol A. Graynor. Long Island Country Houses and Their Architects: 1860-1940. (New York: Society for the Preservation of Long Island Antiquities/W.W. Norton) 1997, p 216.
  3. ^ John J. Klaber. "The Grouping of Farm Buildings: Examples from the Work of Alfred Hopkins" Architectural Record 37 April, 1915.
  4. ^ Hopkins, Modern Farm Buildings. Being suggestions for the most approved ways of designing the cow barn, dairy, horse barn, hay barn, sheepcote, piggery, manure... on practical, sanitary and artistic lines. 1913, 1916, revised 1920.
  5. ^ Hopkins, Two Cotswold Villages (The Tuileries Brochures: A Series of Monographs on European Architecture with Special Reference to Roofs of Tile) Volume 1, Number 4, July 1929). Photographs by F.R. Yerbury
  6. ^ Jan Jennings, "Cheap and Tasteful Dwellings in Popular Architecture" Perspectives in Vernacular Architecture 5 (1995), p 151, note 49.
  7. ^ New York Times, 29 August 1954.
  8. ^ Historic assessment.
  9. ^ Elawa Fram Commission.
  10. ^ "Friends of Hartwood Acres"
  11. ^ "COOPERSTOWN.; Many Additions from New York to the Cottage Colony.". New York Times. 16 June 1912. Retrieved 2008-08-10. 


  • Aslet, Clive. The American Country House (1990) "The Farm Beautiful".
  • Coventry, Kim. Classic Country Estates of Lake Forest: Architecture and Landscape 1856-1940 (2003).
  • Leffingwell, Randy. The American Barn (2003)
  • Mackay, Robert B., Baker, Anthony K., Carol A. Traynor. Long Island Country Houses and Their Architects, 1860-1940 (1997)
  • "Cooperstown; Many Additions from New York to the Cottage Colony.". New York Times. 16 June 1912. Retrieved 2008-08-10. 

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