Richardsonian Romanesque is a style of Romanesque Revival architecture named after architect Henry Hobson Richardson (1838–1886), whose masterpiece is Trinity Church, Boston (1872–1877), designated a National Historic Landmark. Richardson first used elements of the style in his Buffalo State Asylum for the Insane in Buffalo, New York, designed in 1870.
History and development
This very free revival style incorporates 11th and 12th century southern French, Spanish and Italian Romanesque characteristics. It emphasizes clear, strong picturesque massing, round-headed "Romanesque" arches, often springing from clusters of short squat columns, recessed entrances, richly varied rustication, blank stretches of walling contrasting with bands of windows, and cylindrical towers with conical caps embedded in the walling.
Architects working in the style
The style includes work by the generation of architects practicing in the 1880s before the influence of the Beaux-Arts styles. It is epitomised by the American Museum of Natural History's original 77th Street building by J. Cleaveland Cady of Cady, Berg and See in New York City. It was seen in smaller communities in this time period such as in St. Thomas, Ontario's city hall and Menomonie, Wisconsin's Mabel Tainter Memorial Building, 1890.
Some of the practitioners who most faithfully followed Richardson's proportion, massing and detailing had worked in his office. These include:
- Alexander Wadsworth Longfellow and Frank Alden (Longfellow, Alden & Harlow of Boston & Pittsburgh);
- George Shepley and Charles Coolidge (Richardson's former employees, and his successor firm, Shepley, Rutan & Coolidge of Boston);
- Herbert Burdett (Marling & Burdett of Buffalo).
Other architects who employed Richardson Romanesque elements in their designs include:
- Spier and Rohns and George D. Mason, both firms from Detroit;
- Edward J. Lennox and John Wellborn Root, Toronto-based architects who derived many of their designs from the Richardson Style;
- Harvey Ellis designed in this style in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
- Fenimore C. Bate designed the Grays Armory in this style in Cleveland, Ohio.
Research is underway to try to document the westward movement of the artisans and craftsmen, many of whom were immigrant Italians and Irish, who built in the Richardsonian Romanesque tradition. The style began in the East, in and around Boston, where Richardson built the influential Trinity Church on Copley Square. As the style was losing favor in the East, it was gaining popularity further west. Stone carvers and masons trained in the Richardsonian manner appear to have taken the style west, until it died out in the early years of the 20th century.
- For pictures of H. H. Richardson’s own designs and some of the details, see Henry Hobson Richardson.
With the exception of the Richardson Olmsted Complex, none of the following structures were designed by Richardson. They illustrate the strength of his architectural personality on progressive North American architecture from 1885 to 1905.
They are divided into categories denoting the various different uses of the buildings.
The Lee County, Texas Courthouse, 1899: cautious Romanesque features applied to a conservative design
Dallas County Courthouse, now Old Red Museum, designed & constructed by architect and contractor Max A. Orlopp Jr. in 1891.
Salem Superior Court, Salem, Massachusetts. Constructed in 1864 as an Italianate design, it was remodeled in the Richardsonian Romanesque style by 1889.
Green County Courthouse, Monroe, Wisconsin, 1891.
Orton Hall, The Ohio State University, completed 1893.
Durand Art Institute, Lake Forest College, Lake Forest, Illinois. Henry Ives Cobb architect, completed 1891.
Williams Free Library, Beaver Dam, Wisconsin. Opened 1891. Architect Walter Holbrook.
Acton Memorial Library, Acton, Massachusetts, Hartwell and Richardson, architects, completed 1891.
The Westminster Castle in Westminster, Colorado as it appeared on 29 May 2008
George W. Frank House, Kearny, NE, designed by Frank, Bailey and Farmer, completed in 1889.
- Henry Hobson Richardson
- H. H. Richardson Historic District of North Easton
- Romanesque Revival architecture
- O'Brien, Marta (9 June 2008). "Toronto's Third City Hall". Heritage Toronto. Retrieved 2014-11-25.
- Johnson, Donald L. and Donald Langmead, Makers of 20th Century Modern Architecture: A Bio-Critical Sourcebook, Greenwood, 1997, p.290
- Claudia Ahmad and George Carney (December 1983). "National Register of Historic Places Multiple Property Submission: Richardsonian Romanesque Banks of Osage County TR". National Park Service. Retrieved 2008-02-12
- "Endangered: Historic Court Buildings". Historic Salem, Inc. Retrieved 2011-12-13.
- Kelsey, Mavis P. and Donald H. Dyal, The Courthouses of Texas: A Guide, Texas A&M University Press, College Station Texas 1993 ISBN 0-89096-547-1
- Kvaran, Einar Einarsson, Architectural Sculpture in America unpublished manuscript
- Kvaran, Einar Einarsson, Starkweather Memorial Chapel, Highland Cemetery, Ypsilanti, Michigan, Unpublished paper 1983
- Larson, Paul C., Editor, with Susan Brown, The Spirit of H. H. Richardson on the Midwest Prairies, University Art Museum, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis and Iowa State University Press, Ames 1988
- Ochsner, Jeffrey Karl, H. H. Richardson: Complete Architectural Works, MIT Press, Cambridge MA 1984 ISBN 0-262-15023-9
- Ochsner, Jeffrey Karl, and Andersen, Dennis Alan, Distant Corner: Seattle Architects and the Legacy of H. H. Richardson, University of Washington Press, Seattle WA 2003 ISBN 0-295-98238-1
- Van Rensselaer, Mariana Griswold, Henry Hobson Richardson and His Works, Dover Publications, Inc. NY 1959 (Reprint of 1888 edition) ISBN 0-486-22320-5
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