Wilson Eyre

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Wilson Eyre, Jr.
BornOctober 30, 1858
DiedOctober 23, 1944 (1944-10-24) (aged 85)
BuildingsCharles Lang Freer House

University of Pennsylvania Museum (with Frank Miles Day and Cope & Stewardson)

Swann Memorial Fountain (Eyre & McIlvaine, architects; Alexander Stirling Calder, sculptor)

Wilson Eyre, Jr. (October 30, 1858 – October 23, 1944) was an American architect, teacher and writer who practiced in the Philadelphia area. He is known for his deliberately informal and welcoming country houses, and for being an innovator in the Shingle Style.

Architect and author[edit]

The son of Americans living abroad, he was born in Florence, Italy, and educated in Europe, Newport, Rhode Island, and Canada. He studied architecture briefly at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, joined the Philadelphia offices of James Peacock Sims in 1877, and took over the firm on Sims's death in 1882. In 1911, he entered into partnership with John Gilbert McIlvaine, and opened a second office in New York City. The firm of Eyre & McIlvaine continued until 1939.[1]

For his most important early houses, "Anglecot" (1883) and "Farwood" (1884–85), he used a simple plan: a line of asymmetrical public rooms stretching along a single axis, extending even outside to a piazza. Like many Shingle Style architects, he employed the open "living hall" as an organizing element: all of the main first floor rooms connecting to the hall, often through large openings. In addition, he used staircases to extend the space of the hall to the second floor. According to architectural-historian Vincent Scully: "This sense of extended horizontal plane and intensified "positive" scale evident in Eyre's work becomes later a basic component in the work of [Frank Lloyd] Wright..."[2] Eyre collaborated with artists such as Alexander Stirling Calder and Louis Comfort Tiffany.

Following his early success, Eyre became a leader in the international country life movement, lecturing in England, and corresponding with British and German architects. He was one of the first U.S. architects to be featured in the Arts & Crafts magazine International Studio, and he was published by Hermann Muthesius, the chronicler of the so-called "English" house of the turn of the century. Prior to Frank Lloyd Wright's rise to prominence, Eyre was arguably the best-known domestic architect in the U.S. among foreign designers. His post-1890 country houses, such as "Allgates" (1910, expanded by Eyre & McIlvaine 1917) are among the most accomplished American essays in the restrained stucco cottage idiom popularized by C.F.A. Voysey and Ernest Newton in England.[3]

He was one of the founders and editors of House & Garden magazine.[1] He designed many distinctive gardens with his residences, and wrote extensively of the need for interaction between rooms and outdoor spaces. Later house plans often featured loggias, terraces and porches connected to each major room on the ground floor to maximize the experience of the garden from inside the house.

Eyre was also renowned for his distinctive artistic drawings, often in watercolor. He used charcoal, pencil and ink with equal facility, and drew bird's eye perspectives with amazing speed. His extant drawings are now housed in the Architectural Archives of the University of Pennsylvania. He was elected a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects in 1893.

Eyre was one of the few Philadelphia architects who made no attempt to hide his homosexuality, probably diminishing his influence in later years. In August 1914 he was stranded in Europe along with thousands of Americans attempting to escape the fighting that erupted in World War I. Eyre returned to the United States in late September and shared a cabin with Augustus P. Gardner, a member of the House of Representatives from Massachusetts.[4]

In 1917, he was awarded the Gold Medal of the Philadelphia Chapter of the American Institute of Architects. He taught at the University of Pennsylvania, and was one of the founders of the T Square Club of Philadelphia in 1883.[1] In 1910, he was elected into the National Academy of Design as an Associate Academician.

He died in Philadelphia and is interred at The Woodlands Cemetery.[5]

Selected works[edit]

Philadelphia area[edit]


“Mauchline” (Frank Gifford Tallman house)Wilmington, DE [1]

"Farwood" (Richard L. Ashhurst house), Overbrook, PA (1884–85, demolished).
Mask & Wig Clubhouse, 310 S. Quince St., Philadelphia, PA (1894, altered by Eyre 1901).
University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, 3260 South St., Philadelphia, PA (1895–99), Wilson Eyre, Frank Miles Day, and Cope & Stewardson, architects.
  • "Anglecot" (Charles Adams Potter house), 401 E. Evergreen Avenue, Chestnut Hill, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (1883).[6][7] Added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1982.
  • "Farwood" (Richard L. Ashurst house), Overbrook, Pennsylvania (1884–85, demolished).[8]
  • 220 Glenn road, Ardmore, PA, 19003[9]
  • "Wisteria" (Charles A. Newhall house), 444 W. Chestnut Hill Avenue, Chestnut Hill, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (1884–85).[10]
  • Dr. Henry Genet Taylor House and Office, 305 Cooper Street, Camden, New Jersey (1884–86).[11] As of January 2015, renovation was underway by Rutgers University–Camden to convert the building into a Writers House.[12]
  • Harriet D. Schaeffer house, 433 W. Stafford Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (1888)[13]
  • Sally Watson House, 5128 Wayne Ave., Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (1889).
  • Clarence B. Moore House, 1321 Locust Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (1890).[14]
  • Henry Cochran house, 3511 Baring Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (1891).[15]
  • Neill-Mauran House, 22nd & Delancey Streets, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (1891).[16]
  • Dr. Joseph Leidy House and office, 1319 Locust Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (1894).[17]
  • Mrs. Evan Randolph house, 218 W. Chestnut Hill Avenue, Chestnut Hill, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (1906).[18]
  • Clover Hill Farm, 910 Penn Valley Rd Media, Pennsylvania (1907).
  • "Lycoming," The Residence of William Jay Turner, 3005 W. School House Lane, Philadelphia, PA, (1907). A Philadelphia Register of Historic Places nomination for this property, authored by Oscar Beisert, Architectural Historian and Historic Preservationist, was filed on October 29, 2018, by the Keeping Society of Philadelphia. A demolition permit was filed by the property owner the same day and the building was demolished soon afterwards for an athletic field.[19]
  • Alterations to Wilson Eyre House, 1003-05 Spruce Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (1909–1910). It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1977.[20]
  • "Allgates" (Horatio Gates Lloyd mansion), Coopertown Road, Haverford, Pennsylvania (1910, expanded by Eyre & McIlvaine 1917). Added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1979.
  • Additions to "Bel Orme" (Thomas Mott house), Matson Ford & County Line Roads, Radnor, Pennsylvania (Eyre & McIlvaine) (1917).[21]

Other buildings[edit]

Other regions[edit]


Other buildings[edit]

Image gallery[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Wilson Eyre Biography at Philadelphia Architects and Buildings
  2. ^ Vincent J. Scully, Jr. The Shingle Style and the Stick Style (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1955, revised 1971), p. 124, figs. 97, 98, 100 & 101.
  3. ^ See Mark Alan Hewitt, The Architect and the American Country House, 1890-1940 (New Haven, Yale Univ. Press: 1990): pages 25-67.
  4. ^ Constance Gardner, ed., Some Letters of August Peabody Gardner (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1920), 91.
  5. ^ "Wilson Eyre, Jr". www.findagrave.com. Retrieved 6 April 2019.
  6. ^ Anglecot at Bryn Mawr College
  7. ^ "Anglecot" plan & photos at University of Pennsylvania
  8. ^ "Farwood" plan & photos at University of Pennsylvania
  9. ^ Original drawings current owner
  10. ^ Newhall house at Chestnut Hill Historical Society
  11. ^ Taylor House at Historic American Buildings Survey
  12. ^ Jonathan Lai, "At Rutgers-Camden, new Writers House in works," The Philadelphia Inquirer, January 12, 2015.
  13. ^ [Schaeffer House] at Historic American Buildings Survey
  14. ^ Clarence Moore house (left) at Bryn Mawr College
  15. ^ Cochran house at University of Pennsylvania
  16. ^ Neil and Mauran houses at University of Pennsylvania
  17. ^ Joseph Leidy house (right) at Bryn Mawr College
  18. ^ Randolph house at Chestnut Hill Historical Society
  19. ^ Oscar Beisert (June 29, 2018). "Philadelphia Register of Historic Places Nomination: "Lycoming," The Residence of William Jay Turner, 3005 School House Lane, Philadelphia, PA". Keeping Society of Philadelphia. Retrieved November 27, 2020.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  20. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. July 9, 2010.
  21. ^ "Bel Orme" at the Historic American Buildings Survey
  22. ^ "Mask & Wig". Maskandwigrentals.wordpress.com. 23 March 2008. Retrieved 2013-03-12.
  23. ^ Corn Exchange Bank at Bryn Mawr College
  24. ^ McPherson Square Library at Library Company of Philadelphia
  25. ^ a b "Rochelle Park/ Rochelle Heights Historic District". Retrieved 2013-03-12.
  26. ^ "Meadowcroft" at Philadelphia Architects and Buildings
  27. ^ "Sands mansion plan & photos". Housemouse.net. Retrieved 2013-03-12.
  28. ^ "Parrish House". Crjc.org. 1938-05-15. Retrieved 2013-03-12.

External links[edit]