12 November 2009

16 Noted Architects who were Universalist or Unitarian

. . . Another little collection of excerpts from A Who's Who of UUs. These men and women are listed in chronological order by date of birth. All are American unless otherwise stated. Prominent structures are in bold. (Please drop me a line if I have left anyone off this list, thanks.)

1. Charles Bulfinch (8 Aug 1763–15 Apr 1844), credited with introducing curved staircase to New England; selectman (city councilman) of Boston 1791–1795, 1799–1817; designed Hollis Street Church (Unitarian) 1788, Massachusetts State House 1800, Massachusetts State Prison 1803, Harvard University Hall 1813–14; designed many parts of the United States Capitol Building 1817–30 (his dome was copied on many state capitols); member of King's Chapel (Unitarian) Boston

2. Jacob Bigelow (7 Feb 1786–10 Jan 1879), M.D. 1810 University of Pennsylvania; primary designer and architect of Mount Auburn Cemetery, Watertown, Massachusetts 1831 (first US burial place called 'cemetery', first to feature gardens, rolling hills, etc.; started national movement to beautify burial places); professor of materia medica 1815–55 and Rumford Professor of Application of Science to Useful Arts 1816–27 at Harvard; wrote Florula Bostoniensis 1814, American Medical Botany 1817–20 (drew illustrations and invented a new color printing process), Elements of Technology 1829 (2 vols, standard for many years); president of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences 1847–63; genus Bigelowia (goldenrod) named in his honor; Unitarian

3. Minard Lafever (Aug 1798–26 Sep 1854), wrote Architectural Instructor 1829–56 (popularizing Greek Revival style) and many other builder's guides; designed the First Unitarian Church 1842–44 and Holy Trinity 1844–47 (both masterpieces of Gothic Revival, Brooklyn); designed the Packer Institute (famous example of collegiate Gothic); also noted for Egyptian Revival and Romanesque styles; Unitarian

4. Charles Ellet, Jr. (1 Jan 1810–21 Jun 1862), built first wire suspension bridge 1841–42 (Fairmont, Pennsylvania); built same over river below Niagara Falls 1849; built longest suspension bridge 1849 (1010 feet, Wheeling, West Virginia) and longest railroad bridge 1853 (18 miles, Blue Ridge); designed flood control for the Mississippi delta 1851; chief engineer on the Virginia Central Railroad from 1852; invented the battering ram steamship 1854; as Colonel of Engineers in the Civil War built and commanded a fleet of battering ram steamships at the Battle of Memphis 1862; raised Quaker, became Universalist

5. Frederick Law Olmsted (26 Apr 1822–28 Aug 1903), landscape architect and gardener; designed New York City's Central Park 1856–61; wrote Cotton Kingdom 1861 (2 vols); executive director of the United States Sanitary Commission 1861–64 (providing civilian assistance to Union Army during Civil War: medical supplies, hospitals, nurses, clothing, etc); director of the Southern Famine Relief Commission 1865–c.1875; designed Washington, D.C.'s park system 1871; president of the park department of New York City 1872; designed major public parks in Brooklyn, Buffalo, Chicago, Montreal, Boston and many other cities; helped design Golden Gate Park in San Francisco; Unitarian but never formally joined a congregation

6. the Rev. Thomas William Silloway (7 Aug 1828–17 May 1910), designed Vermont State Capitol at Montpelier 1857, Dean Academy 1867, Buchtel College 1869, Goddard Seminary 1870 and over 450 church edifices (said to be a record); wrote Theogonis 1856, Textbook of Modern Carpentry 1858, Conference Melodist 1863 and other books; elected member of the New England Historic Genealogical Soc 1864–1910; raised Methodist, became Universalist 1844, ordained same 1862

7. Frank Furness (12 Nov 1839–27 Jun 1912), specialized in Victorian gothic (exuberant decorativeness, optical illusions); hailed as the preeminent Victorian ecclesiastical architect; designed the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts 1871–76, the First Unitarian Church of Philadelphia and many other famous buildings; Unitarian

8. Minerva Parker Nichols (14 May 1861–17 Nov 1949), first successful American solo woman architect 1888; lecturer at the Philadelphia School of Design; designed the Queen Isabella Pavilion for the Columbian Exposition (World's Fair) Chicago 1891 (not built, fair held 1893); designed the New Century Club of Philadelphia 1891, the Browne & Nichols School in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the Unitarian Church of Wilmington, Delaware and many other noted structures; Unitarian

9. Bernard Maybeck (7 Feb 1862–3 Oct 1957), famous for designs incorporating diverse traditions and materials; designed the San Francisco Palace of Fine Arts 1913–15 and many private homes; professor of engineering and architectural drawing at the University of California Berkeley; member of the First Unitarian Church of Berkeley

10. Frank Lloyd Wright (8 Jun 1867–9 Apr 1959), created the famous 'prairie style' (low ceilings, cantilevering, reinforced concrete, screen walls); pioneered extensive use of natural materials; designed the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo 1915–22 and many landmark private homes; founded Taliesin Fellowships in Wisconsin 1932 and Arizona 1938 (architectural apprenticeships); wrote Architecture and Modern Life 1937 and other books; among his famous designs are the Unitarian Church of Madison, Wisconsin, the Guggenheim Museum of Modern Art in New York City, and Unity Temple (Unitarian Universalist) in Oak Park, Illinois; lifelong Unitarian, member of the First Unitarian Church of Madison, Wisconsin

11. Rose Standish Nichols (1872–1960), among the first American professional woman landscape architects and garden designers; director of the Boston Society of Decorative Art; trustee of the Cooperative Building Society; wrote Old Manor House Gardens 1901, English Pleasure Gardens 1902, Spanish and Portuguese Gardens 1924 and other books; helped found the Women's Peace Party 1915; Unitarian

12. Thomas Andrews, Jr. (7 Feb 1873–15 Apr 1912), Irish architect and ship designer; as managing director and head of the drafting department of Harland & Wolff (Belfast, Ireland) designed the Titanic (went down with with ship); member of All Souls Non-Subscribing Presbyterian (Unitarian) Belfast

13. William Emerson (16 Oct 1873–4 May 1957); Ph.D.; director of the bureau of construction of the American Red Cross 1917–19 (Paris); as professor and dean of the department of architecture at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology 1919–39 he added architectural history, theory, humanities, town planning and other topics to the curriculum; first president of the Unitarian Service Committee 1940–53; president of the American Association for the United Nations and many similar activist organizations; awarded the French Legion of Honor for service in WW1; Unitarian

14. Theodora Kimball Hubbard (1887–1935), architect and linguist; first librarian of the Harvard School of Landscape Architecture 1911–24; first woman member of the American City Planning Institute 1919; author of numerous books on city planning and landscape design; Unitarian

15. George B. Brigham, Jr. (1889–1967), professor of architecture at the University of Michigan; wrote noted article 'Prefabrication' 1937; George Brigham Foundation of Architectural Research at University of Michigan named in his honor; member and designer (1955) of the First Unitarian Church of Ann Arbor

16. Buckminster Fuller (12 Jul 1895–1 Jul 1983), inventor; engineer; mathematician; philosopher; invented the dymaxion house 1927, the dymaxion car 1933, the geodesic dome 1947 and other modern scientific wonders; professor at Southern Illinois University 1959–83; wrote Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth 1969 and many other books; earned Medal of Freedom 1983; held over two thousand patents; member of the Unitarian Fellowship of Carbondale, Illinois


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