NGE >> The Arts >> Architecture, Landscape Architecture, and Historic Preservation >> Architecture: Design >> Late Victorian Period, 1895-1920 >> Late Victorian Architecture: Overview
Late Victorian Architecture: Overview
Savannah's adjacent Victorian districts began to fill, and new residential sections of the expanding city displayed Beaux-Arts, Mediterranean-style, and neoclassical houses, as well as smaller bungalows
The Georgia Institute of Technology's architecture school dates from 1908, and as its first architects began to graduate in 1911, new and important firms and partnerships were formed: Hentz and Reid (1909-13) and then Hentz, Reid, and Adler (1913-26); Burge and Stevens (1919); Pringle and Smith (1922-34); and Ivey and Crook (1923-67). These architects built many of the traditionally styled houses in the new Atlanta suburbs during the 1920s and 1930s.
The first quarter of the new century, however, was the era of the Craftsman bungalow. From about
Individual houses in historic districts statewide show the breadth of interest in the Craftsman bungalow: the Walker-Moore House (ca.1905) in Sparta, the Brewer-Hamby House (1920) in Clarkesville, the Benjamin Hatfield House (1918) in Monticello, the Upshaw-Bridges House (ca.1904) in Dawson, the Locke-Boyd House (ca.1923) in Bronwood, and the Norton-Barfield-Jett House (ca.1915) near Dawson, to name just a few.
Inspired by John Ruskin, William Morris, and the Arts and Crafts movement, Stickley took it as his "mission" to spread this gospel of building truth nationally through his magazine, books, and especially, exemplary house plans. Sears-Roebuck's (and others') mail-order houses helped to disseminate the aesthetic further. Architect Leila Ross Wilburn was an active designer of pattern-book houses, published in booklets through which she was able, at low cost, to make available to developers and builders hundreds of house plans. As a result there are countless unidentified Wilburn houses, which for decades were built by anonymous contractors, located throughout Atlanta, where she practiced architecture, and likely elsewhere in the region. While the "period house" was the dominant residential structure of the years between the world wars, the bungalow of the preceding generation was the most popular house style from the 1910s into the 1920s.
For multifamily use, builders erected apartments sited on trolley lines, following the directions of suburban growth.
In contrast to the refinements of the Della Manta, the Colonnade Court Apartments (1918) on North Highland Avenue are more vigorous and monumental in their columned garden-court elevations, strong overhangs, and various references to the Craftsman aesthetic of much of the Virginia Highland neighborhood. A. Ten Eyck Brown and Haralson Bleckley, better known for their civic projects, also built apartments during this period, the former designing the Maryland Apartments in Ansley Park in 1913, and the latter building two apartments in 1915, the Tyree and the North Park.
Atlanta's premier apartment building of the period, however, was the Ponce de Leon Apartments, by W. L. Stoddart. Erected in 1912-13 across the street from the Georgian Terrace Hotel by the same architect, "the Ponce" steps back from the intersection but addresses it with a curving sidewalk-level colonnade; the rounded facade informs the full elevation of the apartment block. The rooftop is distinguished by well-proportioned classical pavilions, turning the roof into a court or garden with dramatic sheltered vantage points from which to view the city skyline. When Philip Johnson built his 191 Peachtree Tower downtown in 1987-90, he referenced these apartment temples with his own Hawksmoor-esque versions, informing the downtown skyline in distinctive ways. (Nicholas Hawksmoor was a British architect working in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries.) At the Ponce de Leon Apartments, a regrettable decision to install exterior windows without mullions (that is, without shuttering or other vertical markers) during restoration in the 1980s provided the state its most dramatic illustration of what not to do in restoring a landmark building.
Across the street from the Ponce de Leon Apartments, Stoddart's Georgian Terrace (1910-11) was one
At the end of the decade, courthouse architect J. W. Golucke sought to define a level of urbane city life in his 1898 Fitzpatrick Hotel in Washington, a hotel that was restored and reopened in June 2004. Such hostelries of the 1890s sought to offer amenities a step above local boardinghouses, and even in Atlanta competition emerged to improve upon the best of its Victorian-era hotels, the Kimball House. After the 1870 Kimball House burned, the hotel was rebuilt by Lorenzo B. Wheeler in 1884-85. By the time Atlanta erected what it called "our New York hotel," the famed Piedmont Hotel of 1903, the establishment of Atlanta as a convention city seeking to attract tourists and businesses was under way.
On a smaller scale, Atlanta has preserved an interesting hotel row on Mitchell Street dating from about
G. Lloyd Preacher also designed hotels across the South, notably in Atlanta during the 1920s. He built an annex to the 1917-18 Cecil Hotel (after 1932 known as the Atlantan). At the entry to Druid Hills, Preacher built the "Seven Fifty" (Briarcliff) Hotel in 1924-25, a period in Atlanta when there seems to have been a burst of hotel construction, including the Clairmont (1923), the Cox-Carlton by Pringle and Smith (1925), the Atlanta Biltmore Hotel and Apartments by the New York firm Schultze and Weaver (1923-24), and the notorious Shady Rest Hotel on North Highland, built in 1928 as "The Six Forty Four" Apartment Hotel and now renovated and operating as the Highland Inn.
Smaller towns can also boast surviving examples of hotel architecture, including the 1915 Forrest Hotel (now apartments) in Rome and the Ware Hotel, a reinforced concrete hotel of Spanish colonial revival style (with other colonial accents), dating from 1928-29 in Waycross. Some period hotels have found new uses: the YMCA Hotel of 1907 is now Waycross City Hall, and the Fred Roberts Hotel of 1926 in Dublin is now the Laurens Senior Center.
As tall apartment towers and downtown hotels give evidence, this period witnessed the rise of the skyscraper in American cities, a
Gilbert's Flatiron Building was followed by a succession of turn-of-the-century skyscrapers in Atlanta: the Grant-Prudential Building by Bruce and Morgan (1898), the Empire Building by Bruce and Morgan (1901, later the Citizens and Southern Bank Building and finally the NationsBank Building), Fourth National Bank Building (1905; enlarged as First National Bank, 1929; refaced and enlarged, 1964-66), the Candler Building by George Murphy and George Stewart (1906), the Healey Building by Morgan and Dillon, with W. T. Downing as associate architect (1913), and the Hurt Building by J. E. R. Carpenter (1913, with wings and light court added in 1924-26). In 1913-16, for the Empire Life Insurance Company, Stoddart and Preacher built the most ambitious project of its day in the city, a seventeen-storied, steel-frame, terra cotta–clad skyscraper in Augusta known today as the Lamar Building.
These tall buildings
Atlanta's Empire Building illustrates the shift to a more utilitarian Chicago
By 1929, of course, the academic tradition of neoclassicism was well established. Beaux-Arts-inspired neoclassicism influenced countless revivalist buildings throughout the country after the Chicago World's Fair of 1893, and Atlanta's office towers, like other buildings of the time, began to be styled in classical elements. While this is noteworthy at the Hurt Building, comparable revivalist tendencies are also evidenced at the contemporary Healey Building; there, neo-Gothic, rather than classical, ornament was likely influenced by Cass Gilbert's famed Gothic revival skyscraper in New York, the Woolworth Building, the tallest in the world at the time of its erection in 1911.
The dominance of Beaux-Arts influence at the turn of the century is evidenced by the numerous houses and public buildings with porticos, colossal columns (often paired), and elaborate classical ornament. Exemplary in church architecture are First Church of Christ, Scientist, Atlanta, by Edward E. Dougherty and Arthur Neal Robinson Sr. (1914), the Pierce Memorial Church by A. F. N. Everett in Sparta, and Everett's Young J. Allen Memorial Church in Oxford, on Emory University's Oxford campus. Classical revival houses built across the state in the high-style Beaux-Arts manner include "Callan Castle," or the Asa Candler House (1902-4), in Atlanta's Inman Park; the Herndon Mansion (1910) in Atlanta; the Strickland-Thacker House/Grand Oaks (1901) in Cartersville;
Some of Georgia's most notable courthouses were also built during the period. With their porticos and domes dominating small-town courthouse squares, many present an enriched Beaux-Arts character reflecting the attitude that architecture combines the artistic with the scientific and engineering side of construction, and that public architecture, such as a courthouse, provides an opportunity to demonstrate the taste of a community. A. Ten Eyck Brown's Fulton County Courthouse in Atlanta is among the noblest of such county buildings. Brown later proposed it be complemented by a second neoclassical monument, his Atlanta City Hall; Preacher's neo-Gothic tower was built instead.
Finally, in an effort to apply the Beaux-Arts "City Beautiful" ideals to urban design, Haralson Bleckley proposed a Civic Center Plan for Atlanta, envisioning a terraced civic plaza spread over the railroad gulch as a gesture, never executed, of civil improvement. A. Ten Eyck Brown's Peachtree Arcade (1916-17) in Atlanta presented an entry facade in a noble classical style in order to aggrandize the commercial nature of the interior street behind. The city's Terminal Station (1903-5) by P. Thornton Marye and the later, more suburban Brookwood Station (1918) by Hentz, Reid, and Adler looked to architectural "fancy dress" to ennoble transportation buildings. In Macon, Alfred Fellheimer sought to create a civic image in his 1916 Terminal Station, and Edgerton Swarthout reflected similar civic pride in his Macon Municipal Auditorium (1925). Augusta's Post Office and Courthouse by Oscar Wenderoth (1914) is in this same family.
Atlanta in 1890: "The Gate City" (1890; reprint, Macon, Ga.: Mercer University Press, 1986).
Atlanta's Lasting Landmarks (Atlanta: Atlanta Urban Design Commission, 1987).
Bryan M. Haltermann, From City to Countryside: A Guidebook to the Landmarks of Augusta, Georgia ([Augusta, Ga.]: Lamar Press, 1997).
David E. Kelley, Building Savannah, Images of America (Charleston, S.C.: Arcadia, 2000).
Elizabeth A. Lyon, Atlanta Architecture: The Victorian Heritage, 1837-1918, 2d ed. (Atlanta: Atlanta Historical Society, 1986).
Elizabeth Anne Mack Lyon, "Business Buildings in Atlanta: A Study in Urban Growth and Form" (Ph.D. diss., Emory University, 1971).
Robert M. Craig, Georgia Institute of Technology
A project of the Georgia Humanities Council, in partnership with the University of Georgia Press, the University System of Georgia/GALILEO, and the Office of the Governor.