Richard Upjohn, Architect and Churchman

Richard Upjohn, Architect and Churchman

Richard Upjohn, Architect and Churchman

Richard Upjohn, Architect and Churchman

Excerpt

One hundred years ago next March Richard Upjohn was called from Boston to New York to advise Trinity Church on certain repairs which were then imminent. Out of this task came the most famous of his commissions, one whose success brought to the architect the largest ecclesiastical, if not also the largest general, practice in the country.

For a well-known architectural critic to describe Richard Upjohn's reputation as resting on a single building, Trinity Church, was not unjustified. But that belief, so widely held, is due to our ignorance of the course of American architecture from 1830 to 1870. Before and after those years much patient and fruitful investigation has been carried out by a number of scholars.

In approaching this completely unexplored middle period of American architecture, two methods suggest themselves. The first, that of a general survey dealing with types and characteristics, has much of value. But I believe that the time is not yet ripe for such a work. Until definitive biographical studies have been made of at least the more important men and their major works made available through publication, until the precise factual material relating to significant buildings has been unearthed, any general summaries are bound to be tentative and inconclusive.

Therefore, I have dealt purely with the life and work of Richard Upjohn, the most important figure in American architecture between Jefferson and Richardson. His influence on architecture and on the profession was immense. My theme is to present a reasonably comprehensive picture of the man and his architecture. Obviously this involves a most stringent selection from the corpus of material and offers the opportunity frequently to allow the nineteenth century to speak for itself.

For the scholar and the antiquarian I include in the Appendix a catalogue of his commissions. It is useless to pretend that I have . . .

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