Academic journal article Transactions of the American Philosophical Society

An Ancient Order for American Architecture

Academic journal article Transactions of the American Philosophical Society

An Ancient Order for American Architecture

Article excerpt

In 1838, James Fenimore Cooper, in his novel Home as Found, wrote acerbically about the contemporary situation in American architecture. Speaking to Eva Effingham, recently returned to New York from an extended stay abroad, he has Aristabulus Bragg, the family lawyer, comment on the current taste in building: "I think you are mistaken, Miss Effingham, for the public sentiment just now runs almost exclusively and popularly into the Grecian School. We build little besides temples for our churches, our banks, our taverns, our court-houses and our dwellings. A friend of mine has just built a brewery on the model of the Temple of the Winds."1 In reality, just as Bragg fictively observed, at that time a taste for the Greek was becoming increasingly dominant in the nation's architecture, though his brewery reference was no doubt intended to be facetious. Certainly no brewery appears to have been built in this manner; nor, other than for a specific detail, a capital, does this Athenian example, this Temple, or, as it is more commonly known, this Tower of the Winds, appear to have had any significant influence on the nation's architecture. …

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