Saturday, October 1, 2011

29 September: Birthday of Architect Henry Hobson Richardson

Richardson's muscular yet elegant style, derived from the architecture of the early Middle Ages, came on the scene at just the right time: as a variety of historicizing styles competed with one another and prosperous individuals, towns, and organizations confidently sought to display their status through new edifices.

Mass Moments tells us:
He designed nearly 80 buildings, including churches, libraries, railroad stations, and private homes, many of them in Massachusetts. His buildings were visually striking and beautifully proportioned. He used forms inspired by early medieval churches, including rounded arches, massive towers, and rugged stone walls, with blocks often laid in bands of contrasting color. Widely copied across the nation, "Richardsonian Romanesque" became the first and only architectural style ever named after an American. (read the rest
Here, some examples of neo-Romanesque buildings (though none by Richardson himself) in the Pioneer Valley:

Amherst Town Hall (H.S. McKay, 1889-90)

Hampshire County Courthouse, Northampton (Henry F. Kilbourn, 1884-86)

Forbes Library, Northampton (William Brocklesby; opened 1894)

"Richardsonian Romanesque" has become a term now known beyond the circles of architectural aficionados. Less well known is Richardson's work as a designer of interiors and furnishings, a topic that my fellow preservationist and tweep Anulfo Baez has written about here: "In Harmony with the Architecture: The Furniture of H.H. Richardson."

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