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Romanesque Revival / Queen Anne
|Approximate Dates 1870 to 1930|
|See also the section on Rundbogenstil (German round-arched neo-Romanesque)|
The Romanesque Revival
Between 1840 and 1900, the round-arched medieval style that preceded the Gothic appealed to religious fervor and picturesque sensibilities, becoming a popular prototype for Christian churches in America.
Beginning in the mid-1840s, the Romanesque Revival was widely adopted for churches in New York State and the nation by both architects and local builders. With round-arched openings instead of pointed Gothic arches and spires, the style was associated with the great European monasteries, churches, and fortified castles of the Middle Ages. Known to architects through books, prints, photographs, and travels, the Romanesque was also appreciated for its picturesque qualities. In the 1850s and 60s, it surpassed the Gothic Revival as the favored architectural style for Christian worship.
The mature Romanesque style developed across western Europe from 1000 to 1200 as the principles of imperial Roman vaulted architecture were revived and fused with local traditions. The groundwork was laid in the Carolingian architecture that flourished during the reign of Charlemagne (768-814). Amidst a disorganized Europe, Charlemagne created a pan-Germanic state in which he promoted Christianity, learning, and administrative order through his court and the monasteries. German culture was synthesized with traditional late Roman forms, including EarlyChristian basilicas and influences from Byzantine and Oriental lands.
The monasteries were wellsprings of architectural innovation for vast complexes and monumental churches, such as Cluny and Le Citeaux in France. Strong regional variants of the Romanesque developed in areas of western Europe and were carried forth by colonists, missionaries, and craftsmen into Spain, Palestine, middle Europe, and Scandinavia. As Kenneth Conant explains in Carolingian and Romanesque Architecture, between 800 and 1200 in Romanesque Normandy, England, and the Ile-de-France, the ribbed groin-vaulted bay with flying buttresses developed, which was later to become the foundation of Gothic architecture.
The Romanesque Revival first started in Munich, Germany around 1830, where it was called the Rundbogenstil (round-arched style). The earliest known example in New York of the Romanesque Revival is the Church of the Pilgrims (now Our Lady of Lebanon Roman Catholic Church), 113 Remsen Street, Brooklyn Heights (Richard Upjohn, 1844-46). The German Rundbogenstil influenced St. George's Church (Episcopal), (Blesch & Eidlitz, 1846-56), located in an appropriately Picturesque setting on Stuyvesant Square, Manhattan. Renwick's 1846 Church of the Pilgrims on Union Square in Manhattan, was a fully-developed example of the Norman (French Romanesque) style. At the same time, Renwick was designing the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. (1846-55), considered "the first great secular monument of the Romanesque Revival," in a highly Picturesque mode.
The Romanesque Revival style became ubiquitous throughout the second half of the 19th century for a wide variety of building types, such as railroad stations, civic buildings, schools, armories,commercial buildings, factories, and masonry dwellings. In reaction to the elegantly designed Gothic Revival churches that set the standard of taste in the 1840s for the Episcopal Church, Congregationalist, Methodist, Baptist, and other low-church groups found the Romanesque "less ostentatious,...more republican," according to Robert Dale Owen in his 1849 publication, Hints on Public Architecture. Evangelical congregations that emphasized preaching developed church plans to focus on the pulpit and could draw on virtually any style for the exterior.
St. Georges Church (Episcopal), Rutherford Place & East 16th Street, New York, NY (1846-56) is one of the first and most significant examples of early Romanesque Revival in America. The exterior is thought to have been designed by the Bavarian born architect Otto Blesch. The interiors were designed by Leopold Eiditz. The original gothic style stone spires were removed in 1889. Acknowledgment: Andrew Dolkart, Guide to New York City Landmarks, 1991.
Roman Catholic parishes also found the Romanesque style a suitable model. The Church of St. Stephen (now the Parish of Our Lady of the Scapular and St. Stephen), 149 East 28th Street, Manhattan (cover) is a high-style example, while more modest examples include St. Patrick's Church on Staten Island (1860-62), and Church of the Annunciation, 255 North 5th Street, Brooklyn (F.J. Berlenbach, Jr., 1870), a brick Lombardian Romanesque basilica. Buffalo has several stately Roman Catholic churches that are late but pronounced examples of the Romanesque Revival, including Holy Family (Lansing and Beierl, 1906), Corpus Christi (Schmill and Gould, 1907-1907), and St. Francis Xavier (Max G. Beierl, 1911-1913).
By the 1850s and 60s, the Romanesque Revival was more popular for new churches than the Gothic. Although called in its day "Round style" by Congregationalists, and "Norman" or "Lombard" if the style was influenced by French or Italian Romanesque architecture, its prevailing character was more often Germanic, severe, and symmetrical. Architects did not use details academically, but more as Picturesque novelties. Pointed-arch openings and spires were sometimes employed because Romanesque churches often had Gothic additions. Provincial examples sometimes had Greek Revival forms with round-arched features, notes Carole Rifkind in A Field Guide to American Architecture.
Closely related to the Romanesque Revival was the Moorish Style, adopted in the post-Civil War years for synagogues by first-generation German Jews (see American Synagogue Architecture,
Common Bond Volume 11/Number 1). Horseshoe-shaped arches and intricate geometric patterns found in Islamic architecture were used instead of round-arched motifs associated with Christianity.
A later phase of the Romanesque, originated in the 1870s by Boston architect Henry Hobson Richardson, was inspired by Spain and the south of France. The Richardsonian Romanesque style reached its zenith in the late 1880s in massive, weighty buildings with round-arched motifs featuring rough-hewn stone.
Round-arched Romanesque motifs appeared in eclectic High Victorian buildings. Although interest in the Romanesque waned with the shift to academic Classicism and Gothicism at the turn ofthe century, another revival occurred in the late 1920s and 1930s.
The First United Methodist Church,
Baldwinsville (Horatio Nelson White, 1869-70) illustrates emblamatic
Romaneque Revival features.
The defining feature of the Romanesque Revival is the semi-circular arch used for all window and door openings and for wall enrichment. Other distinguishing motifs are beltcourses and the arcaded corbel table which is a series of miniature arches below the eaves. Belt- or stringcourses mark horizontal divisions. Column capitals and compound arches are enriched with geometric medieval ornament. Facades have gabled roofs flanked by square or polygonal towers of differing heights, with parapets or various roof shapes, and occasionally spires of Gothic origin. Pyramidal roofs often have concave slopes. The typical plan is basilican, with a long, narrow nave, vestibule, central tower or paired side towers, and self-containedmassing. Broad, smooth wall surfaces of monochromatic brick or ashlar masonry laid with thin mortar joints were favored.
The disintegration of Roman
culture and economy, led in turn to a collapse of the framework in which
skilled architects and trained artisans could flourish. Without their
skills, attempts at large-scale building, which were usually restricted
to churches, resulted in structures that were often crude and of
relatively modest proportions. The exception to this type of
architecture, which from the end of the 5th to the 8th century was
generally simple, was that in the city of Ravenna, Italy, then under
Byzantine rule. Buildings there are often composed of, or decorated
with, elements removed from Roman structures.
The Picturesque: Romanesque Revival/Stick and/or Shingle Style/Queen Anne. The late nineteenth-century Romanesque Revival is a vigorous style more common in Chicago than in New York and is based on the bold arch-and-vault construction of the early medieval Romanesque. Architect H.H.Richardson was its greatest American exponent, but Brooklyn's Frank Freeman was not far behind. The wooden architecture that exploited the balloon frame's formal possibilities, and/or celebrated exposed timber as a structural-decorative exterior armature (The Stick and/or Shingle Styles), was often designed at the same time by the same architects in the 1870s through 1890s. Both are picturesque.
Henry Hobson Richardson (1838-86)
Studied at Harvard and the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris (1859-62) .While in Europe he worked under henri Labrouste and Jakob Ignaz Hittorf. Trinity Church, Boston defined his unique style which became known as "Richardsonian Romanesque" because of the parallels with Romanesque principles. He was very influential in his short life; followers include Charles Follen McKim, Stanford White, Louis Sullivan, and John Wellborn Root. (WJC)
Richardsonian Romanesque (1870-1895)
Style named for Henry Hobson Richardson (1838-1886). It is a revival style based on French and Spanish Romanesque precedents of the 11th century. (Romanesque preceded Gothic in European architecture.) Richardson's style is characterized by massive stone walls and dramatic semicircular arches, and a new dynamism of interior space. Continuity and unity are keynotes of Richardson's style. The Richardsonian Romanesque eclipsed both the IInd Empire Baroque and the High Victorian Gothic styles; the style had a powerful effect on such Chicago architects as Louis Sullivan and Frank Lloyd Wright, and influenced architects as far away as Scandinavia.
Distinguishing features include turrets, rounded arches, hipped or pointed roofs, and very heavy rusticated stonework. Proportions in this style tend to run large, both in the overall building form and in the size of the details.
The founder of this style was Boston architect Henry Hobson Richardson, and to this day it is frequently called "Richardsonian Romanesque". His successor firm Shepley, Rutan, and Coolidge contributed to its development, while many smaller firms throughout the United States like Long & Kees adopted the style.
Romanesque Architecture of western Europe
from about AD 1000 to about the late 1100s. After Rome fell in 476,
Roman culture was spread by the Christian church. By the end of the
pre-Romanesque period, Roman stylistic elements had fused with elements
from Byzantium and the Middle East, and from the Germans, the Celts, and
other northern tribes in western Europe. These various combinations
created a number of local styles, called Romanesque, meaning "in the
manner of the Roman."