Monday, May 22, 2017

Beaux Arts Congregationalists



PHOTOGRAPHER’S JOURNAL: Even as a generation of American architects was seeking to solve the layout, structural and aesthetic issues of tall buildings, Stanford White was designing Beaux Arts temples and palaces to serve as libraries, train stations, banks, clubs, arenas, theaters, and mansions. They set the taste for the wealthiest people in the country. 

One of the treasured “City Beautiful” buildings of Naugatuck, CT, once “Rubber City,” is Stanford White’s Congregational Church on the green, designed in 1903. It was the year the Flatiron Building scraped the sky in New York City. 

What an interesting architectural juncture is represented here! It is the evolving tradition of white clapboard community meeting houses, re-imagined in White’s stylish classicism. It is lavish simplicity. If style is the outer form of spirit, what is the journey from those hill temples to this vaulted space in the valley?
  










Friday, May 19, 2017

Naugatuck Station


Slide-Talk this Sunday, May 21 @ 1 PM
sponsored by the Naugatuck Historical Society
http://www.naugatuckhistory.org/new-events/

Finding Brass Valley

A Place in Time that Has Almost Vanished




PHOTOGRAPHER'S JOURNAL: Naugatuck’s city center is one of the jewels inspired by the City Beautiful movement which promised an orderly architecture would promote the moral rectitude needed for civil society. It became popular with the Columbian Exposition of 1893, called “White City” for its gleaming, white Beaux Arts pavilions, plazas, and fountains. Designed by the greatest architects of the age, it was a model of what a city should be and a reaction to what cities were becoming in the rush to build tenements and housing for waves of new immigrant labor. 

In Naugatuck, they remember John H. Whittemore as the leading force in creating the elegant McKim, Mead & White town center. Because Naugatuck is so small, the force of the City Beautiful movement is concentrated there achieving gracious grandeur as it organizes city life, and it survives intact today.

John Whittemore was still at it up to the end of his life. In 1907, the year before he died, Whittemore commissioned Henry Bacon, who would go on to design the Lincoln Memorial, to replace the old station with something worthy that might elevate those who rode the railroad. Today it’s quaint and empty, awaiting new life as a restaurant, replaced by a platform down the track with an awning and low maintenance.