Wadsworth Longfellow (l) and Frank Alden (r), Richardson's Assistants (2)
Train up an
apprentice in the way he should go, and when he is an independent
architect, he will not depart from it.
H. H. Richardson was not known to be a religious man.
However, this paraphrased Proverb describes the development of the
key assistants in his architectural office.
The staff was organized as an atelier, the practical
teaching environment that
experienced at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in
A remarkably talented
group of architects emerged from the short, twenty-year existence of
’s practice. Among those who
served as chief draftsman were Charles McKim, Stanford White, H. Langford
Warren, A. Wadsworth Longfellow and Charles A. Coolidge.
Those who supervised construction as resident architects included
Charles Rutan, George Shepley and Frank Alden.
From these individuals, prominent architectural offices formed:
McKim, Mead & White; Warren, Smith & Briscoe; Longfellow,
Alden & Harlow; and Shepley, Rutan & Coolidge.
To this group, we should add Herbert Burdett, who had a brief, productive
practice with James Marling in Buffalo.
closely related parentage, the Romanesque Revival churches of these firms
can be considered cousins. In
two articles, we will look for family resemblances among these to
Shadyside Presbyterian (the design of Shepley, Rutan & Coolidge –
SR&C). Longfellow, Alden
& Harlow (LA&H) formed at about the same time as SR&C, upon
’s death in 1886. This
article examines LA&H churches as Shadyside’s First Cousins, Part 1
– The Younger Generation.
Shadyside's Sisters and
Shadyside's Second Cousins and First Cousins Older
None of these firms
’s Romanesque very long, as architectural styles continued to change
fast. The critical acclaim for
these architects has been muted until recent decades, in part because
Henry Russell Hitchcock, an influential twentieth century historian,
denigrated their talents to varying degrees.
However, newer scholarship and the legacy of their buildings attest
“trained them up” well in planning, functional design and refined
All Saints' Episcopal
Saints' Episcopal Church, Reiserstown, MD, (1)
A. W. Longfellow,
nephew of the poet, was the only assistant as well educated as Richardson
– Harvard and the Ecole des Beaux-Arts.
Wanting to flex his own muscles, and piqued by the ascendancy of
Coolidge in the office, he left shortly before
’s death. He and Frank Alden
had both supervised work at
’s Allegheny County Buildings. When
Alden’s assignment there for SR&C ended (or, perhaps, before), they
formed a practice with Alfred Branch Harlow maintaining offices in
Pittsburgh. Longfellow remained in Boston
and his influence was strongest there.
’s and his own practices, Longfellow developed expertise in railroad
station design. Could this
have attracted the attention of William Keyser, a railroad man and donor
of a building to All Saints’ Episcopal Church (1891), near
? In any case, Longfellow had
a demonstrated facility with low, horizontal, small buildings like
railroad stations. It served
him and the patron exceedingly well in the scale and form of All
Richardson's Old Colony Railroad
Station, North Easton, MA (4)
Keyser was a summer
MD, where he attended All Saints’. He
was charmed by a summer chapel in
, which became the inspiration for the Maryland
church he dedicated to his mother. All
Saints’ charm owes not only to its picturesque massing, but also to the
efficient combination of elements required by a small Anglican
Saints' Apse exterior and interior (1)
The broad, low roof
– terminating gracefully at “sprung” edges – embraces the nave.
An Episcopal church of this era “wants” a clearly divided
chancel. This is expressed
outside by the rounded apse, and inside by the broad Romanesque arch.
A crossing of sorts is formed by a transept balanced by a large
dormer with triplet windows. A
fleche spire, a touch that would have been well known to Longfellow from
his time in
France, tops the intersection. A
comfortable entrance is afforded by the porte cochere, a feature strongly
recalling a rail station.
Longfellow’s use of
color reflects his teacher’s mastery of polychromy, even though
employed it rarely, late in his career.
The dark gray random ashlar of the walls is accented by lighter
stone for window trim, quoins, belt course and water table.
Both are subsidiary to the striking red tile roof.
Two years after the
church completion, a freestanding bell tower was erected.
Its design and detailing match the church so well that it is
reasonable to attribute it to Longfellow.
The two structures rest comfortably on a site that still retains
much of its rustic character.
Saints' Tower (1)
purposes of All Saints’ Episcopal and Shadyside Presbyterian were quite
different at the end of the nineteenth century.
Yet they show the adaptability that
found in Romanesque. His
apprentices obviously learned this well, as each church achieved a
satisfying and lasting result. The
differences were decreased in 1937, when Shadyside’s sanctuary, under
the influence of an ecumenical movement, became “high church
Presbyterian.” Its sloped
nave was leveled, its chancel divided, raised and set into a new rounded
apse. In its compactness and
graceful medieval lines, All Saints’ relates to Shepley, Rutan &
Coolidge’s 1892 Chapel for the
All Saints’ Church
is a gem of Longfellow’s long practice.
It is not better known, perhaps, because it is not in
where a majority of his work resides.
In the skillful combination of Romanesque with English Arts &
Crafts movement sensibilities, this church shows the personal influence of
Longfellow. As such, it
demonstrates an increasing independence of the
offices. Five years later, the
practices amicably split to concentrate their efforts regionally.
of All Saints' (2) and West End Methodist (3)
West End Methodist Episcopal
Frank Alden had a
knack for dealing with clients. The
skill would have served him well in his role as
’s on-site representative during construction.
It also made him an effective salesman.
He was responsible for some of LA&H’s earliest
commissions. One was for
Sunnyledge, the home of
member Dr. James McClelland in the
, just blocks from the church. Another
was at the opposite corner of the city for a Methodist congregation in the
Emmanuel Episcopal (l), Alden's Sunnyledge (r)
Both structures show
the influence of
churches. Sunnyledge adopted
the simple geometrical shapes, smooth surfaces and understated brickwork
patterning of Emmanuel Episcopal on Pittsburgh’s North Side. The
church employed rusticated stonework and a Syrian arch entrance from the
Trinity Boston buildings. Alden
is believed to have been the principal design influence in his new firm on
these buildings. Both rise
above mere imitation of
Entrances, Alden's West End
Church (l), Richardson's Glessner House (r)
Both show the
firm’s skill in setting structures into Pittsburgh’s steep hillsides. The
church crowds its narrow street and makes the entrance/bell tower all the
more imposing. The inviting
recessed entrance is a welcome palliative.
This feature is seen at
Richardson’s Trinity Parish Hall as well as at a secondary entrance to Chicago’s Glessner House. The
stonework of this 1886 church relates it to
(four years later).
End Methodist Episcopal (now AME Zion), screens cover round arch tower
’s seating was disposed radially on a sloping floor.
The Methodist church, however, was even more auditorium-like with
theater style seats in place of pews and no central aisle.
Alden supplied them with an Akron Plan arrangement.
Popular before and after the turn of the century, this layout
provided a Sunday School with individual classrooms arrayed around and
opening onto a central space used for opening exercises.
As at West End
Church, the Sunday School often adjoined the sanctuary through huge sliding or
folding doors, affording overflow seating for worship.
remains vital today, housing an active A.
M. E. Zion congregation. This
church finally replaced the folding theater seats in the late 1990s, when
maintaining them was no longer practical.
It has been said that H. H. Richardson
surely knew how to design a tower. All Saint's, West End and
Shadyside each has a round tower (as does Sunnyledge), so the disciples
learned from the master.
One might speculate
rivalry between the former colleagues, LA& H and SR&C.
There was a contractual dispute concerning the LA& H commissions
for the Duquesne Club and the Carnegie Institute. It
seems likely that LA&H was one of the unsuccessful bidders at
Shadyside. While SR&C
scored two plum contracts, Shadyside Church and Freemasons’ Hall,
LA&H Pittsburgh clients equaled these in prominence and overwhelmed
them in quantity. Indeed, a
number residences on the church’s street, Westminster Place, can be firmly or tentatively attributed to Longfellow Alden &
Harlow. These two firms,
representing the younger generation of
assistants, may have produced the most closely related “First
Another of Richardson's assistants showed great promise before, like
Richardson, he died young. Herbert Burdett moved to Buffalo to
replace Joseph Lyman Silsbee as the partner of James Marling. In
1888, a year after leaving SR&C, he assisted in the design of the Church
of the Good Shepherd. This church shows the pleasing proportion
and restraint of detail that so many of Richardson's imitators failed to
The adjoining rectory is
designed in the compatible Shingle Style (a combination often seen in
drawings). The scale and general appearance
of Good Shepherd Church relate it closely to All Saints' which it predates
by several years. The church deserves more architectural attention
than it gets: its neighbor across the intersection is the famed
Martin House by Frank Lloyd Wright. Had Burdett lived beyond his
37th year in 1891, he no doubt would be as well known, at least
regionally, as fellow younger generation colleagues Longfellow and Alden.
Good Shepherd Church with
your comments and questions
Shadyside's Sisters and
Shadyside's Second Cousins)
and church history of All Saint’s Episcopal Church were generously
provided by Neal Haynie, Parish Archivist.
(2) Margaret Henderson Floyd, Architecture After Richardson, Regionalism Before Modernism,
Chicago & PHLF, 1994
West End Church and Good Shepherd Church renderings by website author, Tim Engleman
Margaret Henderson Floyd, Henry Hobson Richardson, A Genius for
Architecture, Monacelli, 1997