Shadyside's First Cousins, Part 2

The Older Generation



Stanford White (l), Langford Warren (r) (1)

This essay looks at churches designed by the “older generation” of H. H. Richardson assistants, namely Stanford White and Langford Warren.  Their churches, while still First Cousins, show far less similarity to Shadyside Presbyterian than those of their “younger generation” colleagues.  This may stem, in part, from the general design trajectories of White (Classical and Renaissance) and Warren (Gothic and Arts & Crafts).  (See also Shadyside's Second Cousins, and Shadyside's Sisters)

 Lovely Lane United Methodist Church, Baltimore

Stanford White was heavily involved in the design of Trinity Church , Boston , before leaving Richardson ’s office in 1878.  After entering practice with Charles McKim (also a Richardson apprentice), White retained a little of his mentor’s emphasis on picturesque architecture, mainly in his Shingle Style residences.  Even Judson Memorial Church ( New York City ), nominally Romanesque, is actually Italianate (a Classical derivation).


Lovely Lane United Methodist Church (2)

White demonstrated his flair for the picturesque in a delightfully eccentric church in Baltimore – Lovely Lane Methodist.  Built in 1884, its tall, tapering tower looks all the more massive with its slit-like windows.  White might have drawn such a tower to illustrate a fairy tale, but it has an actual Romanesque model, the Abbey of Santa Maria di Pomposa, in Ravenna , Italy (ca 1036).  The model tower itself is somewhat eccentric, with slit windows at the bottom and progressively wider colonnades as the elevation increases.

Abbey of Santa Maria di Pomposa, model for Lovely Lane Church


Lovely Lane Tower (3)

The balance of the church shows itself to be derived from Italian Romanesque.  The arches, although substantial, are more delicate than those at Shadyside, with its inspiration of central France .  While the towers of both churches are defining features, they could hardly be more different.  The Lovely Lane tower with its conical roof calls attention to the church sanctuary, but stands apart from it.  Shadyside’s tower is the church.  White did apply some features used in Richardson ’s office, such as hip roofed dormers and eyebrow windows.


Arches at Lovely Lane (l) (3) and Shadyside (r)

Lovely Lane Church has undergone careful and faithful restoration over several decades, both inside and outside.  The sanctuary has been returned to its original bold Victorian colors, reminiscent of those at Trinity, Boston .  This imparts a vibrancy and authenticity that was lost when this and countless other church interiors acquired bland colors.  The auditorium arrangement shows Stanford White responding to the typical preference of mid- to late-nineteenth century Evangelical congregations.  The theater style seats (as at Pittsburgh ’s West End Methodist) are radially arrayed around the pulpit, with a gallery level providing optimum proximity to the worship leaders.  The color, seating arrangement, stage and sloped floor relate it to Shadyside’s original 1890 sanctuary.


 Theater Style Seats, Gallery & Restored Colors at Lovely Lane (3)

St. John the Divine Project, New York City

Warren's St. John the Divine Competition Entry (1)

Langford Warren joined Richardson a year after White departed and stayed until 1884.  While he shared a medieval sensibility with his mentor, it was expressed by Gothic in his realized projects.  We see one notable Romanesque example in his unsuccessful competition entry for St. John the Divine ( New York City ).  He chose as his inspiration Richardson ’s (also unsuccessful) competition entry for the Cathedral of All Saints in Albany .  This project was in the Richardson office in 1882, when Warren was lead assistant.  He took from the Albany structure a symmetry and a dominance of the central tower over the crossing.  For St. John , Warren offered a dome rather than the pyramid tower.  Some suggest that the Albany tower was the source of the proportion that Shepley, Rutan & Coolidge (SR&C) applied at Shadyside.  This is probably based on a misinterpretation of the West Front elevation drawing, which does not depict the design in correct perspective.


H H Richardson's Competition Entry, Cathedral of All Saints, Albany (4)

Langford Warren appears to have been close to both Charles Allerton Coolidge and Alexander Wadsworth Longfellow, of the younger generation.  Each, in turn, succeeded him as Richardson ’s chief draftsman.  Warren and Longfellow cooperated in the founding of the Boston Arts & Crafts Society.  Warren interrupted his professional practice in 1893 to establish Harvard’s curriculum in architecture.  Coolidge donated funds for the school's book and photograph collection.  Longfellow and SR&C both designed a significant number of Harvard buildings, as did McKim, Mead & White.


Cambridge Swedenborg Chapel (1)

Warren ’s most successful church designs were for Swedenborgian congregations in Gothic Revival style.  He took the English parish church as a pattern for Cambridge Swedenborg Chapel in 1901.  This church relates to a neighbor of Shadyside’s in Pittsburgh ’s East End .  It was the model for the Swedenborgian New Church in Point Breeze, designed by Harold Thorp Carswell (of Philadelphia by way of Ralph Adams Cram’s Boston office).


Swedenborgian New Church, Pittsburgh, based on Cambridge Chapel

And so, Stanford White and Langford Warren departed from Richardson ’s office and his Romanesque sooner than their younger colleagues.  Eventually, George Shepley, Charles Coolidge, and Wadsworth Longfellow embraced the Classical Revival movement, where White and McKim led.  Frank Alden remained closer to Warren (and Richardson) in his Arts & Crafts sensibility.  Each, none the less, produced churches that show varying affinity to Shadyside Presbyterian as their First Cousin.


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(1) Maureen Meister, Architecture and the Arts and Crafts Movement in Boston, Harvard's H. Langford Warren University Press of New England 2003

(2) Jeffery Howe, Houses of Worship, Thunder Bay Press 2003

(3) From Lovely Lane United Methodist Church website

(4) Courtesy Shepley, Bulfinch, Richardson & Abbot