Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Richardsonian Romanesque

In the 1870s, Henry Hobson Richardson started to design buildings in a style of architecture that would become highly popular. One of his first creations was the Trinity Church in Boston, Massachusetts, built in 1872. It is an imposing structure, castle-like in appearance, with a medieval feeling throughout.

The Richardsonian Romanesque style is very recognizable -- perhaps one of the most easily identifiable styles of architecture. The buildings were usually built out of dark, heavy cut stone (though bricks, a less expensive alternative, were often used). The main entraceway was marked by a large Romanesque arch, which was often decorated with floral ornamentation or the more abstract chevron. The square windows were recessed deeply into the stone walls; arched windows were laid in rows. Dormer windows often had gables; tiny, slit-like dormer windows called "eyebrow dormers" were also common. The buildings usually resembled small castles, with multiple towers and turrets capped with conical roofs. Ornamentation -- especially floral, organic details -- was common. Floors were separated by belt courses, a purely decorative element often made from stone of a contrasting color.

There are some fine examples of the Richardsonian Romanesque style in Michigan.

Hoyt Public Library

The Hoyt Public Library in Saginaw. It opened in 1890.

Starkweather Memorial Chapel

The Starkweather Memorial Chapel in Ypsilanti. It was built in 1888, and its architect was George D. Mason, of Detroit.

Train Station, Muskegon

Muskegon's Union Depot opened in 1895 and is a beautiful example of the Richardsonain Romanesque style.

Hackley Public Library

The Hackley Public Library in Muskegon, built in 1888. The granite was quarried in Maine and the sandstone is from Marquette.

These days, the cost to build a structure in the Richardsonian Romanesque style would be numbingly expensive.

4 comments:

Mark said...

WOW!! What a great series of images to go with the text.

Mom said...

It's so nice to see your pictures from all of the trips you and Dad took over the last couple years. I like seeing them get tied together in a theme. I've learned a lot from you about architecture. Nice job, Marjorie.

Love, Mom

Seth said...

I've gotten all my architectural knowledge by reading historical markers. It's cool that you're getting to take a class about it. Sometimes I think I should do more research on the buildings I see, but time is short, and there's so much to see.

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