Welcome back to Period Dramas, a weekly column that alternates between rounding up historic homes on the market and answering questions we’ve always had about older structures.
There are few architectural firms more closely associated with the Gilded Age than McKim, Mead, & White. Charles McKim, William Mead, and Stanford White joined forces in the 1870s (McKim and Mead partnered in 1872 and were joined by White in 1879), and got their start designing summer cottages in the popular beach resort of Elberon, New Jersey.
By the end of the 19th century, the trio was designing houses for some of the most prominent families in New York City, among them the Vanderbilts, the Morgans, and the Pulitzers. They pioneered the Shingle style of residential architecture, worked regularly with Beaux Arts principles in mind, and were some of the earliest adopters of the Colonial Revival style.
Their work—which can be found all over America, but is concentrated on the East Coast—sought to establish and support their clients’ social status by referencing historic architecture, drawing particular inspiration from the palaces of Europe, early American houses, and the buildings of Antiquity.
They didn’t just design houses. They were also tapped to design libraries, like the Boston Public Library, stately governmental structures like the Rhode Island State House, and grand public buildings like the Classical masterpiece Pennsylvania Station in New York City (excuse us while we sob in its memory).
Their buildings became known for their elegance and opulence, a result of the architects’ meticulous attention to detail, sense of scale, and love for the unexpected. In one design, for a dining room, Stanford White cleaved a copper bed warmer in half and affixed it to the wall. That out-of-the-box thinking, combined with a respect for the past, made McKim, Mead, & White designs something unto themselves.
We can enjoy their work today by visiting one of the many public buildings that still stand, but if you’re a real die-hard fan (who also has some equally real money to burn) there are a few McKim, Mead, & White houses for sale right now. Lets take a look!Read More