Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Greek Revival Architecture in Hudson

In 1944, Talbot Hamlin, architectural historian and professor of architectural theory at Columbia University, published a book entitled Greek Revival Architecture in America: Being an Account of Important Trends in American Architecture and American Life Prior to the War Between the States.

In the Foreword to the book, Leopold Arnaud, Dean of the School of Architecture at Columbia, had this to say about Greek Revival architecture and the era that produced it: "The period called 'Greek Revival,' extending roughly from 1820 to 1860, might more fittingly be called 'Middle American,' because at this time the young nation had gained its feet and was striding forward with conscious vigor and confidence. . . . There was . . . a conscious separation from Europe and a fierce will to be American. . . . [T]he word 'Revival' is an unfortunate misnomer, for this style was only a revival in that its decorative vocabulary was based upon classic Greek detail. In all other respects it was typically of America. Never before and since has there been less influence from Europe."

Hamlin's book is a comprehensive study of Greek Revival architecture throughout the pre-Civil War United States, and two of the exemplary buildings featured in the book were located right here in Hudson: the Collier House, which still exists on the corner of Partition and South Second streets, and the General Worth Hotel, which no longer exists. These pictures are reproduced from the book.

Greek Revival Architecture in America was originally published by Oxford University Press.  A Dover edition of the book was published in 1964 and is available from the Hudson Area Library.

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