CR 5: "Notes" on Colonial Revival Movement: -- The Rise of of the Material Culture Museums
Directory to "Notes" on the Colonial Revival Movement, a Series of Six Narratives Detailing How Colonial Furniture Design Became So Popular in Amateur WoodworkingCR 1: Before 1876: The Rise of Nativism
CR 2: 1876: The Cententennial Exhibtion in Philadelphia
CR 3: After 1876: Antique Hunters
CR 4: After 1876: Books on Colonial Antiques
CR 5: The Rise of of the Material Culture Museums
CR 6: CR in the Industrial Arts Movement and Amateur Woodworking
CR 7: The Colonial Revival Today
CR 5: The Rise of of the Material Culture Museums[need to integrate thomas h taylor, the williamsburg restoration and its reception by the amereican public, 1926-1942, diss, 1989 -- in file under "taylor"]
By 1920, the Colonial Revival had become deeply entrenched in architecture and design; probably the most popular of the revival styles. CR has remained popular to the present day, as this website maintained by a community in Indiana confirms.For Americans of "older stock," that is, not recent immigrants, the interwar wars witnessed at parallel but perhaps equally lucrative phenomenon, the sale of "history'' as patriotic culture. Or, put differently and crudely, the American past got commodified during the 1920s and '30s. By the spring of 1922, the Saturday Evening Post decided to devote a weekly section to the subject of collecting Americana.
The colonial revival in home furnishings and the decorative arts enjoyed considerable popular appeal by then, and it increased steadily over the next four decades. Many well-publicized events contributed to this blond of Consumerism and Americanism:
Henry Ford's purchase and restoration of the Wayside Inn in Sudbury, MA;
the opening of the American Wing of the Metropolitan Museum of Art; and
the opening of the restored Colonial Willaimsburgurg less than a decade later.
First, the demand for reproductions of early American furniture seemed to be insatiable; insatiable and it persists to this day, though it may have peaked during the most intense Cold War cars,1947-1967.
Copies of Williamsburg homes appeared pictorially in ladies magazines and in solid reality in gentrified suburbs.
Sources: George Leland Hunter, "Modern American Furniture," Arts and Decoration 20, no. 3 January 1924, page 55; Michael Kammen, American Culture, American Tastes: Social Change and the 20th Century New York: Basic Books, 2000, page 67
Fiske Kimball pointed out in his introduction, "the depth of our artistic and historic loss." There were several ways of preventing these losses. Henry Ford started out in the twenties with preservation in situ of the historic Wayside Inn in Concord, Massachusetts. In a short time he took the Williamsburg approach one step further, and in his Greenfield Village (along with the adjacent Edison Institute) at Dearborn, Michigan, he created his own version of the ideal colonial village. Ford's village was composed of historic buildings moved to the site and new buildings designed in the colonial image. The Edison Institute was housed in replicas of Philadelphia's Independence Hall, Congress Hall, and old City Hall. And Ford's commitment to the colonial continued through the decade. Dearborn Inn, the hotel serving Greenfield Village, was designed in 1939 as a small colonial village, composed of replicas including the Edgar Allan Poe cottage, the Patrick Henry mansion, the Oliver Wolcott house, the Barbara Fritchie house, and the Walt Whitman farmhouse. In the same year, Ford, through the Ford Foundation, sponsored Springfield Park near Dearborn, and the imagery of the single-family houses and the groups of apartments in this development were appropriately colonial.29 It is fascinating to see how historic preservation efforts throughout the country were almost exclusively concerned in the late twenties and the thirties with the colonial image (whether factual or created). While some Hispanic monuments were restored and rebuilt in Florida, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California, the interest even in these regions, as far as domestic architecture was concerned, was directed to what was perceived as a continuation of the eastern colonial tradition in the early and mid nineteenth century. In New Mexico it was the Angloized adobe, the territorial style, with its Greek-revival/late-federal overtones; in California, it was the Anglo-Monterey style and the California ranch house. A perusal of the pages of Lewis Barrington's Historic Restorations of the Daughters of the American Revolution (New York: Richard R. Smith, 1941) gives the impression that 29 Henry Ford, "Why I Bought the Wayside Inn and What I am Doing with It," Garden and Home Builder 43, no. i (July 1926): 430-34; Lucia Ames Mead, "How the Old Wayside Inn Came Back," Old-Time New England 22, no. i (July 1931): 4145; Samuel Crowther, "Henry Ford's Village of Yesterday," Ladies' Home Journal 45, no. 9 (September 1928): 10-11, i i6, i 18; James S. Wamsley, American Ingenuity: Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village (New York: Harry N. Abrams, 1985); Barbara L. Clark, "A Modern Hotel's Colonial Village," American Home 23, no. 5 (May 1940): 56-61; "Henry Ford Builds," Architectural Forum 71, no. 3 (September 1939): 209. the colonial constituted America's only meaningful historic tradition worthy of preservation.Marketing Appalachia's handicraftsGarry Barker, Morehead, Kentucky need corect link here too
The early decorative arts of Appalachia were the hand-pieced quilts, handwoven coverlets, split oak egg baskets, and other "necessary" crafts once common to every remote household. In the Appalachian mountains, art was often the result of need. The nonindustrialized Appalachian people were self-reliant, making do with materials at hand, crafting the cabins they lived in and all the furnishings, growing the flax and raising the sheep for the carding, spinning, and weaving of cloth for their clothing, and making any needed household implements, farming tools, toys, and bedding from the materials at hand.
The color that came into the Appalachian household came from natural material and natural dyestuffs, from walnut hulls and indigo, from inventive hands and minds adding "art" to everyday living. Intricate weaving patterns and dyes added life to the traditional coverlets, and surely many households contained "showoff" quilts made for marryings and buryings.
Just as the mail order catalog and better transportation began to give the mountaineers access to consumer products and a different, less self-sufficient way of life, a regional movement to preserve and market the traditional crafts got underway. Settlement schools and missionary workers saw the crafts as a means of generating cash income for a cash-poor people, and the "revival" of Appalachia's handicrafts began. The Pi Beta Phi School in Gatlinburg, TN was a leader in the hand weaving arena, both in teaching and production, and the Arrowcraft Shop provided the early market. In Kentucky, Berea College's "Fireside Industries," and in North Carolina, Frances Goodrich's Allanstand Cottage Crafts, the John C. Campbell Folk School, Penland School, and Clementine Douglas's Spinning Wheel Shop provided similar outlets.
[need correct link here, for image] In 1929 these efforts merged to create the Southern Highland Handicraft Guild, the major organization devoted to Appalachian crafts, which held its first official meeting in Knoxville in 1930. In 1935 the Tennessee Valley Authority created Southern Highlanders, Inc., a crafts marketing program to work in conjunction with the Guild to operate retail stores in Norris, TN, Rockefeller Center in New York City, and in Washington, D.C. The TVA's program also included craft training such as O. J. Mattill's woodworking classes, which gave many Gatlinburg, TN area woodworkers a start in the crafts business.
quote from jonathan prown and katherine hemple prown, "the quiet canon: tradition and excsuion in american furniture scholarship", American Furniture, 2002 [footnotes not copiable, locate them in file folder]:While American museums of all stripes have begun to experiment with innovative ways of interpreting and presenting the past in order to engage today's audiences, the display of early American furniture-and the scholarship on which it is based - remains largely dependent on a specialized interpretive model crafted over a century ago.For the confirmed Colonial revivalist, the seventeenth- and eighteenth-century styles of the eastern seaboard were suitable for use anywhere in America, and the contributions of Native Americans, Hispanics, and African Americans to the fabric of American culture were, at best, marginal.
Rooted in the efforts of nineteenth-century museum leaders to elevate and Americanize the working class and immigrant "masses" by teaching them good taste, this orthodoxy continues to promote standards of decoration associated with the most ornate or expensive artifacts owned by prominent early Americans - a narrow reading ultimately more about the retention of cultural authority than the exploration of educational and intellectual potential.
The following essay examines the origins, ideological foundations, and limitations of conventional interpretive methods and is intended to spark thoughtful discussion about the ways in which early American scholarship and display may benefit from exploring interpretive strategies that may be more relevant and engaging to today's museum visitors.1
The 1924 opening of the American Wing at the Metropolitan Museum of Art stands as a defining moment in the historiography of American decorative arts interpretation.
The event formally codified a wide range of post-Victorian historical, aesthetic, and cultural beliefs that would become central to the evolution of subsequent American furniture scholarship. Opened fifteen years after the pioneering Hudson-Fulton Celebration (fig. i) and the gift of the Bolles collection, which for the first time brought the "domestic arts" into the Metropolitan, the American Wing presented the arts in North America over a two century span linking specific stylistic changes with the progressive civilizing of the people with whom the art was associated.
The nineteenth-century "curiosities of the past" approach to decorative arts display-with its anthropological interest in relics and its more democratic aesthetic - was replaced by installations such as the colonial Virginia parlor (fig. a).
In that vignette, artfully arranged high-style objects functioned as symbolic representations of the elevated tastes and values associated with the founding fathers and other elites. In short, the American Wing's storyline, crafted by R. T. H. Halsey and Charles Over Cornelius, celebrated the nation's historic inheritance, its craft ingenuity, and its "most beautiful" objects. In this way the Wing helped establish the self-sustaining aesthetic and ideological hierarchies that continue to inform decorative arts installations and publications today.2
Those who felt threatened by the influx of millions of immigrants sometimes turned to the Colonial revival as an emblem of their ancestral piety or as a tool to educate, to Americanize newcomers assumed to be ignorant of America's heritage.3
Source: William B. Rhoads, "The Colonial Revival and the Americanization of Immigrants," in Alan Axelrod, ed., The Colonial Revival in America (New York: W. W. Norton, 1985), 341-61.]
Colonial craftsmanship-widely interpreted as continuing into the early nineteenth century, until the triumph of the machine and Victorian styles-appealed to many American supporters of the turn-of-the-century Arts and Crafts movement, especially in the Northeast, because colonial craft was simple in design and sturdily made by hand.
Colonial pieces could serve as appropriate models for American workers in the arts and crafts seeking native sources, just as English vernacular examples of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries served William Morris and his English followers.
Stickley based his Craftsman furniture, in part, on colonial precedentThus, Gustav Stickley based his Craftsman furniture, in part, on colonial precedent, and he praised the strength and durability of old colonial furniture and simply treated reproductions while objecting to the machine reproduction of colonial ornament.4
[ 4. Wendy Kaplan, ed., "The Art That Is Life": The Arts and Crafts Movement in America, 1875-1920 (Boston: Museum of Fine Arts/Little, Brown and Company, 1987), 173-81, 383; William B. Rhoads, "The Colonial Revival and the Arts and Crafts Movement," in Bert Denker, ed., The Substance of Style: New Perspectives on the American Arts and Crafts Movement (New York: W. W. Norton, forthcoming).]
Wallace Nutting began to reproduce colonial furniture with a combination of machine and hand-work[several pages deleted from rhoads' narrative -- some concern by rhoads to show that nationalism and ancester-worshio was driving much of the colonial revival; where tough, does aesthetic appeal enter. woodworkers reproducing pieces by lester margon in home craftsman.
The opening of the American Wing of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, in 1924, further stimulated an already widespread taste for American antiques as well as reproductions and adaptations.Lewis Mumford worried that the American Wing's popularity would lead to bad copying, "harnessing machine-productions to a sickly desire to counterfeit the past,"19,
Lewis Mumford 1924[doesn't look promising] Source: Lewis Mumford, "American Interiors," The New Republic, vol. 41, no. 526 (December 31, 1924): 139.]
but Ralph Erskine urged that "manufacturers and artisans" look to the American Wing and similar collections as "sources for inspiration."20 [20. Erskine, "Tradition in the Livable Home," 471.]
C. Mountain Craftsmen's Cooperative Association had been formed in Morgantown under the sponsorship of the American Friends Service Committee, and in 1935 was moved to Arthurdale. 1. The MCCA produced a variety of craft products for sale:
i. Samuel Isaac Godlove of Hardy County came to Arthurdale to develop this industry. The "Godlove Chair" design was a 200 year old family secret-- this upright chair with a rush seat which has become a collector's item sold for $5 in 1934).
ii. Daniel Houghton, who also worked at Hull House in Chicago and taught woodworking, also had strong influence.
iii. Help also came from Val-Kill, Hyde Park, in which Eleanor had a financial interest. Consulted with the Metropolitan Museum and the Hartford Museum for authentic designs. All were traditional American. All the pieces were handmade except for the initial stages, and all stock came from the Arthurdale vicinity. (benches, tables, chairs)
17. In 1920s and 1930s, Industrial Arts Courses Were Refining Tastes, Not Pushing Patriotic Colonial Revival: Herman Hjorth, William W. Klenke, John Gerald Shea
The ancestry of the craftsperson and its impact on his or her craft was of interest to Allen Eaton, author of Immigrant Gifts to American Life (1932), which surveyed the distinctive contributions to American craft made by various immigrant groups.
Eaton observed, in the catalogue of the Worcester Art Museum's 1943 "Exhibition of Contemporary New England Handicrafts," that "the names and patterns and objects" connected to New England craftspersons of colonial ancestry differed from those of recent immigrants as well as from those of the few Native American exhibitors. Photographs of Italian lacework by Theresa Pelligrini and Norwegian embroidery by Mrs. T. Larsson were set against the old American patterns of a Broken Star quilt by Mrs. C. B. Driver and stenciled and painted tinware by William P. Dudley.45
Source: Exhibition of Contemporary New England Handicrafts, 8, 23, 25, 38.]
That was precisely the intention of the wing's curator, R. T. H. Halsey. He took special delight in observing how manufacturers increasingly drew upon the Met's collections for ideas, while "`Jazz' in art, with its utter disregard of basic principles," seemed in decline.
Halsey argued for the acceptance of the colonial furniture of the American Wing as being distinctly American and expressive of the "traditions and principles for which our fathers struggled and died."
He thought the "foundations" of the American Republic were threatened by "the influx of foreign ideas"; therefore, "study of the American Wing" would be "invaluable in the Americanization of many of our people" ignorant of so much American history.21
Source: R. T. H. Halsey and Elizabeth Tower, The Homes of Our Ancestors As Shown in the American Wing of the Metropolitan Museum of Art (Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1937), xxii, 239, 288.]
But Halsey was not content merely to encourage craftsmen and manufacturers. In 1925, he was president of Oneidacraft, makers of "authentic" but moderately priced early American furniture, in Oneida, New York. Oneidacraft announced that Halsey and William Sloane Coffin, vice-president, were "well known antiquarian experts" who chose the models for the reproductions that were sold exclusively through W. and J. Sloane, of New York City. Sloane's more expensive line of furniture, built by the Company of Master Craftsmen in a Georgian-cupolaed factory, in Flushing, New York, included a magnificent desk and bookcase (or tall secretary desk), whose base combined, unusually, bombe outward curving lines and a block front. A bust of General Jeffrey Amherst (victor over the French at Ticonderoga) was inserted within the broken pediment. The original of this desk (without the Amherst bust), belonging to the American Wing and probably made during the Revolutionary War, was said to have been used by Washington in the Craigie Mansion, in Cambridge. Halsey arranged for a copy of the desk, and copies of several other pieces of furniture in the American Wing, to be placed in the John Hancock House, reconstructed by the New York State Historical Association, in Ticonderoga, in 1926. Halsey was credited with ensuring that the craftsmen had an intimate knowledge of the antique sources: They "had the original pieces, not photographs or drawings, to work from. . . . They could handle and study them indefinitely and under Mr. Halsey's stimulating comment."22
Source: Antiques, vol. 8, no. 3 (September 1925): 129; The New York Times (September 12, 1926): 4:14-15 Like Halsey, William Sloane Coffin was an advocate of Americanization; as president of the City Mission Society, he sought "to bring about a practical realization of the American idea of democracy among the polyglot population of New York." The New York Times (December 18, 1933): 18. Jacob Margolis lumped Sloane's furniture with Danersk's and condemned both; see note 17.]
The proprietors of the Val-Kill Shop, established in 1927, in Hyde Park, New York, were among those who turned to the American Wing for models of colonial craft. Val-Kill was a small shop producing Colonial revival, partially hand-made furniture and other crafts under the sponsorship of Eleanor Roosevelt.
Promotional brochures assured customers of the legitimacy of the designs, some of which derived from pieces in the American Wing. Eleanor Roosevelt and Nancy Cook, the shop's manager and chief designer, consulted colonial experts, such as the museum's Charles Cornelius. Nutting's Furniture of the Pilgrim Century and the Nutting Collection, at the Wadsworth Atheneum, in Hartford, also served as sources,23
Source: A brochure, Val-Kill Shop, Roosevelt Industries, Hyde Park, New York, c. 1927, acknowledges the aid of Cornelius, antiques expert Morris Schwartz, and architect Henry Toombs. Furnituremaker Otto Berge remembered extracting designs from "Nutting's book, not the catalogs," although it is unclear which of Nutting's historical books Berge employed. Emily L. Wright, summary of Berge interview, July 31, 1978, in her "Eleanor Roosevelt and Val-Kill Industries, 1925-1938," October 1978 (typescript at National Park Service, Hyde Park, N.Y.).] and three Val-Kill designs were inspired by objects in Thomas Jefferson's Monticello. His Federal-style music rack became a magazine rack, in maple.
Although Val-Kill did produce high-style, eighteenth-century designs, it is better remembered for simpler pieces produced under Nutting's influence: bed-side tables, in maple; slat-back, rush-seat chairs; and comparably restrained pewter pitchers and porringers. These were, in fact, the sorts of pieces Eleanor Roosevelt and her associates, Nancy Cook and Marion Dickerman, preferred for furnishing Val-Kill cottage and that Franklin Delano Roosevelt later wanted to use in the Little White House, at Warm Springs, Georgia. It was appropriate that these democrats who admired Jefferson and decried plutocratic excess should adopt Jeffersonian and unpretentious colonial models.24
Source: Kenneth S. Davis, Invincible Summer: An Intimate Portrait of the Roosevelts (New York: Atheneum, 1974), 57, 64; Franklin D. Roosevelt, introduction, Rosalie Fellows Bailey, Pre-Revolutionary Dutch Houses and Families in Northern New Jersey and Southern New York (New York: William Morrow, 1936), unpaged.]
"Val-Kill" is a Dutch word meaning valley stream, and some of the shop's publicity pictured the Dutch colonial Val-Kill cottage located near the stream, or val-kill. (The furniture shop was a few yards from the cottage.) But Val-Kill furniture drew upon English colonial forms and was not publicized as Dutch or reflecting regional, Hudson Valley precedent, even though Eleanor Roosevelt told an interviewer in 1929 that "we hope to make Val-Kill the center for a revival of all the old industries which were once carried on in its very hills"-weaving, rug-hooking, and metalwork.25.
Source: William B. Rhoads, "Franklin D. Roosevelt and Dutch Colonial Architecture," New York History, vol. 59, no. 4 (October 1978): 436-39; Frieda Wyandt, "A Governor's Wife at Work," Your Home (September 1929): 68-69.]
Val-Kill was intended to serve the people of Hyde Park as a source of employment. Local boys were trained-primarily in the tedious job of finishing-by Cook and her expert craftsmen, who were not from the region but, ironically (although not unusually for the period), foreign-born. Key figures were Frank Landolfa, from Italy (maker of the Jefferson-inspired magazine rack), and Otto Berge. Berge, trained as a woodworker in his native Norway and then as a restorer of American antiques in New York City, was critical of the failure of Val-Kill designs to follow historical precedent exactly.26.
Source: Otto Berge, interviewed by Thomas F. Soapes, September 19, 1977 (transcript in Franklin D. Roosevelt Library, Hyde Park, N.Y.). Berge remembered the Jefferson magazine rack and a Queen Anne lowboy as the only "correct" pieces.] But Nancy Cook was no Wallace Nutting. Eleanor Roosevelt insisted that the Val-Kill craftsman "express his own thought and make such changes as he personally desire."27.
Source: Eleanor Roosevelt, "Columbia Syndicate," Eleanor Roosevelt papers, Box 3031, Franklin D. Roosevelt Library, cited by Wright, "Val-Kill," Appendix VII.] In fact, Berge did not want freedom to invent but freedom to be a strict copyist, and this he was denied.
Val-Kill had its admirers. Decorator Nancy McClelland considered it a "serious effort to further the love of our national styles," but it was not a commercial success. Onetime New Deal economist Rexford Tugwell thought it merely "one of the futile attempts to recreate a handicraft so many well-meaning amateurs are apt to think practical."28
Nancy McClelland, Furnishing the Colonial and Federal House (Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott Company, 1947), 33; Rexford G. Tugwell, In Search of Roosevelt (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1972), 46.] Eleanor Roosevelt made another unprofitable effort, aided by Cook, in 1933, to establish colonial and hill-country crafts at the federally sponsored subsistence homestead project in Arthurdale, West Virginia, for unemployed miners "who have rediscovered the fine arts of their pioneer forefathers." Some of the furniture made at Arthurdale (under various names, including Mountaineer Craftsmen's Cooperative Association) came from local sources-notably, the Godlove chair, based on a "two-hundred-year-old family method of joining kiln-dried rungs and slats to green uprights, making an inseparable joint." The technique was given to the cooperative by a mountaineer, but some products were not indigenous; a ribbon-back chair resembled one made at Val-Kill.29 [ 29. Arthurdale Assn. Mountaineer Craftsmen's Unit. Arthurdale, W Va. (undated catalogue in Winterthur Library); Jeanne S. Rymer, "Arthur-dale: A Social Experiment in the 1930s," in Axelrod, Colonial Revival in America, 320-40.]
Under President Roosevelt, the Works Progress Administration (WPA) supported the revival of colonial crafts, as well as traditional mountain crafts, as part of its greater crafts program: The Illinois Craft Project included a shop at Petersburg that specialized in reproducing early American furniture; the Connecticut Craft Project designed hand-printed fabrics with a Colonial revival pattern; and the New Jersey Arts and Crafts Project backed the revival of handblown glass.30
Source: William E McDonald, Federal Relief Administration and the Arts (Columbus: Ohio State University Press, 1969), 462; An Exhibition of Contemporary New England Handicrafts (Worcester, Mass.: Worcester Art Museum, 1943), 39; The New York Times (September 22, 1940).] Furthermore, the WPA's Index of American Design, which was composed of detailed illustrations of old American objects, was envisioned by Holger Cahill, the index's director, as a "steadying influence and a source of refreshment" for the craftsperson and designer.31
Source: Holger Cahill, introduction, Erwin 0. Christensen, The Index of American Design (New York: Macmillan, 1950), xvii.]
In addition to the New Deal and large manufacturers like Danersk, the Colonial revival was backed by those with a local focus who favored old-fashioned individualism. In 1926, in a New Hampshire village, J. Randolph Coolidge, a retired Boston architect, and his wife founded Sandwich Home Industries. Mrs. Coolidge, especially, encouraged the making of hooked and braided rugs and the revival of spinning, weaving, and knitting. A hooked rug by Julia Moulton represented the oldest house in the community. Later, the masculine crafts of iron-working and furnituremaking produced items that were added to the stock at the organization's colonial-style shop, in Sandwich.32
Source: The New York Times (January 19, 1936): 9:13; Robin Dustin, director, Sandwich Historical Society, to author, November 25, 1992.]
Other New England craftspersons worked individually or in small groups. Prominent was Nathan Margolis, an immigrant whose colonial reproductions were praised by Nutting as "the best work in America."33
Source: Wallace Nutting to Nathan Margolis, October 27, 1922 (Winterthur Museum).] After Margolis's death, in 1925, his son Harold continued the Hartford shop and maintained its reputation for high-quality reproductions with handcarving, hand-dovetailing, and hand-finishing. In 1930, Aetna Life Insurance Company commissioned reproductions of furniture in New York's City Hall, associated with George Washington and John Adams, for placement in its huge Colonial revival office building. A high-backed George Washington inaugural settee was copied both for its purported links with the Founding Father and because its stepped, fluted legs suggested an attribution to Duncan Phyfe. 34
Source: Harold Margolis to Office of Price Administration, April 17, 1944 (Winterthur Museum). Hartford Daily Times (June 15, 1931); Aetna commissioned Pilgrim Century furniture by Nutting for the Pine Room, a cor porate boardroom. William Hosley, Wallace Nutting: A Search for New England's Past (Hartford, Conn.: Charter Oak Temple Cultural Center, 1989), unpaged. For Temple Beth Israel, in West Hartford, Harold Margolis designed altar chairs whose Byzantine style related to that of the building; Hartford Daily Courant (September 16, 1936).]
Arthur J. Stone and George Christian Gebelein, rival silversmiths in Massachusetts, were both associated with the turn-of-the-century Arts and Crafts movement through the Boston Society of Arts and Crafts. Stone, English-trained and Ruskin-influenced, made handwrought silver that was rooted not only in English but also in American colonial precedent; a 1927 sugar bowl with an inverted pear shape, handwrought in Stone's shop by Herman W. Glendenning, closely resembles a mideighteenth-century Boston sugar bowl. The arms engraved on the bowl were those used by George Dudley Seymour, a notable Connecticut antiquarian and Stone's longtime patron. A tankard made in 1932 by Herbert Taylor in Stone's shop, and inscribed in memory of a Yale Revolutionary War hero, was given to the university by Seymour. In 1936, Edward Billings, of Stone's shop, adapted a 1745 bowl, made in Connecticut by Cornelius Kierstede, for a bowl to be presented to the chairman of the Connecticut Tercentenary Commission (tercentenary silver fifty-cent pieces were inset in two side panels).35
Source: Elenita C. Chickering, Arthur J. Stone: Hand wrought Silver, 1901-1937 (Boston: Library of the Boston Athenaeum, 1981); Barbara McLean Ward and Gerald W. R. Ward, eds., Silver in American Life (New Haven: Yale University Art Gallery, 1979), 86 Elenita C. Chickering to author, April 15, 19 Rilla Evelyn Jackman, American Arts (New York: Rand McNally, 1928), 34.]
George Christian Gebelein, who was born in Germany, trained in Boston in the 1890s under men who used modern techniques as well as traditional ones that had been passed down from Revere and his contemporaries, or so Gebelein liked to think. Cultivating a reputation as Revere's successor, Gebelein procured old tools from the Revere family and often employed early American designs. For a 1929 coffee and tea service, he borrowed from the fluted urn body, flame finial, and engraved details of a Paul Revere sugar bowl. Often, the borrowings were at the client's request: For Francis Garvan, Gebelein made twenty replicas of the 1752 inkstand by Philip Syng, Jr., used by the signers of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. Gebelein disavowed most machine tools and never had more than six or seven assistants. 36
Margaretha Gebelein Leighton, George Christian Gebelein: Boston Silversmith, 1878-1945 (Boston: M. Leighton, 1976); Edward S. Cooke, Jr., in Collecting American Decorative Arts and Sculpture, 1971-1991 (Boston: Museum of Fine Arts, 1991), 75-76; Ward and Ward, Silver in American Life, 101.] The image of the independent craftsman working with hand tools was so attractive to the modern American consumer that a large manufacturer like Gorham advertised its ware with photographs of elderly craftsmen painstakingly engraving or otherwise finishing silver.37
Source: House and Garden, vol. 49, no. 5 (May 1926): 159.]
Lester Howard Vaughan was another metalsmith associated with the Boston Society of Arts and Crafts whose work was compared to Revere's. Although trained as a silversmith, Vaughan became a pewterer about 1915, and as such he competed with Reed and Barton, the company that, in 1929, claimed to be "the only survivor of early American pewter craft," retaining "absolute fidelity" to its centurylong tradition of pewtermaking. The pewter pitcher revived by Vaughan "epitomized the Colonial revival." A similar pitcher rests on a shelf of Nutting's scrolled-pewter cupboard illustrated in his General Catalog. Vaughan's cubic, two-drawer inkstand is of a type made in Ireland in the late eighteenth century but also included among Colonial Williamsburg's reproductions in 1937. 38
Source: David L. Barquist, American and English Pewter at the Yale University Art Gallery: A Supplementary Checklist (New Haven: Yale University Art Gallery, 1985), 52-53; Antique vol. 15, no. 5 (May 1929): 412; Nutting, General Catalog, 31; Howard Herschel Cotterell et al., National Types of Old Pewter (New York: Weathervane, 1972), 33; Colonial Williamsburg Approved Reproductions (Williamsburg, Va.: Colonial Williamsburg, 1937), 24.]
The vogue for handwrought silver was matched by that for handwrought iron, although Samuel Yellin, the best-known artist working in iron during the period, was born and trained in Europe and inspired, primarily, by European sources. The court of his large shop in Philadelphia was enriched with French Gothic-style gates, and his great commissions included designs suited to Gothic buildings at Yale and the palazzo-style Federal Reserve Bank in New York City. Still, Yellin's considerable collection of old ironwork included American examples, and his c. 1928 andirons for a country house near Philadelphia represent a variation and expansion upon an early American design.39
Source: Myra Tolmach Davis, Sketches in Iron: Samuel Yellin (Washington, D.C.: George Washington University, 1971).]
Between 1916 and 1921, Edward Guy reproduced colonial ironwork (a two-branched chandelier, for example) for Wallace Nutting at a forge established behind the Nutting-owned Iron Works house, in Saugus, Massachusetts, home of "the first successful iron master in America." Nutting thought Guy's ancestry-five generations of forgemen "trained in . . . Lancashire . . . famous for its cunning and beautiful wrought ironwork"-helped assure the quality of Guy's craftsman-ship. (In 1922, however, Guy accused Nutting of publishing his reproductions as original colonial ironwork.) 40
Source: Ivankovich, Nutting Furniture, 55-59; William L. Dulaney, "Wallace Nutting Collector and Entrepreneur," Winterthur Portfolio 13 (1979): 56-57.]
In 1919, Touchstone, a successor to Stickley's Craftsman, announced that the fashion for wrought iron, as made by colonial blacksmiths, was coming back, citing, in particular, the handwrought iron lanterns and door knockers of the W. Irving Forge, located in New York City. These were made individually, joyfully-the smith's "every blow is freighted with the love he bears his task."41
Source: Touchstone, vol. 5, no. 3 (June 1919): 255-56; House Beautiful, vol. 52, no. 1 (July 1922): 85.] The dull uniformity of the machine-made had been avoided, although, admittedly, Walter Irving's blacksmiths not only had the general example of antique hardware in the company's "museum" but actually worked from drawings. The taste for the look of handwrought iron and silver led some manufacturers to apply obviously imitative hammer marks on finished pieces, a practice condemned as false, "arty," by honest craftsmen.42
Source: Architecture (June 1925): 235; "Types of Wrought Iron Hardware Applicable to Early American Architectural Treatment," Antiques vol. 12, no. 4 (October 1927): 311.]
Myron S. Teller, an architect in Kingston, New York, specialized in the restoration and revival of Dutch colonial houses. Seeking historical accuracy, he amassed a collection of antique hardware and found a local blacksmith to hammer out reproductions. Proud of his early Hudson Valley Dutch ancestry, Teller employed blacksmiths of similar heritage-in particular, the brothers Abram and George Van Kleeck. Their grandfather had operated a blacksmith shop in the foothills of the Catskills, which continued to provide some of Teller's hardware; publicity for Teller capitalized on photographs of the old shop, to enhance the antique aura of his product.
Teller took pleasure in restoring family homesteads for clients of Dutch colonial lineage. In 1927, he and his partner, Harry Halverson, designed a complete rebuilding of an eighteenth-century stone house for William E. Bruyn on land in rural Ulster County that had belonged to Bruyn's ancestors in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries. Newly handwrought strap hinges and latches for the main house and several new service buildings were said to be modeled by Teller upon those found in the original house and its farm buildings. Although Teller's hardware followed colonial patterns, it did not imitate specifically local Dutch ones; his travels to colonial sites led him to conclude that English, Dutch, and French settlements shared hardware designs. A thumb latch by Abram Van Kleeck for a Kingston house resembles a "roll-pointed triangle" pattern in Nutting's General Catalog. Thus it is less surprising that Teller's shop at Philadelphia's Sesquicentennial Exposition, in 1926, was called the Paul Revere Forge.43
Source: David E. Tarn, "A Study in Local Adaptation," Architectural Record, vol. 34 (October 1913): 323; Helen Wilkinson Reynolds, Dutch Houses in the Hudson Valley before 1776 (New York: Payson and Clarke, 1929), 230; "He Couldn't Buy It ... So He Made It," American Architect, vol. 137 (February 1930): 48-51; Myron S. Teller to Harriet S. Gillespie, February 2, 1939 (copy it author's possession); Harriet Sisson Gillespie, "Early Dutch Architecture in the Hudson Valley," Arts and Decoration, vol. 35, no. 2 (June 1931): 28-29, 72. Myron S. Teller, "Earl Colonial Hand Forged Iron Work," Architectural Record, vol. 57, no. 5 (May 1925 395-96; Nutting, General Catalog, 147; E. L. Austin and Odell Hauser, The Sesqui-centennial International Exposition (Philadelphia: Curren Publications, 1929), 167.]
The link between ancestry and commitment to the colonial was not always predictable. Herman Hjorth, an educator in San Juan, Puerto Rico, with no known ancestral links to Anglo-colonial America, was an expert at reproducing colonial furniture in school industrial-arts shops. Such reproductions, he believed, were valuable not only for technical and aesthetic education but as a supplement to American and English history courses.
Israel Sack, trained as a cabinetmaker in Lithuania, became a noted dealer in American antiques and, through this experience,
"captured the true spirit of the greatness of American character as reflected in our finest furniture."He also reproduced furniture hardware and manufactured colonial tin sconces. Continuity was important to Sack, who advertised that beautiful objects served to join generations.44
Source: Herman Hjorth, "Reproducing Antique Furniture in the Schools," Industrial Arts Magazine, vol. 11 (April 1922): 137; Albert Sack, Fine Points of Furniture: Early American (New York: Crown, 1950), dedication page; Antiques, vol. 11, no. 6 (June 1927): 477, 493; I. Sack, Reproductions of Antique Fittings (Boston: I. Sack, n.d.); Antiques, vol. 16, no. 3 93; (September 1929): inside front cover.]
The ancestry of the craftsperson and its impact on his or her craft was of interest to Allen Eaton, author of Immigrant Gifts to American Life (1932), which surveyed the distinctive contributions to American craft made by various immigrant groups.
Eaton observed, in the catalogue of the Worcester Art Museum's 1943 "Exhibition of Contemporary New England Handicrafts," that "the names and patterns and objects" connected to New England craftspersons of colonial ancestry differed from those of recent immigrants as well as from those of the few Native American exhibitors. Photographs of Italian lacework by Theresa Pelligrini and Norwegian embroidery by Mrs. T. Larsson were set against the old American patterns of a Broken Star quilt by Mrs. C. B. Driver and stenciled and painted tinware by William P. Dudley.45
Source: Exhibition of Contemporary New England Handicrafts, 8, 23, 25, 38.]
Hand-hooked rugs were in great demand in the 1920s for Colonial revival houses. Mariet Nutting, the wife of Wallace, was responsible for this aspect of the Nutting enterprise. In and around Marion, Virginia, women at home hooked rugs under the direction of Laura S. Copenhaver, from Rosemont, a house appropriately more than a century old. Although the antiquity of the hooked rug as a type was in doubt, Rosemont designs included images of colonial buildings, like Washington's birthplace. Copenhaver advertised widely-in the Daughters of the American Revolution Magazine, for instance.46
Source: Wallace Nutting Checklist; Arts and Decoration, vol. 23, no. 2 (June 1925): 7; "Rosemont," Marion, Virginia, undated catalogue; Daughters of the American Revolution Magazine, vol. 62, no. 4 (April 1928): unpaged] To the north, six hundred New England women "associates" worked in their farmhouses for Pinkham Associates, turning out handmade braided rugs, "in keeping with the craftsmanship of Sheraton and Chippendale" and the traditions of their New England grandmothers. The company (Mr. H. T. Pinkham, president) was headquartered in Portland, Maine, but had showrooms on Madison Avenue in New York City. In an attempt to avoid mechanical uniformity, Pinkham cultivated the idea that its rugs were "the embodiment of loving thought and sentiment, for into each rug the maker has put something of her own sterling character."47 [ 47. Arts and Decoration, vol. 21, no. 4 (August 1924): 55.] Pinkham's rival in New England was Ralph W. Burnham, of Ipswich, Massachusetts, who employed women to hook rugs in his "rug studio." 48
Source: Antiques, vol. 29, no. 5 (May 1936): 214; Antiques, vol. 12, no. 1 (July 1927): 3; Antiques, vol. 5, no. 1 (January 1924): 6. ] The hooked-rug revival, as directed by Burnham and others, was criticized as producing merely inferior copies; the WPA's Maine guidebook complained that "the sincerity of creative craftsmanship is missing.49
Source: Federal Writers' Project, Maine, A Guide s, "Down East" (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1937), 109.]
The embroidered sampler declined in the nineteenth century, as did much handcraft, but, in 1918, George Leland Hunter called for a return to the form of embroidery that "taught so many of our fair Colonial forebears to write and spell and draw." Even as he made his plea, there was a burst of historical writing on the American sampler and other needlework, particularly by descendants of colonial needle artists, as well as a flourishing revival of colonial needlework. Some samplers were not inventive: Rosemont sold a standard sampler with spaces for date or name (up to seven letters) to be worked in as the customer ordered.50
Source: George Leland Hunter, Decorative Textile.
l (Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott Company, 1918), 133; Ethel Stanwood Bolton and Eva Johnston Coe, American Samplers (Boston: Massachusetts Society of the Colonial Dames of America, 1921); Judith Reiter Weissman an Wendy Lavitt, Labors of Love: America's Textiles and Needlework, 1650-1930 (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1987), xiii; "Rosemont 34.] More original were samplers worked by individual artists, sometimes inspired by ancestral memories. Mary Saltonstall Parker, of Salem, Massachusetts, "a descendant of Colonial dames," made samplers that combined "the charming naivety of spirit of the work of her ancestors" and "old-fashioned subjects with modern-day tendencies"-the railroad and World War I home front.51
Source: Mary Harrod Northend, "Renaissance of the Sampler," The International Studio, vol. T no. 316 (September 1923): 492.] A sampler made in 1920, near the end of her life, alludes to her illness (did she actually rest in a Nuttinglike Carver armchair?) as well as to the conclusion of World War I. Edith Kermit Roosevelt, the widow of President Theodore Roosevelt, became fascinated with her family's history. In 1925, she worked a family-record sampler, illustrative of her late-husband's career.52
Source: Marguerite Fawdry and Deborah Brown, The Book of Samplers (New York: St. Martin's Press, 1980), 124-25.
The revival of interest in sampler making was primarily inspired by ancestral piety, but ' Stephen E Whitman and Son, practitioners of "candy craft" in Philadelphia, had another explanation: The revival was stimulated, in part, because the "Whitman's Sampler has gone into practically all the tasteful homes in the land, showing on the package a fine exam ple of cross-stitch needlework"; House and Garden, vol. 46, no. 2 (August 1924): 81.]
Mary Harrod Northend, welcoming the sampler revival, noted, in 1923, that "its rejuvenation . . . is not like the old samplers, dull in color and lugubrious in sentiment, but of a gladness which links it with the spirit of modern interior decoration." Similarly, Ruth Finley attributed the contemporaneous revival of the patchwork quilt, in part, to "the modernistic trend in every branch of decoration toward brilliance of color and boldness of line."53
Source: Northend, "Renaissance," 491; Ruth E. Finley, Old Patchwork Quilts and the Women Who Made Them (Philadelphia: J. B.Lippincott Company, 1929), 7-8.] The popularity of the quilt revival continued into the 1930s, perhaps further stimulated during the Depression by the opportunity it provided women for socializing and solace. Many wrote to Eleanor Roosevelt asking for a scrap of cloth to be included in a quilt, often one to be sold for a charitable cause.54
Source: Weissman and Lavitt, Labors of Love, 67; Eleanor Roosevelt papers, 150.4 Handicrafts, 1934-35 (Franklin D. Roosevelt Library).] In southern New Jersey in the 1930s, another early American craft, hand-blown glass, was revived, in Clayton, by the Clevenger brothers, Tom, Reno, and Allie, elderly men whose ancestors had long been linked to glassblowing. A 1934 catalogue of Clevenger glass noted the popularity of old South Jersey glass with collectors-Caspar Wistar had established the first successful glasshouse in America in 1739, in Alloway-observing that this apparently "forgotten art" was being revived by "old craftsmen who learned their trade from their forebears in the time hallowed apprentice system." The Clevengers were "again blowing glass into the same shapes and patterns that made glass history so many years ago. "55
Source: The Renaissance of South Jersey Blown Glass (Providence, R.I.: Grant and Lyon, l 1934), n.p.] A 1939 catalogue of Clevenger glass, sold by the Ritter-Carlton Company on New York's Fifth Avenue, emphasized the authenticity of the handblown replicas of early American glass, notably the lily-pad pitcher in colonial blue, although Gay LeCleire Taylor has pointed out that Clevenger glass was heavier than the original and available in more vibrant colors.56
Source: Gay LeCleire Taylor, Clevenger Brothers Glass Works: The Persistence of Tradition (Millville, N.J.: Museum of American Glass, 1987), 3-4.]
By 1940, the revival of handblown glass had received federal support through the New Jersey Arts and Crafts Project of the Work Projects Administration. Aging South Jersey craftsmen, who, decades earlier, had learned glass-blowing, but had turned to other jobs when the glass industry was mechanized, returned to the "hand methods their colonial great-grandfathers employed." Some were descendants of Wistar's workmen, and "Wistar sand"-a high-grade silica-and Wistar formulas were used. Replicas of museum pieces and modern ware were made in Vineland for tax-supported public institutions and government agencies; none, though, was sold to the general public.57
Source: Gay LeCleire Taylor, of the Museum of American Glass, provided photocopies of "American Glass Design" publicity for the WPA project in Vineland; Morley Cassidy, "Artists at Bubble Blowing Revive an Ancient Craft," Philadelphia Evening Bulletin (c. 1940). See also The New York Times (September 22, 1940).]
Traditional pottery survived long enough in isolated localities to be taken up by sophisticated writers and collectors. Jacob Medinger was declared the last of the Pennsylvania German folk potters, although purists worried that beyond making traditional redware, "artsy folks" had induced him to flirt with foreign forms of pottery, like Spanish harvest jugs. In 1932, after learning of Medinger's death and of the commercial value assigned traditional pottery by collectors, the brothers Thomas and Isaac Stahl decided to reestablish a pottery founded, in 1847, in the Powder Valley of Lehigh County, Pennsylvania, by their father. Thomas and Isaac had worked in the pottery in the late nineteenth century; because of industrial competition, though, they abandoned their craft about 1903. In the 1930s, the Stahl pottery became a well-known attraction for its traditional Pennsylvania German, red earthenware-plates decorated in sgraffito, with poems in the Pennsylvania German dialect or Bible verses in actual German. The brothers relied primarily upon traditional tools and methods, although Isaac used an electrically driven wheel. As elderly craftsmen of another era, they themselves were attractions not only in the Powder Valley but when they gave demonstrations in Pennsylvania colleges and a Philadelphia department store. As survivors of a Germanic, non-English, early American culture, they, unlike the Dutch in the Hudson Valley, retained strong elements of their language and transported elements of their craft into the twentieth century. Germanic, but not un-American, they were drawn to patriotic themes. One plate was inscribed, "Dictators, please take notice. We Americans trust in God. In politics we are divided, but in time of war we are unided [sic]." How inappropriate, then, that these gentle and good Americans should find themselves adopted by Nazi propagandists as examples of Pan-Germanic culture.58
Source: Cornelius Weygandt, The Dutch Country: Folks and Treasures in the Red Hills of Pennsylvania (New York: Appleton-Century, 1939), 27; Lester Breininger, "The Stahl Family Potters," Antique Collecting (February 1979): 22-27; Wallace Nutting, Pennsylvania Beautiful (Framingham, Mass.: Old America, 1924), 155; Guy F. Reinert, "Passing of Stahl Brothers," Town and Country (March 17, 1950); Ann Hark, Blue Hills and Shoofly Pie in Pennsylvania Dutchland (Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott Company, 1952), 195; "Die Broder Stahl, Pennsylvanien, USA," Unsere Heimat (Kaiserslautern, Germany: 1938), n.p.]
Above left: At Colonial Williamsburg's Ayscough's Cabinet Making Shop, a cabinetmaker (identified only as Joe) fitted a dowel in 1937.
Above: Max Rieg, hammering a candlestick, demonstrated the skills of a colonial pewterer at the Sign of the Golden Ball, in Williamsburg, in 1937.
Potteries stemming from the Arts and Crafts movement sometimes returned to colonial forms. Mildred Davis Keyser first studied pottery-making in 1938 when attending a WPA class with her teenage daughter. Then, with advice from the Stahls, she revived Pennsylvania German-inspired redware at her Brookcroft Pottery, in Plymouth Meeting, near Philadelphia. Although not of Pennsylvania German descent, her husband, C. Naaman Keyser, was, and he stirred her interest in the forms of his ancestors, an interest that found expression in her pottery and in several booklets on Pennsylvania German craft she wrote and/or published. She was best known for her wedding plates, given to couples at the time of their marriage and decorated with the date and names of bride and groom. In the early 1940s, she made one to mark her own wedding in 1917.59
Source: Helen Painter, "Mrs. Keyser of Plymouth Meeting," American Home, vol. 29 (May 1943): 40, 42; Ambler Gazette (April 21, 1966); Mrs. C. Naaman Keyser, Method of Making Pennsylvania German Pottery (Plymouth Meeting, Pa.: the author, 1943).]
In Virginia, the James Towne Colony Pottery re-created early examples discovered in excavations at Williamsburg and Jamestown. The restoration of Colonial Williamsburg, which began in 1926, gave yet another boost to Colonial revival craft. In 1937, the first of Williamsburg's re-created shops opened: the Deane Forge, operated by the Boone Forge, of Spruce Pine, North Carolina; Ayscough's Cabinet Making Shop, operated by the Kittinger Company, of Buffalo; and the Pewter Shop, at the Sign of the Golden Ball, operated by Max Rieg, a Bauhaus-trained metal craftsman. In these shops, men in costume, "skilled Artificers, working with ancient Implements, supply many of the unusual Requirements of the Restoration, while exemplifying and explaining their Crafts to Visitors." Modern machines, however, were employed for the rough processes not evident in the final product.
@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@ from David Gebhard, "The American Colonial Revival in the 1930s", Winterthur Portfolio, Vol. 22, No. 2/3 (Summer - Autumn, 1987), pages 109-148 These presentations in professional journals were matched by increased attention paid to the colonial tradition in middle- and upper-middle- class magazines- ranging from Good Housekeeping, American Home, Better Homes and Gardens, House and Garden, House Beautiful, and Ladies' Home Journal to the more upscale Arts and Decoration, Town and Country, and Country Life. Supplementing this array of professional and popular literature was a steadily increasing num- ber of picture books and historical studies devoted to colonial architecture. Wallace Nutting's 192os series, from Vermont Beautiful to Virginia Beautiful, was reissued in the mid 1930S. While these were highly personal guides, they were, like his framed sepia photographs, his furniture, and his numer- ous books on furniture, exclusively devoted to adSupplementing this array of professional and popular literature was a steadily increasing num- ber of picture books and historical studies devoted to colonial architecture. Wallace Nutting's 192os series, from Vermont Beautiful to Virginia Beautiful, was reissued in the mid 1930S. While these were highly personal guides, they were, like his framed sepia photographs, his furniture, and his numer- ous books on furniture, exclusively devoted to advancing the imagery of seventeenth- and eigh- teenth-century colonial Americana.9 [9 Nutting's America the Beautiful series eventually con- sisted of eight volumes: Vermont Beautiful (1922); Massachusetts Beautiful (1923); New Hampshire Beautiful (1923); Connecticut Beautiful (1923); Maine Beautiful (1924); Pennsylvania Beautiful (1924); New York Beautiful (1927); Virginia Beautiful (1930). All these volumes were edited and reissued between 1935 and 1937. For a discussion of Nutting and his importance in the colonial revival of the i91os and 1920S, see William L. Dulaney, "Wallace Nutting: Collector and Entrepreneur," in American Furniture and Its Makers: Winterthur Portfolio 13, ed. Ian M. G. Quimby (Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, 1979), pp. 47-60; Wallace Nutting, Wallace Nutting's Biography (Framingham, Mass.: Old America Co., 1936); and Wallace Nutting, Supreme Edition General Catalogue (1930; reprint, Ex- ton, Pa.: Schiffer, 1977). ] Then there was a growing number of books depicting America's regional colonial architecture. Charac- teristic of these were Helen Wilkinson Reynolds, Dutch Houses in the Hudson Valley before 1776 (New York: Payson and Clarke, 1929), with an introduc- tion by Franklin Delano Roosevelt; Eleanor Ray- mond, Early Domestic Architecture of Pennsylvania (New York: William Helburn, 1931); Mixer Knowlton, Old Houses of New England (New York: Macmillan, 1927); Thomas T. Waterman and John A. Barrows, Domestic Architecture of Tidewater Virginia (New York: Scribner's, 1932); and William Spratling and Natalie Scott, Old Plantation Houses in Louisiana (New York: William Helburn, 1927). For interior details architects consulted such special- ized volumes as Edith Tunis Sale, Colonial Interiors (New York: William Helburn, 1930); for garden design, there was the two-volume set by Alice B. B. Lockwood, Gardens of Colony and of States: Gardens and Gardeners of the American Colonies and the Re- public before 1840 (New York: Scribner's, 1931). ... Equally impressive in promoting the colonial American image in the thirties was the Works Progress Administration's depression-inspired American Guide series, which by 1942 had pro- duced guides to all the eastern states. These guides to the "Colonial East," through their texts, guide sections, and photographic illustrations, placed a major emphasis on seventeenth- through early nineteenth-century architecture.14 [14 Arthur Scharf, "Selected Publications of the W.P.A. Fed- eral Writer's Project and the Writers' Program," in Jerre Man- gione, The Dream and the Deal: The Federal Writers' Project, i935- I943 (Boston and Toronto: Little, Brown, 1972), pp. 376-403. 112] Another source for the colonial in the thirties Although the three principal expositions of the 1930s-the 1933/34 Chicago Century of Progress Exposition, the 1939 New York World's Fair, and the 1939 San Francisco Golden Gate International Exposition-were committed to one degree or an- other to the modernist cause, they all commented on the colonial tradition. At Chicago, Thomas E. Tallmadge designed an "American Colonial Vil- lage": "Main Street as our great-grandfathers knew it" (fig. 1). These buildings, lining the tree- shaded street (with attendants and others in appro- priate costume), included reproductions of Bos- ton's Old State House and of Old Wakefield, where George Washington was born. In the case of the 1939 New York and San Francisco fairs, the colo- nial was presented as a contemporary house type within their Town of Tomorrow. Of the fifteen houses at the New York fair, nine were variations of the colonial theme.16 [16 "American Colonial Village," Architectural Forum 61, no. 1 (July 1934): 12-13; "Colonial Village," Pencil Points 16, no. 9 (September 1935): 495; "Modern Houses Top N.Y. Fair," Ar- chitectural Forum 71, no. 1 (July 1939): 63-72. The Evans, Moore, and Woodbridge Exposition House was built at Har- mon-on- Hudson, N.Y., in 1939. See Architectural Forum 72, no. 4 (April 1940): 251.] ... As a symbol, the restoration of Colonial Williamsburg and the adjacent Colonial National Park was the principal event that helped to promote the colonial revival of the thirties. In 1936, when the American Institute of Architects held its annual convention there, Hiram J. Herbert wrote in Better Homes and Gardens: "Williamsburg isn't only attracting tourists this summer by its historical appeal; it also is stimulating the desire for better homes." In the November 1937 issue of House and Garden, devoted to Williamsburg, Richardson Wright, the maga- zine's editor, wrote: "[House and Garden] believes that the future can learn from the past. It believes that the spirit of ancient Williamsburg and the ac- tuality of its splendid buildings and homes now restored have a definite, necessary and vital mes- sage for our times."24 Although House and Garden commissioned the Boston firm of Perry, Shaw, and Hepburn, the ar- chitects for the Williamsburg restoration, to design three contemporary houses based on Williamsburg precedent, the impact of this restoration was essen- tially ideological, rather than that of inspiring a set colonial image which was widely emulated. In the realm of the specific, the effect of Colonial Williamsburg was far more pervasive in interior decoration. By the mid 1930s, the Craft House at Williamsburg was producing "approved reproduc- tions and adaptations." Others quickly entered the scene. The enterprising Williamsburg Galleries of Chicago created a wide collection of moderately priced furniture which could be purchased at de- partment and furniture stores across the country (fig. 4). Within a few years an upper-middle -class patron could purchase Williamsburg-inspired china, silver, paint colors, fabrics, wallpapers, light- ing fixtures, and hardware.25 24John D. Rockefeller, Jr., "The Genesis of the Williams- burg Restoration," National Geographic 71, no. 4 (April 1937): 401; Hiram J. Herbert, "Williamsburg: The Ideal Home Town," Better Homes and Gardens 14, no. 7 (July 1936): 75; Richardson Wright et al., "Williamsburg," House and Garden 72, no. 5 (November 1937): 41. 25 "Our Williamsburg Houses," House and Garden 72, no. 5 (November 1937): 69-79; Williamsburg Craftsman, Colonial Williamsburg Approved Reproductions and Adaptations (Williams-burg: Colonial Williamsburg, 1937); "Colonial Williamsburg Contributes Its Richness to Modern Living," Arts and Decoration 52, no. 5 (May 1940): 24-25, 41, 43, 50. The progress of the restoration of Colonial Wil- liamsburg was closely followed in all the nation's principal newspapers, in the professional architec- tural journals, in home magazines for the middle and upper-middle classes, and through books pub- lished about Williamsburg.26 [26 Colonial Williamsburg published a number of books in the 1930s. These included A Handbook for the Exhibition Buildings of Colonial Williamsburg Incorporated (1937); Rutherford Good- win, Williamsburg in Virginia; or, A Brief and True Report for Travellers concerning Williamsburg in Virginia (1937, 1940); and even The Williamsburg Art of Cookery (1938). Major publications on Williamsburg at the time were Rockefeller, "Genesis of the Restoration"; W. A. R. Goodwin, "The Restoration of Colonial Williamsburg," National Geographic 71, no. 4 (April 1937): 402- 43; Fiske Kimball, "The Restoration of Colonial Williamsburg in Virginia," and William Graves Perry, "Notes on the Architec- ture," Architectural Record 78, no. 6 (December 1935): 359 and 363-82; "Restoration of Colonial Williamsburg," American Ar- chitect 147, no. 2638 (November 1935): 34-52; "The Restora- tion at Williamsburg, Perry, Shaw and Hepburn, Architects," Pencil Points 17, no. 5 (May 1936): 224- 46; and Kenneth Chor- ley, "Progress in the Restoration of Colonial Williamsburg," Ar- chitectural Record 8o, no. 5 (November 1936): 337-84. Jack Manley Rose and Grace Norton Rose, Williamsburg Today and Yesterday (New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1940); Wright et al., "Williamsburg," pp. 37-79. The two definitive studies on the architecture of Williamsburg were published by Colonial Wil- liamsburg after World War II and were written by Marcus Whiffen: The Eighteenth Century Houses of Williamsburg (1970) and The Public Buildings of Williamsburg, Colonial Capital of Vir- ginia: An Architectural History (1958). ... The restoration of Colonial Williamsburg was a catalyst for historic preservation efforts during the 1930S. In the final years of Hoover's administra- tion, the federal government, through the Na- tional Park Service, became increasingly involved in both restoration and preservation. This federal and eventual state involvement was accentuated in the depression years of the thirties, especially with the inauguration in December 1933 of the Historic American Buildings Survey.28 In his Lost Examples of Colonial Architecture (New York: William Hel- burn, 1931), John Mead Howells emphasized, as Fiske Kimball pointed out in his introduction, "the depth of our artistic and historic loss." There were several ways of preventing these losses. Henry Ford started out in the twenties with preservation in situ of the historic Wayside Inn in Concord, Massachusetts. In a short time he took the Wil- liamsburg approach one step further, and in his Greenfield Village (along with the adjacent Edison Institute) at Dearborn, Michigan, he created his own version of the ideal colonial village. Ford's vil- lage was composed of historic buildings moved to the site and new buildings designed in the colonial image. The Edison Institute was housed in replicas of Philadelphia's Independence Hall, Congress Hall, and old City Hall. And Ford's commitment to the colonial continued through the decade. Dear- born Inn, the hotel serving Greenfield Village, was designed in 1939 as a small colonial village, com- posed of replicas including the Edgar Allan Poe cottage, the Patrick Henry mansion, the Oliver Wolcott house, the Barbara Fritchie house, and the Walt Whitman farmhouse. In the same year, Ford, through the Ford Foundation, sponsored Spring- field Park near Dearborn, and the imagery of the single-family houses and the groups of apartments in this development were appropriately colonial.29 [29 Henry Ford, "Why I Bought the Wayside Inn and What I am Doing with It," Garden and Home Builder 43, no. 1 (July 1926): 430-34; Lucia Ames Mead, "How the Old Wayside Inn Came Back," Old- Time New England 22, no. 1 (July 1931): 41- 45; Samuel Crowther, "Henry Ford's Village of Yesterday," Ladies' Home Journal 45, no. 9 (September 1928): lo- l, 11 6, 118; James S. Wamsley, American Ingenuity: Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village (New York: Harry N. Abrams, 1985); Bar- bara L. Clark, "A Modern Hotel's Colonial Village," American Home 23, no. 5 (May 1940): 56-61; "Henry Ford Builds," Ar- chitectural Forum 71, no. 3 (September 1939): 209.] It is fascinating to see how historic preservation efforts throughout the country were almost exclu- sively concerned in the late twenties and the thir- ties with the colonial image (whether factual or created). While some Hispanic monuments were restored and rebuilt in Florida, Texas, New Mex- ico, Arizona, and California, the interest even in these regions, as far as domestic architecture was concerned, was directed to what was perceived as a continuation of the eastern colonial tradition in the early and mid nineteenth century. In New Mexico it was the Angloized adobe, the territorial style, with its Greek-revival/late-federal overtones; in California, it was the Anglo-Monterey style and the California ranch house. A perusal of the pages of Lewis Barrington's Historic Restorations of the Daugh- ters of the American Revolution (New York: Richard R. Smith, 1941) gives the impression that the colonial constituted America's only meaningful historic tradition worthy of preservation. As had occurred in the past, the colonial images of the thirties emerged as something specific to that moment. And, as one would expect, what finally came about in 1940/41 was in many ways different from what existed in 1930. In this decade there was an intriguing set of seemingly opposite demands which were played off against one an- other. The serenity and suggestion of formality of the classical tradition were quite often contrasted with the picturesque and informal, both in the forms of the building and in the relationship be- tween the building and its site. The puritanism of the primitive and the vernacular of the early colo- nial or of the Cape Cod cottage was quite the oppo- site to the urban sophistication of versions of the federal or Greek-revival types of the thirties. The atmosphere of "correct" and "accurate" scale and detailing was in many instances played off against the "free renderings" of the colonial types. Ele- ments of the "modern" (high art and streamline moderne) were either gently absorbed into the co- lonial image or contrasted with it. The colonial types of the thirties found it easy to embrace the new and fashionable spatial ideals of the time: the open, informal plan, the tight vertical and horizon- tal circulation links, the opening up of the interior to the exterior through extensive glass windows and doors, and the connection of interior living areas to the exterior through porches and terraces. The kitchen and the bathroom of the colonial house were approached exactly as they were in any modern or moderne-image dwelling of the time: as highly workable "machines for living." A pervasive quality in the thirties was to design objects and buildings in modest, small scale. The architects' or builders' version of the colonial cot- tage, or even the larger two-story early New En- gland colonial house, represented a reduction in size from its equivalents in the 1920S. In architec- ture this reduction in size and apparent luxury of detail may be seen as a reaction to budget limita- tions caused by the depression; but this trend was, in essence, symbolic. By the end of the decade, when an upper-middle-class man felt that he could go ahead and build a new house, the cost of such a dwelling was some 40 percent less than it would have cost to build a similar dwelling at the end of the twenties.30 [30 "Six Small Houses and Their Costs," Architectural Forum 60, no. 4 (April 1934): 259-66; "Average Construction Costs for Dwellings in Principal Cities of the United States," Monthly Labor Review 27, no. 5 (November 1929): 1048-52; Herman B. Byer, "Labor and Material Costs in Small House Construction," Monthly Labor Review 48, no. 5 (May 1939): 1058-61. ] @@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@ Like the American Wing of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Colonial Williamsburg also encouraged large-scale manufacturing of colonial reproductions, under the guise of "a Programme for the Promotion of Crafts." By 1937, licensed manufacturers were reproducing furniture, silver, Wedgwood ware, glass, fabrics, hardware, pewter, brass, and lighting fixtures, which were sold at the Craft House, in Williamsburg, at selected stores around the country, and through a mail-order catalogue. Authenticity was valued. Kittinger, the licensed furniture manufacturer, was obliged to employ skilled craftsmen to replicate details of "wood, construction, and finish."60
Source: Writers' Program of the Work Projects Administration in the State of Virginia, Virginia (New York: Oxford, 1940), 155; "Development of Products Division before 1945," typescript provided by Bland Blackford, Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, April 12, 1993; Rutherfoord Goodwin, A Brief & True Report Concerning Williamsburg in Virginia (Williamsburg, Va.: Colonial Williamsburg, 1941), 120; House Beautiful, vol. 80, no. 1 (January 1938): 36, 73; Colonial Williamsburg Approved Reproductions, 5, 7.]
In theory, Colonial Williamsburg's motives were educational, not pecuniary. The reproductions were part of the overall ambition of John D. Rockefeller, Jr., that the restoration of Williamsburg should teach "the patriotism, high purpose, and unselfish devotion of our forefathers."61
Source: Goodwin, Brief & True Report, 121; John D. Rockefeller, Jr., "The Genesis of the Williamsburg Restoration," National Geographic, vol. 71, no. 4 (April 1937): 401.] Most of its reproductions were made elsewhere, yet Max Rieg, beyond training apprentices and demonstrating eighteenth-century techniques in the re-created Pewter Shop, made quantities of pewter for sale. One piece, a simplified version of an eighteenth-century baptismal basin-simpler because of Rieg's method of spinning and, perhaps, as an appeal to American taste in the 1930s-could either stand alone or be set in a Kittingermade mahogany basin stand. 62 [ 62. Barquist, American and English Pewter, 48-49; Colonial Williamsburg Approved Reproductions, 24.] For a time, Rieg displayed both his reproductions and his Modernist designs in his Williamsburg workshop. In 1924, Lewis Mumford had proposed that spare, seventeenth-century New England furnishings might well serve as a basis for contemporary design-the "austere qualities" of the antiques he found comparable to Modernist German design. A few Colonial revivalists, like Poole Pewter, tried to present the spartan simplicity of their colonial designs as modern,63
Source: Lewis Mumford, "American Interiors," The New Republic, vol. 41, no. 526 (December 31, 1924): 139; The International Studio (June 1928): 78. Edward D. Andrews and Faith Andrews, Shaker Furniture: The Craftsmanship of an American Communal Sect (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1937), 63, called for renewed production of Shaker designs as an alternative to simple modern furnishings marred by "smartness."
] but, in general, there was a firm barrier between the two camps. Wallace Nutting simply declared "there is no such thing" as modern furniture. Virginia Craftsmen, Inc., makers of "authentic hand made reproductions of antiques" (including a Pennsylvania comb-back Windsor armchair), claimed its craftsmen "work as though the Jazz Age and the modern cult of speed had never been heard of. As far as they are concerned, it still takes several days to go from Harrisonburg to Washington."64
Source: Wallace Nutting, "Antique Humbugs," The Saturday Evening Post, vol. 202 (March 22, 1930): 150; Colonial Charm for Homes of Today (Harrisonburg, Va.: Virginia Craftsmen, n.d.), 4, 19. Antiques, edited by Alice Winchester, advocated reproductions and adaptations of American antiques as perpetuating "an honor-able tradition that is . . . distinctly American," while condemning "ultra-modernistic furniture" as "esthetic monstrosities"; Antiques, vol.37, no. 6 (June 1940): 281, and Antiques, vol. 38, no. 2 (August 1940): 59.]
For most Modernists, Colonial Williamsburg and the entire Colonial revival represented a major obstacle to the triumph of their cause. Visiting members of the French and German avant-garde were puzzled by America's rejection of Modernist furnishings; House and Garden reported that the Europeans "criticize us because we wear modern clothes and decorate our homes in the primitive style of our colonial ancestors."65
Source: House and Garden, vol. 47, no. 1 (January 1925): 45.] America was not represented in Paris at the 1925 Exposition Internationale des Arts Decoratifs et Industriels Modernes because, as Richardson Wright explained, Georgian chairs and traditional-style pottery would have been rejected. Europe was old and tired of old styles; America was "so young that we are the most conservative nation on the face of the globe. We cling to what little tradition we possess. "66
Richardson Wright, "The Modernist Taste," House and Garden, vol. 48, no. 4 (October 1925): 77-78. ]
In his 1944 book Good-bye Mr, Chippendale, the pro-Modernist interior designer T. H. Robsjohn-Gibbings complained of the Colonial revival's stifling of originality, a consequence, he determined, of Americans-women, especially-seeking genteel status through traditional American and European furniture.67
Source: T. H. Robsjohn-Gibbings, Goodbye Mr. Chippendale New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1945, pages 54-55.
A poll of the American public taken in 1945 showed Modernism lagging behind the colonial. The public had been influenced by Emily Price Post, who snobbishly argued in 1939 that colonial furnishings were highly suitable because so many Americans were "of Colonial ancestry." Modern design, for Post, had one great failing: It had no "quality of ancestry. " note 68
Source: Mary Davis Gillies, "Mr. and Mrs. McCall Know What They Want," Architectural Forum, vol. 82, no. 4 (April 1945): 102; Emily Price Post, The Personality of a House: The Blue Book of Home Design and Decoration New York: Funk and Wagnalls Company, 1939, pages 267, 495.
Nancy McClelland defended the rising popularity of American colonial furniture vis-a-vis European styles by citing the roles of the American Wing of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and Colonial Williamsburg; most important, though, was "the revival of nationalism . . . after the world war and . . . a wide-spread desire to build into our surroundings the qualities that we consider purely 'American.'" The demand for such pieces was being met by "furniture craftsmen . . . producing finely finished American furniture, carefully detailed from historic models, and largely hand-made." For Post, McClelland, and other Colonial revivalists, modernity and noncolonial traditional styles failed to provide the comforting sense of rootedness and stability they required in a time of rapid change and radical turmoil -- what McClelland called "this heedless and harried day and generation." note 69Source: McClelland, Furnishing the Colonial and Federal House, 5, 7. ]
19. Impact of Museums and Other Types of Exhibits: Antiques as Symbols of Taste and Background
Index of American Design
link to Index of American Design website
Mercer Museum of Tools
Henry Ford's purchase and restoration of the Wayside Inn in Sudbury, MA
the Opening of the American Wing of the Metropolitan Museum of ArtRichard Townley Haines Halsey (1865-1942) impact on the field of American decorative arts relates to a significant shift in cultural attitudes: collecting American antiques went from an amateur pursuit to a primary concern of major museums. The museum movement was, in fact, speeded by his efforts and his career is capped by his formation of the American Wing in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. He promoted the idea that American antiques are important, that, culturally, they had artistic worth. In 1938, the Met published A Handbook of the American Wing.
Source: Elizabeth Stillinger, The Antiquers: The Lives and Careers, the Deals Were Responsible for the Changing Taste in American Antiques, 1850-1930 New York: Knopf, 1980, page 272-279.
1934 The Opening of the Restored Colonial Williamsburgtoration of the Cite de Carcassonne, and, as Rockefeller wrote, "to restore a complete area and free it entirely from alien or inharmonious surroundings as well as to preserve the beauty and charm of the old buildings and gardens of the city and its historical significance." Certainly patriotism (or nationalism) and an idealization of the past were crucial to Rockefeller's decision to support the project; but equally so was his response to it as architecture. As a symbol, the Although House and Garden commissioned the Boston firm of Perry, Shaw, and Hepburn, the architects for the Williamsburg restoration, to design three contemporary houses based on Williamsburg precedent, the impact of this restoration was essentially ideological, rather than that of inspiring a set colonial image which was widely emulated. In the realm of the specific, the effect of Colonial Williamsburg was far more pervasive in interior decoration. By the mid 1930s, the Craft House at Williamsburg was producing "approved reproductions and adaptations." Others quickly entered the scene. The enterprising Williamsburg Galleries of Chicago created a wide collection of moderately priced furniture which could be purchased at department and furniture stores across the country (fig. 4). Within a few years an upper-middle-class patron could purchase Williamsburg-inspired china, silver, paint colors, fabrics, wallpapers, lighting fixtures, and hardware.25 24 John D. Rockefeller, Jr., "The Genesis of the Williamsburg Restoration," National Geographic 71, no. 4 (April 1937): 401; Hiram J. Herbert, "Williamsburg: The Ideal Home Town," Better Homes and Gardens 14, no. 7 (July 1936): 75; Richardson Wright et al., "Williamsburg," House and Garden 72, no. 5 (November 1937): 41. 25 "Our Williamsburg Houses," House and Garden 72, no. 5 (November 1937): 69-79; Williamsburg Craftsman, Colonial Williamsburg Approved Reproductions and Adaptations (Williams- The progress of the restoration of Colonial Williamsburg was closely followed in all the nation's principal newspapers, in the professional architectural journals, in home magazines for the middle and upper-middle classes, and through books published about Williamsburg. 26 One of the foremost burg: Colonial Williamsburg, 1937); "Colonial Williamsburg Contributes Its Richness to Modern Living," Arts and Decoration 52, no. 5 (May 1940): 24-25, 41, 43, 50. 26 Colonial Williamsburg published a number of books in the 1930s. These included A Handbook for the Exhibition Buildings of Colonial Williamsburg Incorporated (1937); Rutherford Goodwin, Williamsburg in Virginia; or, A Brief and True Report for Travellers concerning Williamsburg in Virginia (1937, 1940); and even The Williamsburg Art of Cookery (1938). Major publications on Williamsburg at the time were Rockefeller, "Genesis of the Restoration"; W. A. R. Goodwin, "The Restoration of Colonial Williamsburg," National Geographic 71, no. 4 (April 1937): 40243; Fiske Kimball, "The Restoration of Colonial Williamsburg in Virginia," and William Graves Perry, "Notes on the Architecture," Architectural Record 78, no. 6 (December 1935): 359 and 363-82; "Restoration of Colonial Williamsburg," American Architect 147, no. 2638 (November 1935): 34-52; "The Restoration at Williamsburg, Perry, Shaw and Hepburn, Architects," Pencil Points 17, no. 5 (May 1936): 224-46; and Kenneth Chorley, "Progress in the Restoration of Colonial Williamsburg," Architectural Record 8o, no. 5 (November 1936): 337-84. Jack Man- exponents of the colonial, architect Dwight James Baum, portrayed its progress through a camera in the pages of Architecture, and Samuel Chamberlain presented the restoration through six etchings published in Pencil Points. And as one would expect, with the rise of the modern in this decade, it was a frequent subject of heated debate. When Frank Lloyd Wright held an exhibition of his work at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, he, being the publicist he was, could not refrain from decrying the restoration and its effect on current American architecture. Harold R. Shurtleff, who had worked on the restoration, replied to Wright: "it seems a pity that Mr. Wright's so ready to deprive the man in the small or middle income bracket of confidence in such authentic source of dignity and beautiful forms for the sort of houses that he can afford to live in as the Colonial Williamsburg restoration.... [Iit will be a long time before the materials and forms that were used in Colonial architecture cease to have a place in American building."27 The restoration of Colonial Williamsburg was a catalyst for historic preservation efforts during the 193os. In the final years of Hoover's administration, the federal government, through the National Park Service, became increasingly involved in both restoration and preservation. This federal and eventual state involvement was accentuated in the depression years of the thirties, especially with the inauguration in December 1933 of the Historic American Buildings Survey.28 In his Lost Examples of Colonial Architecture (New York: William Helburn, 1931), John Mead Howells emphasized, as ley Rose and Grace Norton Rose, Williamsburg Today and Yesterday (New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1940); Wright et al., "Williamsburg," pp. 37-79. The two definitive studies on the architecture of Williamsburg were published by Colonial Williamsburg after World War II and were written by Marcus Whiffen: The Eighteenth Century Houses of Williamsburg (1970) and The Public Buildings of Williamsburg, Colonial Capital of Virginia: An Architectural History (1958). 27 Dwight James Baum, "Architect Rambles about Williamsburg," Architecture 71, no. 6 (June 1935): 322-23; Chamberlain, "Colonial Williamsburg." In 1947 Chamberlain published an entire volume devoted to Williamsburg, Behold Williamsburg. Frank Lloyd Wright, "Williamsburg as a Museum Piece," New York Herald, November 6, 1938, sec. 2 p. 8; Frank Lloyd Wright, "Comment on Williamsburg," Time 32, no. ig (November 7, 1938): 37; Harold R. Shurtleff, "Reply to Frank Lloyd Wright on Williamsburg," Boston Transcript, December 3, 1938, Pt. 5 p. 5. 28 Charles B. Hosmer, Jr., Preservation Comes of Age: From Williamsburg to the National Trust, 1926-1949, vol. i (Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1981), pp. 548-52. Selections from the Historic American Buildings Survey drawings were published during the 193os in the pages of the Architectural Forum Master Detail series. from gebhrad: In 1936, when the American Institute of Architects held its annual convention there, Hiram J. Herbert wrote in Better Homes and Gardens: "Williamsburg isn't only attracting tourists this summer by its historical appeal; it also is stimulating the desire for better homes." In the November 1937 issue of House and Garden, devoted to Williamsburg, Richardson Wright, the magazine's editor, wrote: "[House and Garden] believes that the future can learn from the past. It believes that the spirit of ancient Williamsburg and the actuality of its splendid buildings and homes now restored have a definite, necessary and vital message for our times."24 W A. R. Goodwin, a pastor, is the "man who can rightly be called 'the father of Williamsburg'." Inspired by Halsey, Ford, and Garvan, for years, Goodwin dreamed of restoring of the old colonial city of Williamsburg, VA., to its former glory and splendor of the 1th and 18th centuries'." The dream strated to become reality in 1926. Like the others mentioned above, Goodwin believed that America's true spirit would be revived for its people through historical sites and artifacts. For him, the artistic quality of those artifacts was secondary to their educational and inspirational value. Source: Elizabeth Stillinger, The Antiquers: The Lives and Careers, the Deals Were Responsible for the Changing Taste in American Antiques, 1850-1930 New York: Knopf, 1980, page 272-279.
Wallace NuttingIn 1917, soon after the demise of Stickley's enterprise, Wallace Nutting began to reproduce colonial furniture with a combination of machine and hand-work.
Nutting, as historian John Crosby Freeman has shown, was both a late disciple of the Arts and Crafts movement and "the leading popularizer of the Colonial revival during . . . the 1920s," through both his photographs of colonial scenes and his colonial-inspired furniture, made in Saugus, Ashland, and Framingham, Massachusetts.5 [ 5. John Crosby Freeman, introduction, Wallace Nutting Checklist of Early American Reproductions (Watkins Glen, N.Y.: American Life Foundation, 1969), unpaged; Louis M. MacKeil, Wallace Nutting (Saugus, Mass.: Saugus Historical Society, 1984), 31-42; Michael Ivankovich, The Guide to Wallace Nutting Furniture (Doylestown, Pa.: Diamond Press, 1990).]
Nationalism and ancestor worship were at the root of Nutting's rationale for his revival: "There is enshrined in the forms of furniture used by our ancestors a spirit absent from the exotic shapes that come from Italy and France. We love the earliest American forms because they embody the strength and beauty in the character of the leaders of American settlement." 6 [ 6. Wallace Nutting Checklist.]
This regard for ancestral furniture was heightened, Nutting acknowledged, by the upheaval of the Great War. Tracing his New England ancestry to the seventeenth century, he found his forebears' virtues embodied in their surviving oak furniture, which he then reproduced. Seventeenth-century court cupboards, in Nutting's words, were "the noblest pieces that have come down to us."
Only a little less noble, presumably, were the Connecticut sunflower chest and paneled oak chest with their sturdy foursquare lines and surfaces enlivened with applied turnings. Native oak was superior, he thought, to imported mahogany. For one influenced by the Arts and Crafts movement, eighteenth-century mahogany furniture seemed, at least until about 1927, overrefined and aristocratic.7 [ 7. Wallace Nutting, Furniture of the Pilgrim Century (of American Origin): 1620-1720 (Framingham, Mass.: Old America, 1924), 8; Wallace Nutting Checklist. Ivankovich, Nutting Furniture, 77, suggests that Nutting turned to mahogany and the more elaborate eighteenth-century styles to meet public demand.]
His Queen Anne daybed, in walnut, began to test the limits of his taste for simplicity and restraint.
Nutting was a photographer, writer, and expert on colonial furniture but not a craftsman, so he hired "fine American mechanics," both native- and foreign-born-a veritable League of Nations, he said. Nutting had given up the ministry, yet he did not forsake his calling to mold human character.
For his workers, he composed Ten Shop Commandments, "to make men while making furniture.8 [ 8. Wallace Nutting Checklist.] By 1936, he observed, loftily, that his foreign-born workers were as efficient and faithful as the native-born.9 [ 9. Wallace Nutting, Wallace Nutting's Biography (Framingham, Mass.: Old America, 1936), 246; Nutting to Nathan Margolis, October 27, 1922 (Winterthur Museum). H. I. Brock, "The Hunt for the Old Widens," The New York Times Magazine (September 20, 1925): 1, observed that most cabinetmakers were foreign-born.] In the Arts and Crafts spirit, Nutting claimed "to encourage individuality" in his turners, chair- and cabinetmakers-"men who love their work" and therefore would adhere to his tenth commandment: "Let nothing leave your hands till you are proud of the work." But individuality did not mean the freedom to invent, as Nutting demanded that his workers accurately copy colonial designs.
Where Stickley and others freely interpreted their sources, Nutting capitalized on his reputation as an expert on American antiques-especially through his book Furniture of the Pilgrim Century -- and publicized the fidelity of his reproductions. He was proud of the lineage of his furniture, while those who tried to be inventive with colonial design only created "mongrel mixed shapes."10 [ 10. Wallace Nutting Checklist. Nutting made office furniture advertised as adaptations, not reproductions. Wallace Nutting, Supreme Edition General Catalog (Framingham, Mass., 1930; reprint, West Chester, Pa.: Schiffer Publishing, 1984), 140-45.] Nevertheless, it is clear that Nutting's own designs strayed from historical accuracy; Patricia Kane has noted a "tendency to exaggerate and re-create forms in more monumental scale." 11 [ 11. Patricia E. Kane, Three Hundred Years of American Seating Furniture (Boston: New York Graphic Society, 1976), 265.] A Nutting rival, Jacob Margolis (brother of Nathan Margolis, the Hartford furnituremaker), reproduced early American furniture in New York, and assured the noted antiques collector Francis P. Garvan that "my furniture would be made mostly by hand-mortising, carving, and finishing." Margolis's experience as a repairer of and dealer in antiques served to enhance the accuracy of such reproductions as the three-part mahogany dining table commissioned by Garvan for the Yale University Art Gallery in 1929, but, as David Barquist points out, Margolis's eighteenth-century-style mirror, also for Garvan and Yale, was "influenced by the early twentieth-century taste for simplified forms."12 [ 12. David L. Barquist, American Tables and Looking Glasses (New Haven: Yale University Art Gallery, 1992), 249, 347.]
acceptance of shaker style-- several mentions of shaker in shakleton book, 1907, the quest of the colonial -- BRIDGES, MADELINE S. A Wonderful Little World of People. In the Ladies' Home Journal, June, 1898. (Illustrations of late interiors at Mount Lebanon.)
Andrews, Edward Deming, and Faith Andrews. Religion in Wood: A Book of Shaker Furniture. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1966. xxi+ 1 06 pp.; illustrations, bibliography. Thomas Merton's introduction to Religion in Wood explores similarities between the Shakers and British poet-painter William Blake to capture the "deeply religious and 'monastic' quality" of the Shaker aesthetic (p. viii). The foreword sketches the growing appreciation of Shaker furniture from 1928 to the I960s. The text discusses Shaker theology and the roles of Mother Ann Lee, Joseph Meacham, and the Millenial Laws. The Andrewses argue that the Shakers sought perfection in all their endeavors, stressing order, use-fulness, and simplicity in order to create a society without sin or worldliness. The simplest things, if made without error, were the most useful and the most satisfactory to Shaker conscience. The work of these "humble but consecrated folk" (p. 14) represents the common strain in America's heritage. The illustrations include individual pieces and furniture in Shaker settings, museums, and private homes. Brief notes on western Shaker furniture and craftsmen are included. Andrews, Edward Deming, and Faith Andrews. Shaker Furniture: The Craftsmanship of an American Communal Sect. Photographs by William F. Winter. 1937. Re-print. New York: Dover Publications, 1950. xi+ 133 pp.; 48 plates, appendixes, bibliography, index. The Andrewses argue that although much literature deals with the Shakers, few authors examine their finely crafted furniture, the product of "an intensely realized faith, an unusual body of principles, a unique spiritual experience" (p. 3). Regularity, harmony, and order were cardinal principles, and simplicity was valued over decoration. Shaker furniture produces an impression of the "brightness and lightness" of "serene happiness" (p. 25). Subdued elegance and delicacy characterize chairs, small tables, stands, desks, and sewing cabinets. Responsiveness to the needs of groups rather than of individuals gives Shaker furniture distinctive traits. Furniture made by different communities is much the same be-cause of the exchange of artisans, similar shop equipment, concentration of certain industries and distribution of products throughout the order, and the dominance of the New Lebanon colony. The Andrewses discuss craftsmen and working practices. Plates are accompanied by extensive descriptions. R T H Halsey, A Handbook of the American Wing
New York: Meptropolitan Museum of Art, 1938 (note: concern expressed by halsey is for the high end of american handcrafted furniture. comments about lower, folk creations, while not totally dismssive, demonstrate a lack of enthusiasm.) Stephen Bowe and Peter Richmond, Selling Shaker: The Commodification of Shaker Design in the Twentieth Century. Liverpool, England: Liverpool University Press, 2007.
Stephen bowe, selling shaker, on origin and impact of "Index of American Design": The Index of American Design and the Index of American Design Exhibition at the Fogg Museum of Art at Harvard University -1937 In the publication Art for the Millions - Essays from the 1930s by Artists and Administrators of the WPA Federal Art Project, Constance Rourke - an authority on American art production - wrote about the Shakers and their utilitarian outlook on design and the manufacture of goods. She stated that the little-known production of the Shakers was to: `Represent a definite native impulse in American design."87 She also noted that the Index of American Design: ... presents the decorative and utilitarian arts of this country broadly by the vivid means of pictorial rendering, in a large series of portfolios. As a result, if this work is carried to full completion, the questions `What is American Design?' or `Have we an American design?' may answer themselves, possibly with some surprises, certainly with a wealth of fresh materials. In any event, these many-sided and many-coloured evidences will represent basic traditions in design which, as a people, in the past, we have chosen our own.188
The Civil Works Administration, of which the WPA and the Index were a part, was set up in 1933 as a measure to combat the high levels of unemployment and to provide opportunities in the arts professions. A Government project for artists was organised in December 1933, directed by Edward Bruce under the Treasury Department, and funded by means of a grant from the Civil Works Administration. This allowed for the employment of a number of fine artists - painters, sculptors and printmakers. However, designers and craftsmen were also having problems finding employment and, in order to rectify this situation, the Civil Works Administration and various State Emergency Relief Administrations setup handicraft and recording projects of which The Index of American Design was the most notable. It was organised as a nationwide activity in meetings of the Federal Art Project national staff in December 1935. The Index had a defined agenda to record within the scope of the popular folk arts of the United States. The artefacts that came under study were mainly three dimensional, but excluded architecture, it having already being covered in other projects such as the Historic American Buildings Survey.
The Index was placed under the direction of the Washington staff of the Federal Art Project, with Constance Rourke appointed as national editor and Ruth Reeves as national coordinator, who was succeeded by C. Adolph Glassgold in 1936, and Benjamin Knotts in 1940.
In choosing objects for recording, priority was given to material of historical significance not previously studied and which, for one reason or another, was in danger of being lost. Regional and local crafts were emphasised: for instance,
the early colonial crafts in New England;
the folk crafts in Pennsylvania and the Southwest;pioneer furniture, tools, and utensils in the Middle West and in Texas;
early Mormon textiles in Utah;
and various community crafts in Ohio, Illinois, Iowa, and other states.
In addition, the arts and crafts of the Shakers were also deemed important enough to be recorded. The recording was done in situ if at all possible: `The technique recommended in the Index manual (WPA Technical Series, Art Circular no. 3) for most categories of objects was a transparent watercolour method. The object was first carefully studied and a light outline drawing made.'189
The Index of American Design provided a valuable reference resource for anyone interested in viewing design190 from an American perspective and was a precursor of many of the concerns material culture studies now encompass, relating to social history, production, manufacture and consumption.191 The Index was also seen as a useful means of promoting the notion of good indigenous design, with the aim of developing a consciousness amongst the general public of what constituted American design. The Shakers were specifically featured in the Index appearing in the chapter entitled `Work and Faith', which repeated themes that had already been developed by the Andrews partnership:192
with the acceptance of the art of the 1868 Salon de Refuses, the critics hold on setting standards for "taste" is severed forever
The democratization of taste
The reform of the Domestic InteriorFrom the mid-nineteenth century onwards, while one definition of the 'ideal' interior continued to denote high social status (or an aspiration to such),
it also became linked to the idea of moral and aesthetic reform.
According to Louise Ade Boger, the Englishman, William Morris, must be given credit for creating the movement which effected a reform in public taste. (Boger is an expert on American antiques, longtime columnist for House and Garden, and author of The Complete Guide to Furniture Styles, 1969.) Read more on Morris here.
While most persons -- especially Americans -- lacked opportunities to see, much less to own, any furniture produced under either his supervision or his design influence -- it was far too costly for the average person -- his ideas had widespread influence on the art of decoration for the latter half of the 19th century. Says Boger,