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Henry Austin

In Every Variety of Architectural Style

James F. O'Gorman

Publication Year: 2008

Henry Austin's (1804-1891) works receive consideration in books on nineteenth-century architecture, yet no book has focused scholarly attention on his primary achievements in New Haven, Connecticut, in Portland, Maine, and elsewhere. Austin was most active during the antebellum era, designing exotic buildings that have captured the imaginations of many for decades. James F. O'Gorman deftly documents Austin's work during the 1840s and '50s, the time when Austin was most productive and creative, and for which a wealth of material exists. The book is organized according to various building types: domestic, ecclesiastic, public, and commercial. O'Gorman helps to clarify what buildings should be attributed to the architect and comments on the various styles that went into his eclectic designs. Henry Austin is lavishly illustrated with 132 illustrations, including 32 in full color. Three extensive appendices provide valuable information on Austin's books, drawings, and his office.

Published by: Wesleyan University Press


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pp. ix


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pp. xi-xiii

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pp. xv-xvii

Henry Austin haunts the books on nineteenth-century American architecture, but he has not received the concentrated attention his position deserves as one of New England’s most productive designers. Isolated and outstanding projects such as the demolished New Haven Railroad Station, the Grove Street Cemetery gate in the same city, the Morse-Libby house (Victoria Mansion) in Portland, ...

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pp. 1-6

Henry Austin (1804–1891) was born in the first decade of the nineteenth century and died in the last. He first saw light in the presidency of Thomas Jefferson and passed away, twenty administrations later, during that of Benjamin Harrison. At his birth Benjamin Henry Latrobe was beginning to concern himself with the design of the Greco-Roman Baltimore Cathedral; at his death the steel, brick, and ...

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1 A Career Begins

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pp. 7-23

We in the Western world have long been in a period of architectural history in which the Modernists have preached an antihistorical rhetoric. Knowledge of past styles was meant to give way to originality created by functionalist analysis or made to supply the tongue-in-cheek references of a Charles Moore, Philip Johnson, or Michael Graves. To understand...

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2 Domestic Architecture of the 1840s and 1850s

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pp. 24-76

With the exception of a few larger structures, Henry Austin’s best-known building type is perhaps the town house or country villa located mainly in New Haven or southern Connecticut. It is here that the varieties of historic styles are most evident in his career. As we have seen,..

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3 Ecclesiastical Architecture of the 1840s and 1850s

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pp. 77-116

Henry Austin designed the bulk of his ecclesiastical work in the wake of the Second Great Awakening, a Protestant revival of the late 1790s to about 1830,

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4 Public and Commercial Buildings of the 1840s and 1850s

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pp. 117-149

Austin’s career as architect of monumental and public buildings began with a bang with his proposal for an Egyptian Revival gateway at the New Haven Burial Ground (Grove Street Cemetery). (See Fig. 83.) He was thirty-five at the time, but he had apparently been in business for himself for little more than two and a half years of economic panic in the country and could have had little to show ...

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5 Some Later Buildings

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pp. 150-178

By the advent of the Civil War, but certainly unrelated to it, a new stream developed in the already spreading stylistic flow of work that had issued from Austin’s office over the previous two decades, a stream that was soon paralleled in the buildings of many American architects of the period. In the history of the New Haven office that direction was marked by an unexpected design, one unpredicted...

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APPENDIX A: Austin’s Books

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pp. 179-186

There are no hard facts placing Austin in Ithiel Town’s office, where he might have had direct contact with the practice and literature of his eventual profession, not as, for example, Thomas Ustick Walter did in Philadelphia under the direct tutelage of William Strickland and John Haviland.1 But as an architect who developed in Town’s shadow, he could have had access to Town’s library and must ...

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APPENDIX B: The Austin Drawing Collection at Yale University

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pp. 187-194

Architects of Austin’s generation learned how to draw to set themselves apart as emerging professionals from the mechanics they had been, to assume direction of building operations away from the building site, or to present their services to the public. Because of their skill at the drafting board, they often left an etraordinary record of their careers. Austin’s Boston contemporaries, for example, such ...

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APPENDIX C: Austin and His Office

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pp. 195-202

When we attribute architectural work to a sole individual, as I did, for example, in The Architecture of Frank Furness, we subsume under one name the labors of an office staff that might range from a few drafters to an army of skilled professionals. We know that the person behind the name on the door leads the team, but the team is nonetheless essential. Although ego made it difficult to admit, ...


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pp. 203-222


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pp. 223-228

About the Author

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pp. 229

E-ISBN-13: 9780819569691
Print-ISBN-13: 9780819568960

Page Count: 252
Publication Year: 2008

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Austin, Henry, 1804-1891 -- Criticism and interpretation.
  • Architecture -- New England -- History -- 19th century.
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