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140 7 Bryant and Rogers The post–Civil War period brought economic prosperity and change in the architectural profession. In 1865 fifty-seven firms were listed in the Boston city directory. By 1872 that number had almost doubled. Bryant had remained eager to work with a variety of designers on various projects even during the years when he and Gilman shared an office. In 1865–66 he collaborated on several projects with John Hubbard Sturgis, an Englishborn architect who had arrived in this country with plenty of pedigree but few contacts among Boston’s businessmen. It was Sturgis who made measured drawings of the John Hancock Mansion on Beacon Hill before it was demolished. This recording an eighteenth-century building is considered by many historians as an important milestone in the Colonial Revival movement . Bryant and Gilman, who had the commission to design new double houses on the site, were also involved in an effort to reconstruct the Hancock House in the Back Bay as a governor’s mansion. Sturgis’s drawings, made in 1863, may have been intended primarily to facilitate that effort. After Bryant and Sturgis had worked on a few projects, Charles Brigham, a draftsman in Bryant’s office, left to form a partnership with Sturgis. Sturgis and Brigham would soon become a leading artistic force among those who favored the Venetian Gothic style as advocated by the English art critic John Ruskin. Given the long-standing Anglophile proclivities of many Bostonians , what is now often called the High Victorian Gothic style found a receptive audience among the wealthy in Boston.1 The changes in fashions in the postwar years soon challenged the supremacy of Second Empire–style architecture derived from the French Renaissance. (It is probably no coincidence that a decline in the popularity of French architecture coincided with the collapse of Louis-Napoléon’s Bryant and Rogers 141 Second Empire in France.) With Arthur Gilman no longer available to supply comfortable assurances of “correct” architectural theory, Bryant would have had to keep pace with the times if he wanted to maintain his professional standing. The changes following the Civil War included a renewed interest in the establishment of professional standards for architects . In 1865 William R. Ware organized the first school of architecture in the United States at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The American Institute of Architects (AIA), which had for many years been inactive, met in New York and elected Richard Upjohn its president. Gilman, when he relocated to New York, reportedly gave a vigorous talk at the AIA convention held in that city in 1867.2 The same year saw the formation of the Boston Society of Architects. In May, nine architects met in Nathaniel J. Bradlee’s office to lay the groundwork for the organization. In addition to Bradlee, they were Edward C. Cabot, William Ralph Emerson, Henry T. Hartwell, W. P. P. Longfellow, A. C. Martin, S. J. F. Thayer, and Henry Van Brunt. Also invited but unable to attend were Charles A. Cummings and William R. Ware. Only Bradlee and Cabot had been in practice for more than ten years, so the tenor of the group was dominated by a new generation. At the second and third organizational meetings, twenty-seven architects were in attendance.3 All of Boston’s architects were invited, but there is no indication that Gridley Bryant had any interest in either the Boston Society of Architects or the American Institute of Architects (which later became its parent organization ). Although no record of his opinion on these professional organizations has come to light, one can make certain suppositions. He had acquired much of his own training in the traditional manner by working in an architect’s office. Bryant had trained other architects in the same way, a method he no doubt considered well suited to the needs of the profession. The new generation of architects, however, included many who had traveled in Europe, or had even been educated there. The emphasis on formal academic architectural theory expressed in many of the early meetings of the Boston Society of Architects would no doubt have left Bryant feeling at a disadvantage. Accounts of the early meetings of the Boston Society of Architects include reports of architects critiquing one another’s work, and one may suppose that this held little interest for an intensely practical man like Bryant.4 Even Arthur Gilman, who probably taught Bryant much that he knew about architectural history, quit the AIA in...


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