Ames gate lodge

Lecture on Richardson and the Landscape on May 17

On Tuesday May 17 at , the museum will host the next installment in its ongoing H. H. Richardson lecture series.  That evening, architectural historian Timothy N. Wittman will speak on “Henry Hobson Richardson in the Landscape.”  This presentation will investigate Richardson’s interest in nature and the relationships between architecture and landscape.  Seen in the context of his time, Richardson’s interest in nature is exemplary of the attention nineteenth century Americans paid to the wilderness, and the nostalgia they felt for the lost innocence of simpler, pre-industrial times.  Of particular interest is the professional relationship between Richardson and Frederick Law Olmsted, the great landscape architect that gave us Central Park and the grounds of the World’s Columbian Exposition.  Richardson and Olmsted were neighbors and collaborated on several projects, built and unbuilt.

In the new permanent exhibit on Richardson to be unveiled June 1 at the museum, author and scholar James F. O’Gorman says of the influence of landscape on Richardson’s work:
“For suburban or country houses he looked to geology for inspiration, piling glacial boulders into organic forms, or wrapping the structures in wooden shingles. His addition to the Robert Treat Paine house in Waltham, Massachusetts, looks as if it were emerging from the ground like an outcropping. His gate lodge (shown above) for the Ames estate in North Easton, Massachusetts, seems a man-made glacial moraine. For small towns around Boston he designed granite faced public libraries and railroad depots, the latter capped with sheltering hip roofs that spread out to create ground-hugging shapes.”

Timothy N. Wittman teaches on the faculty of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and works as a independent historic preservation consultant.  He is currently writing the new audio tour narrative for Frank Lloyd Wright’s Unity Temple in Oak Park.

The lecture will be held in the Beidler Room at Glessner House Museum, 1800 S. Prairie Avenue in Chicago.  The cost of the lecture is $10 per person, and $8 for museum members.  Reservations may be made by calling 312-326-1480.