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Richardson Romanesque

Some say that the pinnacle of Shingle Style homes is the one built by Henry Hobson Richardson in 1882-83 in Cambridge, Massachusetts for M.F. Stoughton. All the elements of Shingle Style are present--small paned windows, turret, and asymmetrical masses of the house, but pared back to a kind of sleekness, with all the elements perfectly scaled to each other. Yet, this was just the jumping off point for Richardson, whose material of choice was stone. He trained in France, and learned about stone there, then went on to push the use of this material in new directions. His most famous public buildings all have stone exteriors--Trinity Church, Boston (1873-77); the Ames Gate Lodge, North Eaton, MA; the Marshall Field store (now demolished), Chicago (1885) and the Allegheny County jail in Pittsburgh (1885).

Once you have seen a Richardson building, you never forget the texture of its hewing; to the modern eye, Richardson's stone work looks almost like stagecraft, it is so perfect in its combination of veritas and artistry, solid yet not heavy. The asymmetrical masses and paned windows are evidence of Victorian influence, but stone is the trademark and glory of the Richardson Romanesque style.


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