Tuesday, February 23, 2010
FDR on Architecture Quote of the Day
FDR's Hyde Park home was along the Hudson River south of Rhinebeck, New York. As President, Roosevelt took a personal interest in the Post Offices built in the area by the WPA, and had some of them built on the models of regional Dutch houses that had disappeared by the Depression.
Here is what he said about them (from Wikipedia):
We are seeking to follow the type of architecture which is good in the sense that it does not of necessity follow the whims of the moment but seeks an artistry that ought to be good, as far as we can tell, for all time to come. And we are trying to adapt the design to the historical background of the locality and to use, insofar as possible, the materials which are indigenous to the locality itself. Hence, fieldstone for Dutchess County. Hence, the efforts during the past few years in Federal buildings in the Hudson River Valley to use fieldstone and to copy the early Dutch architecture which was so essentially sound besides being very attractive to the eye.
. . .
Three of the six stone post offices in the region whose design Roosevelt oversaw were based on historic buildings no longer extant at the time of their construction. Of those three, Rhinebeck's most closely replicates its original, and is the only one with an exhibit inside of some other remnants of that model. Its porch and lobby mimic a typical 18th-century colonial home's finishing. The paneling in the postmaster's office imitates a parlor of that era.
Next to the Rhinebeck Post Office is the Beekman Arms Hotel, an old hotel (circa 1700, maybe the oldest in America) that had been remodeled several times before being redesigned in the early 20th century by Harrie T. Lindeberg, a Beaux Arts graduate who had once been Stanford White's assistant.
There are photos on the web, but no good ones, unfortunately.
Isn't this a good enough picture?
Posted by: Umberto LeHoon at Feb 23, 2010 4:54:44 PM
Thanks, Umberto. That photo or one like it is on the web in a few places, but if the only thing I knew about the building was from that view, I wouldn't think that it's a very good building -- when it is a very good building.
Posted by: John Massengale at Feb 23, 2010 4:59:47 PM