Pittsburgh in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
Henry Hobson Richardson, Master Builder & Architect
1838 - 1886
— H.H. Richardson's Allegheny County Courthouse and Jail —
"If they honor me for the pigmy things I have already done, what will they say when they see Pittsburgh finished."
Henry Hobson Richardson, by any standard, was one of the very greatest architects in the history of American architecture. This judgment is based not only on the quality of his own work but on the massive effect it had, in his own time, on the architecture of the United States.
Walter C. Kidney, H.H. Richardson's Allegheny Courthouse and Jail (1981)
Henry Hobson Richardson was born near New Orleans on September 29, 1838, educated in Boston and Paris, and settled near Boston. His designs were erected throughout the East, Midwest, and as far west as Wyoming. There were buildings in Argentina and England.
Richardson designed government buildings, commercial buildings, hotels, libraries, schools, hospitals, churches, railroad stations, railroad carriages, bridges, monuments, and residences. His adaptation of Romanesque architecture produced some of the most powerful and imaginative buildings of the 19th century. He revived American Colonial
An Influential Architect
Richardson often collaborated with decorative artist John La Farge and landscape designer Frederick Law Olmsted. LEading architectural firms of the next generation—McKim, Med & White; Longfellow, Alden & Harlow; Shepley, Rutan & Coolidge—originated in Richardson's office. Richardson buildings like Glessner and McVeigh homes and the Marshall Field Wholesale Store in Chicago influenced Louis Sullivan, and through him, Frank Lloyd Wright. Architects across the country adapted Trinity Church in Boston, the Allegheny County Courthouse, and Richardson's residential designs for their local communities creating a "Richardsonian Romanesque" style.
Richardson's other Pittsburgh Building
Henry-Russell Hitchcock wrote of Emmanuel Church in 1936: "Although it is very small and simple, it is certainly one of Richardson's best later works." Emmanuel Church is Richardson's final ecclesiastical design. The exterior is one of his finest surviving brick designs. The exterior is one of his finest surviving burick designs. The interior of the church has not been significantly altered since 1808, when a glass mosaic reredos by Leake & Greene was installed; art glass windows are by Leake & Greene & Tiffany Studios.
The design of the great three-story staircase is a celebration of the arch as an architectural form. The many arches seem to move and interact as visitors move past them.
Richardson invented a rich ornamental and decorative visual language but also designed buildings of dignified simplicity characterized by "beauty of material and symmetry rather than of mere superficial ornamentation" — words attributed to Richardson in 1885 in a Chicago Tribute interview.
Churches, public buildings, and residences adapted from Richardson's designs were erected during his lifetime and after by architects who never met him but were inspired by his buildings. The Chicago Marshall Field Wholesale Store is shown at left.
Emmanuel Episcopal Church was commissioned in late 1883 or early 1884. Richardson submitted his first design — a stone church with a central tower — in April 1884. Since the cost of constructing this building was estimated to be over $48,000, the vestry asked for a new design costing between $12-$15,000. A revised design was submitted in February 1885; the building was completed in early 1886 and dedicated March 7, 1886.
Trinity Church, Boston, Massachusetts, is Richardson's most famous church design.
Erected by Living Architecture…Alive in Pittsburgh.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Architecture • Churches & Religion • Government & Politics.
Location. 40° 26.326′ N, 79° 59.79′ W. Marker is in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in Allegheny County. Marker can be reached from Forbes Avenue just west of Ross Street, on the right when traveling west. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 436 Grant St, Pittsburgh PA 15219, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Gold Star Mothers Memorial (here, next to this marker); National P.O.W.-M.I.A. Recognition Day (here, next to this marker); Allegheny County (a few steps from this marker); Veterans Memorial (a few steps from this marker); Anthony Sadowski (within shouting distance of this marker); On This Site (within shouting distance of this marker); The City of Pittsburgh was named by General John Forbes in Honor of William Pitt (within shouting distance of this marker); Pledge of Allegiance (within shouting distance of this marker). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Pittsburgh.
Credits. This page was last revised on September 15, 2020. It was originally submitted on September 15, 2020, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia. This page has been viewed 31 times since then. Photos: 1, 2. submitted on September 15, 2020, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia.