in which I geek out over architecture


I grew up in a small town in Connecticut called Naugatuck. These days it's not as small as it used to be- subject to the same urban sprawl and rows of ticky- tacky new houses as everywhere else, it seems, which has had a lot to do with my deepening disdain for the place. There's some charm, though, especially in the older areas- that New England thing shows strongly out in Union City, or Hillside.

An old friend of my parents reached out to me via Flickr this weekend. As I was flipping through his photos, I saw that he'd tagged a bunch of pictures with mckimmeadandwhite, which just seemed impossible to me: nothing that cool could have been in my little town. McKim, Mead and White  was an enormous (and enormously influential) turn of the century architectural firm- by turn of the century, I mean 1800s into 1900s, not this last one. Stanford White was a partner in the firm. They were heavily engaged in the Beaux- Arts movement, and the City Beautiful movement. I have a serious love for this firm, their work, and most especially how they affected and influenced the aesthetics of an entire era.

My middle school was a McKim, Mead and White building. My library, too. The elementary school I tutored in, the Congregational Church I attended daycare in as well- all McKim, Mead and White. How could I never have known that? I've been obsessed with their work for so long- the firm's involvement in the Chicago World's Fair opened up a fascination with the Gilded Age that's been running for well over a decade now. I knew I had grown up in and around some lovely buildings- the Whittemore Library in particular (although that may have just been the books), but I had no idea. What an unexpected gift.

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