June 25, 2004

Architecture -- today in history

Today is the anniversary of the murder, in 1906, of architect Stanford White. White, the most prominent architect of his day, was shot in Madison Square Garden, which he designed, by Harry Thaw. Thaw was the playboy / jealous husband of Evelyn Nesbit, a dancer. Let's look back, shall we?

This website has a rather long and detailed account of the murder. White was a notorious womanizer. Thaw was the son of a mining and rail road baron from Pittsburgh and was the heir apparent to that fortune. Thaw was also considered to be mentally unstable for most of his life. The trial that followed the murder was dubbed the "trial of the century" and the court-room was packed. I suppose it was the OJ trial of its day. There were fantastic allegations of drugged champagne, girls swinging on velvet swings, illicit sex (and isn't that the best kind?), and other scandalous and shocking revelations about high society. Thaw got off on insanity grounds. The movie, Ragtime, was based on these events.

One site has eleven of the great Stanford White buildings online, if you are curious.

White's firm designed the old Pennsylvania Railroad Station in New York, pictures of which can be found here. As you can see from the photos, it was magnificent. It was torn down in 1963. The destruction of Penn Station led to the formation of the historical preservation movement in NY and was directly responsible for the creation of the Landmarks Commission.

P.S. While poking around, I came across this link to Lands End, a White house for sale on the Gold Coast of Long Island.

Posted by Random Penseur at June 25, 2004 09:01 AM
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