Happy Birthday Stanford White! (November 9, 1853 – June 25, 1906) 

American architect and partner in the architectural firm of McKim, Mead & White, the front runner among Beaux-Arts firms. He designed a long series of houses for the numerous public, institutional, and religious buildings. His design principles embodied the “American Renaissance”. In 1906, White was murdered by millionaire Harry Kendall Thaw over White’s affair with Thaw’s wife, actress Evelyn Nesbit, leading to a court case which was dubbed “The Trial of the Century” by contemporary reporters. (Wikipedia)

Corner view of Neoclassical one-story stone building, Peoples State Bank at the southeast corner of Fort and Shelby streets, designed by McKim, Mead and White and completed in 1900. Ionic columns at entrance; flat roof with balustrade; statues of two women and shield over entrance; rounded arched windows. Recorded in glass negative ledger: “D/Banks-Peoples State Bank." 

  • Courtesy of the Burton Historical Collection, Detroit Public Library

June 25, 1906: Architect Stanford White, age 52, is shot dead on the roof theater of his own creation, Madison Square Garden; the murderer, Harry K. Thaw, is a jealous husband.

Madison Square Garden exterior of tower, with Diana statue on top. New-York Historical Society, McKim, Mead & White Architectural Record # 59117

Andrea Palladio, Villa Barbaro, Maser, 1554-1560
Erik Gunnar Asplund, Lister County Courthouse, Solvesborg, Sweden, 1917-1921
Philadelphia Rapid Transit Company, Old Car Barn
McKim, Mead & White, William G. Low House, Bristol, Rhode Island, USA, 1886-1887 (demolished 1962)
Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Braun, Vanna Venturi House, Chestnut Hill, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA, 1959-1964
Paolo Zermani, Casa Zermani, Varano, Italia, 1997

grand piazza overlooking the ocean. this is a view of the house built in 1902 for the Coolidge Family of Boston. Architect was Charles McKim of McKim Mead and White. Known locally as Marble Palace it was taken down in the fifties. The 66 acres are now The Coolidge Reservation owned by The Trustees of Reservations. Manchester Massachusetts.

August 24, 1847: Charles McKim, founder and co-partner of McKim, Mead & White, architects of the first Pennsylvania Station, the second Madison Square Garden and the Pierpont Morgan Library, among other buildings, is born.

Construction of Pennsylvania Station, New York. Photograph by August Patzig, ca. 1910. McKim, Mead and White Architectural Record Collection. New-York Historical Society # 69863


As a project archivist I have been working with records from the 1979 exhibition, American Renaissance: 1876–1917, and as I have spent time looking through the research of the curators it has been impossible to ignore the significance of the World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893. The Exposition was something of a high-water mark for the artists and architects of the period, including the sumptuous Beaux Arts architecture and landscape design of Daniel Burnham; McKim, Mead, and White; and Frederick Law Olmsted.

Held in Chicago from May to October of 1893, it is estimated that the Exposition was visited by 27 million people (approximately one quarter of the American population at the time). For many, who had never visited Europe, it was their first exposure to classically inspired architecture, and visitors were often left wondering why their own cities could not be as beautiful as the impermanent “White City” of the fair. The aftermath of the Exposition saw the development of the City Beautiful movement, as architects—including Burnham and McKim, Mead, and White—oversaw plans to beautify, and thus “morally improve,” American cities. In Washington D.C. and Chicago re-planning happened on a large scale, but in New York the movement’s impact was more localized. Examples like the Dewey Arch of Madison Square are long gone, but Grand Army Plaza and the Brooklyn Museum building itself belong to the legacy of City Beautiful.

But the Columbian Exposition had an equally large influence on another Brooklyn institution less concerned with morality—Coney Island. The Exposition’s midway plaisance is considered a prototype for all amusement parks to follow, featuring popular attractions like the world’s first Ferris wheel, a moving walkway, and “Little Egypt.” George C. Tilyou saw the Ferris wheel and was sufficiently inspired to make his own when he created Steeplechase; Dreamland emulated the whimsy and wonder of the “White City” with its electric lights, all-white towers, and lagoons. Check out the Museum Archives to learn more about American Renaissance and other past exhibitions, and be sure to visit the upcoming exhibitions Coney Island: Visions of an American Dreamland, 1861–2008 and Forever Coney: Photographs from the Brooklyn Museum Collection.

Posted by Michael Beiser