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Romy Wyllie

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Bertram Goodhue: His Life and Residential Architecture
by Romy Wyllie   

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Category: 

Architecture

Publisher:  W. W. Norton Type: 
Pages: 

224

Copyright:  2007
Non-Fiction

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Barnes & Noble.com
W. W. Norton
Vromans, Pasadena, CA
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This study examines the residential designs of Bertram Grosvenor Goodhue (1869-1924) within the context of his better-known ecclesiastial and secular projects. It provides new insights into the evolution of Goodhue's architecture and takes a closer look at his life.

Although Goodhue's residential designs made up a relatively small portion of his total work, the results are rich in architectural expression. His residential clients provided him with the opportunity to experiment with various interpretations of historical styles, to realize some of his romantic dreams, to put into practice the goals of the Arts and Crafts Movement, and to advance his search for stylistic freedom. The book concludes with a discussion of Goodhue's place in the history of architecture, with particular attention to how his role in the modern movement has been evaluated with renewed interest and fresh eyes in the postmodern period.                Excerpt
A silver-trimmed, dove-grey sombrero casts a shadow over the handsome features of the young man as he sat sketching the cityscape spread across the distant horizon. With an occasional puff on a fragrant cigar and with a pencil balanced between his delicate fingers, he recorded quickly the forms and heights, light and shade, of the domes and towers of Guadalupe, Mexico. The year was 1891.

Professional Reviews

Bertram Goodhue: His Life and Residential Architecture
"This production far exceeds all my expectations. I am just dazzled not only by the thoroughness and the execution, all the photographs, and the details, but on a personal note it is so rewarding to see all the images of Goodhue and his family. I have spent years working to preserve Goodhue’s Nebraska State Capitol, so for me, it is fantastic to have this record of someone whom I have known for so long, and to see all the insights that the photos and comments provide. It is a terrific achievement and a wonderful gift to Goodhue and to architecture."
Robert Ripley, Capitol Administrator, Nebraska State Capitol, Lincoln, Nebraska.


Bertram Goodhue: His Life and Residential Architecture
"Yesterday was a lovely day here in Providence because I spent it reading the new Goodhue book. What a treat! And it was a great pleasure to see all of the illustrations of the residences. The one from Ladies Home Journal is a particular favorite. We had piles of the LHJ through which I used to look for hours when I was a child and I fell in love with that house. Best of all you hit the happy medium which all good scholarly works should, readability and proper research. You have made an enormous contribution to the study and recognition of Goodhue’s genius. All of us are in your debt."
Reverend Harry Krauss, Dean, St. John’s Cathedral, Providence, Rhode Island.


Bertram Goodhue: His Life and Residential Architecture
Romy Wyllie’s newly released book Bertram Goodhue; His Life and Residential Architecture, published by W.W Norton and Company, Inc., is an engaging and well researched investigation into the life and work of one of the most talented and productive architects practicing in the U.S. at the turn-of-the-last-century. In a highly readable text Wyllie provides an analysis of 26 of Goodhue’s most comprehensive commissions, as well as a description of the lives and excessive tastes of his clients. The author also tracks the progression of Goodhue’s style – including his eventual break from tradition - and weaves all into a deft portrait of both the man and the artist.

Wyllie’s research benefited greatly from the abundance of archival materials that have been carefully preserved by the Goodhue family and by academic institutions. However, it takes exceptional talent and perseverance to weed out the best of it. Wyllie has done just that. For example, Bertram Goodhue ( 1869-1924) was a prolific letter writer who wrote articulately about himself and others. Wyllie takes careful advantage of her sources, using them wisely to give a particular richness to the narrative. In a speech to his staff at the 1922 Twelfth-Night party, he says:

“I can’t begin to tell you how fond I am of every member of the office force, - how much I value them all, and their various abilities. Of this force I am but one, a man-in-a-blouse, so to speak, with this difference; that I have the power of veto. I believe it makes for happiness that men’s work should be interesting and not always mere work…. And everybody is free to differ with me in my solution of any given problem …. I often come back to find my own solution drawn out, with another, and distinctly better one, alongside.”
[From “Twelfth-Night in Mr. Goodhue’s Office”, Pencil Points 3, no.2 (February 1922): 26]

The reader comes away not only with a thorough knowledge of the architectural work and Goodhue’s relationship with his clients, colleagues and staff, but also an appreciation of Goodhue as a human being.

For those drawn to an architect’s vision of how a structure works in relation to its surrounding, Wyllie is generous in offering up this side of Goodhue’s innovations with landscaping and gardens. A trip to the Mediterranean, India, and Persia in 1901 with his new client, James Waldron Gillespie, marked a turning point for Goodhue. From this point on, he became adept in integrating shallow reflecting pools, pavilions, exotic tress and shrubs, courtyards, fountains, and waterways into his plans. The Dater and Gillespie residences in Santa Barbara, and the Coppell residence in Pasadena are a few of Wyllie’s well documented examples of Goodhue’s innovations and his ability to bring garden, landscape, and residence together seamlessly.

Pamela Skewes-Cox in EDEN, Vol. 10 No. 2, Summer 2007. Permission to reprint granted by the California Garden & Landscape History Society.


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Reader Reviews for "Bertram Goodhue: His Life and Residential Architecture"

Reviewed by Romy Wyllie 7/17/2007
Romy Wyllie’s newly released book Bertram Goodhue; His Life and Residential Architecture, published by W.W Norton and Company, Inc., is an engaging and well researched investigation into the life and work of one of the most talented and productive architects practicing in the U.S. at the turn-of-the-last-century. In a highly readable text Wyllie provides an analysis of 26 of Goodhue’s most comprehensive commissions, as well as a description of the lives and excessive tastes of his clients. The author also tracks the progression of Goodhue’s style – including his eventual break from tradition - and weaves all into a deft portrait of both the man and the artist.

Wyllie’s research benefited greatly from the abundance of archival materials that have been carefully preserved by the Goodhue family and by academic institutions. However, it takes exceptional talent and perseverance to weed out the best of it. Wyllie has done just that. For example, Bertram Goodhue ( 1869-1924) was a prolific letter writer who wrote articulately about himself and others. Wyllie takes careful advantage of her sources, using them wisely to give a particular richness to the narrative. In a speech to his staff at the 1922 Twelfth-Night party, he says:

“I can’t begin to tell you how fond I am of every member of the office force, - how much I value them all, and their various abilities. Of this force I am but one, a man-in-a-blouse, so to speak, with this difference; that I have the power of veto. I believe it makes for happiness that men’s work should be interesting and not always mere work…. And everybody is free to differ with me in my solution of any given problem …. I often come back to find my own solution drawn out, with another, and distinctly better one, alongside.”
[From “Twelfth-Night in Mr. Goodhue’s Office”, Pencil Points 3, no.2 (February 1922): 26]

The reader comes away not only with a thorough knowledge of the architectural work and Goodhue’s relationship with his clients, colleagues and staff, but also an appreciation of Goodhue as a human being.

For those drawn to an architect’s vision of how a structure works in relation to its surrounding, Wyllie is generous in offering up this side of Goodhue’s innovations with landscaping and gardens. A trip to the Mediterranean, India, and Persia in 1901 with his new client, James Waldron Gillespie, marked a turning point for Goodhue. From this point on, he became adept in integrating shallow reflecting pools, pavilions, exotic tress and shrubs, courtyards, fountains, and waterways into his plans. The Dater and Gillespie residences in Santa Barbara, and the Coppell residence in Pasadena are a few of Wyllie’s well documented examples of Goodhue’s innovations and his ability to bring garden, landscape, and residence together seamlessly.
Review by Pamela Skewes-Cox published in EDEN Vol. 10 No. 2, Summer 2007. Permission to reprint granted by the California Garden and Landscape History Society.

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