(navigation image)
Home American Libraries | Canadian Libraries | Universal Library | Community Texts | Project Gutenberg | Children's Library | Biodiversity Heritage Library | Additional Collections
Search: Advanced Search
Anonymous User (login or join us)
Upload
See other formats

Full text of "Gervase Wheeler : mid-nineteenth century British architect in America"

UNIVERSITY?* 

PENNSYLVANIA. 

LIBRARIES 




GERVASE WHEELER: 

MID-NINETEENTH CENTURY BRITISH ARCHITECT 

IN AMERICA 



Renee Elizabeth Tribert 

A THESIS 

in 

The Graduate Program in Historic Preservation 

Presented to the faculties 

of the University of Pennsylvania 

in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements 

for the Degree of 

MASTER OF SCIENCE 

1988 



; 



— >-^y f /Lo^tl . 



George/ Thomas , Historic Preser vation, Advisor 



*t>i 



'/X*Mr£l 




avid G. D e ~tr6n g , G r acfu a"t e"~G r o up Chairman and Reader 



FINE ARTS /A)fl 



/va/i* 



T^a 



UNIVERSITY 
OF I 

PENNSYLVANIA 
LIBRARIES i 



CONTENTS 



Introduction iii 

Chapter I. British Background, Education, Inf luences . . . . 1 

Chapter II. Context in America 18 

Chapter III. Personal Affairs 30 

Chapter IV. Early Practice (1846-1850) 37 

Chapter V. Popular Success (1851-1860) 81 

Conclusion 121 

Bibliography 126 

Appendixes 132 



Introduction 

The Willows, a wooden carpenter Gothic structure built 
in 1854, sits near the summit of a gentle slope, nestled 
among trees, and looking out on fields and a nearby ridge 
in Morristown, New Jersey (fig. 11). The setting is pic- 
turesque; the house, with its deeply pitched crossing gable 
roof, echoes the setting. Built by a local master 
carpenter, Ashbel Bruen, it clearly follows the lines of 
the Olmstead House, designed by Gervase Wheeler in 1849, 
and published in his pattern book Rural Homes of 1851 (fig. 
9). Although is has not as yet been possible to document, 
either Bruen or his client, General Joseph Warren Revere, 
undoubtedly owned a copy of the book. 0-n the basis of the 
similarity of design to the Olmstead residence, the house 
can be said to be derived from Wheeler's work. 



The name, Gervase Wheeler, is seldom found in 
architectural history texts, and only the most cursory 
information is available on this architect's career. The 
reason became apparent during research: he did not have 
the historical stature of A.J. Downing or A.J. Davis, and 
he left only a faint trail of his activities in this 
country. In part this is because he worked in an era when 
the profession of the architect was not yet firmly 
established in America, and the singularity of the 
architect's skill and innovation in design was not fully 
recognized . 



Still the disparity between the lack of written 
evidence and the apparent literary success of an architect 
who published two books in America, the first, Rural Homes , 
going through eleven editions, the other, Homes for the 
People , six, and which influenced the construction of homes 
like the Willows, warranted attention. 

Born in England, probably around 1815, Wheeler came to 
America in the mid-1840's and stayed some twenty years. 
The gathering of information inevitably focused on his 
years of practice in America, due to the difficulty of 
trans-atlantic research. Most particularly, an extensive 
collection of correspondence and documents at Bowdoin 
College, the Chapel Papers, provided to me by John Ward, 
made it possible to develop some understanding of the early 
years of Wheeler's career in America. 



Background readings in architectural history, 
monographs of Wheeler's contemporaries and period 
publications provided an understanding of the overall 
context of the period. In order to uncover the breadth of 
Wheeler's practice, select period journals were searched 
for articles, notices and reviews; citations found appear 
in Appendixes D and E. In addition, a number of historical 
societies, archives, and architectural historians in areas 
of known Wheeler residence or practice, some of these 
suggested to me by John Ward's earlier research, were 

iv 



consulted for any holdings or leads. A list of research 
facilities suggested for further study appears in Appendix 
F. 

The following people are but a few of those who have 
made the completion of this thesis possible: John Ward, 
whose own extensive research on Gervase Wheeler provided 
the foundation, Dr. Jill Allibone, who assisted me with 
sources in England, the staff of the Library Company of 
Philadelphia, Dr. George Thomas and Dr. David DeLong. 



The aim of this thesis has been to develop a 
biographical sketch of Gervase Wheeler, and to explore his 
place in the architecture of mid-nineteenth century 
America, keeping in mind his British roots. It is hoped 
that the thesis will provide a resource for future 
recognition, preservation and interpretation of designs by, 
or inspired by, Gervase Wheeler. 



I . British Background, Education and Influences 



Documentation from Britain made available to me by Dr. 
Jill Allibone suggests that Gervase Wheeler was originally 
from Margate, Kent, in England. Members of his family were 
interred at the Parish Church in Margate, and when Wheeler 
returned to England after his years in America, he took up 
residence there. His father, also named Gervase Wheeler, 
was a manufacturer of gold, silver and gilt jewelry, 
working from 1832 to 1844 at a shop located at 28 
Bartlett's Buildings in Holborn, outside London, according 
to period London directories .[ 1 ] 

The elder Wheeler had at least one noteworthy social 
connection, in the person of Sir Charles Wesley, Chaplain 
of St. James, and Priest in Ordinary to H.R. the Queen in 
the Anglican Church. While the origins and nature of the 
relationship are unclear, it in due course extended to the 
entire Wheeler family. It may also suggest, as a result of 
the association, that Wheeler's religious affiliation was, 
if not specifically Anglican, then Protestant, hence his 
interest in obtaining episcopal commission work in the 
United States. 



In 1848, young Gervase Wheeler, recently arrived in 
America, received a cordial letter from Sir Wesley. In it, 

1 



the Chaplain expressed genuinely warm feelings: "I am very 
glad to find . . . that you have not forgotten an old friend 
who often thinks of you." Wesley continued with his 
assurance of support: "the personal knowledge I have had 
of yourself for several years joined with the high opinion 
I have always entertained of your professional talents 
would make it a pleasure to me to add my testimony to that 
of your other friends here in your behalf. "[2] 
Unfortunately, Wesley indicated his inability at the time 
to assist Wheeler with introductions, and it is doubtful 
whether the relationship served him in any way in America. 

A tantalizing piece of information regarding the elder 
Wheeler's status appeared in Homes for the People , where 

the author mentioned the cottage built for his father by an 
architect, "now one of England's honored names." [3] A 
lack of corroborating evidence to identify the architect 
and confirm the assertion diminishes its significance. 
Still, it would, if substantiated, signal the family's 
financial and social position, and provide a clearer 
picture of Wheeler's personal background. 



Wheeler studied architecture during a period of 
transition. Practicing architects had begun to recognize 
the need for standards of professional integrity and work 
ethics to safeguard the viability of their services in the 
eyes of the public. While the tradition of apprenticeship 

2 



persisted, the concern for professionalism led in the 
1830's to a surge of schools and organizations. These 
included the Royal Institute of British Architects, which 
was established in 1834, and was oriented toward 
architectural training. In these years before mid-century, 
the position of architect began to reach a level whereby it 
was essential not only to show artistic ability, but also 
"to establish in the public eye [a] professional 
reputation. "[4] 

Very little is known of Wheeler's education and 
training in England, and records for his attendance at a 
school or college have not been located. His own writings 
indicate that he recognized the significance of 
professional ethics, but often disregarded them in 
practice. Whatever the level of personal and professional 
integrity, Wheeler evidently understood the need to 
establish credentials. In a manner not unheard of at the 
beginning of a career, then or now, he exaggerated his 
actual background experience in order to impress his 
prospective American clientele. 



In a letter of introduction from William J. Hoppin, 
one of Wheeler's first contacts in America, in March 1847, 
it was said, presumably based on Wheeler's own testimony, 
that he "has been in the studio of Mr. Carpenter... and 
also with Mr. Pugin..."[5] Wheeler's apprenticeship under 

3 



Richard Cromwell Carpenter is tentatively confirmed in an 
entry in the Architects' Engineers' and Building Trades' 
Directory for 1868, published in London. [6] It should be 
noted though that if the statement were false, it would 
probably not have been refuted, for Carpenter had died in 
1855. Wheeler's work under Augustus W. N. Pugin is clearly 
suspect; Pugin claimed only his own son as pupil, and his 
biographer mentions neither apprentices nor Wheeler. [7] It 
is entirely possible however that the two had met, for 
Pugin was a friend of Carpenter, and, in early years, an 
enthusiastic supporter of the Cambridge Camden Society. 



Following his conversion to Catholicism in 1834, 
A.W.N. Pugin (1812-1852) had espoused the cause of a true 
Catholic architecture, namely the "second pointed Gothic." 
He proclaimed his convictions through the publication of 
several books, including Contrasts (1836) and The True 
Principles of Pointed or Christian Architecture (1841). A 
phrase from Wheeler's writing echoes the sentiment. As he 
sought to obtain his first known commission in America, at 
Bowdoin College, he enthusiastically expressed his desire 
to carry out "Catholic and correct principle of 
architectural decorating ."[ 8 ] Though the statement clearly 
indicated familiarity with Pugin's principles, the use of 
terms may be insincere from a religious point of view. 
Wheeler, it has been posited, was most likely Protestant, 
and apprenticed in a Protestant Society. 

4 



R.C. Carpenter (1812-1855) was "the chosen designer" 
of the Cambridge Camden Society. [9] The association, later 
called the Ecclesiological Society, shared with Pugin a 
belief in the Gothic revival as the true mode of 
architectural expression principally for ecclesiastical 
building. The difference in the two arms of the movement 
lay in their religious associations: Pugin on the one hand 
was staunchly Catholic, while the Society was Anglican. 
This divergence in faith led in the mid-1840's to a break 
between Pugin and the Ecclesiologists . 



Carpenter's exalted position in the Society was not 
fully entrenched until he received the commission for the 
church of St. Mary Magdalen in 1849, nearly three years 
after Wheeler had left for America. Still, Carpenter 
worked toward fulfillment of the Society's precepts during 
Wheeler's apprenticeship, and the latter undoubtedly 
learned the essence of these ideals. Combined with his 
exposure to the principles of Pugin, Wheeler's training 
provided a firm ground for the development of his own 
skills and practice. The first important professional 
contact for Wheeler in New York must have found his work 
convincing: "his designs for church needlework ... show 
considerable power over form and colour in ecclesiastical 
decoration. "[ 10] 



A great part of Wheeler's viewpoint can be traced to 
considerations of propriety of architectural expression, 
the essence of truth and fittingness as prescribed by 
Ruskin. John Ruskin (1819-1900) was a nineteenth century 
critic of art and architecture. His early preoccupation 
had been painting, and in 1843 he published the first 
volume of Modern Painters , a critique on the methods and 
techniques of artists. He later broadened his concerns to 
include architecture, and wrote the pioneering Seven Lamps 
of Architecture in 1849, followed by The Stones of Venice 
in 1851. Ruskin essentially took the ideals promulgated by 
the Ecclesiologists and Pugin and redefined them into the 
premises of truth and fitness, applying them not just to 
church architecture, but to all manifestations of 
building. [11] 



While Ruskin had not yet formalized his philosophies 
as they related specifically to architecture in a single 
treatise during the years of Wheeler's apprenticeship in 
England, they would become widespread and be discussed in 
academic and professional circles. Wheeler was not only 
familiar with these ideas, but later in his career 
professed to be influenced by them. The introduction to 
his first publication, Rural Homes , ends with the following 
paragraph : 



"In conclusion, I would say that, in the hope of 
infusing something of its spirit therein, I have 
mentally headed every page with a sentence suggested 
as a matin and even song to every architect and 
amateur — Mr. Ruskin's great maxim, 'Until common 
sense finds its way to architecture, there can be but 
little hope for it. '"[12] 

A review of the work in Harper's Monthly Magazine 

considered that Wheeler had indeed "caught something of his 

aesthetic spirit. "[13] And as will be shown in a later 

chapter, his writings reveal his ongoing concern with 

Ruskin's principles. 

Wheeler was also familiar with the picturesque. The 
movement originated in the 18th century, and its intent 
with regard to domestic architecture was most succinctly 
defined by Humphrey Repton and Richard Payne Knight: 
"characteristicness" [sic] of the building to its 
purpose. [14] A concurrent and newly espoused concern with 
regard to building design was put forth by Uvedale Price 
who suggested planning a building with full consideration 
of the views and vistas from within. Thus the theory as it 
evolved encouraged "building and design conceived in 
relation to landscape" and saw the triumph of irregularity 
and dramatic massing over ordered classicism .[ 15 ] Modes, 
whether Italian or Gothic, were simply mediums for 
expressing the picturesque. 



These ideas, distilled and clarified over time, would 
provide the impetus to men like John Claudius Loudon in 

7 



Britain and Andrew Jackson Downing in America as they 
formulated the romantic eclecticism of the mid-nineteenth 
century. The work of Wheeler was no exception and derived 
in great part from this aesthetic. 

The architectural historian Henry-Russell Hitchcock, 
in Architecture Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries , pointed 
to the precedence of the picturesque in the domestic 
architectural work of Downing, Davis, Wheeler and others, 
ascribing their plans to picturesque models in Great 
Britain in the 1830's.[16] In another book, Early 
Victorian Architecture in Britain , Hitchcock specifically 
mentioned John White's Rural Architecture , published in 
Glasgow in 1845, as a source for Wheeler, among other 
architects "as many of the designs in their books of the 
50 ' s made evident ."[ 1 7 ] Christopher Hussey, author of The 
Picturesque , referred to Francis Goodwin's Rural 
Architecture of 1835, for its influence on Wheeler and his 
contemporaries. [ 18] 



Throughout the text of Wheeler's own first American 
publication in 1851, Rural Homes , references can be found 
to the roadside architecture in Britain, France and 
Germany, suggesting that Wheeler had traveled in Europe 
before arriving in America. In Homes for the People , 
published in 1855, Wheeler described his visits to the art 
galleries of Europe, again indicating his first hand 

8 



knowledge of them. [19] His comments do not illuminate the 
point and method of his travels; nevertheless whatever 
experience he may have had presumably provided him with a 
broader view of the range and possibilities of design. 

Among the architectural reference materials and texts 
which Wheeler referred to was An Encyclopaedia of 
Architecture , written by Joseph Gwilt, and published in 
London in 1842. [20] The tome, as its name implies, 
provided comprehensive information, ranging from history 
and theory to specifics of practice, necessary to the 
complete understanding of the architectural profession. 
The introduction admonished the student to thoroughly 
digest such a work before assuming the title of architect 
in good conscience. Wheeler called Gwilt "one of the most 
useful writers in architectural matters ."[ 21 ] His writings 
reflect this sentiment with technical information parallel 
in nature to that found in the Encyclopaedia . The pages of 
Rural Homes , for instance, carry an outline of job 
specifications, which follow, in less detailed form, the 
order and overall content set out by Gwilt. [22] 



Other authors and theorists mentioned in the pages of 
Wheeler's writings included Pugin and Ruskin, already 
discussed, and Owen Jones. Jones was best known for his 
work on polychromy and decorating, and in 1851 received 
acclaim for his "parti-coloring" of the Crystal Palace. He 

9 



later wrote The Grammar of Ornament (1856). An article in 
the May 1851 issue of the Bulletin of the American Art 
Union examined Jones' work at the Crystal Palace. [23] 
Wheeler cited the article and described Jones' two-tone 
wall treatments as an introduction to his own discussion of 
the decoration of domestic rooms in Rural Homes . [24] The 
question of interior decorating and polychromy was 
evidently of interest to Wheeler from the outset of his 
career; the first examples of his work in America were in 
these areas. 



Wheeler's sources were not limited to his 
contemporaries; he also seemed to be well versed on 
historical architectural treatises. In Homes for the 



People , he related the story of Phidias and Alcames from 
the pages of J.F. Blondel's Cours d ' Architecture of 
1777. [25] Blondel, an eighteenth century theorist and 
teacher of architecture, appreciated the truthful 
representation of the classical style. [26] He found in the 
tale of Phidias, a Greek sculptor of the fifth century 
B.C., and his protege Alcames, an example of the 
fundamental skills and understanding required to effect 
truthful representation — the master knew to exaggerate 
features in a sculpture which would stand atop a building, 
for instance, so that when in place it would look 
realistic; the student did not grasp the need to allow for 
the different visual impression. 

10 



Wheeler saw in Blondel's recitation a parallel to his 
own understanding of reality and truth in art, and rather 
immodestly compared himself to Phidias. Regardless of his 
smugness, his concern was consistent with Ruskin's 
philosophy of truth and fitness, which he claimed to adhere 
to. 

Finally, the diverse examples of references to current 
affairs suggest Wheeler's ongoing attention to contemporary 
literature and period thought. In several instances in 
Rural Homes , Wheeler made use of the findings of Dr. Bell, 
of the McLean Asylum for the Insane, who wrote a treatise 
in 1848 on the importance of proper ventilation and 
practical applications .[ 27 ] He applied the information for 
his own description of the proper, healthy ventilation of 
domestic residences. 



A passage from Rural Hours , the work of "a lady," in 
fact identified as Susan Fennimore Cooper, published less 
than a year earlier, gave Wheeler an opportunity in Rural 
Homes for oblique commentary on the merits of American 
architecture. [ 28] Wheeler concurred with Cooper's 
assessment of the American tendency to mimic architecture 
which resulted in many homes of the exact same pattern. By 
pulling this selection into Rural Homes , Wheeler added 
impetus to his argument for picturesque domestic designs. 
The rather popular reminiscences of America by Frederika 

11 



Bremer, The Homes of the New World , was also mentioned by 
Wheeler in Homes for the People . [29] He neither quoted nor 
discussed specific material, but simply noted the interest 
of the work's contents. 

As could be expected in works of mid-century, A.J. 
Downing's contributions in both landscape and domestic 
architecture were cited. [30] Wheeler's remarks 
complimented the advances toward picturesque expression in 
domestic design made possible as a result of Downing's ef- 
forts. He could easily praise Downing at this time, for 
the latter was already dead and therefore not a 
competitor. But Wheeler seemed to place himself in a 
different category than Downing and his peers. He referred 
architects to Downing's "excellent" works to avoid 
"prettiness, whimsicality and the false picturesque" in the 
cottage design, implying that his own apprehension of the 
subject was total and intuitive. In his discussion of 
gardens for the residence, Wheeler deferred to the 
expertise of Patrick Barry, a leading horticulturist and 
pomologist of the mid-nineteenth century, quoting 
selections from Barry's Treatise on the Fruit Garden . [31] 



The literature which Wheeler read also included many 
of the periodicals of the day. Judging from the references 
throughout his books, he was interested in an extensive 
range of topics. It can be inferred from his citations of 

12 



articles, that while in America, he maintained familiarity 
with British trends in art and architecture through the 
weekly London Art Journal and Mechanics Magazine . 
Sartain's Union Magazine , The New York Tribune , and the New 
York issue of Literary World provided sources for more 
general current information and critical analysis from the 
American perspective .[ 32 ] Wheeler probably also 
occasionally read journals such as the London Literary 
World , The Builder and The Home Journal published in New 
York, since they carried reviews of his work or in some 
cases written contributions, as shall be discussed. 

In the instances noted above, Wheeler actually 
specified the author or source referred to in his remarks. 
Comparison of the various works and passages indicates 
that, while he readily used the information as the basis 
for his own arguments, he neither misrepresented nor 
plagiarized to fit his own requirements. But a review of 
Homes for the People , discussed in chapter V, printed in 
The Builder in 1855, contended that Wheeler had blatantly 
plagiarized another work. 



It has not been possible within the scope of this 
thesis to assess the degree of plagiarism on Wheeler's part 
in his several literary efforts. In his defense, it should 
be noted that contrary to the impression conveyed by the 
disdain of the British reviewer, such lifting of material 

13 



remained a common practice throughout the nineteenth 
century . 



14 



[l]Jill Allibone to John Ward, Bowdoin College Student, 

September 21 1982. All correspondence to John Ward was 

graciously loaned to rae for the purpose of my research by 
Mr. Ward. 

[2]Sir Charles Wesley to Gervase Wheeler, August 28 
1848, Chapel Papers, Bowdoin College Library, Brunswick, 
Maine . 

[3]Gervase Wheeler, Homes for the People (New York: 
Charles Scribner, 1855), 94. 

[ 4 ] Barrington Kaye, The Development of the 
Architectural Profession in Britain (London: George Allen & 
Unwin Ltd., 1960), 83. This book provides an overview of 
the role and position of the British architect over time. 

[5]William J. Hoppin to Reverend Leonard Woods, March 8 
1847, Chapel Papers. 

[ 6 ] Architects ' , Engineers' and Building-Trades' 
Directory (London: Wyman, 1868), 143. The entry states 
"Pupil of Richard C. Carpenter, esq." 

[7]Phoebe Stanton, Pugin (London: Thames & Hudson, 
1971). 

[8]Wheeler to Woods, August 14 1847, Chapel Papers. 

[9]Stanton, Pugin , 179. 

[10]Hoppin to Woods, August 4 1847, Chapel Papers. 

[ll]Justin Wintle, ed., Makers of Nineteenth Century 
Culture, 1800-1914 (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1982), 
530-1. 

[12]Wheeler, Rural Homes (New York: Charles Scribner, 
1851), preface, no page number. 

[13] Harper's New Monthly Magazine 4 (New York: Harper & 
Brothers, 1851), 137. 

[ 14]Christopher Hussey, The Picturesque: Studies in a 
Point yjf View (London: Frank Cass & Co. Ltd., 1967 
edition), 209. 



[15]Hussey, The Picturesque , 187. 



15 



[ 16 ]Henry-Russell Hitchcock, Architecture, Nineteenth 
and Twentieth Centuries (Baltimore: Penguin Books, 1971 
edition) , 258 . 

[17]Henry Russell Hitchcock, Early Victorian 
Architecture in Britain (New York: DaCapo Press, 1972), 
427. White's Rural Architecture was not available for 
comparison . 

[18]Hussey, The Picturesque , 212. Goodwin's Rural 
Architecture was not readily available for comparison. 



[19]Wheeler, Homes , 93. 

[20]Joseph Gwilt, An Encyclopaedia of Architecture 
(London: Longman, Brown, Green & Longmans, 1842). 

[21]Wheeler, Homes , 92. 

[22]Wheeler, Rural , 245-55. Gwilt, Encyclopaedia , 
595-619. 

[23] Bulletin of the American Art Union (New York: 
American Art Union , 1851 ) , 28-9 . 

[24]Wheeler, Rural , 196. 

[25]Wheeler, Homes , 211-2; Jacques Francois Blondel, 
Cours d ' Architecture (1777) was not seen for comparison of 
material . 

[26]Peter Collins, Changing Ideals in Modern 
Architecture, 1750-1950 (Montreal: McGill Queens University 
Press, 1965), 81. 



[27]Wheeler, Rural , 49 and 177; Luther Bell, The 
Practical Methods of Ventilating Buildings (Boston: 
Dickenson Printing Est., 1848), 19. 

[28]Wheeler, Rural , 145; [Susan Fennimore Cooper], 
Rural Hours (New York: George P. Putnam, 1850), 380-5. 

[29]Wheeler, Homes , 264; Frederika Bremer, The Homes of 
the New World (London: Arthur Hall Virtue & Co., 1853). 

[30]Wheeler, Rural , 147, and Homes , 264. 

[31]Wheeler, Rural , 232; Patrick Barry, Treatise on the 
Fruit Garden (Rochester: by the author, 1851) was not seen 
for comparison of material. 



16 



[32]Wheeler, Homes , p. 314 reference to London Art 
Journal article; p . 194 reference to Mechanics Magazine 
article ; p. 408 reference to New York Tribune article; p. 133 
reference to New York Literary World article. Wheeler, 
Rural, p. 215 reference to Sartain ' s~Union Magazine article. 



17 



II. Context in America 



Mid-nineteenth century America experienced a period of 
growth and change: geographically with the move westward, 
economically with rapidly developing commerce and industry, 
and politically with a government attempting to face and 
resolve the concomitant problems associated with this 
growth . 

Most Americans viewed the innovations and progress of 
the country with an optimism for the future and the 
achievements made possible. At. the same time, some, like 
the essayist and philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson, reacted 
against the materialism associated with the new technical 
and financial possibilities, and turned toward a more 
spiritualistic view of life, of man in nature. All derived 
their points of view from an underlying shared belief in 
the ideal of individual freedom and the democratic ideal. 



The perceptions and orientation evident in American 
society also became manifest in the expression of 
architectural theories. At the forefront of a new 
interpretation was Andrew Jackson Downing. Building upon 
the precepts of the picturesque, the British writer John 
Claudius Loudon, and themes of the individual as expounded 
by American contemporaries like Emerson, he believed that 

18 



domestic architecture should represent and transmit the 
political republican values of American society and the 
aspirations of the individual owner. The theory asserted 
that the essence of the American experience was rural and 
suburban, and catered to those who could afford country 
homes near the great American cities. 

As the evolving theory was applied to design, it drew 
heavily from British precedents. Downing translated the 
revised view of architecture into statements of form 
associated with the British picturesque: the house was to 
relate to its setting, the plan was functional, the 
elevation adapted to the needs of the plan, and the whole 
was defined by the character of the owner. In implementing 
these ideas, American architects such as John Notman, 
British born Richard Upjohn and Alexander Jackson Davis 
could no longer be restricted to the vocabulary of the 
Greek revival, and sought alternative stylistic 
expressions. The result was a flourishing of other revival 
modes - Gothic, Moorish, Roman or Tuscan Italian - applied 
in an eclectic manner as befitted the situation and owner. 



Gervase Wheeler arrived in America at a time when 
these notions were finding voice. He came with the benefit 
of a background in an environment which had already 
accepted and refined the picturesque. His initial 
contributions to The Horticulturist imply an acquaintance 

19 



with Downing by 1849, but his role in developing the 
latter's theories was negligible if at all — Downing had 
been exploring the picturesque since 1841, and died in 
1850. 

Wheeler's contribution to American domestic 
architecture was primarily in his writing which propagated 
the picturesque point of view. He shared with Downing an 
approach to the explanation and application of the 
picturesque, based in each case on British antecedents. 
While the vast majority of American architecture texts of 
the period clung to the format of the traditional pattern 
book, Downing and Wheeler presented their ideas in essay 
form. The Architecture of Country Houses (1850) represents 

a philosophy of architecture, accompanied by renderings by 
contemporary architects particularly A.J. Davis, and in two 
instances, Wheeler. [1] 



Wheeler published Rural Homes one year later; in it 
designs and text were integrated into a formulation of the 
theory made possible by the author's comfortable knowledge 
of the picturesque vocabulary. By presenting the material 
in readable chapters, Wheeler conveyed the essence of the 
picturesque in the choice and construction of a residence. 
The designs were his own, and were intended as models. De- 
spite occasional technical explanations, in which he 
displayed ease, Wheeler stated that an architect should be 

20 



retained for the actual execution of a design. In this 
way, he promoted not only himself, but the architectural 
profession . 

The ten subsequent editions of Rural Homes , Homes for 
the People published in 1855 with five additional editions 
to 1868, and reprints of Wheeler's writing, spread to the 
general public information regarding the new domestic 
architecture. Reviews and advertisements for Wheeler's 
works appeared not only locally in New York, but throughout 
the Northeast, in Philadelphia, Rochester, Albany, 
Hartford, and even in St. Louis in the Midwest. [2] 
Further, some publications in which excerpts from Wheeler's 
work appeared, were distributed in areas of the country 
beyond that of publication. The editor of The Genessee 
Farmer , a popular magazine for the gentleman farmer 
published out of Rochester, New York, responded to a 
correspondent in Fairfield, Illinois with a recommendation 
for the use of Rural Homes . f 3 1 



By far the most widespread method of obtaining 
architectural commissions in the mid-nineteenth century was 
through personal contact and influential acquaintances. 
Having erected buildings, the architect's designs, when 
well known and publicized, could speak for his talents. In 
addition, possibilities for self-promotion included 
contributions of designs or articles to publications, and 

21 



advertisements in these same journals or volumes, and meant 
reaching a broader audience. Entries in design 
competitions and exhibitions provided another forum for 
display of the architect's work. As shall be seen in the 
course of his career, Wheeler tried all of these approaches 
as he sought to establish a reputation. 

Having found work, the domain and limits of 
responsibility of the architect were by no means clearly 
accepted in the 1840's and 1850's. The American client was 
still loathe to recognize the differentiation which the 
architect drew between himself and master builder, while 
t-he master builder resisted the encroachment on his trade. 
The frustrations felt by the architect as a result of this 
were magnified for the English trained architect, like 
Wheeler. An anonymous one, quoted by Constance Greiff in 
her biography of John Notraan, stated that "the US offered 
the potential for economic improvement, but little 
comprehension of the role of the prof essional . " [ 4] From 
the outset of his career in America, Wheeler had considered 
himself a professional. The first documented 
correspondence from him, in 1847, is signed "Gervase 
Wheeler, Architect ."[ 5 ] This self-conscious 
differentiation of the title and qualifications it implied 
may have accounted for some of the tensions evident during 
Wheeler's stay in America. 



22 



It was not until 1857, ten years after Wheeler's 
arrival in America, that a group of men gathered in New 
York to attempt for the second time to create a body of 
professional architects, the American Institute of 
Architects. Thirteen practicing architects, led by Richard 
Upjohn, agreed to the aims of the society, and invited 
"other reputable members of the profession" to a meeting to 
adopt a constitution .[ 6 ] 

Attendees at that later meeting included Calvert Vaux, 
Fred C. Withers, John Notraan, Thomas U. Walter, Alexander 
J. Davis, and seven others. Interestingly, Wheeler, though 
known by Upjohn and at least heard of by many of the 
others, was among neither group, nor did his name appear at 
a later date. 



Wheeler's absence from the rolls was significant. A 
man who claimed a high level of proficiency and 
professionalism, as he often did in his printed work and 
undoubtedly in person, would hardly have declined an 
opportunity to sit on such an association. The conclusion 
then is that his peers either did not consider him or did 
not accept him. Membership in the A. I. A. was contingent on 
the "honorable practice" of the profession. Candidates for 
membership had to be proposed by two existing members and 
voted on by the remaining body; three negative votes were 
sufficient to blackball an architect .[ 7 ] Possible reasons 

23 



for such action against Wheeler will be shown in later 
chapters . 

The newly established American Institute of Architects 
sought to encourage education both of the profession in 
artistic and technical matters, and of the general public 
in the significance of architecture and the role of the 
architect. The extent of an architect's control over 
design and construction, and the matter of fees were often 
points of contention, and were among the first issues for 
which the A. I. A. attempted to find a resolution. 

Members of the A. I. A. could not in the beginning agree 
upon a schedule of fixed rates for architectural services. 
Some of the more prominent architects had attempted on 
their own to standardize the rate of compensation. By the 
late 1840's, John Notman, in an effort to define 
professional procedures, sought a 5% commission on 
buildings which he supervised. He was not always 
successful, and sometimes met with resistance .[ 8 ] 
Similarly, Richard Upjohn established an average fee of 5%, 
but not infrequently had to dispute the rate with 
clients. [9] Upjohn was among those, together with Richard 
Morris Hunt, who took their cases to court for settlement 
in the 1850's.[10] Typically for the period, Wheeler also 
experienced difficulties. 



24 



The first indication that Wheeler had codified his 
fees can be found on the letterhead used in 1857: for city 
building, "as agreed," and for country building, 5% plus 
traveling expenses .[ 1 1 ] This postdates some of the 
litigation on the issue, and may reflect Wheeler's confi- 
dence in the possibilities of obtaining such compensation. 

Prior to this however, Wheeler seems to have contented 
himself with flat rates. In 1848, he was voted $100 by the 
Governing Board of Bowdoin College to design a new 
President's House, though apparently never executed .[ 1 2 ] 
With the design of a new corporate office for the Insurance 
Company of America, in Philadelphia, Wheeler asked for the 
"regular charge of 3% on the cost," but was paid $75, which 
represented less than 2% of the final cost. [13] The 
documentation on the Patrick Barry House commission in 
Rochester, New York, and the erection of Goodrich Hall at 
Williams College in Williarastown , Massachusetts, indicate 
that again Wheeler received a flat fee for delivery of the 
design plans. The Barry House cost a total of 
approximately $27,500 to erect, but the Ellwanger and Barry 
nursery journals record a $95 payment to the architect — 
less than one half a percent of the construction cost. [14] 
At Williams College, the information is unclear, but 
Wheeler apparently received a one-time payment of $250. [15] 



Wheeler offered another option in his professional 

25 



services. In 1852, he advertised in The Genessee Farmer , 
published in Rochester, for commission work, and offered to 
supply "such information as can be given by letter" for 
$2. [16] The type of information to be provided is unclear, 
but Wheeler may have considered this approach a means of 
reaching potential clients. 

The Institute discussed not only questions of 
client-architect relationship but the ethics of the 
profession itself. A code of ethics was not in fact 
promulgated until the early twentieth century, but the 
issues probably had their genesis in the years leading up 
to the association. Areas of concern included competition 
on the basis of fees, and slighting other architects' 
reputation or work. Wheeler from the outset seemed to 
typify the very deportment which the society castigated. 
During his engagement at Bowdoin in 1847-1848, he not only 
criticized the work of Upjohn, the contracted architect, 
but proffered his own services for areas of alleged 
deficiency on Upjohn's part. [17] Correspondence indicated 
Upjohn's indignation against Wheeler, and such behavior may 
have kept him out of the A. I. A. years later. 



Exclusion from the American Institute of Architects 
may have had an adverse impact on Wheeler's career. The 
lack of documentation uncovered for the period makes any 
realistic assessment of his success tenuous. However, 

26 



Wheeler's last known commissions occurred in 1857 (the year 
of the A.I.A.'s formation), with the Patrick Barry House, 
in Rochester, New York, and Goodrich Hall at Williams 
College, in Williamstown , Massachusetts; in 1858 his 
landscape design entry for Bushnell Park, in Hartford, 
Connecticut, won first place, but was never executed .[ 18 ] 
The last indication of Wheeler's presence in New York City 
was 1860, and his whereabouts during the Civil War are 
undocumented . 



27 



[l]See chapter IV for a discussion of Wheeler's 
contributions to Downing's works. 

[2]See the charts of ads, reviews and editions in 
Appendixes D, E, F. 

f3l The Genessee Farmer 13 (Rochester: Daniel Lee, 
1852), 260. 

[4]Constance M. Greiff, John Notman Architect, 
1810-1865 (Philadelphia: The Athenaeum of Philadelphia, 
1979) , 40. The quote was taken from an anonymous British 
architect with 15 years experience who had come to America 
in the 1830's to practice. 

[5]Wheeler to Bowdoin College, "Design for Decoration 
of Side Walls of Bowdoin College Chapel," April 6 1847, 
Chapel Papers. 

[6]Henry H. Saylor, The A.I.A.'s First Hundred Years 
(Washington: The Octagon, 1957), 4. 

[7]Saylor, The A.I . A. , 29. While Saylor discusses the 
process for membership, he does not indicate whether there 
is existing evidence in the A. I. A. papers for proposed and 
rejected candidates. This may be an area of further 
research . 

[8]Greiff, John Notman , 41-3. 

[9]Everard Upjohn, Richard Upjohn, Architect and 
Churchman (New York: Columbia University Press, 1929), 
134-156. 

[10]Saylor, The A. I. A. , 54. 

[ll]Wheeler to Reverend Calvin Durfee, July 14 1857, 
Williamsiana Collection, Williams College, Williamstown , 
Massachusetts. 

[12]John Ward, "Gervase Wheeler, a Progressive 
Architect in Brunswick, Maine, 1847-1848," (Paper presented 
at Fifth Annual Student Symposium, Society of Architectural 
Historians, Boston, Massachusetts, 1982), 15. 

[ 13]Insurance Company of North America, Directors' 
Minutes, 1850, (CIGNA Corporate Archives, Philadelphia, 
Pennsylvania), 90. 

[14]Natalie B.E. Stewart, "George Ellwanger and Patrick 
Barry, Romantic Builders," (Masters Thesis, University of 
Rochester, 1985), 60. 

28 



[15]Bruce B. McElvein, "Williams College Architecture, 
1790-1860" (Bachelors Honors Thesis, Williams College, 
1979), 177-9. 

[16] The Genessee Farmer 13 (June 1852), 197. 

[17]See chapter IV for a more detailed discussion. 

[18]See chapter V for a discussion of these works. 



29 



III. Personal Affairs 



The first years of Wheeler's arrival in America were 
marked by poor health. He alluded to his difficulties 
regularly in letters. In December 1847, "ill health which 
for some time confined me to the house" detained him from 
his duties with regard to the library decoration at Bowdoin 
College, in Brunswick .[ 1 ] The following May, he complained 
of "a return of my attacks, the liability of reoccurrence 
of which will forever prevent my enjoying in any laborious 
or sedentary pursuit. "[2] That same month, "an unfortunate 
severe pain in my side" again meant that he could not work 
as much as hoped. [3] 

His problems did not relent as the year passed, for in 
September, having relocated to New Haven, Wheeler 
complained that "the weather is bitterly cold and I being 
(and have been for some time) very unwell with continual 
attacks of cold on ray chest and dysentary [sic], feel it 
very much. "[4] Two months later, in November 1848, he 
again lamented: "I am sorry to say I have been really ill, 
and have more than once arranged a change of scene for a 
while and each time been frustrated by bad health. "[5] 



Dysentery was not uncommon in the nineteenth century, 
and manifested itself in attacks. The early descriptions 

30 



of Wheeler's symptoms indicate that dysentery may have been 
the cause of his troubles from the outset. How he fared in 
later years is not clear for lack of documentation. 

Though Wheeler's poor health is clear, the severity 
and frequency with which he was affected are subject to 
doubt. His statements were invariably made within the 
context of work, and all too often have a pitiable tone to 
them -- as though convenient excuses for not having 
prepared a design. The remarks hint at Wheeler's 
manipulative nature. 

Wheeler probably came to America a bachelor, and the 

first suggestion that he would soon marry was derived from 

correspondence with Reverend Woods of Bowdoin College in 

Brunswick in May 1848: 

"But I hope that once I am in ray new and 
sacred relations to gain a friend who will 
never change and a support which will never 
fail and that I may be able to make myself 
worthy of them and may draw peace and happi- 
ness from the directing influence of the 
other. "[6] 

A letter from Sir Wesley later that year further supported 

the insinuation, relating how Wheeler's mother had "hinted 

something which we were all especially anxious to hear more 

of... "[7] Though vague.it may not unreasonably imply 

marriage. By March 1851, a wedding had taken place, for 

Wheeler referred to "Mr. Hyde, my wife's father". [8] 



31 



After Wheeler's return to England, in 1884, he made 
out his last will and testament, naming his wife, Catherine 
Brewer (not Hyde) executrix. The difference in names may 
imply that Wheeler had married a second time. Records 
regarding his private affairs have not been located to 
confirm or refute any assumptions. 

Wheeler apparently had several children; only the 
names of two are known, Frederick Ledsam Wheeler, and 
Jarvis Wheeler. Only the first was named in the will, but 
the latter was found to reside at Wheeler's address in Hove 
after his death. [9] 

Comments made during Wheeler's career by those he 
encountered all paint the same initial impression of an 
educated, refined man. Though for the most part concerned 
with questions of professional ability, William Hoppin of 
New York, Wheeler's first noteworthy contact, seemed 
impressed with his knowledge and manners. Discussing 
polychroray work for the Bowdoin College Chapel, he wrote 
that Wheeler's "information respecting it is extensive and 
accurate and accompanied furthermore with much taste and 
discrimination. "[ 10] Hoppin later expressed his confidence 
in Wheeler, noting "I think I should have been able to 
detect any considerable disparity between his powers and 
his pretensions. "[11] 



32 



A few years later, in December 1849, when Wheeler was 
in Philadelphia, he dined with a prospective client, Henry 
Fisher, and his brother Sidney. Sidney described Wheeler 
in his diary: "He is young, good looking, of gentlemanlike 
manners and appearance and converses with ease and 
elegance. His mind is evidently cultivated and he has a 
taste for literature and art. "[12] This worldly aspect of 
Wheeler's character was manifest during his career, in the 
social position of his acquaintances and clients, and in 
his own literary work. 

While Wheeler seemed able to charm people upon meeting 
them, a lack of discretion in financial matters sometimes 
led to strained relations. His living habits, suited to 
city life, caused embarrassment in the small New England 
town of Brunswick, Maine, where he undertook his first 
commission. As early as September 1847, the Reverend Woods 
lamented Wheeler's handling of money matters and his "want 
of gentlemanly propriety" in this regard. [13] Some months 
later, in February 1848, an uncomfortable situation 
resulted in settling Wheeler's room bill. He had spent 
considerably more in living expenses than the arrangement 
with the trustees of the college had called for. While he 
recognized the"somewhat more expensive scale that the 
committee ... might have deemed necessary ,"[ 14 ] he did 
little to alleviate the problem. 



33 



Wheeler was also manipulative in his dealings with 
people. When the previously mentioned matter of expenses 
came up, Wheeler pleaded his case by implying that he had 
been "unduly influenced by the inducements held out . . . for 
the future. "[15] He was referring to the commission for 
the interior design of the chapel, contingent upon approval 
of his work in the library, which was never given to him. 

On an occasion when Woods was in Boston on business, 
Wheeler wrote him to ask that he purchase a crucifix. He 
cleverly referred to his pro bono commission for the 
library interior, knowing the effect it would have: "I do 
not mean that I am making certain drawings for this, or 
that this would be considered a return for them ... [but 
such a gesture] would amply compensate for this expenditure 
of time and skill on my part. .."[16] 



It has already been pointed out in chapter I that 
Wheeler was known to exaggerate with regard to his 
professional training. This tendency was manifest in other 
areas as well, particularly as Wheeler sought to impress 
contacts and prospective clients. Having met the Fisher 
brothers in Philadelphia, Wheeler mentioned his 
acquaintance with Currer Bell, author of Jane Eyre , and 
divulged "that these works were chiefly written by his 
sister Ann Bell." An undated margin note alongside the 
entry noted that Wheeler was an imposter: Fisher 

34 



evidently found out that Bell was in fact the pseudonym of 
a woman, Charlotte Bronte. The same entry had noted that 
"he knows also Miss Bremer now in this country, a Swedish 
lady," though no marginalia accompanied the statement .[ 1 7 ] 
Perusal of Bremer's writings yielded no mention of Gervase 
Wheeler, though she had mentioned her meetings with A.J. 
Downing . 

The above information derives almost entirely from 
correspondence in the first years of Wheeler's career in 
America. It is impossible to know whether he changed over 
time. But whatever his character flaws, Wheeler must have 
had an engaging personality. He associated throughout his 
residence in America, at least in a business capacity, with 
socially prominent people, as the sketch of the years 1847 
through 1860 will reveal. 



35 



[l]Wheeler to Joseph McKeen, December 12 1847, Chapel 
Papers . 

[2]Wheeler to Woods, May 5 1848, Chapel Papers. 

[3]Wheeler to Woods, May 12 1848, Chapel Papers. 

[4]Wheeler to Woods, September 27 1848, Chapel Papers. 

[5]Wheeler to Woods, November 23 1848, Chapel Papers. 

[6]Wheeler to Woods, May 2 1848, Chapel Papers. 

[7]Wesley to Wheeler, August 28 1848, Chapel Papers. 

[8]Wheeler to Richard Upjohn, March 17 1851, Upjohn 
Papers, box 4, New York Public Library, New York. 

[9]The knowledge that Wheeler had descendants may prove 
valuable for future research: Wheeler is known to have 
kept certain of his designs, which may yet exist, for he 
specifically noted looking through plans of American 
commissions in The Choice of a Dwelling , published in 
England in 1871. 

[10]Hoppin to Woods, April 10 1847, Chapel Papers. 

[ll]Hoppin to Woods, August 4 1847, Chapel Papers. 

[12]Sidney Fisher Diaries, December 12 1849, Manuscript 
Collection, Historical Society of Pennsylvania, 
Philadelphia. Excerpts of the diaries were published by 
Nicholas B. Wainwright as A Philadelphia Perspective 
(Philadelphia: Historical Society of Pennsylvania, 1967), 
but did not include these. 

[ 13]Statement by Woods, no date, Chapel Papers. 

[14]Wheeler to Woods, February 20 1848, Chapel Papers. 

[15]Wheeler to Woods, no date (probably spring 1848), 
Chapel Papers. 

[16]Wheeler to Woods, no date (probably 1848), Chapel 
Papers . 

[17]Fisher Diaries, December 12 1849. 



36 



IV. Early Practice (1846-1850) 



A. New York, New York (1846-1847) 

It is difficult to ascertain with certainty the date 
of Wheeler's arrival in America, but it can safely be 
assumed to have occurred in late 1846 or early 1847. The 
first actual documentation of his presence can be found in 
a letter dated March 8 1847, from William J. Hoppin of New 
York City to the Reverend Leonard Woods in Brunswick, 
Maine, a prospective client: "a young English gentleman by 
the name of Gervase Wheeler was introduced to me the other 
day... As he has but lately arrived [he] has to make a name 
for himself ..."[ 1 ] Later correspondence between the two 
however suggests that he had not directly taken up his 
profession upon his departure from Britain: "for a year or 
two after he left England he devoted himself to engineering 
in preference to architecture ."[ 2 ] 



In the 1840's, Professor Donaldson, a professor of 
architecture at University College in England, had espoused 
the belief that architects needed also to be engineers to 
fulfill their role to its greatest potential .[ 3 ] Though it 
is not clear to what degree this sentiment was shared by 
the profession at large, it had its adherents, among them 
apparently Wheeler. The opinion had been expressed when 

37 



Wheeler was still in England, developing his skills and 
professional outlook, readying himself for the field. 

The correspondence is the first documentation of 
Wheeler's acquaintance with William Hoppin. Hoppin was 
well educated, with degrees from Yale, Middlebury and 
Harvard, and had founded the Century Club in New York. A 
frequent traveler to Europe, he eventually resided in 
London as Secretary of the US Legation from 1876 to 
1886. [4] 

Hoppin's activities in New York indicate that his 
primary interest was the art world. He authored numerous 
articles on art subjects; by 1850, he was a member of the 
Committee of Management of the American Art Union, and the 
new editor of the organization's bulletin. [5] Although 
there is no documentation to confirm a continued 
relationship between the two, it is not unlikely that 
Wheeler cultivated one. Wheeler not only began his 
American career in New York, but later practiced there some 
eight years, as shall be seen in chapter V. 



After his arrival in America, and by April 1847, 
Wheeler had taken rooms at 29 Greenwich Street, New York 
City. [6] He apparently sought to make a name for himself 
by turning away from the more practical aspects of 
engineering and architecture, instead promoting his 

38 



decoration skills at interior design work, particularly 
polychromy. In a letter from Richard Upjohn, architect of 
the Bowdoin College Chapel, to the Reverend Woods, 
President of the college, Upjohn noted that Wheeler desired 
"to turn his attention exclusively to decorative art. "[7] 
An undated 1847 exhibit at the National Academy of Design 
in New York City included the following entry by Wheeler: 
"#371. Section of a Room with Gothic Furniture ."[ 8 ] As 
will be seen, his first documented commission was for the 
interior decoration of the College Chapel at Bowdoin. 

Wheeler's acquaintance with Hoppin, who would before 
long introduce him to the Reverend Leonard Woods, has 
already been mentioned. Shortly after this introduction, 
during the summer of 1847, Wheeler traveled through New 
England, particularly Connecticut, at which time he 
established relations with Henry Austin, a practicing 
architect in New Haven. According to Wheeler, the two were 
to join business as of the first of September. In 
correspondence with Woods at this time, he implied a 
certain success in obtaining commissions, as he wrote: "I 
am happy to say I have so much to do both presently and in 
future I can afford to undertake a little x fancy work'. "[9] 



It should be pointed out at this juncture however that 
Wheeler's optimistic account of his prospects may have been 

39 



an artifice for convincing prospective clients, perhaps 
even himself, of his evolving success in America. For 
having pronounced a wealth of upcoming work, and an engage- 
ment with Austin, he proceeded to Brunswick, Maine, a com- 
mercial, manufacturing and college town, on a speculative 
gamble where he remained at least until May of the follow- 
ing year, or some ten months. His work there was only 
sparingly compensated for by the client, as he knew it 
would be. But during that time, there is no evidence to 
suggest that he pursued his relations with Austin, or that 
he even conducted work for other clients. [10] 

The *fancy work' mentioned in Wheeler's letter refers 
to the interior decoration of the Bowdoin College Chapel, 
and marks another strategy by which Wheeler sought to 
establish himself in the field in America. In this 
instance, he proffered his services at cost in order to be 
given the opportunity of proving himself. He offered to 
furnish coloring designs for the Chapel, and supervise 
their execution, in return for payment only of his 
expenses . 



40 



B. Brunswick, Maine (1847-1849) 

1. Banister Hall, Bowdoin College Chapel 

Reverend Woods oversaw the design and construction of 
the college chapel. From the outset, the chapel building 
was to serve the usual religious function, and to contain 
as well an art gallery, library and the president's 
office. A theologian and teacher, well read and well 
traveled, Woods had developed an interest in the latest 
trends in art and architecture .[ 11 ] He was convinced of 
the appropriateness of polychromy work for the decoration 
of the interior. 

The contract for the design of the building itself had 
been obtained by Richard Upjohn, and construction had begun 
in 1845. In response to the multiple uses of the building, 
Upjohn had planned a double spire design based on German 
precedent, with a large Romanesque hall, to be constructed 
of granite quarried locally. [12] As for the interior de- 
sign, contrary to Wood's own aspirations, he considered 
that the interior walls should be pale, subdued and without 
figured polychromy. 



Woods had apparently sought Hoppin's advice on the 
matter. He hoped to find support for his idea of interior 
polychromy, and wondered whether it was within the limits 

41 



of propriety to consult another architect for this aspect 
of the design. Hoppin, in the letter introducing Wheeler 
to Woods, confirmed that the latter "will materially assist 
us in our inquiries as to the proper mode of decorating the 
chapel at Brunswick... He is certain that [polychromy] will 
increase rather than diminish the solemnity of the effect 
of your Chapel. "[13] 

By July, Woods had interviewed and clearly been 
impressed by Wheeler, particularly as Wheeler espoused just 
that method of decoration which Woods so longed to display 
at Bowdoin. Upjohn at this time was still being 
recalcitrant about adopting any coloring for the chapel, 
but had agreed to draw up some designs, though Woods 
considered that "nothing . . . will come up to the standard 
of Mr. Wheeler. "[14] 



Upjohn was himself a British immigrant, whose earliest 
background was in cabinet-making and carpentry. He had 
arrived in America in 1829, and belonged to a slightly 
older generation than Wheeler, having progressed from car- 
penter to architect without the benefit of formal train- 
ing. At the time of his commission at Bowdoin, he was 
still endeavoring to establish and define his role as archi- 
tect, with much difficulty as the profession was yet in its 
infancy. [15] There can be little doubt that he resented 
the interference of a newcomer like Wheeler, and perhaps 

42 



even more the very fact that Woods had challenged his 
authority on the job by seeking outside advice and 
expertise . 

Wheeler was very much interested in the possibility 
presented by the President of Bowdoin, not only as a step 
toward establishing a reputation, but as an opportunity to 
demonstrate the type of architectural decoration prescribed 
by the Ecclesiologists . As a result, he agreed "in the 
most generous way" to submit renderings, "and superintend 
their execution, making no other charge than for his mere 
expenses. "[ 16] Wheeler's amiability in this exchange had 
the desired effect; Woods thereafter chose to secure the 
services of both Upjohn and Wheeler. 



Aware of the potential awkwardness of such a 

situation, Woods once again appealed to Hoppin for advice. 

Both men were agreed that "Mr. U. is so sensitive upon this 

point that if he should know it was projected, he would 

throw up the whole affair. "[17] Woods wondered whether 

Wheeler's own qualifications vindicated such an 

intervention : 

"... how far should we be justified by cus- 
tom, by common opinion, and strict propri- 
ety, in adopting a style of decoration not 
recommended by the architect? . . . would it 
be safe for us, if we approved of Mr. Wheel- 
er's designs, and felt authorized to adopt 
them, to entrust the execution of them to 
him? His scientific attainments, and his 
fine taste, cannot be doubted; but has he 
experience enough to entitle him to perfect 

43 



confidence in introducing a new style which 
will be open to every species of 
criticisra?"[18] 
In a conciliatory move, Woods proposed that Wheeler be 

hired to decorate the library (named Banister Hall in 1850) 

in an experimental way prior to any decision regarding the 

chapel proper. 

Hoppin responded to Woods' query by attempting to 
balance the abilities of each architect against the 
requirements of the job. He declared that from an ethical 
standpoint, Upjohn should have the option to submit the 
first design, but, in the event that the college committee 
reject it, another architect's rendering could be adopted. 
The alternate architect of course would be Wheeler, for 
Hoppin knew "no other person in the country as competent to 
carry them out. "[19] 

Woods was sufficiently informed about the profession 
to question the areas of responsibility subject to an 
architect's control, and to recognize that the consultation 
of another architect might be considered a transgression of 
propriety. And Hoppin admitted being "unable to come to a 
decision entirely satisfactory to myself. "[20] But the 
hesitation went no further. 



By mid-September, Wheeler had met Woods in New York 
City and together they traveled to Brunswick. The fact 
that Wheeler took the commission, even on such a tentative 

44 



schedule, showed a disregard for the circumstances of his 
fellow architect. With all due consideration for his own 
needs, the ease with which he accepted the work, knowing of 
Upjohn's commitment to the project, reflected a lack of pro- 
fessional deference. 

Upon his arrival in Brunswick, Wheeler took up 
residence in a boarding house run by Miss Weld at 7 Federal 
Street [21], on the understanding that he would remain in 
town some four to six weeks to accomplish his task, now 
defined as the decoration of the library. In the event 
that the latter were well received, and pending Upjohn's 
agreement, he would have the opportunity o-f decorating the 
chapel itself. 



Wheeler was not content simply putting forth his 
proposals for the library decorations. He also felt 
compelled, not always in the most tactful way, to express 
his views on the work which had already been planned by 
Upjohn. Wheeler regarded uniformity of mode to be 
extremely important in the overall development of the 
structure. As Upjohn had designed the hall in a Romanesque 
mode, Wheeler felt that the detailing throughout should be 
consistent and of "characteristic ornament". He 
communicated his reservations about Upjohn's use of Gothic 
motifs in the interior design to Hoppin who in turn 
conveyed them to Woods: "Mr. U. has introduced many 

45 



details in the pointed style and Mr. Wheeler desires you to 
understand that he should materially vary his designs if 
any thing besides the Romanesque should be used. "[22] 

Later remarks by Wheeler expressed more blatantly his 
disapproval of Upjohn's designs. In September, shortly 
after his arrival in Brunswick, he stated that the existing 
proposals for the chapel showed a lack of understanding of 
the principles of honest architecture and "unity of 
effect," both concepts integral to the new Ruskinian 
approach. The construction included "a mass of workmanship 
useless for purposes of strength", and interior details 
were designed in such a way as to insufficiently "allow of 
the play of light and shade". [23] 

Another bold criticism followed closely on the last, 
this time relative to the design of the library gallery. 
Wheeler submitted remarks dated October 1, to the effect 
that "a very important disadvantage will be found if the 
work be carried out in the manner there indicated" in 
Upjohn's designs. [24] Again, the complaints had mainly to 
do with the play of light, hindered according to Wheeler by 
the heaviness of the balusters and upper gallery floors. 
He went so far as to offer his own services in this regard 
should the committee agree with his assessment. 



46 



Such criticism by an architect toward a peer was very 
unusual. In Wheeler's case, it may have been a mark of his 
own self-conscious sense of education and training compared 
to his American counterparts. But it also reflected a lack 
of ethical behavior, and suggests the root of his future 
problems in America. The unsolicited advice caused 
dissention and discomfort amongst members of the committee 
and, quite naturally, antagonized Upjohn. 

While any correspondence from Upjohn to Wheeler in 
this matter has not been uncovered, a letter written later 
that month indicates Wheeler's attempt to reconcile with Up- 
john. After providing him with a lengthy description of 
his designs for the library decor, he applauded the overall 
effect of the chapel. The letter closed with the following 
reconciliatory paragraph: 

I am sure that you will approve of what is 
being done in the Library and I am equally 
sure that you will do me the justice to say 
so, and to acquit me of any intention in 
this matter to act otherwise than in the 
most perfect good faith toward yourself .[ 25 ] 

The episode hints at a manipulative inclination in 

Wheeler's character. Having interfered in Upjohn's work, 

he sought to disembarrass himself by appealing to Upjohn's 

good nature. 



How effectively relations were smoothed over is 
dubious, however Wheeler himself apparently thought that 
any unpleasantness had been resolved. In January 1848, he 

47 



noted "I am glad that Mr. Upjohn seems amiable and shall be 
pleased to put myself in communication with him on the 
subject of the Chapel when the time comes. "[26] 

It is difficult to gauge with accuracy the 
implications of the situation, for while Wheeler appears to 
have acted aggressively and somewhat dishonestly, general 
correspondence indicates that Upjohn's dealings with the 
college were marked by tension as well. Certainly part of 
the trouble may be attributed to the lingering obstinacy of 
the client, typical for the period, in his unwillingness to 
yield full control to the architect. 



By October 1847, the work on the polychromy of 
Banister Hall had begun. In late October, Wheeler 
submitted a description of his project to Upjohn. Ceiling, 
walls, hood moulds, arches and columns were to be covered 
with decoration in fresco (on the plaster) and tempera (on 
the wood). [27] The scheme was a complex one, and the 
design was not completed until December. Wheeler described 
the decoration in detail in a report to the committee; each 
surface area was treated somewhat differently, but all 
shared a palette of deep, rich colors, dark red, warm gold, 
blue, subdued golden brown, and "shades of colour from warm 
and brightest white and deepest shadow" (see fig. 1).[28] 
The interior of the chapel has since been repainted, and 
all traces of Wheeler's work have been obscured; though it 

48 



may still be possible through paint analysis to recapture 
at least a portion of the polychroray work. 

With work underway in the library, Wheeler pursued his 
aspirations of designing the interior treatment of the 
chapel itself. In February 1848 he submitted a proposal to 
Dr. Woods and the committee. It seems to have been 
accepted, as he was engaged in drawing in May. [29] Wheeler 
did not however remain in Brunswick to see that his plans 
were carried out. 

Construction of the College Chapel took some eleven 
years to complete. In 1851, when Wheeler had already 
removed from Brunswick and assumed other commissions in 
Connecticut and Pennsylvania, an article in the Bulletin of 



the American Art Union reviewed the interior polychromy of 
Banister Hall. The work was considered "very successful 
both in form and color", and it was suggested that the 
designs for the chapel, completed by Wheeler, if carried 
out, "would be even more extensively admired ."[ 30] For 
reasons which remain unclear, the final design was never 
implemented . 

2. The President's House 



Wheeler's time in Brunswick was not entirely consumed 
by work on the College Chapel. He was also engaged to 

49 



design at least two residences, including a house for the 
President of Bowdoin College. 

The original President's House had burned down in 
1839. In November of 1847, the Governing Board of Bowdoin 
voted $100 to pay for the commission of the design of a new 
house. [31] The decision to rebuild after so many years had 
no doubt much to do with the fact that Reverend Woods was 
President. In an undated statement signed by Woods, he 
noted that following his initial negotiations with Wheeler 
for the Chapel, he had suggested that Wheeler "might obtain 
one or two jobs with which he might be able to clear his 
expenses ."[ 32 ] The President's House may have been one 
such job. 

It would seem that Woods felt obligated to aid 
Wheeler. He therefore asked that renderings for the new 
residence be prepared. Wheeler submitted two alternate 
designs. As there is no evidence to date that either 
design was executed, details of their configurations are 
minimal. All that is known is that the Board accepted the 
design for a house with tower and two dining rooms en suite 
for entertaining .[ 33 ] 



The debate over the compensation for the designs 
disclosed Wheeler's concept of the architect, presumably 
rooted in his British training. He was having financial 

50 



difficulties, and tried to offset his expenses with the 
income from the commission. He had submitted rough 
drawings, with the intention of drafting full renderings 
once the design choice had been made. The committee 
frowned at paying the allotted $100 for such work. Wheeler 
responded : 



"Though I do not pretend to say the drawings 
are worth $50 to you, because they are not 
ample enough; but they are to me, there is 
the same amount of thought and rearrangement 
exhibited on them as if I had fully worked 
each plan out, and the rest would have been 
only mechanical labour for which the 
remaining sum of $50 would well have paid 
me." [34] 



3. The Henry Boody House 

Wheeler's other known commission in Brunswick was a 
house for Professor Henry Hill Boody, a teacher of 
rhetoric. The design was erected, and has been on the 
National Register of Historic Places since 1975 (fig. 2). 
The house has also been the subject of a Historic American 
Building Survey. [35] It is by far the best known of 
Wheeler's designs today. 



Not long after it was built, illustrations of the 
Boody House appeared in several publications, including the 
August 1849 issue of The Horticulturist and A.J. Downing's 
The Architecture of Country Houses in 1850 (fig. 3, 
4). [36] The design was copied, with modifications to the 

51 



plan, in 1853, in the residence of Benjamin Butraan, of 
Worcester Massachusetts, and published by the architect, 
William Brown in The Carpenter's Assistant , revised by 
Lewis Joy that same year. [37] More recently, in the 
1970's, the house plans were reproduced by Architectural 
Period Houses Inc. as one in a series of contemporary 
adaptations of period designs. [38] 

The double gables and steeply pitched roof emphasize 
the verticality of the design, further enhanced by the 
vertical board and batten siding. Wheeler claimed to have 
formulated the scheme in response to the local constraints 
of material and weather. The availability of wood meant 
that the picturesque design, constructed in timber, would 
be "the result, as all architectural beauty must be, of 
fitness and harmony ."[ 39 ] The chimneys are on the interior 
for optimal heat retention, and the drawing room and parlor 
suite, opening to verandas, were designed to enable the 
closing off of one or the other. The floor plan is arranged 
in an H shape, with a kitchen and service wing projecting 
at the rear. 



The Boody House represents a union of themes of the 
picturesque and Ruskinian fitness. The house when designed 
blended with its surroundings, by virtue of material, 
varied massing and a somewhat asymmetrical plan -- 
hallmarks of the picturesque. The honest expression of 

52 



timber construction conformed with ideas of truth in 
architectural expression. 

4. The Richardson House 

There is speculation by Earle Shettleworth of the 
Maine Historic Preservation Commission that the Captain 
John G. Richardson House, at 964 Washington Street, in 
Bath, Maine, may have been based on a design by Wheeler 
(fig. 5). The two and a half story structure, with 
projecting rear ell, is roofed with steeply pitched cross 
gables, and sheathed in vertical board and batten. The 
configuration of the plan and the construction material and 
technique are similar to the Boody House. The date of 
construction has been estimated as 1850, several years 
after Wheeler had left the area. 

Unsigned plans for the house are in the collections of 
the Bowdoin College Library; but the written notations are 
in a hand different from Wheeler's. The Richardson House 
may simply be a local interpretation of the Boody House. 
Research for the Historic American Buildings Survey 
completed in 1971 yielded no documentation of either 
architect or builder. [40] 



53 



C. New Haven, Connecticut (1848-1849) 

As has already been mentioned, Wheeler had had the 
occasion of traveling in Connecticut in 1847. He had met 
Henry Austin, an architect of local renown in New Haven, 
and had established an agreement to work with him in 1847, 
only to renege in order to complete the Bowdoin 
commission. His association with Austin was apparently 
successfully postponed, as Wheeler wrote in 1848 of workinj 
in Austin's office. Other than the correspondence from 
Wheeler himself, there has been no documentation of a 
working relationship between the two architects .[ 41 ] 

Austin had apprenticed under Ithiel Town in the 
1820's, and started his own office in 1837. The work 
produced during the fifty four years of his practice 
reflected the eclectic modes of the time and included 
commissions both public and residential. Austin's 
reputation and later recognition were based primarily on 
his handling of the Italian villa. Austin's practice 
peaked in the 1850's, so that his office was very much on 
the upswing when Wheeler worked with him. Among the 
commissions on the agenda during 1848-1849 were the James 
Dwight Dana House in New Haven, which sported oriental 
motifs, and the New Haven Railroad Station, which 
incorporated both Italianate and Oriental elements. [42] 



54 



In September 1848, Wheeler wrote of his collaboration 
with Austin for a project at Trinity College: "They talk of 
erecting a college chapel and Mr. Austin and myself are I 
suppose certain of doing it. "[43] The commission however 
apparently never materialized, as no chapel was erected 
during this period. An understanding was apparently 
reached for some unspecified work "in connection with [the] 
organ at Trinity College," [44] and in 1850 was contracted 
to Austin. It is unclear, but doubtful, whether Wheeler, 
who by then was in Philadelphia, remained associated with 
the job. [45] 

Wheeler worked on another project while in Austin's 
employ, a large hotel erected in New Haven. His own 
comments on the building suggest that he had previously 
only worked in the picturesque modes of residential 
dwellings or the vocabulary of Ecclesiology . As he 
prepared the drawings for exhibit, he called them "rather 
an experiment on ray part the style being very chaste and 
purely worked but Italian; one of the fronts being very 
like Barry's Travelers Club House in London" (fig. 6). [46] 



The commission, the New Haven House, now demolished, 
on the Green at the corner of Chapel and College Streets, 
is credited to the office of Henry Austin, though Wheeler's 
involvement has not been documented. "It was five stories 
high ... [with] short second story balcony and clean concise 

55 



proportions with string courses. "[47] It is not clear if 
Wheeler designed the structure or was only the draftsman. 
If corroborated as Wheeler's design, it would represent one 
of the few public buildings attributed to Wheeler, later 
assertions to the contrary. In 1851, introductory comments 
to an article written by Wheeler for The Home Journal , a 
weekly general paper published in New York City, noted, 

though he has been eminently successful in the large 
public buildings he has designed and erected, yet rural 
architecture is his pref erence . " [ 48 ] 

It has not been possible within the scope of the 
present work to assess the influence of Wheeler's own 
designs on Henry Austin's work or the converse. At any 
rate, Wheeler's association with the New Haven architect 
was relatively short, lasting some ten months. During that 
time, as was his want, Wheeler expressed dissatisfaction 
with the nature and composition of several commissions 
coming out of the office. It would not be implausible to 
suggest that his condescending manner again led to 
uncomfortable relations. 



In addition to his association with Austin, his 
previous acquaintance with the Reverend Woods may have 
proved helpful to Wheeler in New Haven. In the same 
correspondence in which he told of working with Henry 
Austin, he asked Woods' help in introducing him to the 

56 



minister's peers in the New Haven and Hartford areas. He 
specifically requested "a few lines of introduction to Dr. 
Williams" as well as "amongst the professors" in New 
Haven. [49] 

Dr. John Williams was the recently elected president 
of Trinity College. Like Woods, his background included 
several advanced degrees, travel in France and England, and 
teaching experience .[ 50] Wheeler, may have already been 
familiar with Williams through the chapel project at 
Trinity. There is no evidence however that the 
introduction led to further commissions for Wheeler. 



The correspondence during this phase of Wheeler's 
career helps to elucidate his own aspirations and 
frustrations as architect. With his background training in 
England under Carpenter, it is not surprising to discover 
that he had hoped to work on church architecture. Through 
Reverend Woods, Wheeler sought connections in the 
ecumenical and educational world. According to 
correspondence between Woods and Richard Upjohn, Wheeler 
was introduced to Dr. Williams mentioned above, Dr. 
Croswell of the Church of the Advent in Boston, Dr. Sumner, 
a professor of botany at Trinity, and the Rev. Andrew 
Dunning, a Bowdoin graduate and minister of Congregational 
Churches in Thompson CT.[51] To date, there has been no 
evidence to suggest that any commissions evolved from these 

57 



introductions . 

Also at this time, Wheeler apparently hoped to 
establish contacts through an acquaintance in Britain, Sir 
Charles Wesley, Chaplain of St. James. A letter from 
Wesley in August of 1848 is an obvious response to a plea 
from Wheeler for assistance: "I regret exceedingly that I 
have no personal acquaintance with any of the Bishops of 
Clergymen of the Episcopal Church in America or it would 
have given me sincere gratification to have served you in 
any way by such introductions... but I will make every 
endeavor to procure you some amongst my clerical 
friends. . ."[52] 

The section on Brunswick, Maine, portrayed Wheeler's 
attempts to convince the Bowdoin College committee and 
Upjohn of the appropriateness of a more current mode of 
design for the chapel. Wheeler must have had great hopes 
of disseminating his firsthand knowledge of the recent 
innovations in church architecture and decor associated 
with the Cambridge Camden Society. His letters mention his 
regret at not being responsible for any church designs 
while in Austin's office. 



Not only did Wheeler lament the lack of church 
commissions, but he also denounced the one church design 
which Austin's firm was completing at the time, as being 

58 



"of a character that I am glad to have escaped any 

connection with." It can be inferred from this that 

Wheeler's views regarding the proper design of church 

architecture were firmly ingrained. The letter continues: 

"It will be a long while before I dare at- 
tempt to introduce anything of the kind here 
and as it is, on the whole I am rather glad 
perhaps that there are no churches going on 
as I know I should be cruelly mortified in 
having to shape my ideas of propriety and 
beauty and correctness in accordance with 
those of the 'critics' about me. "[53] 

Wheeler clearly considered that neither the American 
public nor even the architectural profession were 
sophisticated enough to appreciate the more advanced 
thoughts of an architect with his British training. Yet 
contrary to what might have been expected, his attitude 
seemed to betoken a lack of conviction and determination; 
he renounced his pursuit of Ecclesiological architecture 
only two years after his arrival in the United States. 

D. Hartford, Connecticut (1849) 



Having spent approximately a year with Austin, Wheeler 
must have felt confident enough of his design reputation or 
perhaps sufficiently frustrated with the interpretation and 
execution of modes in that office to establish his own 
practice. He had moved to Hartford by April. With rooms 
at the American House, he opened an office in the Janes' 
Building on Main Street. [54] Ironically, though very 

59 



sparse documentation as to his stay in Hartford exists, the 
legacy of his executed designs indicates that this was 
among the most prolific periods of his career. 

In June of 1849, Wheeler wrote to Upjohn for his 
assistance in procuring a draftsman Upjohn had earlier 
referred him to a Mr. Jordan, who spent several months in 
Wheeler's Hartford office on the terms of a temporary 
engagement. With business "steadily increasing", Wheeler 
found himself in need of permanent help. Two young men in 
his employ, apparently qualified only as copyists, could 
not meet the exigencies of the position of design 
assistant. Wheeler required someone he could rely upon to 
develop drawings from his designs; he was sufficiently busy 
and "called away so much that I can hardly settle down to 
anything myself in the way of drawing ."[ 55 ] 

While there may be doubts about the accuracy of 
earlier statements of his activities, the case can readily 
be made that Wheeler produced an extensive amount of work 
in Hartford. Output at this time ranged from the 
publication of designs to actual commissions. 



The first known example of Wheeler's written work 
appeared in a book for students of art, published out of 
Hartford early in 1849. Entitled The Columbian Drawing 
Book , this little volume by C. Kuchel comprises a series of 

60 



plates of sketches with accompanying written directions for 

their reproduction. The eloquent directions were Wheeler's 

contribution to the endeavor. The closing sentence evokes 

the pleasure and fulfillment to be derived from the art of 

drawing : 

"... let his eye, his heart, and his hand 
work together, and he will be repaid by the 
increased keenness of the one, the emotions 
of the other, and the skill of the third, 
for the time and thought he has 
bestowed. "[56] 

The work was well received, with reviews in several 
period journals, including The Horticulturist and The 
Literary World . T571 In each case it was recommended as a 
useful tool for the amateur desirous of learning the 
essentials of drawing. 

Wheeler's participation in the endeavor may indicate a 
need for work and an initial lack of design commissions. 
The contribution may also have been a recognition of the 
benefits of self-promotion, even in a field peripheral to 
architecture. Wheeler wrote convincingly of his subject, 
in articulate and expressive prose. As his career 
progressed, his ability to write would serve him well. 



The year 1849 also saw the publication of two 
residential designs in A.J. Downing's journal The 
Horticulturist ; in June, a design for a Villa in the Tudor 
Style, and in August, an English Cottage (the Boody House 

61 



in Brunswick, Maine, fig. 3, 4). [58] The date of Wheeler's 
signature on each contribution, May 16 and April 2 
respectively, suggest that Downing and Wheeler had 
established contact by spring of that year. The business 
relationship between the two men would lead to further 
publication opportunities for Wheeler. 

The inclusion of Wheeler's work in a respected monthly 
magazine could not help but have beneficial effects for his 
career and reputation. The magazine had great appeal among 
country 'gentlemen' of the period. Articles in the publica- 
tion dealt mainly with plants and landscaping; but as 
Downing espoused the picturesque integration of home and 
grounds, the magazine also provided a forum for architectur- 
al design. A.J. Davis, architect of many residences in the 
romantic eclecticism of the period, had already collaborat- 
ed with Downing to supply plans and elevations. 

Downing's use of Wheeler in his publications suggests 
that the latter appreciated his comfortable handling of the 
picturesque. Greek revival design still lingered in the 
hands of many architects, and the vocabulary of the 
picturesque was only beginning to gain acceptance in 
America. Downing may have seen in Wheeler a peer who could 
understand and express the formulations of the American 
picturesque . 



62 



Of the two designs, the Boody House has already been 
described in section B.3 of this chapter. It is 
interesting to note that while Downing himself evidently 
considered Wheeler's designs competent, a regular 
correspondent to The Horticulturist , Mr. Jeffreys of New 
York, rather condescendingly critiqued the English 
Cottage: "Are we never to have any American cottages? ... 
Try it again Mr. Wheeler ..."[ 59 ] 

The other design for "a Villa in the Tudor Style," was 
intended as a gentleman's country residence. With its 
irregular but harmonized massing, Wheeler considered the 
design, executed in stone or brick, to be "peculiarly adapt- 
ed to those localities where the scenery was rather sylvan 
than wild. "[60] The plan, reflected in the exterior pro- 
file, provides for large communicating drawing and dining 
rooms en suite, a small conservatory for plants, and a 
library (fig. 7, 8). 

1. The Olmstead House 



The Henry Olmstead House, in East Hartford, 
Connecticut, was one of at least two important commissions 
to come into the office during the year. As its name 
implies, this residence was designed for Henry Olmstead, 
whose family was prominent in the East Hartford area. The 
plan, essentially cruciform, dictates the exterior profile 

63 



of intersecting gables (fig. 9, 10). Constructed of wood 
and sheathed in board and batten, "the major decorative 
elements arise from structural necessity," as in the 
extended framed front veranda and arched chamber floor 
ceilings . [ 61 ] 

Like the Boody House, the Olmstead House combines in 
no uncertain terms the qualities of the picturesque and of 
Ruskinian honesty: a varied silhouette, extension of the 
house to the surrounding landscape through verandas, 
rational construction. The design has been the subject of 
study by Vincent Scully, who considered that it "reinforced 
with a new and more incisive logic the practical and 
aesthetic principles of Downing's cottage style. "[62] The 
house purportedly stands, though altered beyond 
recognition, but its continued existence has not been 
confirmed . 



The design was published two years after its erection 
in Rural Homes . It would also provide the model for the 
Willows, a house built in Morristown, New Jersey, in 1854, 
by Joseph Warren Revere (fig. 11, 12). The Willows is now 
listed on the National Register of Historic Places, as well 
as the New Jersey State Register. The plan, elevation and 
architectural details follow those of the Olmstead House 
very closely. Modifications include the opening of the 
front stair hall, enlargement of the dining room and 

64 



parlor, and the addition of a rear stair and kitchen ell. 
Wheeler was practicing in New York at the time that Revere 
began the Willows, but documentation linking the two men, 
or revealing that Wheeler had an active role in the adapted 
design, has not been discovered. 

The Olmstead House may have inspired another 
variation, the Hartwell Carver House in Pittsford, New 
York, a suburb of Rochester (fig. 13). [63] Built in 1853, 
the plan is a somewhat foreshortened cruciform, resulting 
in less exaggerated gable extension and verandas. The 
uneven intersection of the gable roof lines, the enclosed 
gable above the veranda, and the roof slope interrupted by 
dormers, all diminish the overall effect of the original 
design. The origins of the Hartwell Carver House were not 
investigated for this paper. 

2. Rockwood 

While the Olmstead House was designed to harmonize 
with its surroundings, Rockwood was an imposing stone 
mansion, prominently located atop a hill overlooking the 
Hudson River in North Tarrytown, New York. The owner, 
Edwin Bartlett, a successful merchant, had gathered several 
hundred acres to form his estate and commissioned Wheeler 
to design his home. 



65 



The asymmetrical scheme was in the castellated Gothic 
mode, and expressed in grey gneiss (fig. 14, 15). The 
front facade of the house, one hundred and forty feet long, 
was dominated by a four story corner tower rising above the 
living room. The tower was balanced, across an arched 
carriage porch, by an advancing two and a half story octago- 
nal bay. The major living spaces opened onto verandas with 
fine views of the Hudson (fig. 16). The interior finishes 
included walnut and oak panelling and a richly carved stair 
balustrade with Gothic motifs. 

Completed in 1849, the house was first pictured in a 
sketch by Edwin Whitefield, an itinerant artist who 
solicited patrons 'door to door' in the early 1850's. In a 
rendering of a neighboring estate, the profile of 
Rockwood's tower rose clearly over the trees on the 
hillside (fig. 17). [64] 



From the start, Wheeler's design received critical 
acclaim from popular journals and authors. Rockwood was 
featured in an 1856 issue of The Horticulturist , in a 
column entitled "Visits to Country Places," and was 
described as a "princely mansion ."[ 65 ] Henry Sargent, 
editor of the sixth edition of Downing's Landscape 
Gardening , lauded it again, calling it "the most marked 
place which has been created since the first edition of 
this book. "[66] A pictorial essay of the finer residences 

66 



along the Hudson, compiled by A. A. Turner in 1860, opened 
with two photolithographs of Rockwood . [ 67 ] 

Also in 1860, Knickerbocker Magazine ran two articles 
entitled "The Hudson." Though essentially a descriptive 
history of the landscapes and legends of the area, a few 
homes were highlighted — Sunnyside, residence of 
Washington Irving, and "the beautiful chateau of 
Rockwood. "[68] The design withstood the vagaries of time, 
as it again appeared among the beautiful "Homes of America" 
by Martha Lamb in 1878: "not only a fine specimen of 
mechanical skill, but a work of art and architectural 
propriety... [it] challenges comparison with the best homes 
of any country ."[ 69 ] 

The enduring popular appeal of Rockwood for some 
thirty years after its construction, was a testament to the 
facility of the architect. The estate changed hands only 
three times, and in the late 1880's, the new owner, William 
Rockefeller, nearly doubled it in size. In 1922, three 
years after his death, the once "princely mansion" was de- 
stroyed. The site is now the regional headquarters of 
I.B.M., and the only reminder of the elegant estate is the 
gate house on the Albany Post Road. [70] 



Wheeler himself was proud of the design; he would 
display it in an exhibition in Philadelphia the year after 

67 



designing it, and would include some aspect of it in two of 
his three books, Rural Homes and The Choice of a Dwelling . 
He never published an elevation however, perhaps in 
deference to his client's privacy. 

At this point in his career, Wheeler seems to have 
concentrated on domestic architecture as his predominant 
occupation. The immediate recognition and relative success 
of private works such as the Boody House and Rockwood no 
doubt pushed him toward that path. 

E. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (1849-1850) 

1 . Brookwood 

Wheeler's contributions to The Horticulturist may have 
resulted in direct contact with A.J. Downing, although 
there is only circumstantial evidence to support this. At 
the end of 1849, Downing sponsored Wheeler as he traveled 
to Philadelphia. Because he had a seemingly healthy prac- 
tice in Hartford, his trip may have been undertaken in 
anticipation of a commission. Downing had been in Philadel- 
phia the month before, helping Henry C. Fisher choose a 
site for his house. [71] He may then have recommended Wheel- 
er as an architect. At any rate, in December, Wheeler 
presented himself to Fisher with a letter from Downing. [72] 



68 



Fisher had recently purchased fifty acres of land in 
the countryside to the north of Philadelphia, and wanted a 
comfortable and luxurious country estate. With the help of 
Downing, he had chosen a site for his home and a landscap- 
ing plan; all that remained was the structure itself. 
Fisher and Wheeler first met at dinner on December 12 
1849. By December 23, Wheeler had submitted two designs 
for Fisher's approval, one Italianate, the other Elizabe- 
than. Sidney Fisher, a close relative, wrote in his dia- 
ry: "the latter is not only in itself the handsomer by 
far, in my judgement, but accords well with the picturesque 
character of the surrounding scenery ."[ 73 ] The Elizabethan 
was apparently the design adopted. As the construction of 
Brookwood progressed over the next two years, it was invari- 
ably described as elegant, convenient, and luxurious .[ 74 ] 



Much as had been the case with Rockwood, Brookwood too 
was applauded for its thoroughly considered plan and 
pleasant aspect. In the appendix to the sixth edition of 
Landscape Gardening , after the sketch of Rockwood, a brief 
entry noted that Brookwood was a "very extensive and 
complete establishment" sure to become "one of the most 
striking places near Philadelphia ."[ 75 ] The building was 
demolished in the 1960's, and no images have as yet been 
uncovered. There is reason however to speculate, as the 
next section will do, that Wheeler's design for the Fisher 
estate was printed in The Architecture of Country Houses . 

69 



2. Design Contributions 

In 1850, A.J. Downing's The Architecture of Country 
Houses was published. In it, the author featured two 
designs by "Gervase Wheeler, Esq., of Philadelphia, an 
architect of reputation ."[ 76 ] In introducing Wheeler, 
Downing expressed his respect for the architect, and 
complemented the designs their "artistic ability, combined 
with an excellent knowledge of all that belongs to domestic 
life in its best development ."[ 77 ] In just a year, 
Downing's enthusiasm would wane somewhat (see chapter IV). 

The first design, Number XXV, "A Plain Timber 
Cottage-Villa," was a slightly modified version of the 
Henry Boody house erected in Brunswick, Maine, already 
familiar to the reader. The second design, Number XXX, "An 
American Country House of the First Class," was prepared 
specifically for the book, according to Downing. 



The "Large Country House," as number XXX is 
alternately labeled, was considered a simple design by its 
author, catering to the gentleman of average means (fig. 
18, 19). The mode of expression, "without being a copy of 
any of one of the well-known Tudor or Elizabethan types, 
has as distinct a character as they have. "[78] In a scheme 
similar though less elaborate than Rockwood, the 
configuration of the plan balances the main living quarters 

70 



with the kitchen and service wing, on either side of a 
carriage porch and entrance hall. The library, drawing 
room and dining room open onto verandas and thus to the 
grounds. Wheeler suggested that the interior decor be 
simple, but continued with a prescription for stained glass 
for the windows of the halls, staircase and library. 

Country Houses appeared at approximately the same time 
as Fisher began to build Brookwood. Though no mention of 
an actual commission is made in the descriptive text 
accompanying number XXX, it is possible that this was the 
design proposed to Henry Fisher. 



Both designs were of Elizabethan character. A 
comparison of the floor plan of a Large Country House with 
the footprint of the Fisher residence from period insurance 
survey atlases, shows the same general configuration, with 
two and a half story high main block, and a service wing 
projecting off the right of the main entrance. In the 
atlases, the placement of verandas is expanded, but this 
may have occurred naturally over time (compare fig. 19 and 
20). [79] The type of residence, country home for a 
gentleman, was the same in each case. And it should be 
remembered that the design would have been submitted for 
publication some time prior to the printed date of the 
volume, thereby allowing for the lack of identification as 
to actual construction. 

71 



3. Philadelphia County Court Building 

The meeting between Wheeler and the Fishers led to an 
introduction which, had the timing been slightly different, 
might have provided Wheeler with an opportunity to work on 
a public commission. Sidney Fisher invited Wheeler to 
dinner on December 13 1849; among the other guests was Ben 
Gerhard, a member of the Common Councils of Philadelphia. 
The purpose of the introduction, Fisher stated, was to 
afford Wheeler "a chance of competing for the buildings 
about to be erected by the County for Courts, etc., on 
Independence Square ."[ 80 ] 



As early as 1823, members of the Philadelphia county 
government had considered the existing space for courts and 
offices to be insufficient, and requested additional facili- 
ties. The pleas were for the most part dismissed, until 
1849, when the Common and Select Councils sought design 
submissions for a new court house. On December 5 1849, the 
county solicitor forwarded a letter requesting approval of 
erection of a new court house; enclosed were proposals and 
estimates from three architects, John Haviland, Thomas U. 
Walter and Napoleon Lebrun.[81] Fifteen days later, the 
Select and Common Councils resolved that a county court 
house could be erected at the corner of Sixth and Walnut 
Streets on State House Square, provided architectural plans 

were approved. 

72 



The resolution drew continued controversy , and by June 
27 1850, the building committee of Common Council had 
rescinded the resolution of the previous December .[ 82 ] It 
was not until April 1866 that a site was selected on Sixth 
below Chestnut and Common Council approved and initiated 
the erection of a new court house, completed in February 
1867. 

At no point during the intervening years do the 
journals and ledgers mention Wheeler. With the submission 
on December 5 of the various proposals, Fisher's 
introduction to Gerhard may have been too late to benefit 
.Wheeler . 

4. Insurance Company of North America 

After completion of the designs for Brookwood, Wheeler 
was not without occupation. The Insurance Company of North 
America had simultaneously resolved to erect new office 
headquarters, and a building committee of three was appoint- 
ed on January 14 1850 to find an acceptable plan. 



By February 26, Wheeler had been chosen for the job. 
The method for the selection process was not discussed in 
company documents, and a survey of the corporate directors 
did not immediately suggest a contact for Wheeler. However 
plans were drawn at the request of the building committee 

73 



and the sum of $75 was paid for services rendered .[ 83 ] 

Wheeler offered to superintend the construction of the 
commission, but was apparently not hired for that particu- 
lar aspect of the project. Abraham Masson was awarded the 
contract to build the new office located at 60 Walnut 
Street (now the two hundred block of Walnut). [84] Upon its 
completion, in December 1850, the company minutes record it 
as a "beautifully appropriate building ."[ 85 ] A history of 
the company published in 1885 included an engraving of the 
building as it appeared in 1879 (fig. 21). [86] 

The masonry building was a three bay, three story 
configuration with an eclectic use of motifs. A broad flat 
set of steps, the entire width of the office, led customers 
up to the entrance. Above the incised first floor 
architrave, more classically detailed columns supported the 
segmental arches of windows with Gothic tracery. The third 
floor openings were squared off, and though repeating the 
tracery, had much flatter frames and reveals. A shaped 
gablet centered over the middle bay, adding still more 
variety to the line of the bracketed roof cornice. 



The office was subsequently demolished in August 1880, 
together with the adjoining Farquar Building to the east, 
in order to allow the erection of Cabot and Chandler's more 
spacious accommodations for the growing company. 

74 



Another project apparently undertaken at this time, 
but for which there is no information, involved the design 
of a townhouse. The only known reference to this building 
is in Wheeler's The Choice of a Dwelling of 1871. The 
author supplied only a floor plan, showing a side hall 
configuration (fig. 22). The address and date of the 
commission are not listed, and further documentation of the 
structure has not been possible to date. 

Similarly, a design for a "Small Cottage," featured in 
Rural Homes , was erected in two different locations 
according to Wheeler. The board and batten structure 
carried a steeply pitched roof with intersecting gables in 
a T shaped plan (fig. 23). No information regarding the 
client or the site was provided .[ 87 ] 

In addition to his contact through Downing and Fisher, 
Wheeler sought to promote his abilities by exhibiting his 
work at the twenty-seventh annual exhibition of the Pennsyl- 
vania Academy of Fine Arts, in 1850. He wisely chose a 
design which would meet with approbation: Rockwood, near 
Tarrytown, commissioned and constructed the previous 
year. [88] The entry indicates that Wheeler's address at 
this time was 70 Walnut Street, near the newly designed 
I.N. A. building. 



75 



[l]Hoppin to Woods, March 8 1847, Chapel Papers. 

[2]Hoppin to Woods, August 4 1847, Chapel Papers. 

[3]Nicholaus Pevsner, Some Architectural Writers of the 
Nineteenth Century (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1972), 83. 

[4]James Grant Wilson, ed., Appleton's Cyclopoedia of 
American Biography 3 (New York: D. Appleton & Co., 1888), 
261. 

[5] The Literary World 6 (New York: Osgood & Co., 1850), 
353. 

[6]Letterhead , Wheeler to Bowdoin College, April 6 
1847, Chapel Papers. 

[7]Upjohn to Woods, May 4 1847, Chapel Papers. 

[ 8 ] National Academy of Design Exhibition Record, 
1826-1860 2 (New York: New York Historical Society, 1943), 
195. 

[9]Wheeler to Woods, August 14 1847, Chapel Papers. 

[10]John B. Kirby to Ward, October 8 1982. 

[ll]Wilson, Appleton's 6, 604. 

[12]For a history of the College Chapel and its 
construction, see Ernst Christian Helmreich, Religion at 
Bowdoin College: A History (Brunswick: Bowdoin College, 
1981). 

[13]Hoppin to Woods, March 8 1847, Chapel Papers. 

[14]Woods to Hoppin, July 31 1847, Chapel Papers. 

[15]See chapter II for a discussion of the atmosphere 
in the field of architecture and Upjohn's participation in 
the development of the A. I. A. For information on Upjohn's 
career, see Everard Upjohn, Richard Upjohn . 

[16]Woods to Hoppin, July 31 1847, Chapel Papers. 

[17]Hoppin to Woods, August 4 1847, Chapel Papers. 

[18]Woods to Hoppin, July 31 1847, Chapel Papers. 

[19]Hoppin to Woods, August 4 1847, Chapel Papers. 

[20]Hoppin to Woods, August 4 1847, Chapel Papers. 

76 



[21]Ward, "Gervase Wheeler," 12. 

[22]Hoppin to Woods, April 10 1847, Chapel Papers. 

[23]Wheeler to the Building Committee, September 29 
1847, Chapel Papers. 

[24]Wheeler to the Building Committee, October 1 1847, 
Chapel Papers. 

[25]Wheeler to Upjohn, October 26 1847, Upjohn Papers, 
Box 3. 

[26]Wheeler to Woods, January 23 1848, Chapel Papers. 

[27]Wheeler to Upjohn, October 26 1847, Chapel Papers. 

[28]Wheeler, "Description of Decoration of the 
Library," December 15 1847, Chapel Papers. 

[29]Wheeler to Woods, May 12 1848, Chapel Papers. 

[30] Bulletin of the American Art Union (1851), 62. 
This article was brought to my attention by Earle 
Shettleworth of the Maine Historic Preservation Commission, 
and Arlene Palmer Schwind, of Yarmouth, Maine. 

[31]Ward, "Gervase Wheeler," 15. 

[32]Woods, undated statement, possibly end 1847, Chapel 
Papers . 

[33]Wheeler to Woods, May 10 1848, Chapel Papers. 

[34]Wheeler to Woods, May 10 1848, Chapel Papers. 

[35]Denys Peter Myers, Maine Catalog (Portland: Maine 
State Museum, 1974), 118-9. 

r36l The Horticulturist 4 (Albany: Luther Tucker, 1849), 
frontispiece and 77-79; A.J. Downing, The Architecture of 
Country Houses (New York: Dover Publications, 1969 reprint 
of 1850), design XXV. 

[37]William Brown, The Carpenter's Assistant (Boston: 
Edward Liverraore, 1853), 42, design 11. Pointed out by 
Earle Shettleworth, Maine Historic Preservation Commission. 

[38l Architectural Period Houses Inc . (Princeton, 
Massachusetts: 1978). Courtesy of Earle Shettleworth. 

r39l The Horticulturist 4 (August 1849), 77. 

77 



[40]Earle Shettleworth , Director, Maine Historic 
Preservation Commission, to Ward, September 15 1982; 
confirmed in letter to author, January 4 1988. See also 
Myers, Maine Catalog , 202. 

[41]Kirby to Ward, October 8 1982; confirmed in letter 
to author, November 16 1987. 

[42]Kirby, MacMillan Dictionary 1: 117-8. 

[43]Wheeler to Woods, September 27 1848, Chapel Papers. 

[44]Wheeler to Woods, September 27, Chapel Papers. 

[45]Kirby to Ward, September 29 1982. 

[46]Wheeler to Woods, September 27 1848, Chapel Papers. 

[47]Kirby to Ward, September 29 1982. 

r48] The Home Journal (New York: Morris & Willis, 1851), 
June 14. 

[49]Wheeler to Woods, September 27 1848, Chapel Papers. 

[50]Wilson, Appleton's 6: 526-7. 

[51]Woods to Upjohn, July 17 1851, Upjohn Papers. 

[52]Wesley to Wheeler, August 28 1848, Chapel Papers. 

[53]Wheeler to Woods, September 27 1848, Chapel Papers. 

r54l Wells' City Directory for Hartford (Hartford: J. 
Gaylord Wells, 1849), 138. The entry was accompanied by an 
ad which stated, "more than two years in America," and 
further substantiates an estimated arrival date of 1846. 

[55]Wheeler to Upjohn, June 18 1849, Upjohn Papers. 

[56]C. Kuchel, The Columbian Drawing Book (Hartford: 
Belknap & Hamersley, 1849), 10. 

r57] The Horticulturist 3 (June 1849), 573; The Literary 
World 4 (April 1849), 337. 

r58l The Horticulturist 3 (June 1849), 560-1 and 4 
(August 1849), 77-9. 

f59l The Horticulturist 4 (September 1849), 144. 

r60l The Horticulturist 3 (June 1849), 560. 

78 



[61]Robert P. Guter, "The Willows at Fosterf ields" 
(Historic Structures Report, Morristown, New Jersey, 1983), 
45. 

[62]Vincent J. Scully Jr., The Shingle Style and The 
Stick Style (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1955), lii. 
Scully used the Olmstead House as an example in developing 
his theory of the "Stick Style"; for a discussion of the 
term and its significance, see also Robert Jensen, "Board 
and Batten Siding and the Balloon Frame," JSAH 30 
(1971) :40-50, and Sarah Landau, "Richard Morris Hunt, the 
Continental Picturesque, and the Stick Style," JSAH 42 
(1983):272-289. 

[63]Jean R. France, Professor of Fine Arts, University 
of Rochester, to Ward, November 29 1982; image courtesy of 
Ms. France. 

[64]John Zukowsky, Hudson River Houses: Edwin 
Whitefield's "The Hudson River and Railroad Illustrated" 
(Croton on Hudson: North River Press Inc., 1981 facsimile 
of c.1850), 50. 

[65] The Horticulturist n.s.6 (November 1856), 497. 

[66]A.J. Downing, A Treatise on the Theory and Practice 
of Landscape Gardening (New York: A.O. Moore & Co., 1859, 
6th edition), 552. 

[67]A.A. Turner Villas on the Hudson (New York: DaCapo 
Press, 1977 reprint of 1860). 

[ 68] Knickerbocker New York Monthly Magazine (New 
York: Samuel Hueston, 1860), 137 (image) and 142. 

[69]Martha J. Lamb, The Homes of America (New York: D. 
Appleton & Co., 1879), 162 and 224. 

[70]John Zukowsky, Hudson River Villas (New York: 
Rizzoli International Publications Inc., 1985), 107. 

[71]Fisher Diaries, November 5 1849. 

[72]Fisher Diaries, December 12 1849. 

[73]Fisher Diaries, December 23 1849. 

[74]Fisher Diaries, August 16 1850, June 16 1851, 
December 31 1851. 

[75]Downing, Landscape Gardening , 555. 

79 



[76]Downing, Country Houses , 330. 

[77]Downing, Country Houses , 330. 

[78]Downing, Country Houses , 338. 

[79] Smedley 's Atlas of the City of Philadelphia , 22nd 
ward (Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott & Co., 1862); Atlas of 
the City of Philadelphia , 22nd ward (Philadelphia: G.M. 
Hopkins C.E., 1885); Insurance Map of the City of 
Philadelphia , 33, 22nd ward (Philadelphia: Ernest Hexamer & 
Son, 1898). 

[80]Fisher Diaries, December 12 1849. 

r81~l Journal of the Select Council (Philadelphia: Cressy 
& Markley, 1850), 45. 

[82] Journal of the Common Council (Philadelphia: King & 
Baird, 1850), 170. 



189. 



[83]I.N.A., "Directors' Minutes" (February 26 1850), 

[84]I.N.A. "Directors' Minutes," (March 12 1850), 191. 

[85]I.N.A. "Directors' Minutes" (December 24 1850), 
216. 

[86]Thomas H. Montgomery, A History of the Insurance 
Company of North America (Philadelphia: Press of Review 
Publishing & Printing Co., 1885), opposite 90. 

[87]Wheeler, Rural , 161. 

[88]Anna Wells Rutledge ed., Cumulative Record of 
Exhibition Catalogues; the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine 
Arts 1807-1870 (Philadelphia: American Philosophical 
Society, 1955), 251. 



80 



V. Popular Success. New York and Norwichtown (1851-1860) 



By February 1851, Wheeler had moved away from 
Philadelphia and returned to New York.[l] Awaiting more 
permanent offices, he rented rooms at 304 West Fourteenth 
Street; by May he was listed in the city directory as 
Architect, University, Washington Square. [2] Wheeler, as 
was clear in Hartford, recognized the advertising 
possibilities of listing in the directory. In a letter 
written in March, Wheeler appealed to Richard Upjohn, whom 
he had met in the context of the College Chapel commission 
at Bowdoin, for potential odd jobs, only until May, the 
date of issuance of the directory. 

As the above suggests, Wheeler began immediately to 
seek contacts for commissions. He apparently met early on 
the editors of The Home Journal , Nathanial Parker Willis 
and George Morris, for on March 1 1851, the first in a 
series of sixteen articles authored by Wheeler appeared in 
this popular weekly magazine (to be discussed in a later 
part of this chapter). 



Wheeler's letter to Upjohn in March announced his new 
location, and was written with the aim of enlisting 
Upjohn's help. The relationship between the two men is 
somewhat ambiguous. During the project at Bowdoin, Wheeler 

81 



had antagonized Upjohn and a great deal of tension had 
resulted. Still, the contact was established, and in 
apparent recognition of Upjohn's influence in the field of 
architecture, Wheeler turned to him. He offered his 
services and expertise for any commissions which Upjohn 
might find himself unable to fulfill: "if at any time you 
. . . have work you cannot from press of business undertake I 
shall be very happy to have it placed in my hands and will 
do my best. . ."[3] 

Wheeler claimed that his practice had thrived in the 
intervening years since the Bowdoin Chapel commission: 
"Since I last saw you, I have done a great deal in various 
parts of the country and very successfully." By this time, 
he was referring to his designs for the Olmstead House, 
Rockwood, Brookwood, and the I.N. A. Building. 



The accuracy of Wheeler's assurance of activity may 
have been slanted by a tendency to exaggeration evidenced 
previously. A half dozen designs in approximately two 
years could not have been considered prolific. Further, a 
successful and busy practice, as related to Upjohn in the 
above excerpt, would hardly require him to actively seek 
work from his peers. An architect would be inclined to 
pass over only commissions in inconvenient locations, with 
difficult clients, or which presented no particular design 

challenge . 

82 



On the other hand, the simple question of geography- 
should be recognized in understanding Wheeler's new need 
for contacts in New York. Having worked first in Maine, 
then Connecticut, and later Philadelphia, whatever 
clientele and reputation were established would have 
remained in those areas. Letters of introduction, 
recommendation or regular correspondence would then have 
formed the basis for the development of a new clientele; 
the existence of any such documents is unknown. Under the 
circumstances, the most natural response for Wheeler was to 
turn to previously made associations, like Upjohn and in 
all likelihood Hoppin, for assistance and references. 



After only some six months in New York, something 
occurred to propel Wheeler to Norwichtown, Connecticut. 
Richard Upjohn was working on a church design in Norwich in 
the summer of 1851, and it may be that, despite previous 
difficulties, as a gesture of good will he proposed Wheeler 
to have a look at it. However, by July of that year, 
Wheeler had once again tactlessly insinuated himself into 
Upjohn's affairs. Upjohn wrote Reverend Woods in Brunswick 
of Wheeler's presence in Norwich, beseeching his help in 
keeping him at bay. [4] If previous experience is an 
indication, Wheeler undoubtedly did not restrain his own 
criticism of the evolving project. Upjohn considered 
Wheeler's interference "mischievous... pranks and 
favours . " [ 5 ] 

83 



Woods promptly replied that while he himself would not 
volunteer information on Wheeler's past track record, he 
could suggest a long list of names to whom the people of 
Norwich might address their inquiries as to Wheeler's 
reputation: Dr. Croswell of the Church of the Advent in 
Boston, Dr. Sumner in Hartford, George F. Dunning of the 
Mint of Philadelphia, his brother Reverend Andrew Dunning 
in Thompson, Connecticut, whom Woods had introduced to 
Wheeler over the course of their acquaintance in Brunswick, 
and William Hoppin of New York and Professor Smyth and Mr. 
McKeen of Brunswick. These men, if asked, would "put them 
on their guard about Mr. Wheeler. "[6] 

The exchange between Upjohn and Woods was an 
unequivocal disapproval of Wheeler's character, and a 
reflection of the difficult relations at Bowdoin. Despite 
this, Wheeler not only remained in the area, but 
established an office in Norwichtown. It seems probably 
that Wheeler became busy with his own work, and no longer 
disturbed Upjohn. By the end of May, Wheeler had decided 
to expand the articles he had been writing for The Home 
Journal into a book, published in the summer, which he 
signed from Norwichtown, Connecticut. 



In June 1852, an advertisement in the Genessee Farmer 
solicited "professional engagements from those desirous of 
building," for Gervase Wheeler, Norwichtown, Connecticut. 

84 



The services offered included "designs for residences, 
churches, schoolhouses , arrangement of grounds and 
out-buildings and for internal decoration ."[ 7 ] 
Documentation regarding the execution of projects during 
this period is sparse, and as shall be seen in section 5 of 
this chapter, is limited to Wheeler's own word on the 
subject . 

Wheeler continued to travel during these years as he 
had done since his arrival. Most notable among his trips 
was a return to Europe, tentatively placed at the end of 

1852. Little is known of this trip, though Wheeler 
specifically mentioned having been in London. [8] By July 

1853, he was back in the United States. A notice in The 
Horticulturist announced: "The friends of Gervase Wheeler, 
the accomplished architect and author of Rural Homes will 
be glad to learn that he has returned from Europe and 
resumed the practice of his prof ession . " [ 9 ] The notice was 
supplemented by ads placed by Wheeler himself, in the 
August and November issues of the magazine .[ 10] 



Wheeler chose at this time to settle in New York, 
where he would remain until 1860. His office was initially 
established at 55 Trinity Building, and he worked out of 
these premises from July 1853 through 1854. [11] During his 
time in New York, Wheeler relocated offices on the average 
every other year. The city directories listed his practice 

85 



at 16 Nassau Building in 1855, 430 Broome Street in 
1856-1857, 18 William Street in 1858-1859, and the Post 
Office Building in Brooklyn in 1860. Such continual 
changes in location appear not to have been particularly 
unusual or significant for a professional at this time. 
Other architects, Robert Mills and Minard Lafever, for 
instance, had done the same; Lafever's biographer, Jacob 
Landy, affirmed "there is no basis for assuming ... poor 
business judgement ... to explain the many changes of 
office location. "[12] 

While frequent moves marked the professional side of 
Wheeler's life, his private residence was unchanged from 
1854 to 1860. The city directories consistently listed 1 
Elm Place in Brooklyn, at the northwest corner of 
Livingston Street, a few blocks from the Brooklyn Borough 
Hall, in a middle class residential neighborhood .[ 13 ] 



No primary source information regarding the staffing 
of Wheeler's office during these years has come to light, 
however one architect is alleged to have apprenticed under 
him. A group photo of the members of the American 
Institute of Architects taken in 1883, and illustrated in 
the pages of the February 1884 issue of The American 
Architect and Building News , included New York based Henry 
Hudson Holly. The brief biography associated with the 
picture stated that Holly had begun his study of 

86 



architecture under Wheeler in 1854, leaving the latter's 
office in 1856 to train in Britain. [14] In the 
introduction to the 1977 reprint of Holly's books, Country 
Seats (1863) and Modern Dwellings (1878), Michael Tomlan 
logically, although without documentation, attributes 
Holly's decision to travel to England to his employer's 
urging. [ 15] 



Holly worked with Wheeler at the time when the latter 
was writing his second book, H omes for the People (1855). 
It is safe to assume that, if Holly did not in fact 
collaborate on the volume, he was familiar with the ideas 
and designs which Wheeler elaborated. Holly himself wrote 
and published a pattern book in 1863, Country Seats . In 
the preface, the author noted that "the work was fully 
prepared for the press some two years since," but its 
publication was hindered by the outbreak of the Civil 
War. [16] In other words, Holly had drafted his book in 
late I860, early 1861, immediately following Wheeler's 
departure for England. 



' The contents and organization of Homes for the People 
will be discussed in the later on, but some of the 
similarities between the two architects' work bear 
mention. Both books addressed and appealed to the general 
public as opposed to a specifically professional audience. 
Country Seats began as had Homes for the People with a 

87 



brief history of architecture, and devoted several pages to 
a differentiation of the types of homes sought by differing 
classes of people. Several of Holly's designs, though 
modified in plan, presented combinations of motifs or 
proportions reminiscent of Wheeler's work in Homes for the 
People , f 1 7 1 

As the book's audience represented prospective 
clients, Holly, like Wheeler, championed hiring an 
architect for the planning of a country house. He also 
followed Wheeler's example and noted that the designs were 
"not intended for model houses, to be copied for all 
localities, but simply to show how important it is to have 
an original design adapted to the peculiarities of 
site. "[18] 



In addition to the parallels between the architects' 
books, the manner in which each defined his professional 
course was similar. Holly, like Wheeler, had designed 
actual commissions, but both relied rather more heavily 
upon the publication of writings and popularization of 
domestic designs. Repeating a pattern set by Wheeler in 
1851, Holly began contributing a series of articles 
entitled "Modern Dwellings, Their Construction, Decoration 
and Furniture" to Harper's New Monthly Magazine in 1876. 
The series would become the foundation for his book, Modern 
Dwellings , published in 1878. [19] 



The most conspicuous difference between the careers of 
the two men lay in organizational associations. Unlike 
Wheeler, Holly was from the outset involved in the A. I. A., 
and was elected to Fellowship in 1858, even before 
Wheeler's departure. 

Of particular importance in Wheeler's practice at this 
time were his published writings. He contributed essays to 
period journals, foremost among them The Home Journal , and 
compiled his own books for publication. 

The Home Journal was described by its editors, George 
Pope Morris and Nathanial P. Willis, as a chronicle of 
fashion, society, theatre and the arts, leaving "the 
details of politics and heavier matters to the daily 
newspapers ."[ 20] Like most journals of the period, 
contributors were seldom paid for their pieces, and 
articles were often printed anonymously .[ 21 ] But The Home 
Journal was considered somewhat more sophisticated than its 
competitors, with writing which often approached the level 
of literature. 



The recitation of events with regard to Wheeler's 
association with The Home Journal is purely conjectural. 
Willis, who sought out new contributors to maintain a fresh 
magazine, may have met Wheeler in person. Willis may have 
encouraged Wheeler to submit a series of articles making 

89 



use of his knowledge of architecture. As can best be 
ascertained, with the exception of the introduction to the 
Columbian Drawing Book and the submissions to The 
Horticulturist in 1849, this was the beginning of Wheeler's 
writing career. While the articles were not signed, the 
initials "G.W." may have been enough to identify Wheeler 
from other architects practicing in New York. This subtle 
means of recognition may have meant a possible source of 
future commissions. 

The articles for the most part belonged to a segment 
entitled "On Perfecting a Home". [22] The editors 
introduced the series with enthusiasm and confidence, 
promoting its author as "an eminent and practical 
architect" and "emphatically commend[ing] our correspondent 
and his views to the reader's attention" (March 1). Though 
a pitch for Wheeler, the compliment also was a promotion 
for the paper itself. The editors of The Home Journal , 
years later in 1855, when reviewing Wheeler's second book, 
would "claim an interest" in the success of the architect 
as a result of having provided their periodical as a 
forum. [23] 



"On Perfecting a Home" addressed the definition of 
fitness and realization of comfort in the American home. 
The first article in the series appeared on March 1 1851. 
Entitled "Home, How to Build One Cheaply and Well," it 

90 



began with the distinction between a house and a home. The 
latter, Wheeler asserted, was different for its being 
suited to the client, and depended greatly on the skills 
and abilities of a professional architect. As usual, there 
was a self-promotional tone in the work. Wheeler, having 
defined the need for "practical statements, easily 
understood directions, evident reasons, common sense 
determinations," proceeded to provide them. 

The basic considerations in building any house 
included "convenient arrangement, facility of construction 
and of repair, perfect protection from heat and cold, 
adequate means of warming and ventilating, congruity with 
the scenery around" (March 1). Having stated these points 
at the outset, they provided the impetus for the series. 



The discussion in the first article was the choice of 
site (March 1), derived from principles of shelter, shade, 
access to water and views, not distant, but of "the 
familiar objects near the eye that are varying ever..." 
The arrangement of a house concentrated specifically on the 
compass orientation of rooms for maximal comfort and 
convenience. The kitchen, for instance, belonged at the 
north side, "leaving more desirable points of the compass 
for the main building"; if the main meal of the household 
was midday, the dining room was to be oriented east, or if 
evening supper was preferred, west, for best natural 

91 



lighting. North was to be avoided for the entrance because 
of the threat of penetration of cold and winds; the 
southern exposure was reserved for the most often used 
room, the parlor or salon. As a factor of fitness, Wheeler 
considered that the rural or suburban house required no 
formal parlor, "too party-ish and pretentious for the 
country" (March 1). 

Each article or grouping, when the subject 
necessitated, tackled a particular topic, such as building 
to suit the landscape, materials and their treatment in 
construction, ventilation and heating, outbuildings, 
furniture, and examples of home types. Wheeler described 
several designs, the "Modern Italian Bracketted Style," 
"Summer Lodge," "Suburban Villa" and "Southern Home." 

Concerns which paralleled the picturesque point of 
view and the theories of Downing were evident in the 
articles. Full consideration of the house within the 
landscape meant that "the building and the grounds, the 
natural objects and the result of art, are in perfect 
congruity" achieving "home beauty" (April 19). And "a home 
in the sunny south is a very different thing to arrange to 
one suited to a northern clime" (July 5). 



In addition to the series "On Perfecting a Home," 
Wheeler submitted an article which, though not directly 

92 



related to architecture, was again a subtle form of 
self-promotion. "The Hudson and the Rhine" (June 14) 
really had nothing to do with the Rhine, other than raise a 
romantic parallel. Wheeler described the beauty of the 
Hudson River Valley and the numerous ideal locations for 
country dwellings. Signed simply "G.W.," by this time 
regular readers were probably familiar with the 
correspondent. 

A similar article, "Upstream," by G.W., appeared years 
later, on June 2 1855. It coincided with the publication 
of Wheeler's second book, and shared the pages of The Home 
Journal with a review of this latest volume. Once again, 
the subject matter was the Hudson River Valley, and 
provided the opportunity for planting the germ of 
association between constructing a country home and hiring 
an architect like Wheeler. 



The continuing editorial comments which accompanied 
Wheeler's articles seem to indicate that the pieces were 
favorably received. With the second article in the March 8 
issue, the editors noted that "we find that we responded to 
a want of the Public Mind, by introducing our writer." A 
month later, the April 12 article opened with the following 
tribute: "his ideas have been so suited to the Public 
Want, that most of them, as they have appeared, have taken 
shape in the plans of projected houses in the country." 

93 



The basis for these statements is never clear, nevertheless 
the continuation of the series does suggest its popular 
appeal . 

The success of the articles in The Home Journal 
emboldened Wheeler to publish a compiled version of his 
thoughts. At the end of his article describing an Entrance 
Lodge, Wheeler said, "urged by many friends, I have 
enlarged upon the topics that have now connected me with 
the readers of The Home Journal more than three months, and 
shall shortly publish a volume upon 'Rural Homes'..." (May 
24). He had already chosen the title, and the resulting 
work was published later that year by Charles Scribner, New 
York. 



Comparison of the two groups of material shows that 
the book was essentially an elaboration of the articles. 
In fact, many of the articles were transcribed verbatim or 
with a minor transposition of paragraphs, and correspond to 
chapters or parts thereof. Others were refined, edited or 
expounded for the consolidated version. For example, 
chapter II, "General Arrangement of a House Upon the 
Ground," corresponded to the second article in the series, 
but included a disclaimer to the effect that Wheeler's 
designs were "not for actual embodiment and execution," 
rather to serve as models which an architect might 
translate for the client. In another instance, the 

94 



depiction of "A Suburban Villa," the tense was changed from 
article to book, implying that the house was erected in the 
interim between publication of the two. 



Rural Homes was naturally fuller than The Home Journal 
series, and several chapters and sections were added. 
These included descriptions of "The Homestead," "The 
Parsonage," "Cottages," "Artificial Warming," "Practical 
Directions to Amateurs Before Proceeding to Build," "Rural 
Architecture as Fine Art," and addenda to three other 
chapters . 

In introducing the book, Wheeler indicated his 
intention of presenting, in organized fashion, 
considerations in the choice and construction of a country 
home which his audience might find useful. He stated, "I 
claim no title to originality," recognizing perhaps his 
debt to the British picturesque and the precedent of 
Downing's influential books. 



Rural Homes was well received by the popular press. 
Of nine known reviews only two voiced negative comments. 
The reviews appeared in popular journals for the home, such 
as Harper's New Monthly Magazine , Godey's Home Journal , in 
somewhat more literary publications, such as the American 
Whig Review and the Literary World , and in gardening and 
country oriented magazines like the Genessee Farmer and The 

95 



Horticulturist (see Appendix D for citations). An ad for 
the book in The Genessee Farmer quoted from two religious 
reviews in the Philadelphia Presbyterian and Hartford 
Religious Herald , and two daily journals, the NY Evening 
Mirror and Albany Spectator . \ 24 1 



In every case, the reviews applauded the usefulness of 
the volume and the practical, comprehensive information 
contained therein. An enthusiasm for the quality and 
clarity of the presentation of material and the attractive, 
flowing style pervaded even the negative reviews. The 
American Whig Review opened their critique of Rural Homes 
with the following representative commentary: "This is not 
only elegantly written, but an exceedingly sensible book... 
Within a short compass, Mr. Wheeler has gracefully sketched 
off what may be done to recognize and realize the highest 
demands of taste, comfort and elegance, even with moderate 
means. "[25] The Genessee Farmer concluded that "the 
pleasure and instruction we have derived makes us feel 
grateful to the author, and bespeak for his book a place in 
the library of every intelligent person whoever expects to 
build or improve a suburban, village, or country 
house. "[26] In August of that year, in response to a 
reader's inquiry for good source references on rural 
domestic architecture, landscaping and fruit gardening, the 
editor of The Genessee Farmer suggested, "Three good works 
for you — Downing's Landscape Gardening , Wheeler's Rural 

96 



Homes , Barry's Fruit Garden ."[ 27 ] 

One of the negative reviews was found in Sartain ' s 
Magazine , published in Philadelphia. Though recognizing 
Rural Homes to be an "intelligent work" in 
"straightforward, intelligible" language, Wheeler was 
criticized for being "unfortunately deficient in fine 
artistic taste," with the exception of the "unquestionable 
elegance in effect" of a design for a "Southern Home. "[28] 



The uncomplimentary comments in the pages of The 
Horticulturist came from A.J. Downing, who but a year 
earlier had been promoting Wheeler .[ 29 ] Downing, generally 
recognized as the leading authority on American picturesque 
domestic architecture, took exception to Wheeler's 
description of his designs as "suited to American Country 
Life." Downing specifically attacked the frontispiece of 
Rural Homes , a composition called "The Homestead," for "how 
transparent is the fiction which covers Mr. Wheeler's 
English education." Calling it a bastard style of 
Elizabethan, he lamented, "Oh Mr. Wheeler! this may be 
sweetly pretty and it may be built for twelve thousand, but 
is is not a house suited to the American climate." The 
most blatant attack on Wheeler came in a discussion of the 
influence of foreign architect in America; Downing called 
Wheeler a "pseudo-architect" with "too small a smattering 
of professional knowledge" and an "incapacity to understand 

97 



our people or their wants." 

Downing may have been reacting to the competition 
presented by Wheeler's book. Works by both men were 
popular, however Rural Homes was "of less bulk and cost 
than Mr. Downing's book, but contains much that is valuable 
on the sub ject . " [ 30 ] In other words, the book provided 
much the same information for the general reader and was 
more accessible. 

In spite of his reservations, Downing found two areas 
in which the book excelled. He conceded that Wheeler 
evidenced culture and aesthetic discrimination, and he 
concurred with the other reviews as to the quality of 
Wheeler's presentation: "eminently readable, abounds with 
many excellent suggestions, especially as to matters of 
taste." 



What made Downing's critique particularly interesting 
was the prior rapport the two gentlemen had shared. As 
discussed in chapter IV, Downing had earlier been a 
supporter of Wheeler's work. He had from the outset 
recognized the English tradition inherent in Wheeler's 
designs and views, and commended them for their 
distinctiveness. In this same context, it is ironic to 
note that a review of Downing's The Architecture of Country 
Houses (1850) in the Literary World , though lauding his 

98 



work as invaluable to those considering building, criti- 
cized it for its inability to present an American style of 
country architecture in lieu of modified European 
styles. [31] 

In addition to the reviews for Rural Homes , editors of 
what were termed eclectic journals exhibited sufficient 
general interest in Wheeler's work to reprint excerpts in 
their publications. Among these, the North American 
Miscellany reprinted "The Suburban Villa," one of several 
essays from the pages of The Home Journal , "which paper 
very decidedly and very justly commends them to its 
readers ."[ 32 ] Similarly, the Genessee Farmer , reproduced 
Wheeler's design and description for "A Suburban 
Cottage ."[ 33 ] And The Home Journal , true to its cause, 
excerpted "The Present Metallic Age" from the pages of 
Wheeler's "admirable little book. "[34] 



Several years later.in 1855, Wheeler was again ready 
to publish another book, Homes for the People . He had in 
fact been working on a volume in 1854, but the manuscript 
and all related papers, including the etchings, were 
destroyed in a fire prior to going to press. [35] The work 
was taken up again, from memory, according to the author. 
Wheeler noted that the impetus for publishing anew lay in 
the numerous requests for assistance and professional 
advice "from all parts of the country," which suggest his 

99 



popular appeal and the considerable success of his first 
book. But Wheeler's desire to publish may also have meant 
a lack of actual commissions in his practice. 

Generally, Homes for the People differed from Rural 
Homes in its more concise and strictly organized format. 
When Wheeler wrote his first book, he was at the forefront 
of picturesque architectural expression in this country. 
The book had mirrored the romanticism of the mode in its 
stylistic presentation. Four years later, Wheeler adopted 
a more practical format. The variety of architectural 
motifs began to decrease, and the crisp, dramatic profiles 
of the earlier designs gave way to more uniformly massed 
silhouettes. The homogeneous character of the models lent 
itself to a more rigid treatment of the descriptive text. 
Substantially larger than Rural Homes , this second effort 
contained half again as many pages, plates and designs. It 
reflected Wheeler's broader experience in the American 
market, including twice as many executed residences as the 
first book. 



In Homes for the People , Wheeler devoted a separate 
chapter to the historical background and development of 
various architectural manifestations such as the Gothic and 
Italian modes. In discussing the patterns themselves, he 
stressed the importance of achieving "unity of effect" 
within the design and between house and landscape, a theme 

100 



carried through from his first writings. Drawing on his 
interest in interior decoration to a greater extent than in 
Rural Homes , Wheeler sketched in detail his ideas for the 
interior plan and decor of many of the designs. 

Several of the designs illustrated had appeared 
previously, such as a design for a Suburban Villa, erected 
near Norwich Connecticut, illustrated in the August 1853 
issue of The Horticulturist . \ 36 1 Others were reprinted in 
other publications, for instance "A Villa Mansion in the 
Italian Style" which appeared months later in the pages of 
The Horticulturist. [37] 



The reviews for Wheeler's second book were once again 
fairly consistent, with approbation for the style and 
presentation of the material and its practical contents. 
The Horticulturist for instance remarked upon the 
attractive, illustrations and practical arrangement of 
chapters; the review continued with a compliment on 
Wheeler's writing skills, and his "faculty of expressing 
his ideas in refined and very agreeable language ."[ 38 ] 
Another review in a popular journal considered the work a 
compendium of useful suggestions on construction and 
"carefully-digested plans. "[39] The Knickerbocker praised 
Wheeler's juxtaposition of designs with text, thereby 
keeping the interest of the general reader. [40] And 
showing their continued support, The Home Journal editors 

101 



included a portion of the work in their columns and 
commended "the ease and graceful style of Mr. Wheeler's 
writing" (March 12 1855). Willis and Morris also made 
reference to the popularity of Homes for the People , by 
noting that Scribner had published the book at a low price, 
anticipating high sales (June 2 1855). 



The only hostile review, and a serious one at that, 
came from the editors of The Builder , out of London. It 
scathingly accused Wheeler of plagiarism. Copyright laws 
did not exist at this time, and though many authors like 
Dickens lobbied for them, the practice of appropriating 
source material for one's own texts was widespread. The 
Builder apparently considered Wheeler's plagiarism 
unusually bold: "the author has appropriated the writings 
of others in the most extraordinary manner, without the 
slightest acknowledgment ." [41 ] The anonymous critic 
substantiated his accusation by running passages from Homes 
for the People side by side with the anonymous work 
entitled "History in Ruins — a Handbook of Architecture 
for the Unlearned," previously published as a series in the 
magazine. Indeed, in each case, Wheeler's words reproduce 
in remarkably similar terms, though with vocabulary 
embellishments, the running thoughts of the original work. 



In addition to his two books, Wheeler occasionally 
submitted designs and articles for publication in other 

102 



journals and works. Reference has already been made to 
Wheeler's English Cottage and Villa in the Tudor Style 
reprinted in the 1849 volume of The Horticulturist ; this 
was followed in 1853 by inclusion of a Design for an 
Italian Villa, and in 1855 with "A Villa Mansion ."[ 42 ] 
Downing had criticized Wheeler's Rural Homes , and may have 
been disappointed by the latter's professional conduct. 
His sponsorship had ended in 1849, and the other 
contributions did appeared only after Downing's death in 
1850. 

The Design for an Italian Villa was alternately called 
a Suburban Villa (fig. 24, 25). [43] It was said to have 
been recently erected in Norwich, Connecticut. The design, 
constructed of brick dressed with Portland stone, featured 
a tower from which could be seen a "commanding prospect," 
and wooden verandas. In describing his design, Wheeler 
used the terms picturesque and bold, and thought that the 
mass harmonized with the surrounding scenery — all notions 
in keeping with the picturesque and with Wheeler's own 
presentation of appropriate domestic architecture. 



In May 1855, The Horticulturist reproduced a Villa 
Mansion from the pages of Homes for the People (fig. 26, 
27). [44] The house was supposed to have been erected by 
Wheeler, on a site overlooking the Long Island Sound, 
between Rye and Portchester, New York. In the Italian 

103 



style, it was designed with the very specific needs of the 
client in mind: a sloping prospect which required 
terracing, a plan which catered to and allowed for the 
family's entertaining. 

The year 1853 saw the publication of A Book of Plans 
for Churches and Parsonages .[ 45 ] This volume was an 
integral part of a program of purification and 
consolidation begun by the Congregational Churches of 
America. At a convention held in Albany, New York, in 
October 1852, the Congregational Ministers, authorized the 
assemblage of designs with specifications and estimates for 
possible use in the construction of frontier churches. The 
committee responsible for procuring and presenting these 
designs solicited them from ten practicing architects, 
including Henry Austin, Henry Cleaveland, James Renwick, 
Richard Upjohn and Gervase Wheeler. 



The entries by Wheeler included a church and two 
parsonage designs. The church plan was for a frame 
building which could hold one hundred and fifty people. It 
provided for the needs of a village or frontier town by 
allowing for timber construction, which Wheeler considered 
would be the most readily available construction material. 
The various community activities were gathered under a 
single roof: worship space, school adjunct areas including 
a schoolroom, library, lecture room, and on the opposite 

104 



side a study and vestry for the minister. The whole was 
spread over two stories, behind the nave. 

This plan is the only known published church design of 
Wheeler's career in America, [46] although in 1858 he 
undertook the design of the Stone Chapel at Williams, which 
was similar in program to the College Chapel at Bowdoin 
College (see section 2 in this chapter). The front 
elevation was asymmetrical, with belfry tower rising on the 
left, and paired main entrance doors. Gothic motifs 
pervaded the exterior in the form of pointed arch windows, 
and drip mouldings. 

The parsonage houses were adaptations of designs 
prepared for Homes for the People . Design No. Ill, in an 
Italian mode, corresponded to A Small Villa, while No. IV 
represented A Rustic Parsonage .[ 47 ] In concluding his 
contribution to the book, Wheeler offered his services to 
those considering erecting one of his buildings: "if any 
further explanation can help its erection in the numerous 
church settlements of the growing west, a letter to the 
publishers of this work, addressed to G. Wheeler, 
Architect, will cheerfully be replied to." 



As the contributions to A Book of Plans indicated, 
Wheeler did not at this time limit his activities to 
domestic designs. In 1856, The Banker's Magazine and 

105 



Statistical Register , published out of New York by I. Smith 
Homans, printed "The Architecture of Country Banks" by 
Wheeler. [48] The Bankers' Magazine was the leading 
financial periodical of its day. [49] Catering to a broad 
banking community, it provided contiguous services, such as 
designs for banking facilities. 

The article featured two alternate designs for country 
banks, which addressed the sorely neglected need of rural 
banking for an architecture reflecting its environment. 
Invoking the theme of fitness, Wheeler proposed that 
country banks acquire their own architectural expression, 
instead of applying traditionally used urban motifs. The 
building design was to achieve "individual character," 
adaptation to "circumstances of locality," "convenient and 
sensible building" and "harmony with its expressed 
intention." 



The list of known commissions during this period 
derives from two separate sources. On the one hand are 
those structures for which there is evidence of 
participation or construction in the form of primary 
documents, on the other are the miscellaneous residential 
works referred to by the author in his writing. The first 
group comprises but five known examples during the nine 
years of Wheeler's residence in New York; all of these 
clustered between 1857 and 1859. The second group, after 

106 



taking into account repetitive references, consists of no 
more than eighteen designs. 

1. The Patrick Barry House 

Wheeler's contributions to The Horticulturist and The 
Genessee Farmer suggest the means by which he obtained the 
contract to design the Patrick Barry House in Rochester, 
New York. Patrick Barry, an Irish teacher, turned his 
attention in 1840 to horticulture, and established with 
George Ellwanger a nursery in Rochester. His enthusiasm 
and abilities, undoubtedly enhanced by his experience as 
educator, led by 1844 to the editorship of The Genessee 
Farmer , a position held until 1852. After Downing's death, 
Barry resigned from The Genessee Farmer to assume the same 
post at The Horticulturist from 1852 to 1854. [50] Wheeler 
was published by Barry during his tenure as editor of both 
magazines . 



When Barry's house burned down in October 1856, he 
turned to Wheeler for the design of his new house. It is 
not clear whether the two men had actually met, or if 
Barry's familiarity with Wheeler's work led him to the 
commission. The Ellwanger and Barry Nursery records show 
that construction was begun early in 1857, and with final 
payments made in January 1859. For his submission, Wheeler 
was paid a lump sum of $95 "for paym. of a/c."[51] In 

107 



other words, Wheeler's commission was limited to drawing up 
the designs. The inference is further supported by 
documented payment of $300 to Austin and Warner, architects 
(not the Henry Austin under whom Wheeler worked in New 
Haven), in 1858; they supervised the actual 
construction. [52] 

The design erected is an Italianate villa in rose-red 
brick with a tower resembling a campanile, verandas, and 
irregularly massed profile (fig. 28, 29). The eaves are 
bracketed, and windows framed by distinctive arched 
limestone mouldings. Much as in previous plans, the 
communicating library and parlor, which open onto verandas, 
are balanced across the entry hall by the service wing. 
Interior appointments include marble fireplaces, grained 
woodwork, and ornamental plaster ceilings. The house has 
been restored and is now the residence of the President of 
the University of Rochester. 

The ledger entry for payment to Wheeler included a sum 
in addition to the $95 for the Patrick Barry House: $70 
for George Ellwanger. Although there is no description or 
documentation to clarify the reason for this payment, it 
may indicate that a set of drawings was also supplied to 
Ellwanger. [53] 



108 



2. The Stone Chapel (Goodrich Hall), Williams College 

Ten years after his experience with Bowdoin College, 
Wheeler had the opportunity of again working for an 
institutional client in 1857. Much as had been the case at 
Bowdoin, the Trustees of Williams College, by mid- 
nineteenth century, were in need of enlarged facilities. 
In 1856, they resolved to commission an architect for the 
purpose . 

Correspondence from Gervase Wheeler to the Reverend 
Calvin Durfee in July 1857 indicates that Wheeler had been 
contacted for his services. No evidence has been found to 
indicate how he acquired the commission .[ 54] It may have 
been through prior acquaintances with either Reverend 
Woods, at Bowdoin, or Reverend Williams, at Trinity 
College, despite their apparent mistrust of Wheeler 
discussed earlier. Both ministers were active, well known, 
and may have corresponded with their peer at Williams. 



At any rate, by June 1857, Wheeler had submitted a 
plan for the chapel, to be called the Stone Chapel (renamed 
Goodrich Hall in 1906). In July, the plan having been 
reviewed by the Trustees, it was requested that the length 
of the chapel be increased by five feet. In order to 
accommodate this change, Wheeler advised that the design 
submitted could simply be adapted, in plan by extending the 

109 



building out the extra five feet, and in elevation by 
raising the height of the gable. In this way, the chapel 
would retain the appropriate pitch and proper architectural 
proportion. 

One week later, Reverend Durfee and Professor Hopkins, 
President of the college, indicated that the Trustees had 
decided instead upon a rear addition, measuring 33 feet by 
28 feet, and changing the building to a cruciform plan. 
Wheeler at that time stated that whether one story or two, 
such an addition to the existing scheme would so alter it 
as to require new detailing and redrawn plans: "In view of 
these additions and alterations, I must in justice to 
myself insist that before any thing in the way of actual 
commencement be made of the building, I be instructed to 
prepare new plans -- these alterations so materially 
affecting the whole spirit of the design." He continued, 
"with this under my control, I see no difficulty in 
reconciling such additions with architectural propriety and 
beauty. "[55] 



The Ruskinian theme of fitness evidently continued to 
guide Wheeler in his design. The quote also hints at 
Wheeler's somewhat arrogant attitude as to his own 
abilities as architect, particularly with regard to church 
design. After many years of predominantly residential 
work, Wheeler had an opportunity to express his own notions 

110 



of propriety based on the Ecclesiological concepts of his 
training. Still in the final analysis, his willingness to 
make changes may simply indicate his desire to be paid for 
his work. 

Wheeler requested that the first set of plans be 
returned to him, before advancing a revised design. The 
Trustees of Williams College apparently complied, and he 
submitted his revisions. By October 1857, contractors were 
hired for the job. Wheeler's involvement ended with the 
design process; typically for his career, he did not 
supervise the execution of the plan. The location of the 
original plans for the chapel is not known, nor are the 
specific characteristics of Wheeler's design. 

Construction began in April 1858, and contrary to the 
described 33 feet by 28 feet addition to the rear of the 
chapel, the addition built was in fact 36 feet by 56 feet, 
running the length of the building and resulting in a T 
shaped plan instead of the cruciform plan noted by 
Wheeler. It is not clear whether Wheeler later submitted a 
final revision, or whether the changes were made during 
construction without the architect's assistance. 



The chapel, in a rural Gothic mode, was built of blue 
gray limestone, laid in rough ashlar, with supportive 
buttresses. The pitched roof was covered in slate, and a 

111 



stone tower rose off to the side of the altar, projecting 
heavenward with its wooden steeple, and providing access to 
the addition. Window openings and doorways were expressed 
as arches (fig. 30). The interior detailing included 
exposed chestnut roof trusses, chestnut woodwork, marble 
floors and marbleized walls. 

The building has undergone alterations over the years, 
from enlargement of the windows to renovation of the stairs 
and tower. In the 1920's, changes in use and substantive 
changes to the structure, including the removal of the 
northwest vestibule and porch, have altered the expression 
of Wheeler's original design. [56] 

The train of events at Bowdoin seemed to repeat itself 
at Williams. Wheeler had apparently managed to establish 
relations with members of the college community while 
working on the plans for the Stone Chapel. In his letter 
of July 14 1857 to Reverend Durfee, he referred to a 
project for Professor Tablock at the college. The 
commission was a landscaping plan for the grounds of 
Professor Tablock's residence. It seems that Tablock was 
not interested in Wheeler's proposal, for he had not 
accepted the design. Wheeler remarked, "I am under the 
impression it may have miscarried ."[ 57 ] 



112 



3. Bushnell Park 

Wheeler had advertised, years earlier, in 1849 in the 
Hartford City Directory ,[ 58 ] and in The Genessee Farmer in 
1852, including among his skills the "arrangement of 
grounds ."[ 59 ] The correspondence regarding Professor 
Tablock is however the first documented example of his work 
in this particular design area. It was followed a year 
later by another landscaping effort, this time for the city 
of Hartford, Connecticut. 

In 1858, Hartford proposed the creation of a public 
park, to be named after Horace Bushnell, eloquent teacher 
and minister of the North Congregation Church in Hartford 
from 1833 to 1859. [60] A design competition was 
established to solicit ideas. Wheeler submitted a plan 
which was awarded first prize from among twelve 
participants. It may be that his familiarity with Hartford 
from years before helped him to formulate a wining entry. 



Despite its aesthetic merits, the city committee 
considered it too expensive to implement, and recommended 
that it be combined with the design of the second place 
entrant, Seth Marsh, city engineer. The plan also 
integrated elements from a third proposal. As construction 
of the new park progressed, the commission considered that 
it lacked an overall unity and beauty, and in 1861 hired a 

113 



professional landscape architect, Jacob Weidenmann . [ 61 ] 

Wheeler's original plan for the park is no longer 
extant. A map in the Hartford Park Papers, thought to have 
been rendered in 1858, shows what may have been the revised 
version by Marsh. It is unfortunately impossible to 
evaluate the merits of Wheeler's ideas, however it would 
have been interesting to know if his plan, unaltered, might 
not have been considered a worthy addition to the city's 
parks . 

4. Chancel Improvements, Church of the Holy Trinity 

The following year, in 1859, Wheeler obtained the 
commission to enlarge and improve the chancel of the Church 
of the Holy Trinity in Brooklyn, New York, designed in 
1844-47 by Minard Lafever.[62] The plan involved primarily 
interior alterations to the reading desk and the addition 
of pews in the front "in accordance with the original 
plan". The means by which Wheeler obtained the commission 
is unknown, and a search of the church's archives is 
required to understand the nature of the changes designed 
by Wheeler. 



This work at Holy Trinity was among the last known 

commissions of Wheeler's career in America, and marks a 

return to his point of departure: he had begun with the 

114 



interior decoration of the Chapel at Bowdoin College, and 
now ended with interior alterations to the Church of the 
Holy Trinity. 

5. Miscellaneous Executed Designs 

The commissions previously discussed have all been 
documented by primary source material other than Wheeler's 
writings. In addition to these, there are a number of 
residential designs which Wheeler claimed in his writings, 
particularly Homes for the People , to have undertaken. 
Wheeler cited nine different residences which were 
executed, presumably in the years intervening between Rural 
Homes and Homes for the People , or from 1851 to 1855. The 
commissions were located in areas such as the Housatonic 
Hills of Berkshire County, Massachusetts, the outskirts of 
Norwich, Connecticut, Orange, New Jersey, along the Long 
Island Sound, New York, and overlooking the Hudson River. 



Due to their location geographically, and knowing of 
his advertisement in The Genessee Farmer at this time, 
which might have reached an audience in the Berkshires for 
instance, it may be speculated that a number of these 
designs were undertaken while Wheeler was practicing in 
Norwich. They included a country mansion in the "Venetian 
Italian style," below the hills of Berkshire County (fig. 31 
and 32), a "Cottage Ornee" on the summit of a peak along 

115 



the Housatonic in the Berkshires (fig. 33 and 34), a 
"Cottage Villa," one mile from Stockbridge on the Lenox 
Road also in Berkshire County (fig. 35 and 36), a gatehouse 
(fig. 37 and 38), and a "Suburban Villa," one mile from the 
small city of Norwich, Connecticut (fig. 24 and 25). 

Unfortunately, because of the ambiguity with which 
Wheeler described each location, it has not been possible 
to discover any of these residences. The local research 
facilities did not have readily accessible material on 
Wheeler, and a thorough search and photographic comparison 
would be necessary to confirm these commissions. 

Other designs, which were probably completed while 
Wheeler was in practice in New York City, included a 
townhouse in New York, mentioned in The Choice of a 
Dwelling (fig. 39), a "Southern Mansion" in a "midland 
state" (fig. 40 and 41), a "Rustic Villa" in Orange, New 
Jersey (fig. 42 and 43), a "Villa Mansion in the Italian 
Style" on Long Island Sound between Rye and Portchester 
(fig. 26 and 27), a "Square Cottage," twice erected near 
the Hudson River (fig. 44 and 45), and the remodelling of a 
country home overlooking the Hudson River (fig. 46 and 
47). Again, the difficulties of locating these vague 
descriptions has prohibited any confirmation of execution, 
but would suggest future research possibilities. 



116 



[l]The first in a series of articles for The Home 
Journal , March 1 1851, was signed "GW, New York, February, 
1851." 

[2]Letterhead, Wheeler to Upjohn, March 17 1851, Upjohn 
Papers, Box 4. For city directory listings, see Dennis 
Steadman Francis, Architects in Practice in New York City 
1840-1900 (New York: The Committee for the Preservation of 
Architectural Records Inc., 1979). 

[3]Wheeler to Upjohn, March 17, 1851, Upjohn Papers, 
Box 4. 

[4]Upjohn to Woods, July 15 1851, Chapel Papers. 

[5]Upjohn to Woods, July 15 1851, Chapel Papers. 

[6]Woods to Upjohn, July 17 1851, Chapel Papers. 

r7l The Genessee Farmer 13 (June 1852), 197. 

[8]Wheeler, Homes , 307. 

f9! The Horticulturist n.s. 3 (July 1853), 325. 

riOl The Horticulturist n.s. 3 (August 1853), 393 and 
(November 1853), 537. 

[ll]The city directory listing for May 1854 is 111 
Broadway, and corresponds to the actual address of the 
Trinity Building. 

[12]Jacob Landy, The Architecture of Minard Lafever 
(New York: Columbia University Press, 1970), 45. 

[13]The house at 1 Elm Place no longer exists. A 
search for documentation related to the specific address 
yielded no information other than confirmation of the fact 
that Wheeler rented, did not own his house. 

I" 14l American Architect and Building News 15 (Boston: 
Ticknor & Co., 1884), 75-6. 

[15]Henry Hudson Holly, Country Seats and Modern 
Dwellings (Watkins Glen: Library of Victorian Culture, 1977 
reprint of 1863 and 1878), introduction, no page numbers. 

[16]Holly, Country Seats , preface, no page number. 



117 



[17]Compare design no.l p. 33 in Country Seats with a 
stone house remodeled p. 384 and a small villa on the Hudson 
p. 85, 88 in Homes ; design no. 26 p. 139 with pigeon tower in 
Country Seats with a summer cottage p. 202 in Choice ; design 
no. 24 p. 128 and no. 10 p. 66 in Country Seats with a large 
country house p. 332 in Country Houses ; design no. 16 p. 96 in 
Country Seats with a villa mansion p. 195 in Homes . 

[18]Holly, Country Seats , 31. 

[19]Holly, Country Seats , introduction. 

[20]Frank Luther Mott, A History of American Magazines 
2 (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1938), 350. 

[21]Mott, American Magazines 1: 511. 

f22l The Home Journal (1851) March 1, 8, 15, 22, 19, 
April 12, 19, 26, May 3, 10, 17, 24, 31, July 5, 19. 
Citations hereafter will simply refer to the date of the 
article in question in parenthesis in the text. The 
complete archives of the journal are available at the 
American Antiquarian Society in Worcester, Massachusetts. 

r23l The Home Journal , May 12 1855. 

r24l The Genessee Farmer 13 (Jan 1852), 89. 

r25l The American Whig Review (New York: Wiley & Putnam, 
1851), 544. 

r26l The Genessee Farmer 13 (January 1852), 16. 

f27l The Genessee Farmer 13 August 1852), 260. 

r28l Sartain's Magazine (Philadelphia: John Sartain & 
Co., 1852), 102. 

r29l The Horticulturist 6 (December 1851), 567. 

r30l The Literary World 9 (November 1851), 388. 

r311 The Literary World 7 (July-December 1850), 91. 

f32l North American Miscellany and Dollar- Review 
(Philadelphia: A. Palmer & Co., 1851), 164. 

f33l The Genessee Farmer 13 (February 1852), 47-50. 

r341 The Home Journal , November 8 1851. 



118 



[35] The Horticulturist n.s. 4 (May 1854), 230; Wheeler, 
Homes , preface. 

[36l The Horticulturist n.s. 3 (August 1853), 
frontispiece; Wheeler, Homes , 170; Wheeler, The Choice of a 
Dwelling (London: John Murray, 1871), 186. 

[37] The Horticulturist n.s. 5 (1855), frontispiece; 
Wheeler, Homes , 228. 

[38] The Horticulturist n.s. 5 (1855), 294. 

[39] Harper's Monthly Magazine (July 1855), 261. 

[40] Knickerbocker New York Monthly Magazine (July 
1855), 79. 

[41] The Builder (August 4 1855), 379. 

[42]The pages of The Horticulturist were researched 
from the 1847 volume through the 1858 volume. 

[43] The Horticulturist n.s. 3 (August 1853), 373. 

[44] The Horticulturist n.s. 5 (1855), frontispiece. 

[45]Congregational Churches in the United States, A 
Book of Plans for Churches and Parsonages (NY: Daniel 
Burgess & Co., 1853). For a detailed article on the Book of 
Plans, its inception and subsequent influence, see Gwen W. 
Steege, "The Book of Plans and the Early Romanesque Revival 
in the United States: a Study in Architectural Patronage", 
JSAH 46 (September 1987), 215-227. 

[46]The plans and elevations from A Book of Plans were 
reprinted some ten years later, without text, by George 
Woodward, in Rural Church Architecture (New York: G.E. 
Woodward, no date, c.1876). 

[47]Wheeler, Homes , 50 (A Small Villa) and 348 ( A 
Rustic Parsonage) . 

[48] The Bankers Magazine and Statistical Register (New 
York, April 1856), 761-768. The citation was brought to my 
attention by Arthur Downs, historian. 

[49]Mott, 2:93-4. 

[50]Wilson, Appleton's 1: 181. 



119 



[ 51 ]Ellwanger and Barry Daybook No. 167, January 29 
1858; citation from Stewart, "George Ellwanger and Patrick 
Barry," 60 (henceforth footnoted as Stewart). 

[52]Stewart, "George Ellwanger and Patrick Barry," 64. 

[53]Stewart, "George Ellwanger and Patrick Barry," 75. 

[54]McElvein, "Williams College Architecture," 176. 
McElvein found no documentation in this regard in the 
Williarasiana Collection. 

[55]Wheeler to Durfee, July 22 1857, Williamsiana 
Collection. 

[56]McElvein, "Williams College Architecture," 195. 

[57]Wheeler to Durfee, July 14 1857, Williamsiana 
Collection . 

[58] Well's City Directory for Hartford (1849), 138. 

[59] The Genessee Farmer 13 (June 1852), 197. 

[60]Wilson, Appleton' s , 1:474. 

[61]John Alexopoulos, The Nineteenth Century Parks of 
Hartford (Hartford: Hartford Architecture Conservancy, 
1983), 16. This information was brought to the work by 
David Ransom, architectural historian, in a letter to the 
author, November 25 1987. 



[62]Landy, Minard Lafever , 270. 



120 



Conclusion 

Wheeler had spent at least fourteen years in America 
before deciding to return to Britain. After 1860, he no 
longer resided in New York City, nor has documentation of 
further career activities in America come to light. He is 
completely unaccounted for during the years of the Civil 
War. By 1865, he had returned to England and established 
residence in the area of Margate, Kent, his family home. 

Wheeler resumed his practice, billing himself 
architect, surveyor and civil engineer, with offices at 16 
Hawley Square, Margate, until 1869. The following excerpt 
from an entry in the 1868 Architects, Engineers and 
Building-Trades Directory , published in London, summarized 
the range of his practice: "His works comprise railway 
buildings, banks, churches, mansions, and private 
residences in the United States and England; has also been 
engaged in laying out lands, and in sanitary appliances." 
The documented catalog of his design work in America 
includes all of the above except railway stations. No 
Wheeler designs have to date been located in England. 



Unbidden when American architects formed the A. I. A., 
Wheeler found support for his candidacy in the Royal 
Institute of British Architects. At this time in the 
nineteenth century, membership in the R.I.B.A. was limited 

121 



to a small fraction of those in the profession, namely the 
"gentleman architect ."[ 1 ] Wheeler met the qualifications, 
for on February 11 1867, recommended by George Godwin, 
editor of The Builder , William Slater, a fellow pupil of 
Richard Cromwell Carpenter, and H.A. Darbyshire, he became 
a member, at the full rank of Fellow. [2] He also at this 
time moved to Kilburn in London, where he would reside 
until, in 1873, being dropped from the rolls of the 
R.I.B.A. for non-payment of dues. 

According to Dr. Jill Allibone, architectural 
historian in London, there is scant information regarding 
Wheeler's career in England. He did, in February 1868, 
read two papers before an Ordinary General Meeting of the 
R.I.B.A.; both concerned the "Peculiarities of Domestic 
Architecture in America. "[3] A summary of part of his 
address, namely the description of a "New York Up-Town 
House" was subsequently published in The Builder . [ k ] 



By 1871, Wheeler had once again published a book on 
domestic architecture. Entitled The Choice of a Dwelling , 
the volume was far better received by the editors of The 
Builder than Homes for the People had been sixteen years 
earlier. The review considered that Wheeler had neatly 
compounded his knowledge of British domestic architecture 
with the experience of his practice in America to produce 
an informative manual for general public and architect 

122 



alike. "As we close the book, and turn from its alternate 
references to New and Old England, we feel it is a 
gain. "[5] 

Until other commissions are discovered, The Choice of 
a Dwelling ranks as Wheeler's final work in the field of 
architecture. By 1874, he had moved out of London and 
established himself in Hove, Sussex County. With what must 
have been "a touch of nostalgia", he named his home in 1881 
"Brooklyn." The last directory listing for Gervase Wheeler 
was 1889, and in April 1890, probate of his will was 
granted to Catherine Brewer Wheeler, widow of the architect 
of the Boody House, Rockwood, and the Barry House. [6.] 

Gervase Wheeler may have come to America, in late 1846 
or early 1847, with the aspiration of introducing and 
practicing newly formulated precepts of Ecclesiological 
architecture. In the face of both peer and client 
resistance, however, he did not pursue this path, falling 
back instead, for the most part, on his skills in domestic 
design . 



Unlike the majority of his American contemporaries, 
British-trained Wheeler was well versed in the philosophies 
of the picturesque and Ruskinian "truth and fitness." It 
was this background which enabled him to take part in the 
development and interpretation of American domestic 

123 



architecture, especially as it inclined toward a 
picturesque point of view. His design for the Olmstead 
House is to this day considered a primary example of 
romantic eclecticism in a timber Gothic mode. 

Wheeler tended to design actual commissions for a 
socially upscale clientele, and, based on the evidence of 
documented work, such as the Boody and Sarry Houses, 
Brookwood, the I.N. A. and the Stone Chapel, he typically 
designed the projects, but did not supervise their 
construction . 

Regardless of the several important executed 
commissions, it was the popular appeal and acceptance of 
Wheeler's published works which set the tone of his 
contribution to the domestic architecture of the 
mid-nineteenth century. Through his works, many of the 
ideals of the picturesque, such as the relation of house to 
site and landscape, and Ruskin's fitness, reached a broad 
public audience. His work appealed at once to the country 
gentleman looking for a residence expressive of the new 
philosophies of the age, and the middle class person 
seeking a comfortable cottage residence. 



124 



[l]Spiro Kostof, The Architect: Chapters in the History 
of a Profession (New York: Oxford University, 1977), 194, 
197. 

[2]R.I.B.A. Nomination Papers, 1867:36. Courtesy of the 
British Architectural Library of the R.I.B.A. 

[3]Sessional Papers of the Royal Institute of British 
Architects (London: R.I.B.A., 1868), 117-128 and 168-187. 

Kl The Builder (April 11 1868), 262-3. 

r5T The Builder (December 23 1871), 998. 

[ 6 ] Information regarding Wheeler's directory listings 
in England as well as the probated will was provided by Dr. 
Jill Allibone, correspondence with the author, November 14 
1987 and January 29 1988. "A touch of nostalgia" is Dr. 
Allibone's phrase. 



125 



Bibliography 



I. Unpublished Sources 

Allibone, Dr. Jill. Letter to John Ward, September 21 1982: 
correspondence with author, November 14 1987, January 28 
and March 17 1988. 

Chapel Papers. Bowdoin College Library, Brunswick, Maine. 

Congress Hall and Independence Square Files. Independence 
National Historic Park Archives, Philadelphia, 
Pennsylvania . 

Fisher, Sidney George. Diaries 1834 to 1871. Historical 
Society of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. 

France, Jean R. Letter to John Ward, November 29 1982. 

Guter, Robert P. The Willows at Fosterf ields . Historic 
Structure Report, Morristown, 1983. 

Insurance Company of North America. Directors' Minutes, 
January 1845 to January 1860. CIGNA Corporate Archives, 
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. 

Kirby, John B. Letter to John Ward, October 8 1982; 
correspondence with author, November 16 1987. 

McElvein, Bruce B. "Williams College Architecture, 
1790-1860." Bachelor's Honors These, Williams College, 
1979. 

Ransom, David. Letter to author, November 25 1987. 

Shettleworth, Earle. Letter to John Ward, September 15 
1982; correspondence with author November 16 1987, January 
4 1988. 

Stewart, Natalie B.E. "George Ellwanger and Patrick Barry, 
Romantic Builders." Masters Thesis, University of 
Rochester, 1985. 

Upjohn Papers. New York Public Library, New York, New York 

Ward, John. "Gervase Wheeler., a Progressive Architect in 
Brunswick, Maine, 1847-1848." Paper presented at Fifth 
Annual Student Symposium, Society of Architectural 
Historians, Boston, Massachusetts, September 1982. 

Williamsiana Collection. Williams College, Williarastown , 
Massachusetts. 



126 



II. Primary Sources 



American Agriculturist . New York: Orange Judd Co., 1883. 

American Architect & Building News . Boston: Ticknor & Co., 
1884. 

American Whig Review . New York: Wiley & Putnam, 1851. 

Architects, Engineers and Building Trades Directory . 
London: Wyman, 1868. 

Art Journal . London: George Virtue, 1855. 

Barry, Patrick. Treatise on the Fruit Garden . Rochester: by 
the author, 1851. 



Bell, Luther V., M.D. The Practical Methods of Ventilating 
Buildings . Boston: Dickinson Printing Establishment, 1848. 

Bremer, Frederika. The Homes of the New World . London: 
Arthur Hall Virtue & Co., 1853. 

Brown, William. The Carpenter's Assistant . Boston: Edward 
Livermore, 1853. 

The Builder . London: 1855, 1868, 1871. 

Bulletin of the American Art Union . New York: American Art 
Union, 1851. 

Congregational Churches in the United States. A Book of 
Plans for Churches and Parsonages . New York: Daniel Burgess 
& Co. , 1853. 

[Cooper, Susan August Fennimore.] Rural Hours . By a Lady. 
New York: George Putnam, 1850. 

Downing, Andrew Jackson. A Treatise on the Theory and 
Practice of Landscape Gardening . Sixth edition, edited by 
H.W. Sargent. New York: A.O. Moore & Co., 1859. 

. The Architecture of Country Houses . New York: D. 

Appleton & Co. , 1850. 

The Genessee Farmer . Rochester: Daniel Lee, 1852. 

Godey's Lady's Book . Philadelphia: Godey Co., 1852, 1855. 

Gwilt, Joseph. An Encyclopaedia of Architecture . London: 
Longman, Brown, Green & Longmans, 1842 . 



127 



Harper's Monthly Magazine . New York: Harper & Brothers, 
1851, 1855. 

Holly, Henry Hudson. Country Seats and Modern Dwellings . 
1863 and 1878. Reprint with introduction by Michael Tomlan. 
Watkins Glen: Library of Victorian Culture, 1977. 

The Home Journal . New York: Morris & Willis, 1851, 1855. 

The Horticulturist & Journal of Rural Art and Rural Taste . 
Albany: Luther Tucker, 1849; Rochester: James Vick Jr., 
1851, 1853, 1854, 1855. 

Insurance Map of the City of Philadelphia . Vol. 33. 22nd 
Ward. Philadelphia: Ernest Hexamer & Son, 1898. 



Journal 


of the Common council, 


, October 12 


1849 to September 


26 1850, 


, Philadelphia: King & 


Baird, 1850. 




Journal 


of the Select Council, 


, October 12 


1849 to September 



26 1850 . Philadelphia: Cressy & Markley, 1850 

Knickerbocker, New York Monthly Magazine . New York: Samuel 
Hueston, 1855, 1860. 

Kuchel, C. The Columbian Drawing Book . Hartford: Belknap & 
Hamersley, 1849. 

The Literary World . New York: Osgood & Co., 1849, 1850, 
1851. 

North American Miscellany & Dollar Magazine . Philadelphia: 
A. Palmer & Co. , 1851 . 

Sartain's Magazine . Philadelphia: John Sartain & Co., 1852. 

Sessional Papers of the Royal Institute of British 
Architects . London: R.I.B.A., 1868. 

Tri-Weekly Republican . St. Louis: 1854. 

Turner, A. A. Villas on the Hudson . 1860. Reprint. New York: 
DaCapo Press, 1977. 

Wells' City Directory for Hartford . Hartford: J. Gaylord 
Wells, 1849. 

Wheeler, Gervase. "Design for a Villa in the Tuaor Style." 
The Horticulturist . Volume 3. Albany: Luther Tucker, 1849. 

. "Design and Description of an English Cottage." 

The Horticulturist. Volume 4. Albany: Luther Tucker, 1849. 



128 



. Rural Homes , New York: Charles Scribner, 1851. 
. "On Perfecting a Homes." March-July. The Home 



Journal . New York: Morris & Willis, 1851. 

. "Design for an Italian Villa." The Horticulturist 



N.s. volume 3. Rochester: James Vick Jr., 1853. 

. Homes for the People . New York: Charles Scribner, 

1855. 

. "The Architecture of Country Banks." The Bankers' 

Magazine and Statistical Register . Volume 5. New York: The 
Bankers Publishing Company, 1856. 

. "Peculiarities of Domestic Architecture in 



America." Sessional Papers of the Royal Institute of 
British Architects, 1867-1868. 

. "A New York Up-Town House." The Builder . Volume 



26. London: 1868. 

. The Choice of a Dwelling . London: John Murray, 

1871. 

Woodward, George Evertson. Rural Church Architecture . New 
York: G.E. Woodward, n.d. (c.1876). 

Zukowsky, John. Hudson River Houses: Edwin Whitefield's 
"The Hudson River and Railroad Illustrated ." c.1850. 
Facsimile reprint. Croton on Hudson: North River Press 
Inc., 1981. 



129 



III. General 



Alexopoulos, John. The Nineteenth Century Parks of Hartford 
Hartford: Hartford Architectural Conservancy, 1983. 

Architectural Period Houses Inc . Princeton MA: 1978. 

Collins, Peter. Changing Ideals in Modern Architecture 
1750-1950 . Montreal: McGill Queens University Press, 1965. 

Francis, Dennis Steadman. Architects in Practice in New 
York City 1840-1900 . New York: The Committee for the 
Preservation of Architectural Records Inc., 1979. 

Greiff, Constance M. John Notman, Architect, 1810-1865 . 
Philadelphia: Athenaeum of Philadelphia, 1979. 

Helmreich, Ernst Christian. Religion at Bowdoin College: A 
History . Brunswick: Bowdoin College, 1981. 

Hitchcock, Henry-Russell. Architecture, Nineteenth and 
Twentieth Centuries . Baltimore: Penguin Books, 1971. 

. Early Victorian Architecture in Britain . New 



York: DaCapo Press, 1972 



American Architectural Books. New York: DaCapo 



Press, 1976. 

Hussey, Christopher. The Picturesque; Studies in a Point of 
View . London: Frank Cass & Co., Ltd., 1967 edition. 

Kaye, Barrington. The Development of the Architectural 
Profession in Britain . London: George Allen & Unwin Ltd., 
1960. 

Kostof, Spiro, ed. The Architect: Chapters in the History 
of a Profession . New York: Oxford University, 1977. 

Lamb, Martha J. The Homes of America . New York: D. Appleton 
& Co. , 1879. 

Landy, Jacob. The Architecture of Minard Lafever . New York: 
Columbia University Press, 1970. 

MacMillan Encyclopedia of Architects . New York: The Free 
Press, 1982. 



McAlester, Virginia and Lee. A Field Guide to American 
Houses. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1986. 



Montgomery, Thomas H. A History of the Insurance Company of 
North America . Philadelphia: Press of Review Publishing & 
Printing Co. , 1885. 

130 



Mott, Frank Luther. A History of American Magazines . 
Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1938. 

Myers, Denys Peter. Maine Catalog: Historic American 
Building Survey . Portland: Maine State Museum, 1974. 

National Academy of Design Exhibition Record 1826-1860 
York: New York Historical Society, 1943. 



New 



New England Magazine & Bay State Monthly . 



1886. 



Pevsner, Nicholaus. Some Architectural Writers of the 
Nineteenth Century . Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1972. 

Rutledge, Anna Well. Cumulative Record of Exhibition 
Catalogues; the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts 
1807-1870 . Philadelphia: The American Philosophical 
Society, 1955. 

Saylor, Henry H. The A.T.A.'s First Hundred Years . 
Washington: The Octagon, 1957. 

Scully, Vincent J. The Shingle Style and The Stick Style . 
New Haven: Yale University Press, 1955. 

Stanton, Phoebe. Pugin . London: Thames & Hudson, 1971. 

Steege, Gwen. "The Book of Plans and the Early Romanesque 
Revival in the United States: A Study in Architectural 
Patronage." Journal of the Society of Architectural 
Historians 46, 1987. 

Upjohn, Everard M. Richard Upjohn, Architect and Churchman 
New York: Columbia University Press, 1939. 

Wilson, James Grant, and Fiske, John, ed. Appleton ' s 
Cyclopaedia of American Biography . New York: D. Appleton & 
Co., 1888. 



Wintle, Justin, ed. Makers of Nineteenth Century Culture, 
1800-1914. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1982. 



Zukowsky, John and Stimson, Robbe Pierce. Hudson River 
Villas . New York: Rizzoli International Publications Inc., 
1985. 



131 



Appendix A. Illustrations 



1. Richard Upjohn: Banister Hall, College Chapel, Bowdoin 
College, Brunswick, Maine, 1844-55. Interior polychroray 
decoration in library by Gervase Wheeler, 1847-48. 
Ernst Helmreich, Religion at Bowdoin College , following 
p. 88. 

2. Gervase Wheeler: Henry Boody House, Maine Street, 
Brunswick, Maine, designed 1848, constructed 1849. 
Photograph. Virginia and Lee McAlester, A Field Guide 
to American Houses, p. 204. 



3. Boody House. Elevation. The Horticulturist 4 (August 
1849), frontispiece; Downing, Country Houses , 300. 

4. Boody House. First floor plan. The Horticulturist 4 
(August 1849), frontispiece. 

5. Anonymous: John G. Richardson House, Washington Street, 
Bath, Maine, constructed 1850. Possible adaptation of 
Boody House. 1858 engraving. Courtesy of Earle 
Shettleworth. 

6. Sir Charles Barry: Travellers' Club and Reform Club, 
1830-32 and 1838-40. Referred to by Wheeler in New 
Haven hotel project. Henry-Russell Hitchcock, 
Architecture Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries , p. 115. 

7. Wheeler: Villa in the Tudor Style, project 1849. 
Elevation. The Horticulturist 3 (June 1849), 
frontispiece . 

8. Villa in the Tudor Style. First floor plan. The 
Horticulturist 3 (June 1849), frontispiece. 

9. Wheeler: Henry Olmstead House, East Hartford, 
Connecticut, designed and constructed 1849. Elevation. 
Rural Homes , p. 72. 

10. Olmstead House. First floor plan. Rural Homes , p. 72. 

11. Wheeler: The Willows, Morristown, New Jersey, 
constructed 1854. Design adapted from Olmstead House by 
Ashbel Bruen, master carpenter. Photograph. Morris 
County Park Commission. 

12. The Willows. Entry Hall. Morris County Park Commission. 

13. Anonymous: Hartwell Carver House, Pittsford, New York, 
constructed 1853. Possible adaptation of Olmstead 
House. Photograph. Courtesy of Jean R. France. 



132 



14. Wheeler: Rockwood, Albany Post Road, North Tarrytown, 
New York, designed and constructed 1849. 
Photolithograph . John Zukowsky, Hudson River Villas , 
p. 107. 



15. Rockwood. Photolithograph. A. A. Turner, Villas on the 
Hudson . 



16. Rockwood. First floor plan. A. A. Turner, Villas on the 
Hudson . 



17. Rockwood. Sketch of Pocahoe with profile of Rockwood on 
hill beyond. John Zukowsky, Hudson River Houses: Edwin 
Whitefield's "The Hudson River and Railroad 
Illustrated ," p. 50. 

18. Wheeler: Large Country House, project 1850. Elevation. 
Possible design for Brookwood, constructed 1850-1851. 
A.J. Downing, Country Houses , p. 333. 

19. Large Country House. First floor plan. A.J. Downing, 
Country Houses , p. 332. 

20. Survey of Brookwood, 1898. Redrawn from Hexamer ' s 
Insurance Map of the City of Philadelphia , 22nd ward. 

21. Wheeler: Insurance Company of North America, Walnut 
Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, designed and 
constructed 1850. Sketch by J. Pennell, 1879. Thomas 
Montgomery, A History of the Insurance Company of North 
America , p. 90. 

22. Wheeler: Townhouse, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 
designed and constructed c.1850 according to architect. 
Floor plans. Choice , p. 132. 

23. Wheeler: Small Cottage, no location, designed and two 
models constructed c.1850 according to architect. 
Elevation and plan. Rural , p. 161. 

24. Wheeler: Suburban Villa, outside Norwich, Connecticut, 
designed and constructed c. 1851-52 according to 
architect. Elevation. The Horticulturist (August 1853), 
frontispiece; Homes , p. 170; Choice , p. 167. 

25. Suburban Villa. Ground floor plan. Homes , p. 157. 

26. Wheeler: Villa Mansion in the Italian Style, between 
Rye and Portchester, New York, on the Long Island 
Sound, designed and constructed c. 1851-1854 according 
to architect. Elevation. The Horticulturist (May 1855), 
frontispiece; Homes , frontispiece. 



133 



27. Villa Mansion in the Italian Style. First floor plan. 
Homes , p . 197 . 

28. Wheeler: Patrick Barry House, Mount Hope Avenue, 
Rochester, New York, designed 1857 and constructed 
1857-59. Photograph. Courtesy Jean R. France. 

29. Barry House. First floor plan of house c.l970's. 
Courtesy Jean R. France. 

30. Wheeler: Stone Chapel (later Goodrich Hall), Williams 
College, Williarastown , Massachusetts, designed 1857, 
constructed 1858-59. Elevation. New England Magazine 
and Bay State Monthly 4 (June 1886), p. 500. 

31. Wheeler: Country Mansion in the Venetian Italian Style, 
below the hills of Berkshire County, Massachusetts, 
designed and constructed c. 1851-54 according to 
architect. Elevation. Homes , p. 229. 

32. Country Mansion in the Venetian Italian Style. Ground 
floor plan. Homes , p. 225. 

33. Wheeler: Cottage Ornee, summit of peak along the 
Housatonic River, Berkshire County, Massachusetts, 
designed and constructed c. 1851-54 according to 
architect. Elevation. Homes , p. 289. 

34. Cottage Ornee. First floor plan. Homes , p. 285. 

35. Wheeler: Cottage Villa, Lenox Road, one mile from 
Stockbridge, Massachusetts, designed and constructed 
c. 1851-54 according to architect. Elevation. Homes , 
p. 180. 

36. Cottage Villa. First floor plan. Homes , p. 177. 

37. Wheeler: Gatehouse, no location, designed and 
constructed c. 1851-54 according to architect. 
Elevation. Homes , p. 297. 

38. Gatehouse. Plan. Homes , p. 295. 

39. Wheeler: Townhouse, New York, designed and constructed 
c. 1851-60 according to architect. Principal floor 
plan. Choice , p. 140. 

40. ./heeler: Southern Mansion, in "midland state," designed 
and constructed c. 1851-54 according to architect. 
Elevation. Homes , p. 259. 

41. Southern Mansion. First floor plan. Homes , p. 250. 



134 



42. Wheeler: Rustic Villa, Orange, New Jersey, designed and 
constructed c. 1851-54 according to architect. 
Elevation. Homes , p. 98. 

43. Rustic Villa. Principal floor plan. Homes , p. 105. 

44. Wheeler: Square Cottage, twice erected near Hudson, New 
York, c. 1851-54 according to architect. Elevation. 
Homes , p . 324. 

45. Square Cottage. Floor plan. Homes , p. 326. 

46. Wheeler: Country Home remodelled, overlooking the 
Hudson River, designed and constructed c. 1853-54 
according to architect. Elevation. Homes , p. 246. 

47. Country Home remodelled. First floor plan. Homes , 
p. 234. 



135 




1. Richard Upjohn: Banister Hall, College Chapel, 
Bowdoin College, Brunswick, Maine, 1844-55. 
Interior polychromy decoration in library 
by Gervase Wheeler, 1847-48. 



136 




2. Gervase Wheeler: Henry Boody House, Maine Street 
Brunswick, Maine, designed 1348, constructed 1849. 



137 




Boody House. 
3. Elevation. 
4. First floor plan 




PBIlfOIPAt FLOO 



rtlorlT AxlMll 



138 



?mm 






la f!f 1b! 




5. Anonymous: John G. Richardson House, Washington 

Street, Bath, Maine, constructed 1850. 
Possible adaptation of Boody House. 1858 engraving. 
, Sir Charles Barry: Travellers' Club and Reform Club, 

1830-32 and 1838-40. 
Referred to by Wheeler in New Haven hotel project. 




139 




*^£-p^ 




« ijjnrirg 





'ILL.* !N ["HE IUI'uR sTYLE. 



Wheeler: Villa in the Tudor Style, project 1849 
7. Elevation. 
8. First floor plan. 




HALL votibuic um»cr_'% 



PBEMOrPAL FLOOR 



[Hon ■ Juiif IS4« I 



140 




Wheeler : Henry 
Olmstead House, East 
Hartford, Connecticut, 
designed and 
constructed 1849. 

9 . Elevation . 

10. First floor plan. 



some constructive purpose of design. 




141 




Wheeler: The Willows, Morristown, New Jersey, 

constructed 1854. Design adapted from Olrastead House 

by Ashbel Bruen, master carpenter. 

11. Main facade . 

12. Entry Hall. 






■ ill |( - 
.mm 

:• 
i J .> ' " 



ijiii 



■ ; i 1 ] 1 1 1 1 UHJll 




142 




13. Anonymous: Hartwell Carver House, Pittsford, 

New York, constructed 1853. 

Possible adaptation of Olmstead House. 



143 




t'llololillini/nif))! ! 



Wheeler: Rockwood, Albany Post Road, North Tarrytown, 
New York, designed and constructed 1849. 

14. Photolithograph . 

15. Photolithograph. 




3&£^:S£ki.: 



144 




16. Rockwood. First floor plan. 

17. Sketch of Pocahoe with profile of Rockwood 

on hill beyond. 










145 




Wheeler: Large Country House, project 1850. 
Possible design for Brookwood, constructed 1850-1851 
18. Elevation. 
19. First floor plan. 



I . 



► 3- 

d 




146 




a 



■ • 



1 




20. Survey of Brookwood , 1898. 



147 




21. Wheeler: Insurance Company of North America, 

Walnut Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 

designed and constructed 1850. 

Sketch by J. Pennell, 1879. 



148 




22. Wheeler: Townhouse, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 
designed and constructed c.1850 according to architect 

Floor plans . 



149 



ftnlter umtMOtm omfcrf -W» 



m ,., 




Small Cottao*— Elivatios abb Plajl 



23. Wheeler: Small Cottage, no location, 
designed and two models constructed c.1850 
according to architect. Elevation and plan, 



150 




.,ii I.— ' -WiH**w-*> — 



Wheeler: Suburban 
Villa, outside 
Norwich, Connecticut, 
designed and 
constructed c. 1851-52 
according to 
architect . 

24 . Elevation . 

25. Ground floor plan 



one u4m io u> a cooterrmlurr, No. «5, the wmJuwi m Uio 
•oath end opening npon a Teranda. 




Pu urn.— plah or FsciciPAL noon. 
The bay wind jw in the drawing-room looks upon a most 
lorely lawn bounded by trees and shrubs, at the end of 



151 



i • ^* 




marti-ititu i 



Wheeler: Villa Mansion 
in the Italian Style, 
between Rye and 
Portchester, New York, 
on the Long Island 
Sound, designed and 
constructed 
c. 1851-1854 according 
to architect . 

26 . Elevation . 

27. First floor plan. 



THK UAMSION. 



197 




F\- XXXTtL— TBI nLLA-MAN3ION— PLAN OF PRKCIFAL FLOOR. 

•T - reader will please remark that the scale to which 
».'! ■ - rUre« in this chapter are drawn, is smaller than 
• »■ V <• i has been emnloj^i hefore. in onler to accom- 
- . i.v t*M rniAr^i «ire of the building* within the 

» i iho i^z°. Their «rale is one-thirtieth of an 

> '■> tfw» f «*. that is an inch rffr^ntt thirtr feet. 

7 ■• : rcTj.-wH •irawiaj* hare !xvn to a wale <>i" ..no innK 



152 



./' / 




Wheeler: Patrick Barry House, Mount Hope Avenue 
Rochester, New York, designed 1857 
and constructed 1857-59. 
28. Front facade. 
29. First floor plan of house c.1970's. 



JIJr-i- [ i 



K 




ft ■ 



J I MrV — 







153 




30. Wheeler: Stone Chapel (later Goodrich Hall), 

Williams College, Williamstown , Massachusetts, 

designed 1857, constructed 1858-59. 1881 engraving 



154 




8 ». --■■-•■■ 



Wheeler: Country 
Mansion in the 
Venetian Italian 
Style, below the hills 
of Berkshire County, 
Massachusetts , 
designed and 
constructed c. 1851-54 
according to 
architect . 

3 1 . Elevation . 

32. Ground floor plan. 



rax sLLNMo.i. 




*. in 4 m *»tf <,..->, ,!„», ru*i% 






JE 



155 



, * 4 




ei&M&&£s Yittttf-r -rtrHfJf- ~*fc.. 



. ~*,-~ .-- - 



Wheeler: Cottage 
Ornee, summit of peak 
along the Housatonic 
River, Berkshire 
County, Massachusetts 
designed and 
constructed c. 1851-54 
according to 
architect • 

33. Elevation. 

34. First floor plan. 



THE COTTAGK. 




Pk. I MWW —H iu h i iu n/w« 



W ♦'»» •*» '• <-V» law Ml, 5«. t, mm) .n t i>.» 



156 




Wheeler: Cottage 

Villa, Lenox Road, one 

mile from S tockbr idge , 

Massachusetts , 

designed and 

constructed c. 1851-54 

according to 

architect . 

35 . Elevation . 

36. First floor plan 



178 



HOMES FOB THK PEOPLE. 



is arranged to have a very easy rise and is of amplo 
width. 





4 hua 



it. vxit.— rus or mxciru. nona. 

T ( lin-Tin^room is a larsje and cheerful apartment 
•!i i ' s»y window in ir* fn-nt an-1 a Frrnrh w:m. ! ..» 



157 







Wheeler: Gatehouse, no location, 

designed and constructed c. 1851-54 

according to architect. 

37 . Elevation . 

38. Plan. 



masonry roughly laid, and the wood-work of porch, 
<fcc, of a simple and rustic character. 




Pi- UV.— GATE-LODGE PLAN, 



The plan of tho fi; 



158 




■Principal Tloer. 

J-J I 2 T 1 f f 

Dining Room 



39. Wheeler: Townhouse, New York, 
designed and constructed c. 1851-60 
according to architect. Principal floor plan 



159 






ap**s 







IIIUN U 



■S^gS^iik .v»«ij«MMtt g f i i -i . ' im v > --~^ -■■v-nrfi ii n i 



Wheeler: Southern Mansion, in "midland state 

designed and constructed c. 1851-54 

according to architect. 

40 . Elevation . 

41. First floor plan. 




MTii 



— w, " ,: -' '■-■■'-**■ 



,.J 



160 




.' "T^ 



Wheeler: Rustic Villa, 
Orange, New Jersey, 
designed and 
constructed c. 1851-54 
according to 
architect . 

42. Elevation. 

43. Principal floor 
plan . 




161 




IV UlIL-WJCIM COTTAGC-DXTATIOir. 



Wheeler: Square. 
Cottage, twice erected 
near Hudson, New York, 
c. 1851-54 according to 
architect . 

44 . Elevation . 

45 . Floor plan . 




. . ... . ,- -. . ,^ ■ . i..-.^- .**, ~ -.. ..-«v J 



162 



♦? 



£»*i* 



-%-m< *m 




• i \ r •• i (I • 






•it*A-»...»- ^--^^.^>..'-<^-«i-«^> u -^^C u '.4.-^ic£i^ ^^^AJBiial 



Wheeler: Country Home 
remodelled , 

overlooking the Hudson 
River, designed and 
constructed c. 1853-54 
according to 
architect . 

46 . Elevation . 

47. First floor plan. 









a-<!», f i>>c ;?*« C* »«*» »ull 




♦ « • • 



163 



Appendix B. Wheeler's Business & Residential Addresses 



The following list traces Wheeler's known business (b) and 
home (h) addresses in America and upon his return to 
England. The citations derive from city directories, ads 
and, where a month is noted, letterheads. 



1846 (no listings) 

1847, Apr 29 Greenwich Street, New York, NY (b/h not 
specified ) 

1847-1848 7 Federal Street, Brunswick, ME (h) 

1848 New Haven (no listings) 

1849 Janes' Building, 216-1/2 Main Street, Hartford, 
CT (b); American House, Hartford, CT (h) 

1850, Dec 70 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, PA (b/h not 

specified) 

1851, Feb University, Washington Square, New York, NY 

(b); 304 West 14 Street, New York, NY (not 
specified; may be address of University) 

1852, Jun Norwichtown, CT (no details) 

1853 Europe, specifically London 

1853-1854 55 Trinity Building, 111 Broadway, New York, NY 
(b); 1 Elm Place, Brooklyn, NY (h) through 1860 

1855 16 Nassau Building, 7 Beekman, New York, NY (b) 

1856-1857 430 Broome Street, New York, NY (b) 

1858-1859 18 William Street, New York, NY (b) 

1860 Post Office Building, Brooklyn, NY (b) 

1861-1864 (no listings) 

1865-1869 16 Hawley Square, Margate, Kent, GB (b); 32 

Cambridge Road, Kilburn NW , GB (h) through 1872 

1870 RIBA Offices, 9 Conduit Street, London, GB (b); 
last known business listing 

1873 (no listings) 

1874-1880 40 Albany Villas, Hove, Sussex, GB (h) 

164 



1881 



'Brooklyn', 54 Wilbury Road, Hove, Sussex, GB 
(h) 



1882-1885 41 Tisbury Road, Hove, Sussex, GB (h) 
1886-1889 62 Cromwell Road, Hove, Sussex, GB (h) 



165 



Appendix C. Advertisements & Notices 



The following is a list of citations of publicity for 
Gervase Wheeler. Each entry includes the date, the source, 
the city of publication, and the nature of the ad. See 
Bibliography for publisher information. 



1849, May Wells' City Directory for Hartford (Hartford), 
138. Ad placed by Wheeler. 

1851, Nov The Literary World (New York), 399. Notice for 

Rural Homes in Charles Scribner advertisement. 

1852, Jan The Genessee Farmer (Rochester), 89. Notice 

for Rural Homes with excerpts from four 
reviews . 

1852, Jun The Genessee Farmer (Rochester), 197. Ad 

placed by Wheeler. 

1853, Jul The Horticulturist (Rochester), 325. Notice 

for Wheeler's practice. 

1853, Aug The Horticulturist (Rochester), 393. Ad placed 
by Wheeler. 

1853, Nov The Horticulturist (Rochester), 537. Ad placed 

by Wheeler. 

1854, May The Horticulturist (Rochester), 230. Notice 

for new edition of Homes for the People to 
replace original manuscript burnt in office 
fire . 

1854, May Tri-Weekly Republican (St. Louis), no page 
number. Notice for Rural Homes in Edwards & 
Bushell, booksellers, advertisement. 

1871, Dec The Literary World (London), 382. Notice for 
The Choice of a Dwelling . 

1883, American Agriculturist (New York), 101. Notice 
for Rural Homes and Homes for the People in 
Orange Judd Co. advertisement. 



166 



Appendix D. Reviews 



The following is a chronological list of all reviews 
regarding Gervase Wheeler's work, located to date. Each 
entry includes the source, the city of publication, the 
date, the work reviewed, and an assessment of the review as 
positive, negative or, in some cases, neutral. See 
Bibliography for publisher information. 



1849, Apr 

1849, Jun 

1849, Sep 

1851, May 

1851, Jul 

1851, Nov 

1851, Nov 

1851, Dec 

1851, Dec 

1851, Dec 

1852, Jan 
1852, Jan 
1852, Jan 
1855, Jan 



The Literary World (New York), 337. The 
Columbian Drawing Book ; positive. 

The Horticulturist (Albany), 573. The Columbian 
Drawing Book ; positive. 

The Horticulturist (Albany), 144. "An English 
Cottage printed in August issue; negative. 

North American Miscellany (Philadelphia), 164. 
ir A" Suburban Villa" reprinted from The Home 
Journal ; positive. 

BulLetin of the American Art Union (New York), 
62. Interior polychromy at the Bowdoin College 
Chapel; positive. 

The Literary World (New York), 388. Rural 
Homes ; positive. 

The Home Journal (New York), 4. Rural Homes ; 
positive . 

The American Whig Review (New York), 544. Rural 
Homes ; positive. 

The Horticulturist (Rochester), 567. Rural 
Homes ; negative. 

Harper's Monthly Magazine (New York), 137. 
Rural Homes ; positive. 

The Genessee Farmer (Rochester), 16. Rural 
Homes ; positive. 



Godey's Ladies Book (Philadelphia), 91. Rural 
Jomes ; positive. 

Sartain's Magazine (Philadelphia), 102. Rural 
Homes ; positive. 

The Horticulturist (Rochester), 10. General 
review of architecture books, including Rural 
Homes ; neutral. 

167 



1855, May The Home Journal (New York), 1. Homes for the 
People ; positive. 

1855, Jun The Horticulturist (Rochester), 294. Homes for 
the People ; positive. 

1855, Jul Godey's Ladies Book (Philadelphia), 85. Homes 
for the People ; positive. 

1855, Jul Harper's Monthly Magazine (New York), 261. 
Homes for the People ; positive. 

1855, Jul Knickerbocker, New York Monthly Magazine (New 
York) , 79 . Homes for the People ; positive . 

1855, Aug The Builder (London), 371. Homes for the 
People ; negative. 



1871, Dec The Builder (London), 997. The Choice of a 

Dwelling ; positive. 

1872, Apr Quarterly Review (London), 295. General review 

of architecture books including The Choice of a 
Dwelling ; neutral. 



168 



Appendix E. Editions of Wheeler's Published Work 



The following list, taken from Henry Russell Hitchcock's 
American Architectural Books , outlines the numerous 
editions o"f Gervase Wheeler's two books printed in America 
and their respective publication locations. 



Rural Homes 



1851 New York: Charles Scribner 

1852 New York: Charles Scribner 

1853 Auburn: Alden Beardsley & Co 
Rochester: Wanzer Beardsley 

1854 New Orleans: Burnett & 
Bostwick 

Detroit: Kerr & Doughty 

1855 Auburn: Alden & Beardsley 
Rochester: Alden & Beardsley 

1868 New York: Charles Scribner 

New York: G.E. Woodward 
18?? New York: G.E. Woodward 



Homes for the People 



Note: The Alden & Beardsley 
companies, Burnett & Bostwick, and 
Kerr & Doughty were probably 
subscription publishers. 



New York: Charles Scribner 

New York: Charles Scribner 

(3rd thousand) 

New York: Charles Scribner 

(4th thousand) 

New York: Charles Scribner 

(5th thousand) 

New York: G.E. Woodward (6th 

thousand ) 

New York: American News 

(revised edition of 1867 

copyright) 



Note: American News generally 
handled distribution to railroad 
stations and mid-west cities. 



1855 


1855 


1857 


1858 


1868 


18?? 



169 



Appendix F. Institutions and Repositories 



The following list suggests research facilities for further 
leads on Gervase Wheeler's career in America. 



American Antiquarian Society, 185 Salisbury Street, 
Worcester, MA 01609; for the full run of The Home Journal . 

Berkshire Athenaeum, 1 Wendell Avenue, Pittsfield, MA 
01201; for documentation on Wheeler designs erected in the 
Berkshires . 

Church of the Holy Trinity, Brooklyn, NY; for documentation 
of Wheeler's alterations to the chancel. 

Columbia University, New York, NY; for Scribner archives. 

Connecticut Historical Society, 1 Elizabeth Street, 
Hartford, CT 06105; for Omstead Papers and information on 
Bushnell Park. 

Hartford Architecture Conservancy, 51 Wethersfield Avenu, 
Hartford, CT 06114; for information on Wheeler's practice 
in Hartford and Bushnell Park. 

Historical Society of the Tarrytowns, NY; for documentation 
on designs erected along the Hudson River, especially 
Rockwood . 

National Archives, New York, NY; for passenger lists 
(Wheeler is not among those already indexed). 

New York Public Library, Fifth Avenue, New York, NY; for 
Upjohn Papers and William Hoppin Diaries. 

Stockbridge Library, Stockbridge, MA 01262; for 
documentation on Wheeler designs erected in the Berkshires. 



170 



Anne & Jerome Fisher 

FINE ARTS LIBRARY 

University of Pennsylvania 

Please jefcum^liK^wjkas soon as you have finished with 
'^uftlb^e^^eti^Kthe latest date stamped below. 




FINE ARTS LIBRARY 

FUR* ESS 8L0G. 

JUL 14 1988 

UNIV. OF PENNA. 



3 1198 04977 2952 



N/infl/0M177/S t 1S2X