Research Project: Week #4


For the duration of my fourth week of research, I spent time looking at buildings constructed by James Windrim.  I found a catalog of all of these buildings and noticed an astonishing pattern.  Aside from the structures he created in Philadelphia (Philadelphia Masonic Temple 1868-73, The Academy of Natural Sciences 1868-72, The Kemble-Bergdoll Mansion 1885, The Smith Memorial Playground & Playhouse 1898-99,  The Smith Memorial Arch, The Native American Building 1900, The Commonwealth & Tile Trust Company Building 1901-06, The Lafayette Building 1907-08, and The Main Building of Thomas Jefferson Hospital in 1903) Windrim built 8 post offices across the country.  This list of post offices included the 1889-92 project in which Emlen Urban was the onsite supervisor.  From 1889-1891 Windrim built post offices across the nation.  While he decided to be consistent with the types of buildings he constructed in this time period, he was also extremely consistent with the building’s style as well.

1) Carson City, Nevada: 1888-91








2) Abingdon, Virginia: 1889-90









3)  Lancaster, Pennsylvania: 1889-92













4) Vicksburg, Mississippi: 1890-92









5) Scranton, Pennsylvania: 1890-94









6) Detroit, Michigan: 1890-97











7) Springfield, Montana: 1891-94













8) Sacramento, California: 1891-94













After seeing the beautiful Lancaster Municipal building for the first time, I immediately wondered what James Windrim’s other architectural pieces would look like.  After I researched his work from Philadelphia and elsewhere, I noticed that many if not all of his buildings had some sort of common denominator.  What I found so interesting about all of these pieces of art was that no matter where he went in the country, whether east or west coast, Windrim brought his own unique style to cities that hired him.  By doing this, Windrim’s work will always be so special because he didn’t let geography change the way he constructed his buildings.  With this being said, Windrim built all of these post offices nation wide in a very similar way.  By looking at the images of these structures, one notices that he uses arcs in every individual building, usually as the boarder for windows.  Like in the Lancaster Municipal Building, Windrim uses a Moorish or Venetian style of architecture.  In downtown Lancaster, the municipal building is the only building of this style, making it stand out much more than the others.  Perhaps Windrim realized this was a way for him to isolate his work from his competition.  These post offices are all pretty much asymmetrical and constantly have the roof of the structure coming up to a sharp points, giving them a sort of castle look.  What is most noticeable in all of these buildings is there is always one main section that is elevated higher than the rest, containing some substantial form of venustas making it eye grabbing to passerby.  For example, the Lancaster Municipal Building’s copper dome atop of a structure much higher than the rest.  The buildings differed a little on the exterior but were mostly comprised of red or white colored brick.  James Windrim was very consistent in the style of buildings he placed around the country, coining him his own specific appearance to be used over and over again.



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