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Real estate record and builders' guide: v. 17, no. 426: May 13, 1876

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Real Estate Record AND BUILDERS' GUIDE. Vol. XVII. NEW YORK, SATURDAY, MAY 13, 1876. No. 426. Published Weekly by THE REAL ESTATE RECORD ASSOCIATION 0. W. SWHET...............Pkesident and Teeasceeb PRBSTON I. SWEET...........Seceetaby. L. ISRAELS.........................Business MA.*fAGEB TERMS. OKB TEAR, in atlvance....^10 00. Communications should be addressed to O. SV. STVIQEJT, Nos. 345 AND 347 Bboadwat. A CHAPTER ON ARCHITECTURE. Mncli bas been written respecting the want of a distinctive school of architecture in this coun¬ try. It is complaiuecl that Americans are servile copyists, that we reproduce here architecture, both in oui- churches, our public edifices, and our private dwellings, which is adapted for other climates and for different environments. Many eminent architects thus are given as authority for criticising our churches and public build¬ ings particularly as being anachronisms, and not being adapted to the religious idea to be ex¬ pressed or the public use which the building is intended to subserve. There is undoubtedly force in much of the de¬ tached criticism concerning architecture in this country, but it must be bomo in mind that we are a composite nation; we represent no one race and no one religion. Our country, also, has every variety of climate. "We have arctic cold, tropi¬ cal heat; we have river bottoms, lake exposure, ocean fronts, as well as mountain sites, all of which demand a varying style of architecture. It was the pecaharity of architectural stnictures in the past that they represented the religion eras of distinctive faiths, or in their domestic architec¬ ture embodied certain marked climatic pecul¬ iarities. Grecian architecture, as evinced by their temples, was based upon the sacrificial charac ter of their religious ceremonials. A polytheis¬ tic religion, the offering up of sacrifices, was fitly symbolized in the Corinthian, Doric, and Ionic orders of architecture, and particularly in theii- temples. These were not intended for singing or speaking, but for spectacular ceremonials. Again, the Gothic style of the Middle Ages represented the Catholic ideal, the best specimen of which— the famous Cathedral of Cologne—shows that there was this advance upon the ancient archi¬ tecture that it was intended for the performance of the mass, in which spectacle was united with singing and choral music. Hence the fretted vaults and cells where music "lingered on as loth to die." The temples of Egypt, Ninevah and Babylon were symbolic of the religious idea to be expressed, and each had its appropriate characteristic. The faith of Islam is also typi¬ fied by the domed and minareted mosque. But, properly speaking, our modern architecture typifies no special religious creed; or rather it represents, wiih the religious ideas of the past, many modern improvements and variations. We have in this age numerous and diverse creeds, consequently our places of religious ob¬ servances extend from the ordinary meeting¬ house through all the ranges of the architectural gamut. Thus while some are adapted merely for speaking, others are arranged so as to be conformable to the requirements of the choir, the organ, the mass and the ritualistic spectacle. In like manner, a great deal of ignorant criti¬ cism has been wasted on our public buildings, and accordingly the Post-of&ce of thi^ city, on account of its composite character, has received its share of opprobrium. Very eminent archi¬ tectural authorities, among whom, we believe, maybe mentioned Leopold Eidlitz, have de¬ clared that it was a monstrosity, inasmuch as it combined a great number of diverse ideas, rang¬ ing all the way from Grecian, Eoman and Me- diseval ideas of architecture down to the present day, and including the inevitable Mansard roof. Nevertheless, to the ordinary mind the new Post-ofiice seems to be a inagnificent building, well proportioned, appropriate, and an ornament to the city, however it may violate such canons of the art as are laid down by Mr. Eidlitz and other critics. In truth, there is a theory of de¬ velopment in architecture as well as in nature. The human embryo and foetus pass through all the inferior forms before reaching that of man. As the fish, reptile, and mammal precede the type of man, and as man embodies all pre¬ ceding forms of life, so in architecture does the modem public edifice represent all previous ideas in architecture; and hence what may seem incongruous to the mere critic, who has not grasped this idea of development, and who judges each type of architecture by its own narrow rules, may be its chief recommendation. The Coria thian or Doric temple would be mani • festly out of place as a modern Custom-house or Post-office. Given the idea of the business to be performed, it is competent for the archi¬ tect to draw from ail preceding styles of archi¬ tecture, and so long as there is a harmony of ideas in the work he deserves commendation, instead of adverse criticism. Modern archi¬ tecture is a good deal like the modern orches¬ tra as compared with the viol or flute of the an¬ cients. It includes a great many different in¬ struments, instead of a single dulcimer, on which to express harmonic thoughts. So in our edi¬ fices, it is quite proper for us to have the Swiss chalet, ihe Tuscan villa, the Boman country house, the Elizabethan cottage, the only re¬ straint being that each style ot house should be fitted to its environments. Thus it is evident that such a style of villa as may be fit for a sea¬ shore is not best midway up a mountain, and that what would add beauty to a prairie would be manifestly out of place on the shores of a river or a lake. It is the in- appropriateness of the locations very often wMch makes our architecture incongruous; but we insist that every variety of dwelling knovm to the Old "World or the older civilizations could be utiUzed in thia country, where we have such an immense variety of natural scenery. Our modem Protestant faiths have developed the meeting-house, the best examples of which are seen in churches like those of Mr. Beecher and Mr. Hepworth, which are intended simply for the convenience of the audience in seeing and hearing the ministers, and not at all for spectac¬ ular displays. The Corinthian, Doric, or Ionic temple would be out of place as a Protestant meeting-house, as they were not intended for sound, but for sight—for the offering up of sacrifices, and not for the ministrations of an eloquent preacher. It is in this regard that we show our incongruous and unformed tastes—, a mere imitation of edifices constructed for a dif¬ ferent purpose, and embodying a distinctive religious idea. "We may recur again to this sub¬ ject; but it is evident that we in this country de¬ mand an eclectic school of architecture, and that any critic who objects to the composite charac¬ ter of our public edifices, or the great variety o ideas which the "best modern work justifies, is behindhand in the higher principles of his axt. Mr. Eidlitz himself, in his Synagogue on Fifth avenue and the new Dry Dock Bank, wisely de¬ parts from the rules he is in the habit of laying down touching the work of other architects. His best work is where his theory is not associated with his practice. A HINT TO BANK OFFICERS. Why cannot we have a bank edifice intended for the comfort and convenience of the people who patronize such institutions? Gentlemen who have occasion to deposit money, or to transact business with the cashiers or tellers of banks, are compelled to do so at the sacrifice of their self-respect. Every person who deals with a bank is treated as a possible thief. If ho wishes to deposit money, he must do it through a hole where he bands it to the teller, who is guarded by glass and wire, so as to offer no chance for possible courtesy. Likewise, in handing his check for money, he is treated as if he were a possible thief; hence, we think, has grown up the reprehensible practice of allowing porters and office-boys to deposit moneys and receive large sums intended for the firms to which they belong. No man with any self- respect wishes either to deposit money him- seK or receive it from a bank. There is a sense of humiliation in being treated as if you were a rogue in all your deal¬ ings with the bankers you patronize. It is of course desirable and inevitable that banks should deal with persona whom they do not know with a great deal of reserve and positive suspicion; but surely the gentleinen who are in the habit of leaving large sums of money on deposit deserve somewhat better treat-