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Bertram Grosvenor Goodhue, Ecclesiastical Architect

(1869 - 1924)

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Ornate pyramid tower atop the LA Public Library designed by Goodhue.

Mosaic pyramid top of the Central Public Library in Los Angeles, LAPL

Photo ©Jim Winstead Jr./Flickr
Interior of the Goodhue-designed National Academy of Sciences shows Egyptian influences

Detail on the walls of the National Academy of Sciences building in Washington, D.C. Photo in Carol M. Highsmith Archive, LOC, LC-DIG-highsm-13317, Prints and Photographs Division

Nebraska State Capitol Building designed by Bertram Grosvenor Goodhue

Nebraska State Capitol Building designed by Bertram Grosvenor Goodhue

Photo by Patti McConville / Collection: Photographer's Choice RF / Getty Images (modified)

Bertram G. Goodhue was an innovator who combined Gothic and Hispanic designs with modern ideas. He revolutionized church (ecclesiastical) architecture by reawakening Medieval traditions, with a focus on modern detailing within traditional designs. His fanciful Spanish Churrigueresque buildings for the Panama-California Exposition brought new energy to Spanish Colonial Revival architecture in the United States. Later in his career, Goodhue moved beyond Gothic ornamentation to explore classical forms, designing landmark buildings such as the Nebraska State Capitol.

Born: April 28, 1869 in Pomfret, Connecticut

Died: April 23, 1924 in New York City

Education:

Studied for six years under James Renwick, Jr., architect of many public buildings and churches, including Smithsonian Institute Castle in Washington, DC and Grace Church and St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York.

Important Projects Attributed to Goodhue:

More About Bertram Grosvenor Goodhue:

Bertram Grosvenor Goodhue never attended college. Instead, at age fifteen he went to work in the New York office of Renwick, Aspinwall and Russell. In 1898, he formed his own partnership with Cram, Goodhue, and Ferguson.

Although Goodhue's early works were noted for their high Gothic style, he later adopted a Romanesque style. By the end of his career, his work tended toward simple, classical lines. The Los Angeles Central Library, completed after his death, has elements of Art Deco design. Today Goodhue is considered an American modernist.

Typeface Designs

Goodhue is said to have invented two font styles:

  • Merrymount, designed for the Merrymount Press of Boston
  • Cheltenham, designed for the Cheltenham Press in New York City; Cheltenham was adopted by The New York Times for their headline typeface and by the L.L. Bean company for their distinctive logo

SOURCE: The Alexander S. Lawson Archive, Ithaca Typothetae [accessed April 26, 2012]

In the Words of Goodhue:

"...the trouble in our houses today is that we want everything to seem rich and extravagant—we want money, and then we want to show it in our surroundings."

—from The New York Times, A Renowned Architect's Home of His Own by Christopher Gray, January 22, 2006 [accessed April 8, 2014]

Books About Goodhue

  • Bertram Goodhue: His Life And Residential Architecture by Romy Wyllie (2007)
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Archives

Bertram Grosvenor Goodhue Architectural Drawings and Papers, 1882-1980. Department of Drawings & Archives, Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library, Columbia University.

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