Front of the Bank of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia. Source: phillyhistory.org.
Side view of bank. Source: classconnection.s3.amazonaws.com.
Built in 1812, the Fairmount Water Works, was an impressive display of Greek architecture in Philadelphia.. Source: domusinc.net.
Designed by the English architect Benjamin Latrobe, the Bank of Philadelphia, built in 1799, was one of the nation’s most influential buildings (Finkel 2013 B). The neoclassical building’s elegant design featured Ionic columned porticos on both ends that was awe inspiring and had never been seen before in America (Tyler 2014: 50). It was also one of the first buildings to use archaeologically correct details (from Stewart and Revett’s renowned 1762 book Antiquities of Athens) but was by no means a copy of a Greek temple and was built using a plan of new simplicity and openness (Finkel 2013 B). Thanks to Latrobe’s work, Greek architecture continued to inspire the development of cities in the U.S., especially in the East and even before he planned the Fairmount Water Works complex he had “earned the reputation as the Father of American Architecture” (Tyler 2014: 49-50). His bank was demolished in 1867 but the Fairmount Water Works complex still stands today.
The Second Bank of the United States, Philadelphia. Source: theredlist.com.
Like Robert Mills (a prominent architect), William Strickland was greatly influenced by Latrobe and established himself as one of the first architects to use the Greek Revival style when he designed the Second Bank of the United States (1819-1824) (Tyler 2014: 51). Strickland was Latrobe’s student for a short while, but was fired because of his “whirligig temperament” (Finkle 2013 A). Strickland’s design drew influence from the Parthenon’s pediments and its Doric columns (nps.gov) and helped to further exhibit Philadelphia’s affinity to ancient Greece’s glory (Finkel 2011). Currently it houses the Portrait Gallery which exhibits a permanent collection of over 150 portraits of 18th and 19th century political leaders, military officers, explorers and scientists (nps.gov).
Founder’s Hall (1833-47) at Girard College, Philadelphia. Source: andrewhopkinsart.blogspot.com.
Girard college’s Founders hall is so immense that it is even larger than the Parthenon. Built in true temple from by Thomas Walters, another of Latrobe’s students, the hall was the college’s first classroom building that was completely encircled by a colonnade (Tyler 2014: 52). Although intended for classroom use according to Girard’s will, which had set aside $2 million for its construction, the “echoing domes and poor traffic flow” made it unconducive to teaching (hiddencityphila.org). Nonetheless, it is considered one of the finest examples of Greek Revival architecture in the U.S. and is a National Historic Landmark, which houses two museum collections and the archives of Stephen Girard houses (girardcollege.edu).
U.S. Treasury Building
The U.S. Treasury Building (1836-42), built by Robert Mills, an architect influenced by Benjamin Latrobe (a great proponent of neoclassical architecture) in Washington D.C. is an example worth mentioning because of its implementation of the Greek Revival style with grand proportions. “The initial east elevation incorporated 30 columns, each 36 feet tall and carved out of a single piece of granite” (Tyler 2014: 53). The treasury proved to be very influential on the designs of other government buildings and perhaps it’s not a coincidence that ancient Greek temples often served as treasuries and housed national riches, which our modern banks and treasuries reflect in their purpose and design (Tyler 2014: ibid.).
Also of note, in 1848, the Washington Monument, designed by Mills, “incorporated with proper ceremony one marble fragment taken from the ruins of the Parthenon” (Tyler 2014: 54). This symbolic act, physically connecting ancient Greece with the U.S. is of significance considering that the U.S. was a young nation in the process of constructing its identity. During the early 19th century the U.S. metaphorically leaned on Greece (ancient and modern) to drawing on its political and architectural methods and its independent spirit. The American government (as well the public architecture that represents it, including memorials) identified with Greece’s classical glory and valuing of freedom and placed physical remains from the Parthenon in a major, government funded monument in the nation’s capital, permanently tying the two nations together in a very symbolic way.
William T. Jackson House. Source: thekings.org.
The William T. Jackson House, now a bed and breakfast called At The Falls, was built in 1845 by William T. Jackson, an entrepreneur, lawyer, judge and congressman. This tetratyle temple facade may have influenced the Wilson-Wahr home in Ann Arbor (Wineberg 2014: 35), which is considered one the finest examples of Greek Revival architecture in Michigan and the nation.
Federal Hall. Source: openbuildings.com.
Designed by the French architect Pierre L’Enfant and built in 1842 Federal Hall originally served as the United States Customs House. L’Enfant imagined the building as a simplified version of the Parthenon (Wineberg 2014: 53) and is different largely, in terms of the exterior, because it has engaged columns along its sides, no sculptural elements, nor an inner colonnade. Since 1955, it was designated as a national memorial and is maintained by the National Parks and Recreation. It has public exhibits, guided tours, and a New York tourist information center.
Hagley Park Structure. Source: studyblue.com.
Looking out from the temple’s portico. Source: mapio.net
The Hagley Park Structure (1758-9), commissioned by Thomas Anson, a member of the British parliament and built by James Stuart, is generally considered the first Greek Revival structure and is an important monument of architectural history (Tyler 2014).
The British Museum. Source: britishmuseum.org.
In London, the British Museum’s facade exhibits clear influence from classical temple forms with its ionic columned portico and sculpture filled pediment above its plain entablature. Built by William Wilkins and William Smirke (1823-43) the museum now features some eight million pieces from all around the world.
The Thomas Anson Residence. Source: patrickbaty.co.uk.
Thomas Anson’s Residence (built in 1763-6) at 15 St. James Square is considered the first residential building designed by James Stuart in the Greek Revival style. In this case, this residence differs slightly from the cannon with its front stone work, engaged columns, and absence of a portico. However, its overall style draws on elements from Stuart and Revett’s Antiquities of Athens. Also, of note, its Ionic volutes were based on the the book’s drawings of the Erecthion.