Heritage, Volume 8, Number 3, Summer 1990 Page: 13
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Many preservationists entered the field as a reaction both to the
kind of commercial development that has dominated American
life since the 1940s and also in response to an architectural
movement that seemed to threaten the existence of all other
architecture-namely, international modernism and its offshoots,
including our own hugely destructive urban renewal programs of
the 1950s and '60s. The preservation of International Style
buildings now seems appropriate, as preservationists across the
country are beginning to suggest.34 But does this more or less
"curatorial" orientation thwart other efforts to undo some of the
harm represented and actually caused by modernism and its
offshoots? By the same token, is it not unfair to history to stand
back and refuse to make our own impress on the landscape, leaving
decisions instead simply to commercial factors or architects driven
mainly by commercial interests. These are complex questions and
ones that probably will be more "site specific" than a matter of
general policy. Good 1960s strips, for example, will present
themselves as somehow significant, probably, for many of the same
reasons that eighteenth-century towns or nineteenth-century
bridges have been left to us-as accidents of history. However, we
are called now to make such decisions more quickly than ever, and
our role in preserving as yet only marginally-recognized historic
buildings still lacks policy and guidelines.
William Morris, then, offers no final answers, but he and his
work do offer insights into what the problems might be. Morris
himself despised not only Wren and "classical architecture,"
(although much of his expressed disgust was probably tongue-incheek)
but also slate-roofed, brick terrace housing, varnished pine
furniture, railroads, and Victorian architecture generally-indeed
much that we now value as our principal patrimony. Yet he valued
things that have perhaps more universal application: decent
housing, a protected countryside, and sound environmental
policies. Morris' example suggests too that decisions about both
buildings and the environment are moral concerns, and not merely
opinions or unfounded hopes. Perhaps finally, Morris suggests that
it is the responsibility of anyone concerned with the course of
things to not merely watch and record events, but to take a stand.
William Chapman teaches historic preservation in the University of Georgia's
graduate program in historic preservation. Prior to Georgia, Chapman worked as
the architectural historian and historic preservation program manager in the U.S.
Virgin Islands and in the National Park Service's Mid-Atlantic Regional Office in
Philadelphia. He holds a doctorate in anthropology (with an emphasis in archaeology)
from Oxford University and an M.S. in historic preservation from Columbia.
A former Fulbright Scholar in Italy, he is particularly interested in the preservation
of historic towns and in inventory and recording techniques. He is a Board Member
of US/ICOMOS. His main interest remains the historic architecture of the
Caribbean, where he continues to work, returning to help in a National Trust
sponsored assessment of buildings damaged by Hurricane Hugo. Chapman has
written numerous journal articles on historic preservation and architectural history.
'J.W. Mackail, The Life of William Morris Vol. 1 (1899; London: Longmans, 1912),
p. 9. Basic facts on Morris' life are found in Ayme Vallance, William Morris: His Art,
His Writings and His Public Life, (London: George Bell, 1897); A. Clutton Brock,
William Morris: His Work and Influences (1914; London: Butterworth, 1931); and
Philip Henderson, William Morris: His Life, Work and Friends (New York: McGraw
'W.R. Lethaby, Philip Webb and His Work (London: Oxford University Press, 1935),
'Philip Henderson, ed. The Letters of William Morris to His Family and Friends,
(London: Longmans, 1950), p. 185.
4"Scrape and Anti-Scrape," in Jane Fawcett, ed. The Future of the Past: Attitudes to
Conservation, 1174-1974 (London: Thames and Hudson, 1976). cf. Howard
Colvin, "Gothic Survival and Gothic Revival," Architectural Review, 103 (1948),
'Nineteenth-century restoration practice is outlined in Martin S. Briggs, Goths and
Vandals (London: Constable, 1952); and in Stephen Tschudi Madsen, Restoration
and Anti-Restoration: A Study in English Restoration Philosophy (Oslo-GergenTromso:
6T.W. Church, The Oxford Movement: Twelve Years, 1833-1845 (London:
Macmillan, 1897); and Eugene R. Fairweather, ed.,The Oxford Movement (New
York: Oxford University Press, 1954). See esp. G.W.O. Addleshaw and Frederick
Etchells, The Architectural Setting of Anglican Worship (London: Faber and Faber,
1948); and Andres Landale Drummond, The Church Architecture of Protestantism
(Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 1934), on the changing preferences for Anglican
7James F. White, The Cambridge Movement: The Ecclesiologists and the Gothic Revival
(Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1962).
8Kenneth Clark, The Gothic Revival: An Essay in the History of Taste (New York:
Scribners, 1929); Georg Germann, Gothic Revival in Europe and Britain: Sources,
Influences and Ideas, trans. by Gerald Onn (London: Lund Humphries, 1972); and
Stefen Muthesius, The High Victorian Movement in Architecture (London: Routledge,
9Phoebe Stanton, Pugin (New York: Viking, 1971).
"'Cited in John William Burgon's "Introduction" to George Gilbert Scott, Personal
and Professional Recollections, ed. by G. Gilbert Scott (London: Sampson, Low and
Marston, 1879), p. xii.
"See esp. Alfred Noyes, William Morris (London: Macmillan, 1908), p. 14 on
Morris' changing preferences.
'Lethaby, Philip Webb, p. 24.
"Paul Thompson, The Work of William Morris (New York: Viking, 1967), p. 57.
4See esp. Mackail, Life of Morris and Vallance, William Morris.
5"The Poetry of Architecture" (1838), in E.T. Cook and Alexander Wedderbum,
eds. The Complete Works of John Ruskin (London: George Allen, 1903-12), Vol. 1,
p. 27. See also Kristine Ottesen Garrigan, Ruskin on Architecture: His Thought and
Influence (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1973) for a discussion of
Ruskin's architectural ideas.
'6Ruskin, Complete Works, Vol. 8, p. 242.
"Scott's first call for careful restoration standards was set out in his Plea for the
Faithful Restoration of our Ancient Churches (London: John Henry Parker, 1850). A
second, more directed challenge was expressed in his lecture before the Institute,
"On the Conservation of Ancient Architectural Monuments and Remains," Trans.
of the Royal Inst. of Brit. Architects, 1861-62.
'qThe Antiquaries' response is outlined in Joan Evans, A History of the Society of
Antiquaries (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1956), p. 309.
"9The debate began with an exchange between James Piggott Pritchet and Charles
Armfield, The Builder, 26 (June 1868), 414-15. See also The Builder, 28 (August
1870), 649-50; 31 (August 1873), 672.
20Written anonymously. Articles included "A Plea for Westminster Abbey," The
Athenaeum, No. 2485 (June 1875), 791; "Vandalism at Winchester," No. 2399
(Oct. 1875), 502; "The Progress of Restoration," No. 2606 (Oct. 1877), 441.
2Journal of the Royal Institute of British Architects, 3rd S. 7 (1900), 143-45. Ruskin's
reply is found in Ruskin, Complete Works, Vol. 34, p. 513.
22The Athenaeum, No. 2576 (March 1877), 326.
3Ibid. Morris' objections provoked a reply from the chairman of theTewkesbury
restoration committee, who initiated an exchange in The Athenaeum.See No. 2379
(March 1877), 425; No. 2580 (April 1877), 455.
24Mackail, Life of Morris, Vol. 1, p. 348.
25See esp. Morris' lecture "The Prospects of Architecture in Civilization" (1881), in
May Morris, ed. The Collected Works of William Morris, Vol. 22, (New York: Russell
and Russell, 1966).
26Originally emphasized by Lewis Mumford in "Morris and the Snow Queen,"
Journal of the Royal Institute of British Architects 3rd S. 80 (1973), 481-486.
27"A Dream of John Ball," Works of Morris, Vol. 16, p. 215. See also W.R. Lethaby,
"Kelmscott Manor and William Morris," The Architectural Review, 45 (1919), 6769,
for the impact ofthe house on Morris' conservation ideas.
28Mark Girouard, Sweetness and Light: The Queen Anne Movement,1860-1900 (New
Haven: Yale University Press, 1984).
29F.S. Ellis in "The Life-Work of William Morris," The Architect and Contract
Reporter 59 (1898), 371, describes Morris' early concerns. His later shifts are
outlined in Charles Sewter, The Stained Glass of William Morris, Vol. 2, (New
Haven: Yale University Press, 1974), pp. 56-58.
"3See esp. "The Beauty of the Earth" ( 1881 ), Works of Morris, Vol. 22; "Architecture
and History," (1884) Vol. 22; and "Art, Wealth and Riches" (1883), Vol. 23.
"SPNEA's approach to restoration is outlined in Nancy Cooledge and Nancy
Padnos, "William Sumner Appleton and the Society for the Preservation of New
England Antiquities," Antiques (March 1986), 590-595.
32William Morris, Romantic to Revolutionary (London: Lawrence and Wishart, 1955).
"Works of Morris, Vol. 16, p. 32.
34Most recently see Amy Worden, "Vt. Defends Good Old Modem," Preservation
News (Jan. 1990).
HERITAGE * SUMMER 1990 13
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Texas Historical Foundation. Heritage, Volume 8, Number 3, Summer 1990, periodical, Summer 1990; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth45427/m1/13/: accessed September 21, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas Historical Foundation.