Lesson 16 Table of Contents Lesson 18

L e s s o n 17


1. Key personalities

August Schoenborn (c. 1817-1900). German immigrant designer of the U.S. capitol dome.

Dankmar Adler (1844-1900). Pioneer architect in Chicago whose influence helped to bring about the architectural renaissance in Chicago at the turn of the century.

Ludwig Mies van der Rohe (1866-1969). One of the Bauhaus architects. Others were the Hungarian-born Marcel Breuer and the German-born Walter Gropius.

Joseph Urban (1872-1933). Working as a stage set designer in his early career, Urban became one of the important Palm Beach architects working in the Spanish baroque style popularized in Florida by Addison Mizner, himself of German descent. Urban's best known work in Palm Beach is the Mare Lago estate.

2. Main trends

During the colonial period, traditional styles of European folk architecture were transplanted to localities where German settlement was concentrated. A particular type of Swiss barn with an outside ramp leading to the loft was at one time common in eastern Pennsylvania. Fine examples of traditional half-timbered buildings can be seen in several places, including the Moravian community at Bethlehem, PA and the Ephrata Cloister at Ephrata, PA. The Ephrata Cloister, begun in 1725, was a religious community led by Johann Conrad Beissel (1690-1768). Another German religious community which has left an interesting architectural legacy is George Rapp's celibate Harmony Society at Ambridge, PA and their previous community of New Harmony, IN.

In some places German vernacular building styles influenced the architecture of American cities where Germans settled. Milwaukee and Cincinnati, for example, preserve old German neighborhoods where the houses have a unique style. In a number of cities (e.g. St. Louis) 19th century German churches display the influence of German church architecture. A number of cities preserve 19th century German buildings such as social clubs, Turner halls, German schools and business buildings.

German-American architects played a significant role in the architecture of American cities during the 19th century. Architects like Dankmar Adler in Chicago and Alexander C. Eschweiler in Milwaukee had an enormous impact on the local architecture of their cities. Eschweiler (1865-1940) was born in Boston but came from a German-American background. In Indianapolis, Diedrich A. Bohlen, Vonnegut & Bohn, George Kessler and others were key creators of the cityscape.

One of the most significant centers for innovative architecture in the 20th century was the Bauhaus at Dessau, Germany. Flourishing during the Weimar period after World War I, the Bauhaus was later suppressed by the Nazis. Many of its members immigrated to the U.S. before World War II and were influential in introducing the type of building with exterior glass walls which is familiar today. The contemporary, New Jersey-born architect Richard Meier has roots in the Bauhaus tradition. His most recent work includes the Getty Trust complex and museum at the foot of the Santa Monica Mountains in California.

Examples of early farm buildings can sometimes be seen at outdoor museums dedicated to the preservation of historic structures. The Pioneer Village in Ozaukee County, WI features farm buildings of a number of different immigrant nationalities. The Waelderhaus at Kohler, WI is a unique example of authentic south German chalet architecture.

3. Suggested further reading

Editors of American Heritage. Historic Houses of America Open to the Public. New York: American Heritage Publishing Co., 1971.

G. Edwin Brumbaugh. Colonial Architecture of the Pennsylvania Germans. Norristown, PA: Norristown Herald, 1933.

Margaret Hobbie. Museums, Sites, and Collections of Germanic Culture in North America. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1980.

* * *

Created: 4 August 1998, SEL
Updated: 17 November 2007, BAS
Comments to: Eberhard Reichmann, reichman@ucs.indiana.edu
This page sponsored and maintained by IUPUI University Libraries.
URL: http://www.ulib.iupui.edu/kade/merrill/lesson17.html

IUPUI School of Liberal Arts

IUPUI University Library

IUPUI Home Page