Cloistered words of beauty

The Cloisters at Fort Tryon Park, New York City. (

The Cloisters at Fort Tryon Park, New York City. (

John D. Rockefeller Jr. gave a park in the upper reaches of Manhattan to New York City and built a museum in the grand manner on its grounds for the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The Cloisters and Fort Tryon Park were gifts from Junior, as he was known, and when the museum was dedicated in 1939, he spoke of beauty in words that suggest there was more to him than throwing his money around. His words were quoted by Michael Gross in Rogues’ Gallery: The Secret Story of the Lust, Lies, Greed, and Betrayals that Made the Metropolitan Museum of Art, which I am about a third the way through. Here, notwithstanding that title, are those words:

If what has been created here helps to interpret beauty as one of the great spiritual and inspirational forces of life, having the power to transform drab duty into radiant living; if those who come under the influence of this place go out to face life with new courage and restored faith because of the peace, the calm, the loveliness they have found here; if the many who thirst for beauty are refreshed and gladdened as they drank deeply from this well of beauty, those who have builded here will not have built in vain.

Rockefeller’s Lincolnian cadences hit the nail on the head still today, the words still speaking to why we make the effort to restore beauty to its rightful eminence in the way we build places.

Entrance into The Cloisters. (

Fort Tryon Park’s Billings Arcade. (

Courtyard at The Cloisters. (

Courtyard at The Cloisters. (

About David Brussat

This blog was begun in 2009 as a feature of the Providence Journal, where I was on the editorial board and wrote a weekly column of architecture criticism for three decades. Architecture Here and There fights the style wars for classical architecture and against modern architecture, no holds barred. History Press asked me to write and in August 2017 published my first book, "Lost Providence." I am now writing my second book. My freelance writing on architecture and other topics addresses issues of design and culture locally and globally. I am a member of the board of the New England chapter of the Institute of Classical Architecture & Art, which bestowed an Arthur Ross Award on me in 2002. I work from Providence, R.I., where I live with my wife Victoria, my son Billy and our cat Gato. If you would like to employ my writing and editing to improve your work, please email me at my consultancy,, or call 401.351.0457. Testimonial: "Your work is so wonderful - you now enter my mind and write what I would have written." - Nikos Salingaros, mathematician at the University of Texas, architectural theorist and author of many books.
This entry was posted in Architecture, Architecture Education, Architecture History, Books and Culture, Landscape Architecture, Preservation and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Cloistered words of beauty

  1. Aesthetic pictures ❤


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