“Lost Providence” explained

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Weybosset Street, in downtown Providence. (Lost Providence)

I just submitted my October post for my blog at Traditional Building, entitled “Monument vs. Fabric, or the difficulty of admitting deep error.” This means I am free to post my last month’s TB post on my Architecture Here and There blog. It was called “Lost Providence: How to interpret my new book.” Here is that interpretation as enunciated by its author.

First, a passage from the TB interpretation of the book:

Since the late 1940s and ‘50s, modern architecture has attained such a stranglehold on the field of architecture that the prospects for reform have seemed bleak. It took modernism only a couple of decades to go from niche curiosity to the conventional wisdom. Tradition has been trying to stage a comeback since the late 1950s, when Henry Hope Reed published The Golden City. What gives me hope is the speed with which historic preservation transformed itself from a hobby to a mass movement – an ongoing social revolution triggered far less by a love of history than a desire to preserve local beauty from the threat of modern architecture. Reforming the field could happen in the blink of an eye.

Stranger things have happened – such as how it took modernism only a couple of decades to go from niche curiosity (see H.L. Mencken’s dismissive editorial, “The New Architecture,” in the American Mercury of February 1931) to conventional wisdom. Should I take on that subject as the topic of a new book? Hmm.

About David Brussat

For a living, I edit the writing of some of the nation's leading architects, urbanists and design theorists. 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. My freelance writing and editing on that topic and others addresses issues of design and culture locally and globally. I am a fellow of the Royal Society of the Arts, and 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 invest your prose with even more style and clarity, please email me at my consultancy, dbrussat@gmail.com, 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.
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