Boothden and St. Columba

Screen Shot 2018-09-10 at 5.19.41 PM.png

Original Boothden, left; new Boothden, right. (Newport Historical Society; the author)

Some 50 or 60 attended Sunday’s tour, in Middletown, R.I., of the St. Columba chapel, seemingly transported bodily from the English countryside of the 1880s, or even the 1680s, and Boothden, the “cottage” designed by Calvert Vaux (of Central Park fame, alongside landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted). It was built for Edwin Booth, the actor of worldwide fame who sought refuge in Li’l Rhody from the worldwide infamy of his brother.

The tour was sponsored by the New England chapter of the Institute of Classical Architecture & Art. The chapel’s rough-hewn exterior and interior hark back to the Arts & Crafts movement, when the designers of buildings, furniture, lamps, wallpaper, curtains, candlesticks and the like embraced the personal workmanship of craft in reaction to the gathering impulse to design everything as if it were a machine. Notwithstanding that, many architectural historians seek to tar much Arts & Crafts work, including St. Columba, as a “precursor” to modern architecture. It is not. It is, like everything explicitly human and humane, the precise opposite of modern architecture.

It is difficult to resist rising to the defense of a tiny chapel that needs no defenders. So enough of that.

Boothden was designed in the Shingle Style, with many wrinkles harking backward – and forward. Little of the house that Booth built remains in the house that Andreozzi built. Architect David Andreozzi, that is, whose firm, in Barrington, R.I., redesigned a structure that had been added to and added to little by little for decades, even as time took its toll on its oldest portions, in the decades after 1903, when it was sold by Booth’s heirs.

Using grainy old black-and-whites to get a feel for the original, Andreozzi, the ICAA chapter’s president, worked with landscape designers Le Blanc Jones and builders Kirby-Perkins to achieve a truly enchanting result that was not quite a restoration, more a reconstruction with a twist, a lot of twists, call it a revival, a revivification. That’s what architectural historian John Tschurch has called it. Tschirch joined Andreozzi as guides for the tour. But guides for this blog post will be photographic, below, with apologies for my iPod camera, whose secrets I am still struggling to unravel.

Screen Shot 2018-09-10 at 10.51.44 PM.png

Screen Shot 2018-09-10 at 11.06.58 PM.png

Screen Shot 2018-09-10 at 11.08.00 PM.png

Screen Shot 2018-09-10 at 11.09.26 PM.png

Screen Shot 2018-09-10 at 11.16.13 PM.png

Screen Shot 2018-09-10 at 11.19.03 PM.png

Screen Shot 2018-09-10 at 11.20.13 PM.png

Screen Shot 2018-09-10 at 11.22.00 PM.png

Screen Shot 2018-09-10 at 11.41.28 PM.png

Screen Shot 2018-09-10 at 11.43.07 PM.png

Screen Shot 2018-09-10 at 11.43.45 PM.png

Screen Shot 2018-09-10 at 11.44.41 PM.png

Screen Shot 2018-09-10 at 11.45.58 PM.png

Screen Shot 2018-09-10 at 11.47.17 PM.png

Screen Shot 2018-09-10 at 11.47.58 PM.png

Screen Shot 2018-09-10 at 11.48.53 PM.png

Screen Shot 2018-09-10 at 11.50.53 PM.png

Screen Shot 2018-09-10 at 11.51.42 PM.png

Screen Shot 2018-09-10 at 11.53.24 PM.png

Screen Shot 2018-09-10 at 11.54.28 PM.png

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.
This entry was posted in Architecture and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s