The American Renaissance In Southampton Village

This summer we were lucky to have a great young intern join us for a few weeks. Milo Youngerman graduated from Bridgehampton High School in 2018 and is currently enrolled at Kenyon College in Ohio majoring in Philosophy and American Studies. While not exactly looking for a career in the museum filed, he greatly enjoys them and has a keen interest in architecture. So for his main project to work on this summer Milo got to know Samuel Parrish as best he could and spent a lot of time thinking about the architecture throughout Southampton Village. Below are Milo's thoughts and ideas about said architecture and how it links the past with the present.


The American Renaissance In Southampton Village

What now exist as small-scale landmarks of the Southampton village, buildings operating as the Village Hall, Southampton Arts Center, and Chase Bank, were once seen by some as important developments in shaping the village towards the direction of European inspired American Renaissance. In the early 20th century, elite patrons of the arts shared a taste in the renaissance inspired designs rooted in the prestigious forms of academic architecture taught within the École des Beaux-Arts and it’s adjacent institutions in France. The style incorporated elements of renaissance, gothic, and neoclassical designs. However, when the school and its famous classical exports waned in popularity by the end of the 19th century in Europe, its well-trained aesthetics found popular appreciation in the industrial and rapidly developing United States.

Grand Central Terminal In NYC has become An internationally famous example of the Beaux-Arts style

Shingle style - Beginning in the 1880’s, defined by shingles, classical columns, and asymmetrical forms

The American Renaissance, a style informed by the first generation of American architects to study at Beaux-Arts, became a widely desired style for government, commercial, and residential buildings alike. By appearing as cultured beyond the states, and professionally educated in a way that wasn’t nearly as developed domestically, American architects trained in the École des Beaux-Arts (and around) could assist in transforming familiar towns and cities into promising hubs of industry and classically inspired culture. Popular among prominent New Yorkers, the introduction of the style and attitudes that came with it to one of their popular summer destinations, Southampton, seemed like an obvious extension.

Greek Revival - Most prominent from 1830-1870 characterized by a white, temple inspired exterior

One Southampton summerer who’s classical education coupled with experiences travelling in Europe generated a strong desire to bring the Beaux-Arts and Neoclassical exports to their surroundings in the new world was Samuel Parrish. Following a career practicing law, Parrish successfully leveraged his connections with prominent architects in New York City.

Beginning with his own home, the Rogers Mansion, Parrish employed the well-practiced eye of Stanford White, of the leading American firm Mckim, Mead, and White to greatly expand the already grand Greek-revival mansion. Parrish’s social connections to the firm can also be seen in Charles Mckim’s renting a room in the residence for a summer. Following the death of White, Parrish increasingly worked with prominent architect Grosvenor Atterbury of the same firm.

Two examples of the Greek-revival derived extensions to the Rogers Mansion.

Featuring stark white, classical forms.