3.29. GEORGE POST ONCE AGAIN PIONEER’S IN NEW TECHNOLOGY: ORNAMENTAL TERRA COTTA

George B. Post, Long Island Historical Society Building, Brooklyn Heights, 1878. (Landau, Post)

I have noted the continuous collaboration between George Post and Peter B. Wight, before and following Wight’s move to Chicago, so there is no doubt in my mind that Wight would have taken the opportunity to introduce Post to Loring’s ornamental terra cotta.  Also, as an active member of the A.I.A. Post should have been familiar with the achievements of Loring.  Late in 1877, Loring received his first contract for architectural terra cotta in New York through Post.  Therefore, as far as I can determine, Post was one of, if not the first New York architect to follow the lead of Chicago’s architects by incorporating ornamental terra cotta in the exteriors of his buildings.  His first use of Loring’s terra cotta was in a house at 15 East 36th Street that he designed for the Danish consul, H.M. Braehm.  Loring’s Boston works produced the large, four-foot high terra cotta panels that were inserted beneath the window openings.  The terra cotta panels were made with a red clay that matched the red pressed brick he used for the exterior.  Post had chosen in this building to depart from his earlier polychromatic excursions by experimenting with an avant-garde monochromatic palette of materials (that was more than likely influenced by Richard Morris Hunt’s early, unbuilt monochromatic scheme for the Tribune Building (see next Section).  

George B. Post, H.M. Braehm Residence, New York, 1877. (Landau, Post)

While Post was completing the design of the Braehm house in 1878, he was also engaged in a design competition for a building for the Long Island Historical Society (that we will discuss in the next Section).  He had incorporated an arcade in the final design in which he began to exploit the decorative potential of Loring’s material.  This monochromatic design took his experiment in the Braehm House to the extreme by eliminating all contrasting banding.  Pressed red brick piers framed and supported red terra cotta arches, spandrels and stringcourses that were fabricated at Loring’s Boston works. This discussion borders on the third Vitruvian requirement, “Delight,” that we will explore in the next chapter.

(If you have any questions or suggestions, please feel free to eMail me at: thearchitectureprofessor@gmail.com)

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