I'm sending this along in appreciation and celebration of Sharon Simms' NEW GROUP, Building Architecture and Dings. I approached the subject of this article back around Thanksgiving. Like Ines' article, it didn't get much notice at the time, but I loved writing it anyway.. I was feeling appreciative and sentimental. Thanksgiving does it to me every year. History does it to me. Imagine how amazing it is for me to live in a city (Asheville, N.C.) -- known not only for historic charm, but for architectural diversity...Romanesque Revival,Victorian, Neo-Gothic, Neo-Georgian, Classical Revival, Art Deco, Craftsman, Bungalow...Cabins and Castles.
I drive by THIS beauty on my way home almost every day. This is St. Mary's Church, constructed in 1914 in the English Gothic Revival style. The red brick church building built with a stone foundation has a steeply pitched gabled roof. The windows are pointed arches with leaded glass diamond panes. According to the National Park Service, of prominent Asheville architect Richard Sharp Smith had his hand in this project.
For a run-down of other incredible architectural finds in Asheville, check out this link....
But, before you do, let me tell you the story of a man who found himself on the grounds of a castle and took away with him the inspiration that changed the world... Like many others, this man believed that buildings and their architectural features must be taken in context--must be appreciated from the perspective of the land on which they stand.
This is the story of the Father of Human-Scale Development ...Charles Eliot. " Charles Eliot pioneered many of the fundamental principles of regional planning and laid the conceptual and political groundwork for land and historical conservancies across the world.!" (exclamation mark is mine)
I inherited a legacy of appreciation for architecture in context and a love of stewardship from my Grandfather whose hero was Charles Eliot. You see, Grandpa was a land man. . He loved natural beauty. He was the salt-of-the-earth type, so you might think that Charles Eliot would be an unlikely hero for such a man as Grandpa. But not so! Grandpa outright admired him. Often when we picnicked at beautiful Belle Isle in Detroit, Michigan where I grew up, Grandpa would remind me that Eliot had his hand in the design. In fact, as far back as 1890, Eliot led the way protect scenic treasures and viewsheds.
Charles Eliot (1859-97) son of Harvard University president, worked with Frederick Olmsted. Although he was only 38 when he died, in his short lifetime Eliot's accomplishments were many. He designed the metropolitan park and open-space systems of Boston, and founded the first U.S. organization devoted to historic landscape preservation. Photo of Charles Eliott From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
A well known landscape architect around the turn of the 19th century, Eliot may be an unfamiliar figure to some today. Yet, he was a bright light in the field of human-scale development, pioneering many of the fundamental principles of regional planning eco-friendly developers use today. Also to his credit is the conceptual groundwork for land and historical conservancies.
New Urbanist Pioneer.
Charles Eliot has to be the original new urbanist.When I visit friends in Celebration , Florida, I can see his influence there. Here's a picture (again from Wikipedia) that illustrates my point.
Concerned with the quickening pace of development beyond metropolitan Boston, where he lived and worked, Eliot proposed an unique park system in the form of a trust.
Land Trusts got their start that way. Grandpa would be pleased to see how Eliot's seeds have bloomed. Today land trusts have matured into "privately based, nonprofit, tax-exempt charitable corporations and partnerships whose primary focus is to conserve open space or purchase conservation easements." They are growing in popularity and size. You will find conservation-minded organizations in small towns, operating locally.You will find them operating regionally and statewide. You will find them where families are thinking about sustainability and positive futures.
In fact, Charles Eliot's creative influence remains. His legacy touches selected communities who are receiving assistance in taking the principles Eliot first envisioned and putting them into practice.