Here’s a different kind of post than than my usual. After reading an article about a design competition in Wilmington for DCAD students I was able to track down Aliyah Pair, who specifically cited Frank Furness as being an inspiration in her design. What follows is a short interview with her about Furness and her work on this project. I’m looking forward to seeing more of Aliyah’s work and am hopeful that she will get to see her design put to use in Wilmington.
1) Can you tell me a little bit about yourself as a sort of introduction to you and your work?

Well of course my name is Aliyah Pair, I’m 20 years old and original from Richmond VA. I’m currently a second year student at Delaware College of Art and Design, studying Interior Design. When I first decided to go to art school, I wanted to be a Fine Arts major but decided before I started my first semester to come in as an Interior Design major. I believe that my style as a artist is reflected in my design work. I love color and my artwork is usual very organic and I think that people can see the connection of both of my crafts.


2) What is this project?

The City of Wilmington, is looking to redesign bus shelters in the area and the people who are commissioning and building these new shelters decided that they would like each student out of the ID Program to design a shelter that had to be inspired by the city of Wilmington in someway, and from there they would pick one design to be chosen to build.


3) Can you describe your design?

The focal point of my design is the clock that is mounted in the front of the structure . I used a lot of brown stainless steel, that is bent into these curvilinear forms that are seen surrounding the clock and the glass side windows of the shelter.The overall form is organic showing some Art Nouveau influence but it also captures the essences of “Old Wilmington”


3) Where do you see the Furness influence in it?

The clock, Furness is known for putting clocks on the exterior of this building, I also included brick work for the ground material of my shelter, which relates back to the masonry that is commonly seen on Furness’s  buildings.I included  tile roofing, which is another element frequently seen in Furness’s work around Wilmington ( that reddish- brown tile roofing that is usually seen in a scalloped pattern). My color scheme is within the same color palette of Furness’s work in the area, the brown and reddish- brown tones.


4) What did you do to harness your inspirations for the project? 

I did visit his local work in the Wilmington area.
(The Amtrak Station)

(and The Kumba Academy)
https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Security_Trust_and_Safe_Deposit_Co,_Art_Work_of_Wilmington,_1893.jpg
I also took a trip to the Philadelphia Art Museum where they had some biographical information on him.

5) How did you come to learn about Furness?

Through my studio teacher, Ian Tornay. He’s a fan of his work. Furness is a prominent figure within the design world, and as a design student, it’s important to know who he is, so we cover his work in my Modern Space Class.


6) Do you have a favorite of his work?

 The Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, its absolutely beautiful.


7) What do you feel he offers the contemporary architect/designer?

He offers time-less design, there’s something very beautiful about the innovations that’s seen in his work. I can see an influence of medieval with the heavy masonry and Greco-Roman with those columns but by no means is he trying to mimic or start an revival with his work. he taking  techniques from eras before his time and manipulating them to fit his own personal style. He creates work that stands in its own category. I feel like his work is always going to be attractive to the eye, and designers and architects of any generation can be influenced by is work.


8) Do you see your self using elements of his in the future?

I’m pretty sure I will, being in the Philadelphia/ Wilmington area where his work is so prominent, its inspiring as a designer to see it everyday and really get to analyze his work. I’m sure it will find away to sneak its way back into the work that I do.

I received an anonymous ask sharing more info on the pronunciation of the Furness name. So here’s another piece to add to the story:

There is a far clearer story on how to pronounce the name - when George Wood Furness, Frank’s grandson, was introduced by the dean of Penn’s school of architecture as “George Wood Furn-ness,” he leaned over to the dean and said “middle-class.” The reality is that the Furness pronunciation is characteristic of Scotland - but was messed up by Betty Fur-ness.

furnesque:

This is a long-time-coming post on the pronunciation of the name “Furness”. A while back I received a message asking me:

What is you opinion on the correct pronunciation of FURNESS? I came across a video on Youtube about Frank Furness and was surprised the narrator said “FURNACE,” an in the thing that heats your house.
— davidjgill

Based on discussions with family members and other scholars of Furness, I can confidently say that the family uses a pronunciation like “furnace” rather than the commonly heard “fur-ness”.
From The Current: Politics, Literature, Science and Art in May 1888:

"Not many years ago there were in Boston, New York, and Philadelphia four eminent Unitarian clergymen, by the names Bellows, Furness, Sparks, and Burnap. These fiery and suggestive names, were, in this case, very inappropriate, as none of them were believers in Gehenna, and all of them with characters opposite their names."

Frank’s father, the Unitarian Minister William Henry Furness, could be heard along with fellow Unitarian minister Henry Whitney Bellows making jokes about the fire of Furness and Bellows while speaking from the pulpit. But while William H. Furness may not have lived up to the fiery associations of the pronunciation, our Frank certainly did with his brash ways. 

I received an anonymous ask sharing more info on the pronunciation of the Furness name. So here’s another piece to add to the story:

There is a far clearer story on how to pronounce the name - when George Wood Furness, Frank’s grandson, was introduced by the dean of Penn’s school of architecture as “George Wood Furn-ness,” he leaned over to the dean and said “middle-class.” The reality is that the Furness pronunciation is characteristic of Scotland - but was messed up by Betty Fur-ness.


furnesque
:

This is a long-time-coming post on the pronunciation of the name “Furness”. 

A while back I received a message asking me:

What is you opinion on the correct pronunciation of FURNESS? I came across a video on Youtube about Frank Furness and was surprised the narrator said “FURNACE,” an in the thing that heats your house.

Based on discussions with family members and other scholars of Furness, I can confidently say that the family uses a pronunciation like “furnace” rather than the commonly heard “fur-ness”.

From The Current: Politics, Literature, Science and Art in May 1888:

"Not many years ago there were in Boston, New York, and Philadelphia four eminent Unitarian clergymen, by the names Bellows, Furness, Sparks, and Burnap. These fiery and suggestive names, were, in this case, very inappropriate, as none of them were believers in Gehenna, and all of them with characters opposite their names."

Frank’s father, the Unitarian Minister William Henry Furness, could be heard along with fellow Unitarian minister Henry Whitney Bellows making jokes about the fire of Furness and Bellows while speaking from the pulpit. But while William H. Furness may not have lived up to the fiery associations of the pronunciation, our Frank certainly did with his brash ways. 

Sources

I received an ask about my sourcing of photos. I’d like to make it clear that I’m happy to share sources and generally do in each post. If one cannot be found it is an oversight and you should feel free to point it out if one is missing.

To see the sources one needs only to click on the photo in the post and the sourcing will either be there in text or by being linked directly.

I don’t source the photos others have posted when i reblog them. You will need to ask them on an individual basis if you are interested. The only other time you will see purposely “unsourced photos” is when they were taken by myself. 

Thanks

Henry May Keim House
Reading, PA
c1886

The Henry May Keim house at 245 N. 5th Street in Reading, Pennsylvania is attributed to Frank Furness. It was built in 1886 and still stands. In fact, if you’re so inclined you can purchase the house

From Frank Furness: The Complete Works by G.E. Thomas, J.A. Cohen, and M.J. Lewis:

"The asymetrical composition, broad band course of stone across the facade, and the immense, overscaled, floral carved brackets are the hallmarks of the Furness manner in the mid-1880s. Similar brackets were used on the Robert M. Lewis house of 1886."

Henry M. Keim most likely was in contact with Furness via his brother, George DeBennville Keim III. George was a lawyer, responsible for the Reading Railroad’s real estate purchases and later acted as President of the company. He worked closely with Franklin B. Gowen who was responsible for many Furness projects both railroad and personal. In addition to this business link he was, with Furness, a member of the exclusive Rittenhouse Club. 

Boys’ High School
Reading, PA
c1882-3

Boys’ High School, in Reading, Pennsylvania was designed by Furness & Evan in 1882. Originally intended to be built of serpentine, it was decided to use limestone instead in order to lower costs. The contractors were D. & W. C. Kutz of Reading. The school is noted for employing a double-loaded center hall as appeared in Furness’s Home for Consumptives and his Bryn Mawr Hotel. Boys High School would be demolished in favor of a larger school in the early 20th Century. 

Henry C. Gibson House
Philadelphia, PA
1870

The house at 1612 Walnut Street was designed by Furness & Hewitt in 1870 for Henry C. Gibson. Gibson was one of the richest men in Philadelphia and an influential art collector who possessed what was said to be the greatest private collection in the United States. This early work by Furness & Hewitt was commissioned with that collection in mind. The Gibson House was torn down in the late 1920s and replaced in 1928 by the art deco Sun Oil Building.

Fortunately, there survive a number of interior photos to give us a glimpse of the budding creativity of a young Furness & Hewitt.

Gibson would later be involved in other Furness & Hewitt projects as he was on the board of the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts and was a charter member of the Social Art Club/Rittenhouse club both of which would see Frank Furness/Furness & Hewitt buildings in the 1870s. In 1881 he would commission a country house, “Maybrook”, in Narberth/Wynnewood designed by George W. Hewitt

From Frank Furness: Architecture and the Violent Mind by Michael J. Lewis:

     Some time in the early 1870, the firm of Fraser, Furness & Hewitt was visited by Henry C. Gibson, one of their most freely spending clients. Gibson belonged to that distinctive Gilded Age species-the industrialist or merchant who uses art as a kind of social perfume, misting a fragrant scent over the stench of money. Like William H. Vanderbilt, whose costly but uneven art collection did penance for his family’s ruthless transportation monopoly, or Peter A. B. Widener, whose Rembrandts were purchased by money made from supplying the Union army with mutton during the Civil War, Gibson’s fortune was neither particularly noble nor earned. He had merely inherited his father’s distilling firm and wine importing business, one of the largest in the country, and all he had to do was wait for his revenues to pour in. As they did, he poured them back, equally fast, into the acquisition of modern French art.
     Gibson had just built an old house near Fifteenth and Walnut Streets, which he intended to modernize by adding a private art gallery. He needed a sympathetic architect, and Fraser’s Firm was a logical choice. Gibson had a weak spot for exotic subjects, and his collection was crammed with views of Venice, Constantinople, and the Orient. Apparently he admired Rodeph Shalom, for he requested a domestic version of its Islamic exoticism. Quickly he would have discovered that Fraser had nothing at all to do with the synagogue, and his project fell to Furness and Hewitt.
     The conventional solution would have been to add an art gallery to the rear of the house, but Gibson’s architects devised something more daring: “a series of apartments called cabinets, that not only open into each other, but are integral parts of the house itself”. This was the great insight of the aesthetic movement: that art should be introduced into all aspects of living, as a kind of constant companion to modern life, not sequestered in a gallery. This design also permitted a wonderfully civic-minded gesture from Gibson, whose art collection, after all, had its origin in demon rum. He decided to make his collection public, opening it for inspection upon appointment.
     Furness and Hewitt drenched the interior of the Gibson house in sybaritic splendor, making it look rather like an extended Moorish smoking room. Each cabinet was distinguished by cusped horseshoe arches and geometric wood screens, behind which tantalizing vistas beckoned. Even the furniture was designed with an eye toward the ensemble, so that leonine heads guarded the table and roared beneath the fireplace mantel. The effect was dazzling-as if the Alhambra had been smuggled into one of William Penn’s orderly streets. Perhaps to counteract the un-Quakerly excess within, Gibson’s architects planted a foreboding Doric frontispiece outside, “a portico of elephantine lines and Egyptian suggestion” that disturbed the young painter Cecilia Beaux, who began her art education during her visits here.
     Hewitt was as responsible for the house as Furness, perhaps more so. A decade later Gibson chose the former to design his country house, suggesting he preferred Hewitt’s style, whether artistic or personal. But in 1870 the young partners were still designing happily together, jotting down passages of detail in their respective sketchbooks and then combining them at will, flinging the results together in sumptuous abandon. Gibson’s house was definitely the product of two men in the intoxicating state of discovering their own powers. Furness was still speaking in Hunt’s neo-Grec voice, with touches of Viollet-le-Duc’s townhouses thrown in, and Hewitt was still working his way free of Notman’s influence. But everywhere there were signs of burgeoning confidence in both men. 

From Artistic Houses: Being a Series of Interior Views of a Number of the Most Beautiful and Celebrated Homes in the United States:

     To a multitude of Americans who cultivate the fine arts, Mr. Henry C. Gibson’s house, on Walnut Street, above Sixteenth Street, Philadelphia, has long been an object of interest, as containing one of the largest and most valuable collections of oil-paintings in the United States ; and every American, or foreigner, who has been Mr. Gibson’s guest, will not fail to recall the very striking manner in which these works are arranged. Instead of building for them a distinct and lofty gallery, the owner has constructed a series of apartments called cabinets, that not only open into each other, but are integral parts of the house itself. He seems to have had no desire to keep his family away from his pictures, and certainly any visitor once inside the building finds himself immediately within sight of the chef-d’oeuvres of the Gibson collection, and would be at a loss to say just where the “gallery” began and just where it ended. As soon as the massive front doors have closed behind him, his eye follows the perspective of a main hall generously lined with marble statues, brackets, and columns — their position in each instance an artistic study — and terminating, after a passage through the principal cabinet, in a conservatory whose luxurious greens of exotic plants constitute a distance enchanting and apparently endless. If he walks forward in this inviting direction he encounters, at the right and left, several opportunities of turning aside into an apartment full of oil-paintings and sculptural forms; and, even while he pursues a straight course, the hall itself becomes an anteroom of pictorial treasures.
     Perhaps, however, after entering the building, he has turned abruptly into the drawing-room at the left, and, while surrounded by the old-gold tones of its satin upholsteries, looks through and beyond the library in a direction parallel with the hall. The farthest object of his vision is an antique mosaic, four feet six inches square, representing a Bacchante found recently in an excavation of the Via Presentina, Rome, and showing, in a marvelous state of preservation, great brilliancy of color and truth of form. After an exposure to seventeen effacing centuries, this superb piece of petrine portraiture glows with a freshness and warmth that belong to vitality, and rivals the splendors of the varicolored marble columns that support the entrance in front of it. Not less brilliant in chromatic effects are the columns that guard Couture’s famous allegorical painting, “The Thorny Path.”
     Most of the other leading names in modern art appear on the canvases in Mr. Gibson’s collection — among the great landscapists, Corot, Rousseau, Jules Dupre, Millet, Daubigny, Troyon, Diaz, Van Marcke, Courbet, Rico; among the historical painters, Detaille and De Neuville ; among the genre and figure-painters, Meissonier, Alfred Stevens, Boldini, Hamon, Gerome, Vibert, Kaemmerer, Michetti, Madrazo, Fortuny, Zamacois, Pasini, Bonnat, Munkacsy, Jules Breton. There are more than a hundred of them, and they are constantly receiving important accessions. A still-life by Delanoy, from a recent Salon, is one of the most interesting of these later works, because of that wonderful sweetness of tone and softness and transparency of shadows, which show how little a picture depends for its effect upon the literary element of its subject. The clever young colorist and draughtsman has placed that ugliest of fish, the skate, in the midst of some shrimps, oysters, and jars of pottery or metal, and wrought an ensemble of exquisite beauty — the very beauty that constitutes the raison d’etre of every work of art. And, in general, it is to be said of this delightful assemblage of pictures, that most of the names which they represent are represented with credit and distinction. Never was there a more representative Millet than ” The Shepherd ” leading his flock along the peaceful fields at sunset ; never a more representative Corot than the finished little “Landscape” from whose gray clouds the larks seem to be singing; never a more representative Fortuny than the sun-lighted figures in the Spanish “Court-yard of the Council-House”; never a more representative Jules Breton than “The Potato-Harvest”; never a more representative Boldini than “The Temptation of St. Anthony,” that poetic study of silvery tones and tender shadows, enveloping in its subtile and magical influence the ripest incarnation of French feminine loveliness.
     Sitting in the dining-room, whose wood-work is entirely of carved oak, the guest may place himself directly in front of probably the noblest Van Marcke ever brought to this country, and, if he turns completely around, he may gain an artist’s view of the picture, in the large mirror at the other end of the apartment. Some exquisite Sevres porcelains glisten from a wall-cabinet close by, and near them are two lofty candelabra once belonging to the first Napoleon, and afterward to the French embassy at Rome. But these things are merely specimens of an abundant array of beautiful objets d’art, and one leaves them and the famous collection of oil-paintings with the feeling that, notwithstanding their great number and costliness, the chief charm is the graceful ease with which the whole has arranged itself to the inspiration of a private house, and contributed its share to swell the refined and refining influences of home.