Skip to main content
Select Source:

Richard Upjohn

Richard Upjohn

Richard Upjohn (1802-1878) was an English-born American architect whose expressive vocabulary of Gothic design helped to make this style popular in the mid-19th century.

Richard Upjohn was born in Shaftesbury, Dorset-shire, on Jan. 22, 1802. At the age of 27 he went to America with his wife and son. Upjohn became a skilled cabinetmaker before entering the profession of architecture, which explains his penchant for precise, meticulous architectural decoration. Detailed Gothic buildings probably gave him more pleasure to design and construct than the currently popular Greek revival style, whose proportions he could approve but whose paucity of decoration was to him absurd.

In 1830 Upjohn settled in New Bedford, Mass., where he was listed as a carpenter and worked in the office of an oil and lumber merchant. Within 3 years Upjohn began designing buildings. The first was a house for Isaac Farrar in Bangor, Maine (1833-1836), in the prevailing Greek revival style. His first church was St. John's, Bangor (1836-1838; destroyed), in the Gothic style, with which he was thereafter identified.

In 1839 Upjohn moved to New York when he was asked to design a new Trinity Church (1839-1846). It is now considered his finest ecclesiastical work. In plan, decoration, and character it is modeled after the church building concepts of the English Ecclesiologists, who believed in returning directly to medieval architecture and liturgy for inspiration. The effect is clear and precise, though to some extent it lacks integration between ornament and structure.

Trinity Church set the tone for numerous other Gothic churches throughout America, and it helped Upjohn get a large number of commissions which placed him at the top of his profession. His other notable churches are the Church of the Ascension, New York City (1840-1841); Christ Church, Brooklyn (1841-1842); Grace Church, Providence, R.I. (1847-1848); Grace Church, Utica, N.Y. (1856-1860); St. Peter's, Albany, N.Y. (1859-1860); Central Congregational Church, Boston, Mass. (1865-1867); and St. Thomas's, New York City (1868-1870)—all designed in variations of the Gothic theme.

Upjohn's public and commercial buildings were generally done in an Italianate style with semicircular, arched windows and doors. They are monotonous in the repetition of motifs and lack compensating decoration.

Sporadic attempts to form an association of professional architects were made for 2 decades before Upjohn and 12 other New York architects organized as the American Institute of Architects in 1857, with Upjohn as first president. The list of members soon included all the best architects of the era, and the institute is still central to all professional activity in the country.

Rural Architecture (1852) is Upjohn's only complete book, though many drawings and photographic views of his buildings appeared in contemporary magazines. He died in Garrison, N.Y., on Aug. 16, 1878. His most important pupil was his son Richard M. Upjohn.

Further Reading

The definitive book on Upjohn is Everard M. Upjohn, Richard Upjohn: Architect and Churchman (1939; repr. 1968). □

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Richard Upjohn." Encyclopedia of World Biography. . Encyclopedia.com. 26 Jul. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Richard Upjohn." Encyclopedia of World Biography. . Encyclopedia.com. (July 26, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/richard-upjohn

"Richard Upjohn." Encyclopedia of World Biography. . Retrieved July 26, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/richard-upjohn

Upjohn, Richard

Upjohn, Richard (1802–78). English-born architect, he emigrated to the USA in 1829, and settled in Boston, Mass., where he established a practice in 1834. His earliest works were the serene and pleasing Greek Revival houses in Bangor, Me. (1833–6), and a Gothic Revival house in Gardiner, Me. (1835), but he is remembered primarily as a church-architect and as a Gothic Revivalist. His masterpiece was the Second Pointed Trinity Church, New York (1841–6), which shows the influence of A. W. N. Pugin (it resembles the church depicted in Plate H of The True Principles of Pointed or Christian Architecture (1841)), and gained critical acclaim. St Mary's, Burlington, NJ (1846), with its handsome crossing-tower and broach-spire, was derived from the English medieval Church of St John the Baptist, Shottesbrooke, Berkshire, illustrations of which, from drawings by Butterfield, had been published by the Oxford Society for Promoting the Study of Gothic Architecture (later called the Oxford Architectural Society). Upjohn's Trinity Chapel, New York (1846), was also Anglo-Gothic in style.

Upjohn produced some buildings in the Romanesque style, e.g. the Church of the Pilgrims, Brooklyn, New York (1844–6), Bowdoin College Chapel and Library, Brunswick, Me. (1845–55), and St Paul's Church, Baltimore, Md. (1854–6), the last more like a true Rundbogenstil building based on Lombardic exemplars. He built an enormous number of churches, many of some distinction, and also designed other building types, a fact often obscured by his reputation as a church-architect. He published Upjohn's Rural Architecture in 1852 which shows something of his grasp of composition and style. He was first President of the American Institute of Architects which he helped to found.

Bibliography

Pierson & and Jordy (1978);
Placzek (ed.) (1982);
Stanton (1968);
E. Upjohn (1939);
R. Upjohn (1975)

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Upjohn, Richard." A Dictionary of Architecture and Landscape Architecture. . Encyclopedia.com. 26 Jul. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Upjohn, Richard." A Dictionary of Architecture and Landscape Architecture. . Encyclopedia.com. (July 26, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/upjohn-richard

"Upjohn, Richard." A Dictionary of Architecture and Landscape Architecture. . Retrieved July 26, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/upjohn-richard

Upjohn, Richard

Richard Upjohn, 1802–78, American architect, b. England. He came to the United States in 1829. A skilled cabinetmaker and draftsman, he lived first in Manlius, N.Y., and then in New Bedford, Mass., where he set himself up as an architect. His first commissions were private houses in Bangor, Maine (1833–36). He had executed St. John's Church, Bangor (1836–39), and several smaller commissions when in 1839 he was engaged to rebuild Trinity Church, New York City. Moving to New York, he established an office there. The new Trinity Church (1846) was carefully modeled on English examples and inaugurated a new phase in the Gothic revival. Upjohn designed the old St. Thomas's Church in New York City (later burned), several churches in Brooklyn, the chapel of Bowdoin College, smaller Gothic churches, and many residences. He was a founder of the American Institute of Architects and its first president (1857–76). His son, Richard Michell Upjohn, 1828–1903, architect of the Connecticut State Capitol, was associated with his father.

See E. M. Upjohn, Richard Upjohn, Architect and Churchman (1939).

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Upjohn, Richard." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. 26 Jul. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Upjohn, Richard." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. (July 26, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/upjohn-richard

"Upjohn, Richard." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Retrieved July 26, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/upjohn-richard

Upjohn, Richard Michell

Upjohn, Richard Michell (1828–1903). English-born American architect, the son of Richard Upjohn. He worked closely with his father, becoming a junior partner in 1853. The earliest building for which he alone appears to have been responsible was Madison Square Presbyterian Church, New York (1853–4). He introduced an almost Rogue High Victorian Gothic style to the USA, as at the Grace Church, Manchester, NH (1860), and the spiky, rather frantic north gates of Greenwood Cemetery, Brooklyn, New York (1861–5). The Connecticut State Capitol, Hartford (1872–8), a showy American interpretation of Continental Gothic Revival, with many gables, crested roofs, and an extraordinary (and somewhat incongruous) high cupola, is his most famous work. He published an influential paper on Colonial architecture in New York and the New England States in 1869.

Bibliography

D. Curry & Pierce (eds.) (1979);
Dictionary of American Biography (1948);
Placzek (ed.) (1982);
Proc. of the Third Annual Convention of the AIA (Nov. 1869), 47–51;
E. Upjohn, E. M. (1939)

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Upjohn, Richard Michell." A Dictionary of Architecture and Landscape Architecture. . Encyclopedia.com. 26 Jul. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Upjohn, Richard Michell." A Dictionary of Architecture and Landscape Architecture. . Encyclopedia.com. (July 26, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/upjohn-richard-michell

"Upjohn, Richard Michell." A Dictionary of Architecture and Landscape Architecture. . Retrieved July 26, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/upjohn-richard-michell