Wilson, Richard Guy 1940–

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Wilson, Richard Guy 1940–

PERSONAL: Born May 16, 1940, in Los Angeles, CA; son of Guy C. (in business) and Elizabeth (an interior designer; maiden name, Jacobsen) Wilson; married Eleanor Vernon (a professor), August 15, 1964; children: Kristina F., Abigail Elizabeth Victoria. Education: University of Colorado, B.A., 1963; University of Michigan, M.A., 1968, Ph.D., 1972. Politics: Democrat. Religion: Episcopalian.

ADDRESSES: Home—1860 Field Rd., Charlottesville, VA 22903. Office—School of Architecture, University of Virginia, 230 Campbell Hall, P.O. Box 400122, Charlottesville, VA 22904-4122.

CAREER: Historian, educator, and writer. Michigan State University, faculty member; Iowa State University, Ames, assistant professor, 1972–76; University of Virginia, Charlottesville, assistant professor, 1976–78, associate professor of architectural history, 1978–86, chair of architectural history and historic preservation, 1979–83, Commonwealth Professor's Chair of Architectural History and professor of architecture, 1986–, also chair of Department of Architectural History. Guest curator for exhibitions at numerous museums, including Brooklyn Museum, National Collection of Fine Arts, De Young Museum, Denver Art Museum, Chicago Art Institute, Octagon Museum, Museum of Fine Arts, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, and Bayly Art Museum. Guest lecturer at over 400 universities, institutions, and museums in the United States and abroad, including Pennsylvania State University, 1974, College of William and Mary, 1978, 1979, 1980, 1982, 1983, 1984, University of Michigan, 1979, Smithsonian Institution, 1980, 1984, 1985, 1991, Leeds University, 1981, Yale University, 1983, Ohio State University, 1986, Center for Historic Houses, 1989, Columbia University, 1990, and Wellesley College, 1992. Coordinator of summer school for Victorian Society in America, 1978–. Member of Ames Community Development Committee, 1975–76, and state review board for National Register nominations, Virginia Landmarks Commission, 1979–89. National Endowment for the Humanities, member of museum panel, 1984, 1989, and 1994; Public Broadcasting Service (PBS), C-Span, History channel, and A&E, advisor and commentator for television programs. Military service: U.S. Navy, 1964–67; became lieutenant junior grade.

MEMBER: College Art Association of America, American Studies Association (member of Bibliographic Committee, 1976–79), American Institute of Architects (honorary member), National Trust for Historic Preservation, National Council on Preservation Education (secretary, 1981–83), Society of Architectural Historians (member of Founder's Committee, 1978), Society of Industrial Archaeology, Vernacular Architectural Forum, Victorian Society (member of Education Committee, 1977–80, 1984–), Art Deco Society of New York (member of advisory council, 1983–), Virginia Historical Society, Phi Beta Phi, Beta Phi Mu.

AWARDS, HONORS: American Studies Research grant, 1971; National Science Foundation research grant, 1973, 1974; Iowa State University engineering research grant, 1973–74, 1974–75, and 1975–76; grants from National Endowment for the Arts and Iowa Arts Council, 1974–75; University of Virginia, School of Architecture research grant, 1977; grants from National Endowment for the Humanities, 1978–79, 1983–84, 1985–86, and 1990; American Philosophical Society grant, 1981; Guggenheim fellow, 1984–85; Koontz Prize, American Historical Association, 1986, for best article of 1985; Ray Billington Prize, Western Historical Association, 1986; Best Book of Year citation, American Library Association and Charles Montgomery Prize, Decorative Arts Society, both 1987, for The Machine Age in America: 1918–1941; Graham Foundation grant, 1987; Architecture Catalogue Award, Society of Architectural Historians, 1993, for The Making of Virginia Architecture; outstanding professor award, University of Virginia, 2001.


Old West Side: A Report on the Environmental Survey of a Neighborhood (monograph), Ann Arbor Publishers (Ann Arbor, MI), 1971.

(With Sidney K. Robinson) The Prairie School in Iowa, Iowa State University Press (Ames, IW), 1977.

(With Dianne Pilgrim and Richard Murray) The American Renaissance: 1876–1917, Pantheon (Brooklyn, NY), 1979.

Victorian Resorts and Hotels, Victorian Society (Philadelphia, PA), 1982.

McKim, Mead, and White: Architects, Rizzoli International (New York, NY), 1983.

The AIA Gold Medal, McGraw (New York, NY), 1984.

(With Dianne H. Pilgrim and Dickran Tashjian) The Machine Age in America: 1918–1941, Abrams (New York, NY), 1986, reprinted, 2001.

(Editor, and contributor with Sidney Robinson) Modern Architecture in America: Visions and Revisions, Iowa State Press (Ames, IW), 1991.

(With C. Brownell, C. Loth, and W. Rasmussen) The Making of Virginia Architecture, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (Richmond, VA), 1992.

(Editor and contributor) Thomas Jefferson's Academical Village: The Making of an Architectural Masterpiece, Bayley Museum (Charlottesville, VA), 1993.

(With Sara A. Butler) University of Virginia, photographs by Walter Smalling, Jr., Princeton Architectural Press (New York, NY), 1999.

At Home in Evanston: The Charles Gates Dawes House: The Compelling Story of a National Historic Landmark and the People Who Lived There, Evanston Historical Society (Evanston, IL), 2000.

(With Sarah Shields Driggs and Robert P. Winthrop) Richmond's Monument Avenue, original photography by John O. Peters, University of North Carolina Press (Chapel Hill, NC), 2001.

(Editor) Buildings of Virginia: Tidewater and Piedmont, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 2002.

(General editor) A Guide to Popular U.S. Landmarks as Listed in the National Register of Historic Places, F. Watts (New York, NY), 2003.

The Colonial Revival House, photography by Noah Sheldon, Abrams (New York, NY), 2004.

(Editor, with Shaun Eyring and Kenny Marotta) Recreating the American Past: Essays on the Colonial Revival, University of Virginia Press (Charlottesville, VA), 2006.

Contributor to numerous books, including Historical Preservation and Public Policy in Virginia, edited by Richard C. Collins, Mouseion Press 1978; A Handbook of Popular Culture, Volume 2, edited by M.T. Inge, Greenwood Press, 1980; Buildings on Paper: Rhode Island Architectural Drawings, 1825–1945, edited by Christopher Monkhouse and William B. Jordy, editors, Rhode Island Historical Society, Brown University, and Rhode Island School of Design, 1982; Cities, edited by Lisa Taylor, Cooper-Hewitt Museum, 1982; Victorian Furniture, edited by Ken Ames, Victorian Society, 1983; The Phenomenon of Change, edited by Lisa Taylor, Cooper-Hewitt Museum, 1984; "The Art that Is Life": The Arts and Crafts Movement in America, 1875–1920, edited by W. Kaplan, Boston Museum, 1987; Chicago Architecture, 1872–1922, edited by J. Zukowsky, Prestel Verlag, 1987; Ogden Codman and the Decoration of Houses, edited by P. Metcalf, David Godine, 1988; Paris 1889: American Artists at the Universal Exposition, edited by A.B. Laugrund, Abrams, 1989; The Mall in Washington, 1791–1991, edited by R. Longstreth, National Gallery of Art, 1991; and The Arts and Crafts Movement in California: Living the Good Life, edited by K. Trapp, Abbeville Press, 1993. Contributor to architecture and history journals. Assistant editor of newsletter of Society of Architectural Historians, 1975–78.

WORK IN PROGRESS: The Country Resort and Suburban Architecture of McKim, Mead and White; Progressive and Conservative: Arts and Crafts Architecture in America, 1876–1930.

SIDELIGHTS: Richard Guy Wilson once told CA: "Born in a house designed by a notable 'modern' architect, R.M. Schindler, I was perhaps doomed to be concerned with architecture and design. However, my father was an amateur historian and led me in another direction. The twin influences ultimately were reconciled in the profession of architectural history. While the 'modern' style is still of interest, most of my work has been concerned with discovering what we lost when we abandoned history, image, and ornament in architecture—hence The American Renaissance. My principal interest is in communicating, whether through books, articles, or museum shows."

Wilson later wrote: "I have changed my focus somewhat and produced a mammoth museum exhibition and book covering the beginnings of modernism in America in the 1920s and 1930s. My book The Machine Age in America: 1918–1941 covers all the Arts—architecture, painting, literature, music, advertising design, and industrial design—with excursions into automobiles, bathrooms, and the kitchen. This is a fascinating period in which Americans learned to love the machine. With the almost total collapse of a belief in the beneficial qualities of the machine and modernism, and the advent of 'postmodernism,' it is time to look seriously and critically at modernism."

Wilson more recently told CA: "I have continued my interest in museum exhibitions that include architecture and also with the various forms of modernism. What has been most intriguing in the past ten or so years has been the development of a serious scholarly approach to the Arts and Crafts, to which I have made a number of contributions. At the same time the earlier architecture of individuals such as Thomas Jefferson is very attractive and I intend to write more on him."

Wilson followed up on his intentions with Thomas Jefferson's Academical Village: The Creation of an Architectural Masterpiece. Wilson served as both editor and contributor to the volume, which served as the catalogue for a Bayly Museum exhibition commemorating the completion of the restoration and preservation of the Academical Village at the University of Virginia. In addition to an introduction by the director of the Bayly Museum, the book includes three essays focusing on the history and restoration of the Academical Village. Wilson's written contribution to the book is a chapter titled "Jefferson's Lawn, Perceptions and Interpretations, Meanings." Writing in the Journal of Higher Education, C. Suddarth Kelly noted that the author "treats the Lawn (the grounds and buildings) as a physical and philosophical entity and relates it to American architecture and education." Kelly also wrote: "He has written on a long subject, dispersed elsewhere, with skilled, cohesive economy. One senses that this chapter is a summation of a syllabus well known to the author, indeed an informed perspective, history, and interpretation."

Wilson's The Machine Age in America: 1918–1941, which he cowrote with Dianne H. Pilgrim and Dickran Tashjian, was reprinted in 2001. Writing at that time in Publishers Weekly, a contributor noted: "Pop and material culture lovers will swoon over the 410 illustrations … and the erudite essays." Also published in 2001 was Richmond's Monument Avenue, which Wilson cowrote with Sarah Shields and Robert P. Winthrop. Calling it "a beautifully produced book," Urban History Review contributor Elizabeth MacDonald also noted that the authors include "a rich description of the buildings along the street and biographical detail of the architects who designed them, effectively showing how a cohesive whole was achieved through what was in fact great variety, as the more eclectic responses of local, often self-trained architects mixed side-by-side with the more academically correct styles of several big name New York architects."

Wilson also served as editor of Buildings of Virginia: Tidewater and Piedmont, which focuses on approximately eight hundred buildings and includes four hundred photographs and maps. Richard Longstreth, writing in the American Studies International, called the book "a masterful work," adding that Wilson and the various contributors "have created a rich, dense text that is as authoritative as it is engaging."



American Studies International, October, 2002, Richard Longstreth, review of Buildings of Virginia: Tidewater and Piedmont, p. 105.

Booklist, May 15, 2002, Mary Ellen Quinn, review of Buildings of Virginia, p. 1632.

Journal of Higher Education, September-October, 1995, C. Suddarth Kelly, review of Thomas Jefferson's Academical Village: The Creation of an Architectural Masterpiece, p. 592.

Publishers Weekly, November 26, 2001, review of The Machine Age in America: 1918–1941, p. 55.

Urban History Review, spring, 2003, Elizabeth Mac-Donald, review of Richmond's Monument Avenue, p. 43.


University of Virginia Web site, http://www.arch.virginia.edu/ (April 8, 2006), faculty profile of author.

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