Thursday, February 25

Edward Weber, the Unknown Architect



Edward Joseph Weber is, in many respects, the José Carreras of the early twentieth century Gothic Revival. You have Pavarotti, Domingo, and...the other guy, just as you have Cram, Goodhue, and...the other guy. Indeed, I would not have known of his existence had not he published two well-illustrated books on Catholic ecclesiology that often served as extremely thinly-veiled showcases of his work. (He seems to have had a hyperactive publicity machine, though I am not quite sure if it ever quite gained the traction he deserved. I know next to nothing of his actual biography, which says something already.) While his Gothic sketches often have a rather fantastic air to them--one shows an unbuilt modern cathedral with a crossing-tower about as big as a skyscraper--his greatest finished work was the Byzantino-Romanesque Cathedral of St. Joseph in Wheeling, West Virginia, a stolid structure with a rather bland exterior and a vividly-frescoed interior that shows a brilliant coloristic boldness and use of liturgical-eschatological symbolism never surpassed by his more famous confrères, with their own tendency to ornate but ultimately grey Gothic. Here are some stunning photos I found on flickr.com (credit: photographer JM Bocan):







11 comments:

  1. One wonders whose brilliant idea it was to put in all the can-lights in the crossing and up-lights in the nave. Way to break up the existing rhythms.

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  2. Yeeeah. I am really amazed at how they cluttered up the crossing with the new altar and candlestands, especially given the high altar is virtually freestanding already. It could be worse, though. Toledo Cathedral, Ohio, which very much resembles this one (as you know), has of all things a font underneath the former altar baldachin, which beggars belief.

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  3. Yes, well they've both fared better than St. Agnes' in Cleveland and for that we can be thankful.

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  4. Love the artwork, but what is with the potted palms.

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  5. Less clutter and more real art makes for a happy church!

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  6. Great Church... and when when I see Byzantino-Romanesque... I always think Coronation Tapestry paraments! ;)

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  7. That's the kind of color that makes you want to get up on winter Sundays.

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  8. Thanks for the post, Matt. The Byzantino-Romanesque doesn't get nearly enough love.

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  9. I have several of his books, and believe he was a Lutheran minister as well as an architect.

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  10. Hi, I am Edward Weber's great-granddaughter. No, really. He was a native Pittsburgher, the architect of Central Catholic High School, etc. My grandmother was his daughter, my mother his granddaughter. We were there at the re-dedication of this Cathedral, and my brothers and I got to bring in the sacrament during mass. I can tell you that the reason the acoustics in that cathedral are some of the best are because all of the frescos are backed with horsehair, and the reason it's so colorful is because it's heavily mexican influenced.

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  11. P.S. Feel free to contact me. I can put you in touch with my mom or my uncle, who know even more.

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