Thursday, October 21

An American Neuschwanstein That Wasn't

The wonderful, wonderful book Unbuilt America: Forgotten Architecture from Jefferson to the Space Age was a constant companion of mine during college, and from it stems my fascination with Halsey Wood's "Sacre Coeur on Crack"-style design for St. John the Divine in New York; another great fanciful unbuilt unknown is this Maxfield Parrish-esque proposal (apparently seriously considered) for a U.S. summer capital complex in Colorado to house the President and his retinue during the hotter months. The castle would have been located in Mount Falcon, Colorado, and would have cost $50,000 and the landscaping $200,000. Views of Denver, the Continental Divide and Pikes' Peak would have been visible from the terrace. It would have been funded by popular subscription and was supported officially by 22 governors, who would have held the building in trust.

Wilson, who apparently had no love for Mitteleuropäische Count Chocula-style architecture (another point against him, in my book, not that I need an excuse*), nixed the idea. On the other hand, considering the massive expansion of the federal government some decades later seems to eerily intersect with the installation of air-conditioning in the federal city, perhaps this was all for the best.

*Please stand for the official anthem of the Austro-Hungarian Imperial and Royal Guild of Amalgamated Deli Meat Producers and Hog Butchers: "Unser Kaiser has a first name, it's K-A-R-L, unser Kaiser has a second name it's H-A-B-S-B-U-R-G." Wait, that doesn't really scan. And I'm pretty sure Franz-Ferdinand didn't drive a Wienermobile, though it might have been from Wien (or Skoda, or something).


  1. So, it's like an American Simla? RAD. Maybe that's why Wilson was against it: too imperial. What a wet blanket.

    (Mmm, Count Chocula.)

  2. Simla! Ah yes, with the same appropriate yet oddly out-of-place Alpine architecture.

  3. If I recall correctly, that book also has a splendid design by Richardson for a town hall in Brookline, Mass.

  4. Yes, that's the one. There's also a pretty spiffy "New Versailles," which is actually a mammoth apartment complex from the 1910s but could do double duty as a very fine high-rise Escorial, a striking if odd proposal by Lloyd Wright (FLW's kid) for LA Cathedral, I think a couple of proposals for a new or expanded White House, some weird theoretical stuff, and much more. It's a glorious book.

  5. Awesome quote from Saint Dym. Pray for moi, aussi: I'm going crazy in this world fulla abortion. God bless you.