3 commissions that show the Beaux-Arts style of Barnett, Haynes & Barnett in St. Louis
The St. Louis Beaux Arts style had a profound effect on the built environment, and perhaps there was no other family more responsible than the Barnetts. I looked at the founder of this dynasty last year, George Ingham Barnett, who set the standard for high quality, classical Greek and Roman architecture in St. Louis in the early 19th century. But his two sons George Dennis and Thomas P. Barnett would continue to follow in their father’s footsteps and ensure that St. Louis would continue to have a distinctive classical architectural style. But like all Beaux Arts architects like Cass Gilbert, the Barnetts would work comfortably in other Revival styles in St. Louis and elsewhere in the United States.
George Dennis was born in the middle of the Civil War in 1863 and attended the CBC before joining his father’s architectural firm in 1880. In 1885 he began working as a draftsman for the city of St. Louis before setting up his own company with his brother-in-law John Ignatius Haynes in 1889.
Meanwhile, George’s younger brother, Thomas, who left Tom often, was born in 1870 and graduated from Saint Louis University in 1886. At first, the elder George tried to dissuade Tom from joining his brother in the field of architecture, but eventually agreed to do so. In 1895 the cult company Barnett, Haynes & Barnett was founded. George Dennis Jr. later joined his family’s business in 1912 and took over the reins from his uncle Tom.
Tom would lay down the philosophy of his architecture in the following quote:
“I am firmly convinced that no architect can break away from the traditional style. I don’t think it’s possible to do something original in architecture, and yet I believe that a man can build his own individuality into his work, even though he is building by the traditions of other ages. “
Perhaps that statement is a bit crowning today, but at the time it made sense for a group of architects like Barnett, Haynes & Barnett. With the rapid changes in society – steam engine, industrialization, electricity, aviation – there was a certain comfort in the architecture of the past that reflected the trends in the new buildings in the strongholds of the rich and powerful in St. Louis. At the same time, Tom and his partners were not exactly adhering to their own philosophy. Its own architecture was not just an individual expression of past traditions. In many ways, he set original and interesting new precedents in his commissions.
Robert Henry Stockton House
Before Tom even joined the company, the Robert Henry Stockton House on a quiet street east of Powell Hall in the Grand Center was one of the most notable – and now largely forgotten – homes designed by his brother George and John Haynes.
At the time of construction in 1890, at 3508 Lucas (now Samuel Shepard Drive), the area was a thriving upper-class neighborhood of townhouses and mansions. George and Haynes design for Mr. Stockton in the Romanesque Revival (the nearby Samuel Cupples House on the Saint Louis University campus is another example of this style) and create a unified composition that mixes different cuts and treatments from limestone. The house rejects the lightly painted wood details of earlier styles in St. Louis and hints at future architectural styles in St. Louis in the 20th century.
Later, when Brother Tom joined the company in 1900, a large extension was built from the back. This created an even larger house with a curved, massive side tower and a veranda, which was supported by large pillars. The Stockton house is a survivor, and luckily as many houses as there are in the central corridor are long gone.
Kingsbury Place Gates
The ornate gates for Kingsbury Place overlooking Union Boulevard were commissioned by the company in 1902 and are a perfect example of the synthesis of Renaissance and even Baroque Beaux Arts style elements in a new design. Of all the private streets in St. Louis designed by Julius Pitzman, the Kingsbury Place gate, with a fountain and a bronze sculpture by Clara Pfeiffer Garrett, is the most ornate.
Garrett had studied in St. Louis and after completing The Awakening of Spring as the centerpiece for Kingsbury Gates, she went to Paris to work. What stands out about Garrett’s work is its conservative composition, which shows the influence of the French academic painter William-Adolphe Bouguereau, largely forgotten today despite being one of the most famous artists of the 19th century. The goals are meant to express strength and tradition, not progressivism, and they succeed.
The new cathedral
After a successful stint on the World’s Fair Committee, designing the Palace of the Liberal Arts, and winning the Temple Israel contract we saw last week, Tom Barnett and his colleagues secured one of the most prestigious religious buildings in St. Louis : the new Roman Catholic cathedral on Lindell Boulevard in 1912. Described in most reports as Romanesque Revival and Byzantine Revival, the reality of the composition of this massive and beautiful building is much more interesting. While the exterior of the cathedral shows obvious influences of the Romanesque style, particularly in Cologne’s famous churches, the front portal and towers are anything but that medieval style. Likewise, the large dome over the crossing looks more like the influence of an Italian Renaissance dome from the outside, not the Byzantine dome as seen in Hagia Sophia in today’s Istanbul. Inside, the rich gold mosaics of the interior are reminiscent of the size of St. Mark’s Basilica in Venice. It is an extraordinary and completely original building.
Tom P. Barnett’s painting
The company also designed the Hotel Adolphus in Dallas and the Busch Mausoleum in Bellefontaine Cemetery. In 1905 Tom embarked on a career in painting that attracted both the academy’s and the public’s attention. Two of his paintings are actually accredited objects in the collection of the Saint Louis Art Museum. Perhaps what is interesting about the subject is how they focus on the natural world without people or the built environment. And like his sculptor Claire Garrett, they exist in a kind of happy world that fortunately is not aware of the dramatic, often turbulent changes in Europe. In 1914 and 1925, the years Tom was finishing his two Snowy Landscapes, Pablo Picasso had already turned paintings upside down forever with Cubism, the German Expressionists were already storming Berlin and Dresden, and Henri Matisse had the shocking ones Bathers already painted with a turtle that would eventually hang on the walls of the Saint Louis Art Museum. But maybe that’s what made the work of Barnett, Haynes & Barnett so appealing: it was a steady hand in an increasingly stormy sea.