The Cyclopædia of American Biography/McKim, Charles Follen

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The Cyclopædia of American Biography  (1918) 
James E. Homans, editor
McKim, Charles Follen

McKIM, Charles Follen, architect, b. in Chester County, Pa., 24 Aug., 1847; d. at St. James, L. I., 14 Sept., 1909, son of James Miller and Sarah Allibone (Speakman) McKim. He studied at the scientific school of Harvard in 1866-67, and then spent three years in the architectural course at the School of Fine Arts in Paris. On his return to the United States he settled in New York, and, in association with William R. Mead and Stanford White, formed the firm whose work has taken part in the recent development of architecture in this country. The variety of work executed by this firm has been very great, but their main tendency has been to produce buildings whose original influence has been derived from the purest styles of classic architecture. Among their best productions in country work are the cottages erected in Newport, Lenox, and other summer resorts, notably the house at Mamaroneck, N. Y., that is in the style of a French farmhouse, having points of resemblance to the half-timbered work of England. Their houses at Newport are typical of a style that is peculiar to themselves. Among their city residences, the Tiffany house on Madison Avenue, in New York City, which is Rhenish in style, with details leaning toward the Italian, is pronounced by some critics to be the finest piece of architecture in the New World. The Villard block of houses on Madison Avenue, behind St. Patrick's Cathedral, designed in the spirit of classic Italian architecture of the sixteenth century, is the most beautiful specimen of that style in New York City. Conspicuous among their country buildings of a public character are the casinos at Newport and Narragansett Pier, and the music hall in Short Hills, N. J. They have also built St. Paul's Church in Stockbridge, Mass., and St. Peter's in Morristown, N. J., which are characterized by simple dignity and beauty. Their large business edifices include that of the American Safe Deposit Company on the corner of Forty-second Street and Fifth Avenue, in the style of the Italian Renaissance and the Goelet building on the corner of Twentieth Street and Broadway, New York City, which is likewise Italian in character; and also the two large office buildings of the New York Life Insurance Company in Omaha and Kansas City. The Algonquin clubhouse of Boston and the Freundschaft clubhouse of New York, and Madison Square Garden, in New York City, were from designs furnished by them, as well as the Boston Public Library. Among other notable buildings erected by the firm are: Columbia University; the State capitol, Rhode Island; Brooklyn Institute of Arts and Sciences; Walker Art Gallery at Bowdoin College; the Department of Architecture at Harvard; Music Hall, Boston; the Agricultural Building of the New York State buildings at the World's Columbian Exposition; and the buildings of the University, Harvard, and Century Clubs, New York City. In addition to the work already mentioned, Messrs. McKim, Mead and White have designed various monuments and memorials erected in this country and abroad. Mr. McKim received the gold medal at the Paris Exposition of 1900, and was awarded the Royal Gold Medal by King Edward for the promotion of architecture in 1903. He was also awarded a gold medal by the American Institute of Architects in 1909. He was a member of the Congressional commission for the improvement of the Washington park system; member of the New York Art Commission; member of the Accademia di San Lucca, Rome, 1899; member of the American Academy in Rome, honorary member and former president of the American Institute of Architects; member of the Architectural League, and honorary member of the Society of Mural Painters. He became a National Academician in 1907. He belonged to the University, Lambs, Racquet and Tennis Clubs of New York, and to the St. Botolph and Somerset Clubs of Boston. He received the honorary degree of A.M. from Harvard in 1890, and from Bowdoin in 1894.