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Robert Henderson Robertson (April 29 1849June 3 1919) was an American architect who designed numerous municipal offices and churches.

Robertson was born in Philadelphiamarker of Scottish parents. His father was Archibald Robertson. He was educated in Scotland, then graduated from Rutgers Collegemarker in 1869. He apprenticed for several years in Philadelphia with Henry A. Sims, then moved to New York to work first for George B. Post, then in 1873-74 for Edward Tuckerman Potter. Having completed one of the first houses in America that manifested the "Queen Anne style", a cottage for Theodore Timson in Sea Bright, New Jerseymarker (1875), he formed a partnership with Potter's half-brother, William Appleton Potter, who also trained with Post. The partnership lasted from 1875 to 1881, working in a free Gothic Revival style; Robertson, the junior partner, appears to have been responsible for the firm's residences. In the 1880s, working on his own, he fell under the influence of H.H. Richardson's "Richardsonian Romanesque" a freely-handled revival style that depended for its effect on strong massing and the bold use of rustication. In the 1890s, in the wake of the "White City" of the World's Columbian Expositionmarker, Chicago, he began to work in a classicizing style.

Commissions (Potter & Robertson)

During his New York partnership with William Appleton Potter, from 1875 to 1881, the firm produced summer vacation cottages in Newport, Rhode Islandmarker, and the Jersey Shore, beginning with a house for Bryce Gray in Long Branch, ca 1877 (demolished). Potter and Robertson also designed:
  • South Congregational Church, Springfield, Massachusetts (1871-1875)
  • Brown Universitymarker Library (1875)
  • Stuart Hall, Princeton Theological Seminary (1875-77)
  • Witherspoon Hall, Princeton Theological Seminary (1875-77)
  • Library, Brown Universitymarker, Providence, Rhode Island (1875).
  • The University Hotel, Princeton, New Jersey (1875-77, demolished).
  • Alpha Kappa Lodge, Williams College, williamstown, Massachusetts (1876). The design was illustrated in The American architect and Building News 27 May 1876 ( illustration).
  • Commodore Charles H. Baldwin house, Newport, Rhode Island (1877-78) A multi-gabled essay in the Queen Anne style showing the influence of Norman Shaw, and H.H. Richardson's Newport residence for William Watts Sherman (1874-76).
  • "Hillside", Oyster Bay, New York, (1878), for Sarah Sampson Adam. The partnership's only documented house on the Long Island Gold Coast is also in the Queen Anne style.
  • Christ Episcopal Church, Oyster Bay, Long Island (1878). Altered by Delano & Aldrich in 1925, who encased the domestic-looking church in stone.
  • St. James Protestant Episcopal Chapel; known as the Church of the Presidentsmarker, Elberon, New Jersey (1879)


Commissions on his own account

His Park Row Buildingmarker, 15 Park Row (1899), built for August Belmont, was for a brief period, the world's tallest building. Among his many other New York Citymarker commissions:In the following list, where no city is indicated, New york is understood.

  • St. James (Protestant Episcopal) Church, E. 71st Street & Madison Ave. (1881) Altered by Ralph Adams Cram and others. Collapsed tower replaced by a spire, 1950.
  • Madison Avenue Presbyterian Church, E. 60th Street & Madison Ave. (1884, demolished)
  • 23 East 67th Street, (1882-83) Redesigned in the neo-Federal style and an additional storey added by Sterner and Wolfe in 1919.
  • Mott Haven Railroad Station (1885-86, demolished)
  • YWCA Building, 7-11 East 15th Street (1885-87)
  • Library, Drew Theological Seminary, Madison, New Jersey (1886). Published in The American Architect and Building News 20 March 1886.
  • "Sunnymede", Dr Francis H. Markoe house, Southampton, Long Island (1886-87). Dr Markoe was Robertson's brother-in-law.
  • "Wyndcote", Robertson's own residence, Southampton, Long Island (1887-88).
  • St. John the Martyr Roman Catholic Church, 250 East 72nd Street, (1886)
  • Asa Bushnell House, East High Street, Springfield, Ohio (ca. 1887) Now the Richards, Raff and Dunbar Funeral Home, it exemplifies Robertson's Richardsonian Romanesque.
  • Christ Church, Poughkeepsie, New York (1887-1889)
  • "Hammersmith Farm" Newport, Rhode Island (1887-89), for John W. Auchincloss
  • Margaret Louisa Home, 14-16 East 16th Street (1889-91)
  • Church of the Holy Spirit
  • Phillips Presbyterian Church
  • Church of the Messiah and Incarnation, Greene Avenue Brooklyn (1892) Completed the design of James H. Giles.
  • Engine Company 55, New York Fire Department (1895), 363 Broome Street, Manhattan.
  • American Tract Society, 150 Nassau Street (1894-95) Combining elements of Renaissance Revivaland Romanesque Revival styles, this is one of the earliest steel-framed structures; it is clad in gray Westerly granitemarker, gray Roman brick and tan architectural terracotta.
  • St Luke's Episcopal Church (1892), Convent Avenue, Hamilton Heights
  • Pequot Library, Southport, Connecticutmarker (1893). Meticulously restored in 2008.
  • New York Savings Bank (1896-97), 8th Avenue, at 14th Street (northwest corner). The grand Roman banking hall was occupied by Central Carpet, then by the upscale grocery mart, Balducci's (2005-2009). It and its twin across the street serve as New York's gemelli churchesmarker.
  • Rutgers Riverside Presbyterian Church, Broadway and 73rd Street ((1889-90, demolished and replaced with the present structure)
  • Shelburne Farmsmarker, Shelburne, Vermont. Shelburne House, the Breeding Barn, the Farm Barn and the Coach Barn make up Robertson's most ambitious farm complex.
  • Camp Santanoni (the Main Camp Complex), Newcomb,, New York; for Robert C. Pruyn of Albany, a Yale classmate of Robertson's. The first Adirondack camp to be comprehensively designed as a unit by a professional architect.
  • Academy of Medicine, 17 West 43rd Street (1889, demolished)
  • Lincoln Building, 1-3 Union Square West (1889-90)
  • MacIntyre Building, 874 Broadway (1890-92)
  • United Charities Building, East 22nd Street and Park Avenue South (1891-92, with Rowe & Baker)
  • Mohawk Building, 160 Fifth Avenue (1891-92)
  • Mendelssohn Hall (1891-92), for the Mendelssohn Glee Club
  • Corn Exchange Bank Building
  • Church of St Paul and St Andrew and parish house, 86th Street and West End Avenue (1895-97) Tuscan Renaissance in tan brick and limestone, with an octagonal campanile at the corner.
  • First Reformed Dutch Church, Somerville, New Jersey (1896-1897)
  • Church of the Divine Paternity (1898), Central Park West and 76th Street. Mosaic in interior.
  • Bedford Park Presbyterian Church (1900), Bedford Park Boulevard, The Bronx
  • 540 West End Avenue, New York
  • Moses Allen and Alice Dunning Starr House, 5 West 54th Street (1897-99)


Commissions (Robertson & Potter)

In 1902 Robertson took in as partner Robert Burnside Potter, nephew of William Potter. They designed a cottage, perhaps several, for Regis H. Post in Bayside, Long Island.
  • 33 East 67th Street, New York (1903)


Robertson died June 3, 1919, at William S. Webb's Adirondack lodge in Nehasane, Hamilton County, New York, which he had designed. He is buried in Southampton, New Yorkmarker.

External links

Multimedia slide show of Robertson's career

Notes

  1. It was illustrated in The American Architect and Building News, 22 July 1876, without the client's name ( illustration).
  2. Robert B. MacKay, Anthony K. Baker, Carol A Traynor, Long Island Country Houses and Their Architects, 1860-1940 1997, p. 165.
  3. Robert B. MacKay, Anthony K. Baker, Carol A Traynor, Long Island Country Houses and Their Architects, 1860-1940 1997, p. 165.
  4. ( illustration from The American Architect and Building News, 5 February 1876).
  5. Illustration
  6. Robert B. MacKay, Anthony K. Baker, Carol A Traynor, Long Island Country Houses and Their Architects, 1860-1940 1997, p. 165.
  7. Robert B. MacKay, Anthony K. Baker, Carol A Traynor, Long Island Country Houses and Their Architects, 1860-1940 1997, pp 165-67
  8. Robert B. MacKay, Anthony K. Baker, Carol A Traynor, Long Island Country Houses and Their Architects, 1860-1940 1997, p. 166; the Potter & Robertson design, as first bilt, was illustrated in The American architect and Building News, 12 October 1878( illustration).
  9. AIA Guide to New York City, MacMillan, 1968, p.30.
  10. Noted in obituary, "Robert H. Robertson Dead", The New York Times, June 5, 1919 and in Robert B. MacKay, Anthony K. Baker, Carol A Traynor, Long Island Country Houses and Their Architects, 1860-1940 1997
  11. AIA Guide to New York City, MacMillan, 1968, p.173
  12. Landmark permit 23 March 2007.
  13. Illustration.
  14. Robert B. MacKay, Anthony K. Baker, Carol A Traynor, Long Island Country Houses and Their Architects, 1860-1940 1997, p. 167
  15. Robert B. MacKay, Anthony K. Baker, Carol A Traynor, Long Island Country Houses and Their Architects, 1860-1940 1997, p. 167
  16. "A Starter Sanctuary", New York Times, 4 June 2009. Accessed 5 June 2009
  17. Elwin Robison, and Kevin Rose, "East High Street: An Open Museum of Architecture and Enterprise"
  18. Published in American Architect & Building News 3 April 1886 ( illustration).
  19. Landmarks Preservation Committee Designation List for the American Tract Society Building says 1898-99.
  20. AIA Guide to New York City, MacMillan, 1968, p.39.
  21. Andrew Dolkart, Matthew A. Postal, Guide to New York City landmarks 2003, gives date 1894-95; AIA Guide to New York City, MacMillan, 1968, p.31, gives date 1896
  22. Landmarks Preservation Committee Designation List (pdf file)
  23. AIA Guide to New York City, MacMillan, 1968, p.203.
  24. "Pequot Library, Southport CT"
  25. "In Rough Market, a Slow Market (Balducci’s) Suffers", New York Times, 6 April 2009. Accessed 6 April 2009: images.
  26. New York County Savings Bank
  27. (New York State Department of Environmental Conservation) Camp Santanoni Historic Area
  28. AIA Guide to New York City, MacMillan, 1968, p.144
  29. AIA Guide to New York City, MacMillan, 1967, page 452
  30. Andrew Dolkart, Matthew A. Postal, Guide to New York City landmarks 2003
  31. Robert B. MacKay, Anthony K. Baker, Carol A Traynor, Long Island Country Houses and Their Architects, 1860-1940 1997, p 165.



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