Progressive American Architecture


The architecture in Gilbert Bostwick Croff’s book of building designs may have been considered “progressive” in 1875 but seen today most of these buildings scream “haunted house”, or at least, that peculiar American variety of the same as popularised by Psycho, The Addams Family and countless other films and cartoons. Whether old or new, to European eyes these houses have always looked strange, being an exaggerated 19th-century variation of certain forms of Continental architecture that you wouldn’t find anywhere in Europe. Croff’s examples are more exaggerated than usual with their elongated verticals and barbed ornamentation. Seventy years later, with the ravages of time and neglect afflicting their splendour, those that remained standing would look distinctly sinister amid the neat suburbs that grew around them, hence their transmutation into the archetype of the haunted house. Croff even predicts the future status of the style in a note on one of his designs: “The Shadows are intense and the effect very striking.” His book contains almost 100 different plans and architectural details. Browse or download it here.





One thought on “Progressive American Architecture”

Comments are closed.