Charles Brigham

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"MacMillan Encyclopedia of Architects," Adolph Placzek, extract written by Margaret Henderson Floyd, 1982, p. 288-9.

Brigham, Charles

Charles Brigham (1841-1925) is best known for his huge, late works--public buildings in Boston and Fairhaven, Massachusetts, executed with Charles Coveney and Henry K. Bisbee. The earlier, twenty year partnership of this prolific architect with the English-educated JOHN HUBBARD STURGIS gave him, however, the breadth of vision, architectural sophistication, and self-confidence which made possible his later achievement.

After drafting for Calvin Ruder of Cambridge in the late 1850’s, Brigham joined GRIDLEY J.F. BRYANT and ARTHUR D. GILMAN as their Boston City Hall and Arlington Street Church were being erected. Here, he met Sturgis, with whom he formed a partnership following service in the Civil War. From 1866 to 1886, Sturgis and Brigham designed noble Queen Anne Revival buildings which established their role as purveyors of English artistic standards for Boston. Although the brilliant Sturgis was prime designer, Brigham’s capability to manage both aristocratic clients and the labor force enabled their structurally and decoratively innovative practice to flourish. After 1886, Brigham quickly gained prominence with his sensitive addition to CHARLES BULFINCH’s Massachusetts State House (1887-1895), conceptually a pace-setter in Colonia’ Revival design and influential on such later state capitols as CASS GILBERT’s in St. Paul, Minnesota. The huge ribbed dome of Brigham’s Christian Science Mother Church Extension (1904-1909), like Gilbert’s St. Paul’s Capitol, is a free transcription of the European Renaissance architecture which Brigham saw only later in life. Unique in the Back Bay is the Loire valley grandeur of his stone Albert Burrage House (1899).

The buildings designed by Brigham for Fairhaven, Massachusetts (under the patronage of H.H. Rogers of Standard Oil), finally provided his greatest architectural opportunity. In the 1890s were erected a painterly Queen Anne Mansion for Rogers, the vibrant Millicent Library, and the Fairhaven Town Hall which incorporated Richardsonian (see H.H. RICHARDSON) allusions. Ultimately, however, an English image reappeared in his half-timbered Tabitha Inn (1896) and Parish House, Elizabethan High School (1904) and Gothic Unitarian Church (1901-1903), a miniature cathedral in stone. Margaret Henderson Floyd


1867, Edward Codman House, 53 Marlborough Street, Boston; 1867, Wadsworth Monument, Geneseo, N.Y.; 1868, Bureau of Charities, New Chardon Street, Boston; 1868, Robert Cushing House, Ocean Avenue, Newport, R.I.; 1868-1869, Pinebank (Edward N. Perkins House), Jamaica Plain, Mass.; 1869, Frances Hunnewell House, 278 Clarendon Street, Boston; 1869, Hollis H. Hunnewell House, 315 Dartmouth Street, Boston; 1870, Museum of Fine Arts, Copley Square, Boston; 1886, H.A. Whitney House, 261 Beacon Street, Boston; 1889, Charles Brigham House, 1886-1888, Bellwood (S.S. Howland House), Mount Morris, N.Y.; 1886-1888, Railroad Station, Stoughton, Mass.; H.H. Rogers House, New York, N.Y.; 1887-1895, Massachusetts State House (extension), Boston; 1888-1889, Inebriates Hospital, Foxborough, Mass.; 1888-1889, Presbyterian Church, Roxbury, Mass.; 1888-1889, Railroad Station, Roxbury Crossing, Mass.; 84 Garfield Street, Watertown, Mass.; 1890, H.H. Rogers House, Fairhaven, Mass.; 1891-1893, Millicent Library, Fairhaven, Mass.; 1892-1894, New Bedford Institution for Savings, New Bedford, Mass.; 1894-1894, Fairhaven Town Hall, Fairhaven, Mass.; 1896, Tabitha Inn, Fairhaven, Mass.; 1897-1899, subway stations at Adams Square and Scollay Square Central and North; 1899, Albert Burrage House, 314 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston; 1901-1903, Unitarian Church, Parish House and Rectory, Fairhaven, Mass.; 1904, Fairhaven High School and Academy, Fairhaven, Mass.; 1904-1909, Christian Science Mother Church (extension), Boston; and 1914, Watertown High School, Watertown, Mass.


• Bunting, Bainbridge, 1967, Houses of Boston’s Back Bay. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.

• Damrell, Charles, 1895, A Half Century of Boston’s Building. Boston. Hager.

• Floyd, Margaret Henderson, 1973, “A Terra Cotta Cornerstone for Copley Square: Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, 1870-1876, by Sturgis and Brigham.” Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians 32, no. 2:83-103.

Page 289

• Floyd, Margaret Henderson, “John Hubbard Sturgis of Boston and the English Architectural Language.” (unpublished).

• Gillingham, James L. Hunt, Cyrus D., et al, 1903, “Brief History of the Town of Fairhaven.” New Bedford, Mass.

• Hutchings, Sinclair and Farlow, Catherine H., 1964, “A New Guide to the Massachusetts Statehouse,” John Hancock Mutual.

• Herndon, Richard, 1892, “Boston of Today,” Boston, Mass.

• Hitchcock, H.R. and Seale, William, 1976, “Temples of Democracy,” New York, Hardcourt

• Williamson, Margaret, 1939, “The Mother Church Extension,” Boston, Christian Science Publishers.