Great Hall, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City (2)

The view looking north in the Great Hall at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, around 1907. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.

The scene in 2019:

These photos show the Great Hall at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, taken facing the opposite direction of the ones in the previous post. Here, the view is from the southeast corner of the room, with the main entrance just out of view to the right and the Grand Staircase on the left. When the first photo was taken, about five years after the Great Hall was completed in 1902, the space function as both an entrance hall and a sculpture gallery, featuring a variety of bronze and marble statues.

Many of these statues seem difficult to identify, but the one that is partially visible in the lower left corner is Sappho (1895) by Count Prosper d’Epinay, which remains on display elsewhere in the museum more than a century later. Other identifiable works include Medea (1869) by William Wetmore Story, located on the far right side; California (1858) by Hiram Powers, in the alcove on the left side; Bohemian Bear Tamer (1888) by Paul Wayland Bartlett, standing in the lower center of the scene; and Bacchante and Infant Faun (1894) by Frederick William MacMonnies, visible in the distance in the lower right center. All of these works likewise remain in the museum’s collections.

Today, the Great Hall remains in use as the museum’s main entrance, with few architectural changes since the first photo was taken. However, it no longer features a large statuary collection, as most of these works have been moved to other parts of the museum as the building has expanded. Even the statues in the alcoves have since been removed, and replaced by floral displays. Only two large statues still stand here, with one in front of each group of ticket counters. On the south side, closest to the foreground, is the Greek Statue of Athena Parthenos from around 170 B.C., and on the north side in the distance is the Egyptian Colossal Seated Statue of a Pharaoh from around 1919 to 1878 B.C.

Great Hall, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City (1)

Looking south in the Great Hall in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, around 1907. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.

The scene in 2019:

As discussed in an earlier post, the Metropolitan Museum of Art has been at its current location on Fifth Avenue since 1880, although it has gone through numerous expansions over the years. Perhaps the most architecturally-significant addition came in 1902, when a new main entrance was constructed in front of the older portion of the building. It was designed by prominent architect Richard Morris Hunt, and it featured ornate Beaux-Arts designs on both the exterior and interior.

The front entrance, located on the left side of the scene beyond the columns, opens into the Great Hall, which is shown here in this scene from the second floor balcony. Like the exterior, most of the interior here is made of limestone, and its ceiling consists of three domes supported by arches, which correspond to the three arches on the Fifth Avenue facade of the building. From here, visitors could proceed to the main portion of the museum by way of the Grand Staircase beyond the columns on the right, which was also designed by Hunt.

The first photo was taken within about five years after this wing was completed. At the time, the museum had a severe shortage of gallery space, and the Great Hall was used to display statues. This was probably not Hunt’s original intent for this space, though, and sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens criticized it for being inadequate for such use. In 1905, he remarked, as quoted in The Metropolitan Museum of Art: An Architectural History, about “the dismal failure of Hunt’s hall for sculpture there. It may be good architecture and a glorious bath of Caracalla thing, but it’s a damn bad gallery for the proper disposition of works of art.”

As the first photo shows, the collection on display here in the Great Hall included a mix of both ancient and modern works. Many of these works are still owned by the museum, and one of the most notable of these is Bacchante and Infant Faun, which stands in the bottom center of the photo. Created in 1894 by Frederick William MacMonnies, this bronze sculpture was a gift of architect Charles Follen McKim, whose firm of McKim, Mead & White would later design several large additions to the museum.

Further in the distance, other identifiable works include, from roughly left to right, Medea (1869) by William Wetmore Story, Fisher Boy (1857) by Hiram Powers, The Bather (1894) by Edmund Austin Stewardson, Sappho (1895) by Count Prosper d’Epinay, Bohemian Bear Tamer (1888) by Paul Wayland Bartlett, Hector and Andromache (1871) by Giovanni Maria Benzoni, and Cleopatra (1869) by William Wetmore Story.

There are also at least three ancient sculptures here, with a large bronze statue of emperor Trebonianus Gallus (A.D. 251-253) standing between the columns in the distant center of the scene, and two headless statues of women on either side of it. The one on the left in this view is Greek, dating from the second half of the 4th century B.C., and the one on the right is a Roman copy of a Greek statue of Eirene, which was carved around A.D. 14-68. Both of these statues are now on display only yards away from where they once stood in the first photo, in a gallery beyond the columns in the distance.

Today, the Metropolitan Museum of Art has grown far beyond the confines of its early 20th century facility. The Great Hall is now used almost exclusively as an entrance hall, with only a few works on display here. In the present-day scene, there is an information desk in the center of the Great Hall, with ticket counters in front of the columns at both the north and south sides of the room. On the second floor balcony, on the left side of this view, is a cafe. Otherwise, though, the architecture itself has remained essentially unchanged since the Great Hall was completed more than a century ago, and it continues to welcome visitors into the museum, with nearly 6.5 million people passing through here in 2019.

Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City (2)

The Metropolitan Museum of Art, seen from the corner of 5th Avenue and East 83rd Street, around 1903. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.

The view around 1904-1909. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.

The scene in 2019:

As discussed in more detail in the previous post, the Metropolitan Museum of Art has been at this location on 5th Avenue since 1880, but the building has been dramatically expanded and altered from its original appearance over the years. The first two photos here, taken only a few years apart, show some of this work in progress during the early 20th century.

The original museum building was set back from 5th Avenue, as were two additions that were constructed in the 1880s and 1890s. A portion of the northern wing, completed in 1894, is visible in the distance on the right side of the photo, but the rest of the 19th century museum building is hidden from view behind the 1902 addition, which stands in the foreground of this scene. This wing extended the museum all the way to 5th Avenue, and provided a grand main entrance that remains in use today.

This section of the building was designed by prominent architect Richard Morris Hunt, who is perhaps best remembered for designing Gilded Age mansions for affluent New York families such as the Vanderbilts. He was the first American to attend the École des Beaux-Arts in France, and this is reflected in his works, which are generally in the Beaux-Arts style. The museum expansion was among his last commissions, and he died in 1895, long before it was finished, so his son Richard Howland Hunt ultimately saw the project to completion.

The first photo was taken within about a year after this wing was completed. At this point, 5th Avenue was still not fully developed this far north, and there were still many vacant lots here in the vicinity of the museum, including one directly across the street in the foreground of the scene. The street itself was unpaved, and there are no automobiles in sight, but there is a mix of horse-drawn vehicles, including a delivery wagon on the extreme left, a stagecoach in front of it, and what appears to be a construction wagon on the far right. Next to this last wagon is the blurry image of a bicycle, and elsewhere there are a variety of pedestrians, including a man walking a small dog and several women with baby carriages.

Although the Hunt addition was only just finished, the museum was already preparing for further expansion. While architecturally impressive, it added little gallery space to the museum, as it consisted primarily of the Great Hall, which served as the museum’s main entrance, and the Grand Staircase, which connected the new wing to the original building. As a result, in 1904 the museum hired the architectural firm of McKim, Mead & White to design new wings, including one that extended north along 5th Avenue, on the right side of this scene.

The first photo does show some work occurring on the right side, although it does not seem clear as to whether this is related to the new wing or something else. However, by the time the second photo was taken a few years later, the expansion work was well underway. The exterior wall was largely completed by this point, but there was no roof yet, and the window here was an empty hole, with a brick wall visible beyond it. This project would eventually be completed in 1909, and four years later the northern side of the 5th Avenue facade was completed with the construction of another McKim, Mead & White addition.

As shown in the previous post, the museum would remain asymmetrical from this view for several years, but in 1917 a matching wing was built to the south, on the left side of this scene. This was the last significant change to the 5th Avenue side of the museum, but it would continue to expand to the rear, including a number of additions during the 1970s and 1980s. This incremental growth over the years has given the museum an interesting combination of architectural styles, and the original 1880 building is still standing, although it is now entirely surrounded by newer additions, with only small portions of the old exterior visible inside the building.

Overlook, Hartford, Vermont

The Overlook house in Hartford, around 1900. Image from The Old and the New.

The scene in 2018:

This house, which was known as Overlook, was built at some point during the 19th century, probably around the 1870s based on its Second Empire-style architecture. For many years it was the home of Alfred E. Watson, a noted businessman and local politician. He was born in 1857 and he grew up in Hartford, where his father, Edwin C. Watson, manufactured agricultural tools in the firm of French, Watson & Co. Alfred attended nearby Dartmouth College, graduating in 1883, and that same year he married Mary Maude Carr of Montpelier.

Alfred Watson was primarily involved in the insurance business, but he was also a director and treasurer of the White River Savings Bank, director of Hartford National Bank, and director of the Chicago, Kalamazoo & Saginaw Railway. In addition, he was involved in politics, holding a number of different offices. He served as Secretary of Civil and Military Affairs during the administration of fellow Hartford native Governor Samuel E. Pingree, and he was subsequently elected to both houses of the state legislature, along with serving on the state’s Board of Railway Commissioners.

Alfred and Mary Watson had two children. Their son Cedric died in 1890 before his first birthday, but their daughter Margery lived to adulthood. The first photo was taken sometime around the turn of the 20th century, and the 1900 census shows that they were living here with Margery, who was 12 years old at the time, Mary’s father Walter S. Carr, and Alfred’s nephew, Carl W. Cameron. The latter moved out sometime before the 1910 census, but the rest of the family was still here during that year. Walter subsequently died in 1915 at the age of 82, and Margery evidently moved out of the house by the time of her marriage in 1917.

Mary died in 1948 at the age of 83, and Alfred continued to live here until his death in 1950 at the age of 93. They both outlived their daughter Margery, who died in 1940. With no surviving heirs, and with little demand for such a large single-family home during the mid-20th century, the house was ultimately divided into apartments. At some point, the house underwent some significant changes, including the removal of the barn on the left side and the large front porch. Many of its other Victorian-era exterior details are similarly lost, having been replaced by modern siding. Overall, though, the house, which is now known as Hillcrest Manor, is still standing, and it is still recognizable from the first photo. It recently underwent a major renovation shortly before the present-day photo was taken, and it now consists of nine affordable housing units.

 

Mary d.1948, age 83

Louis S. Newton House, Hartford, Vermont

The house at 1683 Maple Street in Hartford, around 1900. Image from The Old and the New.

The house in 2018:

This Greek Revival-style cottage was built around 1859, and its earliest recorded owner was George Brockway, a chair manufacturer who was listed here as the owner in the 1869 county atlas. It does not indicate whether he personally lived here or just owned the property, but it seems likely that this was his home, and the 1870 census shows him living in Hartford with his four young children, who ranged in age from three months to four years old. He ultimately sold the property for $1,400 to John H. French in 1871, and he died two years later at the age of 43.

In 1884, the house was purchased by Almira L. Newton, who lived here for many years along with several other family members, including her sister Caroline and her brother Louis. None of the three siblings evidently ever married, although Almira raised her adopted son Bradleigh here. All three of the Newtons were living at the house during the 1900 and 1910 censuses, but Louis appears to have moved elsewhere in town by 1920, and in 1921 he relocated to Burlington.

Louis S. Newton was a noted local architect. Here in Hartford, he is perhaps best remembered for his 1903 remodeling of the historic Second Congregational Church, and he also did some work here on his sister’s house, adding Colonial Revival-style details around 1900. Elsewhere, his other works consisted of a variety of houses and commercial buildings, including both renovations and new construction. He designed the Occom Ridge houses at nearby Dartmouth College at the turn of the 20th century, and in 1914 he restored the Old Constitution House in Windsor, which is regarded as the birthplace of Vermont.

The house remained in the Newton family until at least the early 1940s, and it has since changed ownership many times over the years. However, its appearance has remained remarkably unchanged throughout this time, with few exterior changes more than a century after the first photo was taken. Today, the house is part of the Hartford Village Historic District, which was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1998.

Ephraim Morris House, Hartford, Vermont

The house at 1627 Maple Street in Hartford, around 1900. Image from The Old and the New.

The scene in 2018:

This house was built in 1894 as the home of Ephraim Morris, one of the most prominent residents of late 19th century Hartford, Vermont. Morris was born in 1832, a little to the north of here in the town of Strafford, and he grew up in Norwich, where he attended Norwich University before moving to Boston to become a clerk in a boot and shoe firm. However, he ultimately returned to Vermont in 1854, settling in Hartford and joining his father Sylvester’s business. Later in the year, he married his wife, Almira M. Nickerson, who was originally from South Dennis, Massachusetts.

Sylvester Morris retired in 1857, and Ephraim carried on the business with his brother Edward. In the early years, they ground plaster and sold it for use as fertilizer, but they subsequently switched to manufacturing chairs. Then, later in the 19th century the brothers entered the woolen manufacturing industry, operating the Hartford Woolen Company along with the Ottauquechee Woolen Company in nearby North Hartland.

Aside from these businesses, Ephraim was also a director and vice president of the National Bank of White River Junction, and he represented Hartford in the state legislature from 1896 to 1898. However, perhaps his single most important contribution to the town came in 1893, when he donated $5,000 to build the Hartford Library. The library, which remains in use today, stands directly adjacent to the spot where, a year later, he built his own house.

Ephraim and Almira Morris had two daughters, Kate and Annie. Both attended Smith College, and Kate was in the school’s first graduating class, along with being the first to receive a Ph.D. from the school. She married Charles M. Cone in 1884, and they lived in a historic house just a little to the east of here in the center of Hartford. Annie, who was 14 years younger than her sister, was still living with her parents when they moved into this house in 1894, and she was still here during the 1900 census, shortly before her marriage to Roland E. Stevens.

The first photo was taken around this time, showing the side view of the house from the library grounds. The architecture of the house was primarily Colonial Revival in style, with distinctive elements such as the large Palladian window, but it also had some features from the earlier Queen Anne style, including the asymmetrical design and the turret at the southeast corner of the house.

Ephraim Morris died in 1901, followed by his widow Almira in 1909. Their daughter Annie subsequently inherited this house, and she lived here with her husband Roland for many years. He was a lawyer, and probably his most famous case came late in his life, when in 1952 he sued the state of Vermont on behalf the Iroquois tribe, claiming that much of the state’s land was unlawfully taken from them. The suit was ultimately unsuccessful, but both he and his case gained widespread attention in newspapers across New England.

Annie apparently died at some point in the 1950s, and Roland died in 1957 at the age of 89. Their large house was subsequently sold to the Bible Baptist Church, which converted it into a church. Since then, the building has been acquired by a different church, Praise Chapel, and it remains in use today. Despite these changes in use, though, the exterior of the building has remained well-preserved in more than a century since the first photo was taken, and it is now a contributing property within the Hartford Village Historic District, which was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1998.