Monday, June 2, 2014

Carl Lindner Designs A New House for Mr. Brady

James P. Brady, Deputy Clerk of the United States District Court, joined the ranks of the affluent Richmonders moving to what was then considered the far reaches of the West End.  Brady bought a lot in Hampton Gardens, a neighborhood laid out in 1913 between Grove and Patterson Avenues. Brady’s was to be the first home built on Oak Lane.  A glimpse of the rest of the Hampton Gardens neighborhood where the house was constructed can be seen in a photo of that appeared in the July 1924 issue of a trade magazine called American Builder.  In the photo a small tree has been planted in the front yard of the new Brady residence, but in the background there is nothing other than former farm fields stretching south toward Grove Avenue.

Brady hired Carl M. Lindner (1895-1973), one of several cousins who were Richmond architects. Lindner was said to have learned his craft in the office of his uncle, the popular architect Carl Ruehrmund.  As early as his mid-1920s, Lindner had been hired for some impressive commissions, not the least of which was St. John’s Evangelical Lutheran Church (1920-1928) on Stuart Circle.  By 1924 Lindner had numerous homes, commercial buildings and apartments to his credit all around Richmond.

 Photo of Brady house from American Builder, 1924.

American Builder reviewed Lindner’s design for James Brady, and commented that the design was a successful exercise in “making established architectural types conform to the requirements of the modern age.”  Although the article declares the Brady home was “…was conceived in the best Colonial Tradition by the architect…” the house is an eclectic blend of several Revival styles with Classical and Craftsman touches thrown in.  A handsome building, the interior arrangement reflects the affluence of the owners, with rooms labeled “Butler’s Pantry” and “Maid’s Room,” indicative of the social status of the Brady family. Unlike many of its contemporaries built in Richmond during the period, the columned entry porch on the house is oddly shallow, but two side porches were no doubt a welcome feature in the heat and humidity of summer.  

Detail of Brady house front entrance from American Builder.

The exterior combines clapboard and stucco, and American Builder noted the “irregular and rectangular texture of the roofing material is one which blends well with the substantial character of the home and one which will retain its characteristics indefinitely.”  Lindner appears to have admired the rustic effect of  irregular roof shingles as he used them on several of the homes he designed in the 3100 block of Monument Avenue.

 Carl Lindner’s open-air catalog of his designs,
located in the 3100 block of Monument Avenue. 

The ten houses designed by Lindner take advantage of a very narrow block bounded by Monument and Cleveland Avenues and West Franklin Streets.  The homes are uniquely positioned on a north and south axis, which positions their fronts stepped at an angle to Monument Avenue.  The block of houses form an outdoor gallery of Lindner’s abilities to craft beautifully detailed urban villas in various Revival styles.  Ranging from Tudor Revival to Spanish Revival to Colonial, the variety of styles collected in such a compact display is a delight.  The house at 3123 is an exercise in the Spanish Revival style whose arched open porch and decorative black iron balcony are similar to those on the Brady house.  

 Lindner’s design for 3123 Monument has some of the same Spanish Revival elements found in the house he designed for Mr. Brady.

Carl Lindner himself lived at 3129 in the row of houses on Monument Avenue he designed, a nicely detailed example of the Tudor Revival.  Just as his cousin Max Ruehrmund designed the Halifax Apartments at 3009 Monument and resided next door in a home Ruehrmund designed, Lindner’s elegant 1923 Lord Fairfax Apartments anchors the eastern end of the block where Lindner lived in the center of a showcase of his considerable skill.  The Lord Fairfax Apartments, on the pointed end of the block overlooking the Matthew Fontaine Maury monument, overcame the problems presented by this radically narrow lot and as a consequence defied the usual Richmond apartment house model.  Lindner reserved the Monument Avenue side of the building for formal entrances leading into small lobbies.  On the opposite side of the building overlooking West Franklin Street, classical columns frame elegant porches while service entrances are concealed in interior courts.

Carl Lindner’s own Tudor Revival house the architect designed for himself, located at 3129 Monument Avenue.

Ninety years ago the American Builder termed Lindner’s design for Mr. Brady “…construction of the sort which will withstand the test of years and meet the approval of succeeding generations.”  This has apparently proven to be true, and the house on Oak Lane appears to be as loved and well maintained as it was when James Brady received the keys from the builder.  While the landscape has matured and softened, the house itself is still just as resplendent in white stucco and clapboards as it was ninety years ago.  

The Brady house that was pictured in American Builder in 1924, seen here ninety years later.

- Selden.

1 comment:

Larry B. said...

While walking along Monument Ave. I often passed the Lord Fairfax apartment and always wondered what the inside looked like. There was always something intriguing about the place. As a contractor I would think about adding a cover going out to the street for those to have cover as they go into the building. A circular green canvas with Lord Fairfax written in script. There would be a doorman there too. Some type of landscaping would have to be done.

Now to the point, as I was walking by I noticed all the doors have been padlocked( a very sloppily done job, I might add)and was curious as to what is happening to the building. Anyone know?