Harrie T. Lindeberg and the American Country House
By Peter Pennoyer and Anne Walker
In the early part of the 20th century, American architect Harrie T. Lindeberg designed dozens of distinguished dwellings inspired by historical sources. His work is similar to that of his celebrated English contemporaries C.F.A. Voysey and Edwin Lutyens, but Lindeberg’s name is less familiar. Architect Peter Pennoyer and historian Anne Walker think his refined but idiosyncratic style, which reinterprets rather than replicates both classical and vernacular precedents, is long overdue for recognition.
Pennoyer and Walker’s book, with sumptuous photography by Jonathan Wallen, is their fifth exploration of early 20th-century architecture by eminent New York practitioners. If you’ve only seen Lindeberg’s houses in the monochromatic photos of previous monographs published in 1912 and 1940, viewing them in color—not just as architectural artifacts but as intricately detailed, richly textured settings in lush green landscapes—comes as a splendid surprise.
The son of Swedish immigrants who settled in New Jersey, Lindeberg had both talent and pluck. During a five-year stint at McKim, Mead and White in New York, he learned not only about making architecture but also about dealing with wealthy patrons. In 1906, he and Lewis Colt Albro left the firm to form a partnership. Their work was so abundant that RECORD devoted 20 pages to five of their houses in its October 1912 issue. After striking out on his own in 1914, Lindeberg created large houses for bankers, brokers, and captains of industry from Rhode Island to Texas. After the onset of the Depression, he made do with fewer and smaller residential projects and found more substantial commissions in a handful of U.S. embassies and consulates. Only one, however, the Colonial-style U.S. embassy in Helsinki (1940), was realized. He also experimented with Modernism in unbuilt houses based on prefabricated modular steel panels.
The book showcases 20 works completed between 1906 and 1940. Their selection was undoubtedly influenced by accessibility for new color photography, though five of these projects are presented only in black-and-white archival photos. Handsomely rendered plans supplement the carefully curated images, and scholarly chapters about client, site, program, and design take this book far beyond the coffee table genre. Among the featured houses is Lindeberg’s own weekend retreat in the Long Island hamlet of Locust Valley, shown on the cover. Its simple massing, articulated in variegated ledgestone and extending into the landscape with terraces and gardens, is typical of much of his work. Another example is the Armour Estate in Lake Forest, Illinois, which combines shifting axes in plan with brick-and-limestone elevations punctuated by casements, oriels, and gables.
The authors argue persuasively that Lindeberg’s genius lay in “extending the historical continuum of architecture.” His synthesis of rational but gracious planning with simple yet picturesque form-making should be an inspiration to any architect—regardless of stylistic inclination—who seeks to learn lessons from history and apply them to new work that is both subtly original and enduringly beautiful.