The great works and untimely death of New York architect Stanford White

One of his most famous commissions proved to be the site of his dramatic demise

Stanford White (Credit: Wikipedia)
Stanford White (Credit: Wikipedia)

All images via Getty Images and Wikipedia Commons

Exactly one hundred sixty-six years ago Saturday was a milestone in the annals of New York architecture: Stanford White was born, in the very city on which he would leave a permanent imprint.

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White was described by the Encyclopedia Brittanica as “the most imaginative partner in the influential architectural firm McKim, Mead and White,” which he co-founded in 1880. The firm largely designed country and seaside mansions in its initial years before helping lead an American trend into Neoclassicism.

White’s commissions in New York City included the Washington Memorial Arch, the New York Herald Building, the Metropolitan Club, the original Penn Station, the Bowery Savings Bank and Madison Square Presbyterian Church, in 1906. That was the final year of his life: White was fatally shot at age 52 by the husband of a showgirl with whom White had an affair. The site of his death was the old Madison Square Garden — which, as it happens, White had designed.

The website UntappedCities wrote of the prolific architect, “From places of entertainment and the homes of New York’s elite, to utilitarian structures and a college campus, White’s designs varied in scale and purpose, but always had a sense of grandeur and great attention to detail.” — Erik Engquist