Architectural Archives

Frederick Clarke Withers Collection (003)

The collection comprises architectural drawings, blueprints and photo-lithographs, documenting Withers’s buildings and projects spanning the years 1874-1900.

Biographical / Historical Sketch

Frederick Clark Withers was born in Shepton Mallet, Somerset, England.  He served a five year indentureship before entering the London office of Thomas Henry Wyatt (1807-1880) in 1849.  In late 1851, he emigrated to the United States to accept a position with Andrew Jackson Downing (1814-1852), the influential American author and landscape architect.  After Downing’s sudden death in a steamboat accident, Withers worked for four years with Calvert Vaux (1824-1895), another Briton recruited by Downing.  In the 1880s Withers worked in partnership (Withers and Dickson) with Walter Dickson (1835-1903), who was originally from Albany, New York.  Withers is particularly known for his role in disseminating British High Victorian Gothic taste in the United States, and for his independent designs for the Jefferson Market and Courthouse (1874) in New York City and Gallaudet College, in Washington, D.C. (1867-1880).

Scope and Content Note

The Withers Collection comprises 64 architectural drawings, 8 blueprints, 3 photo-lithographs documenting 14 projects, 1872-1900.  The strength of the collection is its documentation of Withers’s late ecclesiastical works, particularly Trinity Church, Hartford, Connecticut, 1891-1894, and the reredos and altar built in Trinity Church, Wall Street, New York, in memory of William Backhouse Astor.  The collection includes some works of his partnership with Walter Dickson.  The collection contains no materials related to his collaboration with Andrew Jackson Downing or Calvert Vaux.

Provenance

Acquisition:  Gift of G. Holmes Perkins (prior to 1980)