Marcellus Wright Sr. and Marcellus Wright Jr.: A father-and-son combo helped shape Richmond for much of the 20th … –

Well-known father-and-son architects are uncommon – particularly today, when few corporations’ names finish in “and Son.” They’re not unheard of, although. In the United States, they've included Frank Lloyd Wright and John Lloyd Wright, Eliel Saarinen and Eero Saarinen and Richard Neutra and Dion Neutra.

Richmond may lay declare to a well-known father-son combo – Marcellus Wright Sr. and Marcellus Wright Jr. Between the two of them, they helped to shape Richmond’s architectural panorama over the course of practically 70 years, and their agency continues to have an effect at the moment.

The 2 Wrights didn’t share lots stylistically, although. Whereas each earned prestigious bachelor’s levels from the College of Pennsylvania’s College of Structure, they have been merchandise of radically totally different instances.

Wright Sr.: A torchbearer for Classicism

Wright Sr., who was born in Hanover County in 1881, labored at Richmond-based Noland & Baskervill earlier than attending faculty, and his designs mirrored an abiding perception in Classicism.

“Wright Sr. was important in carrying on the formal, Classicist sort of structure related to William Churchill Noland into the 20th century,” mentioned Joseph “Jody” Lahendro, an architect who labored for the Wright agency in the early 1980s. (At present, he’s a historic preservation architect at the College of Virginia.)

Wright Sr.’s standout buildings embody the First Church of Christ Scientist at 2201 Monument Avenue, accomplished in 1937; the William Byrd Resort, accomplished in 1925; the Resort John Marshall, accomplished in 1929; and the Altria Theater (previously often called The Mosque), a Moorish Revival-model theater accomplished in 1927. (Wright Sr. collaborated with Charles M. Robinson on the Altria Theater’s design.)

“The Mosque was an enormous fee and a really complicated constructing,” mentioned Joseph F. Yates, who labored for the Wright agency from 1978 to 1982. (At present, he’s president of Richmond-based Joseph F. Yates Architects.) “It’s an impressive constructing, and it might be in any metropolis.”

Wright Jr.: A Modernist who pushed for change

In contrast, Wright Jr., who was born in Richmond in 1907, emphasised smooth Modernism in his designs. He had been uncovered to the architectural model in faculty, when it was gaining nationwide prominence, and his give attention to it continued when he returned to Richmond after serving as a significant in the U.S. Military throughout World Warfare II. He joined his father’s agency in 1945, and it was renamed Marcellus Wright and Son Architects.

Amongst the standout buildings the agency undertook with Wright Jr.’s steerage are the Berkshire residences on West Franklin Avenue; River Towers on Riverside Drive; the U.S. Put up Workplace on Brook Street; and the 1965 addition to the Basic Meeting Constructing at the nook of East Broad and Ninth streets. (The Basic Meeting Constructing is slated for demolition.)

“The Basic Meeting Constructing was the epitome of his work,” mentioned Fred Cox, who joined the agency in 1958. “I believe it’s the finest Fashionable constructing in Richmond.”

Wright Jr. didn’t restrict himself to particular person design tasks, both.

“He additionally was lively as a planner and visionary for Richmond’s future development and improvement,” mentioned Steven M. Reiss, a Richmond-based architect.

Along with advocating for The Downtown Expressway and a civic heart in Jackson Ward, he promoted the building of excessive-rise workplace and house buildings all through the metropolis, generally at the expense of historic preservation.

“Desirous to champion Fashionable structure and city renewal when your dad designed the Mosque and performed a task in outdated Richmond will need to have been robust” for Wright Jr., Lahendro mentioned.

Wright Sr. died in 1962, after which his son took his place as managing accomplice. Wright Jr. retired in the early 1970s, and Cox turned managing accomplice. Cox and one other accomplice, Edward A. Smith III, collaborated on many of the agency’s most distinguished tasks after Wright’s retirement.

Nevertheless, Wright Jr. remained lively as a neighborhood volunteer and actual property advisor till his demise in 2002.

“He was crucial politically in the metropolis,” mentioned Cox, whom the American Institute of Architects made a Fellow in 1986. It’s the highest honor the AIA bestows on particular person architects.

The agency now operates as Marcellus Wright Cox Architects.

The agency’s residential work

In the course of greater than a century, the agency has targeted totally on business and institutional work, somewhat than single-household residences.

“Designing properties was ancillary and usually executed for our non-public shoppers,” Cox mentioned. “Nevertheless, we've designed a number of hundred properties and additions in Better Richmond.”

Amongst the standouts are a number of properties on Monument Avenue designed by Wright Sr., in addition to a trio of Fashionable-model properties designed by Cox, that are south of Cary Avenue Street close to the Wilton Home. And the Second Empire-model home that Wright Sr. designed at 1015 West Franklin Avenue is especially putting, with its mansard roof and heavy, rusticated masonry at its floor stage.

The agency additionally has participated in quite a few historic renovations, together with the Department Home at 2501 Monument Avenue, the Kent-Valentine Home at 12 East Franklin Avenue and the Bolling Haxall Home at 211 West Franklin Avenue.

“The agency is taken into account one of the ‘founding corporations’ of Richmond, and it’s nonetheless very properly-reputed,” Reiss mentioned.


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Marcellus Wright Sr. and Marcellus Wright Jr.: A father-and-son combo helped shape Richmond for much of the 20th ... -