Avery Drawings & Archives Collections
 

Charles A. Platt architectural records and papers, 1879-1981, bulk 1882-1933

Summary Information

At a Glance

Bib ID 3460562 View CLIO record
Creator(s) Platt, Charles A (Charles Adams), 1861-1933 ; Adams, Herbert, 1858-1945 ; Alger, Russell A., Jr., 1873-1930 ; Anderson, Isabel Weld Perkins, 1877-1949 ; Anderson, Larz, 1866-1937 ; Astor, Vincent, 1891-1959 ; Bacon, Henry, 1866-1924 ; Baker, Floyd E ; Bunker, Dennis Miller, 1861-1890 ; Churchill, Winston, 1871-1947 ; Cooper, James Fenimore, 1858-1938 ; Cortissoz, Royal, 1869-1948 ; Cox, Kenyon, 1856-1919 ; Croly, Herbert David, 1869-1930 ; Culver, Frederick S ; Dreyer, Louis H ; Dyer, George Rathbone, 1869-1934 ; Freer, Charles Lang, 1854-1919 ; Goulstone, G. T ; Lazarus, Annie ; Lefebvre, Jules, 1836-1911 ; Lewis, Schell ; Manship, Paul, 1885-1966 ; McConnell, J. W (John Wilson), 1877-1963 ; McCormick, Edith Rockefeller, 1872-1932 ; McCormick, Harold F (Harold Fowler), 1872-1941 ; Meyer, Eugene, 1875-1959 ; Parrish, Stephen, 1846-1938 ; Platt, Eleanor Hardy Bunker ; Platt, John Henry ; Platt, Mary Elizabeth Cheney ; Platt, Geoffrey, 1905-1985 ; Platt, William, 1897-1984 ; Pratt, Frederic B (Frederic Bayley), 1865-1945 ; Pratt, John T. (John Teele), 1873-1927 ; Rhees, Rush, 1860-1939 ; Roosevelt, Sara Delano, 1854-1941 ; Shipman, Ellen, 1869-1950 ; Walker, H. O (Henry Walker), 1843-1929 ; Century Association (New York, N.Y.) ; Cheney family ; Hedrich-Blessing (Firm) ; Peter A. Juley & Son ; William & Geoffrey Platt ; Wurts Brothers (Photographers : New York, N.Y.)
Title Charles A. Platt architectural records and papers, 1879-1981, bulk 1882-1933
Physical Description 515 photographs; 3 linear feet papers; 91 glass plate negatives;
Language(s) Materials are in English.
Access

This collection is available for use by appointment in the Department of Drawings & Archives, Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library, Columbia University. For further information and to make an appointment, please email avery-drawings@library.columbia.edu.

Arrangement

Arrangement

This material is arranged in five series: Project Records; Italian Gardens; Personal Papers; Correspondence; and Professional Papers. The arrangement of materials within each series is described at the beginning of each series inventory.

Description

Scope and Content

This collection contains materials related to Platt's personal and professional lives, the bulk originating from Platt's office in the form of project drawings, photographs, and records documenting architectural projects from 1901-1933. Several earlier projects and projects completed by Platt's office after his death are also documented. A small group of drawings was created for publication only, and some drawings may have served as both project records and presentation drawings.

The archive also contains typescript transcriptions of correspondence from Platt's travels to Europe in 1879 and from 1882-1886, as well as transcribed letters to his wife, Eleanor Hardy Bunker Platt, and a diary kept during his brief engagement as a member of the Food Administration in Italy after World War I. Additional papers include limited personal and professional correspondence.

Lastly, the collection contains original glass plate negatives of photographs of Italian Renaissance gardens taken by Platt and/or his brother William Platt in the spring of 1892. Platt incorporated some of these images in ITALIAN GARDENS, published by Harper in 1894.

Abbreviations Used in the Series Inventories:

Autograph letter, signed : ALS

Charles Adams Platt: CAP

Eleanor Hardy Bunker Platt : EHBP

Typed carbon : TC

Typed letter ; TL

Typed letter, signed : TLS

  • Series 1. Project Records

  • Series 2. Italian Gardens

    These negatives document Platt's 1892 trip to Italy with his brother, William, to view Italian Renaissance villas and gardens. Many of these images were used to illustrate Platt's Italian Gardens (Harper & Brothers, 1894). Additional images were included in the 1993 reissue. The remainder of these images remained unpublished.

  • Series 3. Personal Papers

  • Series 4. Correspondence

    This series consists of personal correspondence between Platt, his family, and social and professional associates. Platt's travels as an art student in Europe, most of which he undertook from 1882-1886, are well documented in transcribed correspondence. Some of the letters from this period appear to have been transcribed twice by independent typists. No original letters from this period were found, though sketches from some of the letters appear to have been clipped and pasted into one set of the transcriptions.

  • Series 5. Professional Papers

Using the Collection

Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library

Restrictions on Access

This collection is available for use by appointment in the Department of Drawings & Archives, Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library, Columbia University. For further information and to make an appointment, please email avery-drawings@library.columbia.edu.

Terms Governing Use and Reproduction

Columbia University is providing access to the materials in the Library's collections solely for noncommercial educational and research purposes. The unauthorized use, including, but not limited to, publication of the materials without the prior written permission of Columbia University is strictly prohibited. All inquiries regarding permission to publish should be submitted in writing to the Director, Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library, Columbia University. In addition to permission from Columbia University, permission of the copyright owner (if not Columbia University) and/or any holder of other rights (such as publicity and/or privacy rights) may also be required for reproduction, publication, distributions, and other uses. Responsibility for making an independent legal assessment of any item and securing any necessary permissions rests with the persons desiring to publish the item. Columbia University makes no warranties as to the accuracy of the materials or their fitness for a particular purpose.

Preferred Citation

Charles Adams Platt architectural records and papers. Dept. of Drawings & Archives, Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library, Columbia University, New York, N.Y.

Related Material

A collection of books and photographs from Charles A. Platt's office is held by the Century Association Archives.

A small collection of Platt correspondence is held by the Smithsonian Institution's Archives of American Art .

Also held in the Department of Drawings & Archives at Avery Library are the Keith N. Morgan Papers, which contain research notes and photographs relating to Platt, including a small number of original documents; and the collection of drawings and papers from Platt's sons and successor firm, William & Geoffrey Platt, Architects. Additionally, records and drawings by Platt may be found in the Woodlawn Cemetery Records.

About the Finding Aid / Processing Information

Columbia University Libraries, Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library

Processing Information

The 1974 accession was processed by project staff of the Department of Drawings & Archives. The later accessions were processed by and integrated into the earlier collection by Julie Tozer, Platt Project Archivist, Dept. of Drawings & Archives, Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library, from September 2007 to February 2008.

Revision Description

2008-04-18 File created.

2009-12-03 File revised.

2019-05-20 EAD was imported spring 2019 as part of the ArchivesSpace Phase II migration.

Subject Headings

The subject headings listed below are found in this collection. Links below allow searches at Columbia University through the Archival Collections Portal and through CLIO, the catalog for Columbia University Libraries, as well as ArchiveGRID, a catalog that allows users to search the holdings of multiple research libraries and archives.

All links open new windows.

Genre/Form

Heading "CUL Archives:"
"Portal"
"CUL Collections:"
"CLIO"
"Nat'l / Int'l Archives:"
"ArchivedGRID"
Architectural drawings Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Architectural reprographic prints Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Carbon typescript papers Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Correspondence Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Etchings (prints) Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Glass plate negatives Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Holograph papers Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Mixed media drawings Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Photoprints Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Printed papers Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Typescript papers Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID

Subject

Heading "CUL Archives:"
"Portal"
"CUL Collections:"
"CLIO"
"Nat'l / Int'l Archives:"
"ArchivedGRID"
66th Street (Manhattan, New York, N.Y.) -- : 131-135 East Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Addison Gallery of American Art Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
American Academy in Rome Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Apartment houses -- New York (State) -- New York Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Apartment houses -- United States Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Architects -- United States -- Correspondence Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Architects -- United States -- Diaries Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Architecture -- Connecticut Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Architecture -- Illinois Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Architecture -- Massachusetts Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Architecture -- Michigan -- Grosse Pointe Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Architecture -- New Hampshire -- Cornish Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Architecture -- New York (State) Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Architecture -- Ohio -- Cleveland Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Architecture -- United States -- Designs and plans Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Architecture -- Washington (D.C.) Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Architecture, Domestic -- Illinois -- Lake Forest Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Architecture, Domestic -- New York (State) Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Architecture, Domestic -- United States Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Art -- Study and teaching Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Art Students League (New York, N.Y.) Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Art museums Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Astor (Vincent) Estate Office Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Astor Building (New York, N.Y.) Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Astor Court Apartments (New York, N.Y.) Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Astor House Building (New York, N.Y.) Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Campus planning Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Casino del bel respiro (Rome, Italy) Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Chaloner Prize Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Columbus Gallery of Fine Arts Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Connecticut College Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Coolidge Auditorium (Library of Congress) Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Corcoran Gallery of Art Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Country homes -- United States Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Deerfield Academy Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Dwellings -- United States Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Freer Gallery of Art Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Gardens -- Design Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Gardens -- Italy -- Pictorial works Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Gardens -- United States Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Gardens, Renaissance -- Italy Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Gentrification Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Giardini Giusti (Verona, Italy) Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Hanna Building (Cleveland, Ohio) Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Harold F. McCormick House (Lake Forest, Ill.) Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Harvard Club of New York City Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
James Fenimore Cooper House (Cooperstown, N.Y.) Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Knickerbocker Hotel (New York, N.Y.) Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Landscape architecture -- Pictorial works Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Landscape architecture -- United States Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Landscape painting Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Landscape photography Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Leader-News Building (Cleveland, Ohio) Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Lyman Allyn Art Museum Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Lyme Art Association Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Museum buildings -- Massachusetts -- Andover Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Museum buildings -- Ohio -- Columbus Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Museum buildings -- Washington (D.C.) Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
National Academy of Design (U.S.) Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
National Gallery of Art (U.S.) Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
New York State Roosevelt Memorial Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Palazzo Colonna (Rome, Italy) Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Palazzo del Quirinale (Rome, Italy) Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Phillips Academy Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Photography -- Negatives Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Platt, Charles A (Charles Adams), 1861-1933 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Schools -- Massachusetts -- Andover Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Sepulchral monuments Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
St. Regis Hotel (New York, N.Y.) Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Suresnes (France). American Cemetery Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
United States Food Administration Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Universities and colleges -- Illinois -- Urbana Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
University of Illinois (Urbana-Champaign campus) Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Villa Aldobrandini (Rome, Italy) Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Villa Caprarola (Viterbo, Italy) Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Villa Conti (Frascati, Italy) Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Villa Falconieri (Frascati, Italy) Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Villa Lante (Bagnaia, Italy) Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Villa Medici (Fiesole, Italy) Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Villa Mondragone (Frascati, Italy) Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Villa Portici (Portici, Italy) Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Villa Taverna (Frascati, Italy) Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Villa Turicum (Lake Forest, Ill.) Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Villa d'Este (Tivoli, Italy) Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Vincent Astor Mansion (Rhinebeck, N.Y.) Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
War memorials Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Wellesley College. Alumnae Building Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
World War, 1914-1918 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID

History / Biographical Note

Biographical / Historical

Charles Adams Platt, the son of John Henry Platt and Mary Elizabeth Cheney Platt, was born in 1861 in Manhattan. Although best remembered today for his landscape and country house designs, he was also nationally known for his etchings, landscape paintings, commercial architecture, and institutional projects. He was largely self-taught in each of these disciplines, building his success on his ability to reconceive the classical tradition in architecture for the needs of his wealthy, powerful clients.

Born into a wealthy family with several artist relatives, Platt developed an early interest in art by enrolling in classes at the National Academy of Design in 1878 and joining the Art Students League in 1879. Vacationing in upstate New York that year, he met the painter and printmaker Stephen Parrish, who encouraged Platt to investigate the newly revived art of etching. Platt quickly became adept in the medium, earning the nickname "the boy etcher" and becoming a successful member of the etching revival by 1881. To advance his growing interest with painting, Platt traveled to Europe from 1882-1886. He studied in the atelier of Jules Joseph Lefebvre in Paris from 1884-1885 but often worked independently within a circle of friends including Henry Oliver Walker, Kenyon Cox, and Dennis Miller Bunker.

Platt met Annie Corbin Hoe in Europe and they married in the spring of 1886. Both of their fathers died that summer, and Annie died in childbirth in early 1887. Platt recovered slowly, returning to his work in earnest in the summer of 1889 when living at the Cornish Arts Colony, where he had been invited by Walker. Founded by sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens in 1885, Cornish provided Platt with a vibrant community of artists, writers, and intellectuals, including the landscape architect Ellen Biddle Shipman and sculptors Herbert Adams and Paul Manship, as well as the land on which Platt designed and built himself a residence and garden in 1890. The following year, Platt received a commission for a house and garden from his Cornish neighbor, Annie Lazarus. Platt sought initial assistance from friend Stanford White and designed for Lazarus a residence patterned after an Italian villa and sited to frame views of Mount Ascutney. Platt further explored his ideas on villa architecture during his 1892 trip with his brother, William Platt, to photograph Renaissance gardens in Italy, the results of which he published in Italian Gardens in 1894.

After returning from Italy, Platt received house and garden commissions from several neighbors in Cornish, many of whom would remain lifelong patrons. Thanks to positive attention in the architectural press and the ties of his family and friends to influential patrons, Platt began to attract commissions beyond Cornish, first for gardens and then for entire country estates. Platt was published in Guy Lowell's AMERICAN GARDENS in 1902, in which his classically influenced garden designs were printed alongside those of Wilson Eyre and McKim, Mead & White and in contrast to the naturalistic designs favored by Frederick Law Olmsted. Herbert Croly, editor of ARCHITECTURAL RECORD and a friend of Platt, published a positive review of Platt's work in 1904. By 1913, Platt's substantial body of work was published in the MONOGRAPH OF THE WORK OF CHARLES A. PLATT by the Architectural Book Publishing Company.

Platt continued to design country houses throughout his career, but he devoted much of his time to important urban and institutional commissions after 1920. Many of these commissions came from the Vincent Astor estate office, which employed Platt from 1906 through 1932, and from residential clients with institutional interests. For the Astor estate, most of Platt's work consisted of converting Manhattan tenements to more luxurious middle- and upper-class apartment dwellings. Previous patron Charles Lang Freer commissioned Platt to design the Freer Gallery of Art in Washington DC in 1913, the first of Platt's nine museum commissions. Platt also completed or consulted on several large-scale campus planning projects, most notably for the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and for Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts.

Throughout his life, Platt maintained his house and garden in Cornish, New Hampshire, and an office and residence in Manhattan. With his second wife, Eleanor Hardy Bunker, whom Platt married in 1893, Platt had five children. Among the children were William (1897-1984) and Geoffrey (1905-1985), who followed in their father's footsteps and practiced architecture in New York City; the Department of Drawings & Archives also holds the William & Geoffrey Platt archive. Charles Platt died in Cornish in 1933.