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

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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.

COinS Metadata available (e.g., for Zotero).

Summary Information

At a Glance

Avery ID:D&A CA Platt View CLIO record
Creator(s):Platt, Charles A. (Charles Adams), 1861-1933.
Title:Charles A. Platt architectural records and papers, 1879-1981 (bulk 1882-1933)
Physical description:3,987 drawings; 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 call (212) 854-4110 or email  More information »
Types of Materials in the Collection:Correspondence, typescript papers, carbon typescript papers, holograph papers, printed papers, photographic prints, glass plate negatives, architectural reprographic prints and mixed media drawings.



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.

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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

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Using the Collection

Access Restrictions

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 call (212) 854-4110 or email

Restrictions on Use

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. For additional guidance, see Columbia University Libraries' publication policy.

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.

Selected Bibliography

Platt, Charles A. Italian Gardens. New York: Harper & Brothers, 1894. Reissued in 1993 by Sagapress/Timber Press, with an overview by Keith N. Morgan and additional plates by Charles A. Platt.

Platt, Charles A. Monograph of the Work of Charles A. Platt. New York: Architectural Book Pub. Co., 1913. Reissued by Acanthus Press in 1998.

Morgan, Keith N. Charles A. Platt. New York: Architectural History Foundation, 1985.

Morgan, Keith N., ed. Shaping an American Landscape: The Art and Architecture of Charles A. Platt. Hanover, NH: Hood Museum of Art and University Press of New England, 1995.

For Further Information

For more information about using the collections and conducting research in the Department of Drawings & Archives, please see our FAQ.

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About the Finding Aid / Processing Information

Finding aid written by Julie Tozer, Project Archivist, for the Dept. of Drawings & Archives, Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library, Columbia University.

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.

EAD instance created generated from Microsoft Word file and Excel spreadsheets by Annemarie van Roessel, Dept. of Drawings & Archives, Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library, April 19, 2008. Finding aid written in English.
    2008-04-18 File created.
    2009-12-03 File revised.

CLIO ID: 3460562 View CLIO record

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Index Terms

The names and terms listed below are represented 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 consortial/union catalog offered by OCLC that allows users to search the holdings of multiple archives and libraries.

All links open new windows.

Subjects (Personal Names)

HeadingCUL Archives:
CUL Collections:
Nat'l / Int'l Archives:
Platt, Charles A. (Charles Adams), 1861-1933.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID

Subjects (Corporate Names)

HeadingCUL Archives:
CUL Collections:
Nat'l / Int'l Archives:
66th Street (Manhattan, New York, N.Y.)--131-135 East.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Addison Gallery of American Art.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
American Academy in Rome.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Art Students League (New York, N.Y.)PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Astor (Vincent) Estate Office.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Astor Building (New York, N.Y.)PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Astor Court Apartments (New York, N.Y.)PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Astor House Building (New York, N.Y.)PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Casino del bel respiro (Rome, Italy)PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Columbus Gallery of Fine Arts.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Connecticut College.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Coolidge Auditorium (Library of Congress)PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
James Fenimore Cooper House (Cooperstown, N.Y.)PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Corcoran Gallery of Art.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Deerfield Academy.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Freer Gallery of Art.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Giardini Giusti (Verona, Italy)PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Giardino di Boboli (Florence, Italy)PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Hanna Building (Cleveland, Ohio)PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Harold F. McCormick House (Lake Forest, Ill.)PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Harvard Club of New York City.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Knickerbocker Hotel (New York, N.Y.)PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Leader-News Building (Cleveland, Ohio)PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Lyman Allyn Art Museum.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Lyme Art Association.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
National Academy of Design (U.S.)PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
National Gallery of Art (U.S.)PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Palazzo Colonna (Rome, Italy)PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Palazzo del Quirinale (Rome, Italy)PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Phillips Academy.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
St. Regis Hotel (New York, N.Y.)PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
United States Food Administration.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
University of Illinois (Urbana-Champaign campus)PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Villa Aldobrandini (Rome, Italy)PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Villa Borghese (Rome, Italy)PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Villa Caprarola (Viterbo, Italy)PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Villa Conti (Frascati, Italy)PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Villa d’Este (Tivoli, Italy)PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Villa Falconieri (Frascati, Italy)PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Villa Lante (Bagnaia, Italy)PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Villa Medici (Fiesole, Italy)PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Villa Mondragone (Frascati, Italy)PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Villa Portici (Portici, Italy)PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Villa Taverna (Frascati, Italy)PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Villa Turicum (Lake Forest, Ill.)PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Vincent Astor Mansion (Rhinebeck, N.Y.)PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Wellesley College.--Alumnae Building.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID


HeadingCUL Archives:
CUL Collections:
Nat'l / Int'l Archives:
Apartment houses--New York (State)--New York.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Apartment houses--United States.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Architects--United States--Correspondence.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Architects--United States--Diaries.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Architecture, Domestic--Illinois--Lake Forest.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Architecture, Domestic--New York (State)PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Architecture, Domestic--United States.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Architecture--Michigan--Grosse Pointe.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Architecture--New Hampshire--Cornish.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Architecture--New York (State)PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Architecture--United States--Designs and plans.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Architecture--Washington (D.C.)PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Art museums.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Art--Study and teaching.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Campus planning.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Chaloner Prize.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Country homes--United States.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Gardens--Italy--Pictorial works.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Gardens, Renaissance--Italy.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Gardens--Designs and plans.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Gardens--United States.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Houses--United States.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Landscape architecture--Pictorial Works.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Landscape architecture--United States.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Landscape painting.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Landscape photography.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Museum buildings--Ohio--Columbus.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Museum buildings--Massachusetts--Andover.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Museum buildings--Washington (D.C.)PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
New York state Theodore Roosevelt memorial, New York.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Sepulchral monuments.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Suresnes, France.--American Cemetery.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Universities and colleges--Illinois--Urbana.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
War memorials.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
World War I.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID

Place Names

HeadingCUL Archives:
CUL Collections:
Nat'l / Int'l Archives:
Cornish (N.H.: Town)PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Pompeii (Extinct city)--Buildings, structures, etc.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID

Material Types

HeadingCUL Archives:
CUL Collections:
Nat'l / Int'l Archives:
Architectural drawingsPortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Architectural reprographic prints.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Carbon typescript papers.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Etchings (prints).PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Glass negatives.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Holograph papers.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Mixed media drawings.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Printed papers.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Typescript papers.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID

Additional Creators (Personal Names)

HeadingCUL Archives:
CUL Collections:
Nat'l / Int'l Archives:
Adams, Herbert, 1858-1945.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Alger, Russell A., Jr., 1873-1930.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Anderson, Isabel Weld Perkins, 1877-1949.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Anderson, Larz, 1866-1937.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Astor, Vincent, 1891-1959.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Bacon, Henry, 1866-1924.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Baker, Floyd E.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Bunker, Dennis Miller, 1861-1890.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Churchill, Winston, 1871-1947.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Cooper, James Fenimore, 1858-1938.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Cortissoz, Royal, 1869-1948.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Cox, Kenyon, 1856-1919.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Croly, Herbert David, 1869-1930.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Culver, Frederick S.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Dreyer, Louis H.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Dyer, George Rathbone, 1869-1934.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Freer, Charles Lang, 1856-1919.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Goulstone, G.T.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Lazarus, Annie.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Lefebvre, Jules, 1836-1911.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Lewis, Schell.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Manship, Paul, 1885-1966.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
McConnell, John Wilson, 1877-1963.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
McCormick, Edith Rockefeller, 1872-1932.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
McCormick, Harold F. (Harold Fowler), 1872-1941.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Meyer, Eugene, 1875-1959.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Parrish, Stephen, 1846-1938.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Platt, Eleanor Hardy Bunker.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Platt, John Henry.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Platt, Mary Elizabeth Cheney.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Platt, Geoffrey, 1905-1985.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Platt, William, 1897-1984.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Pratt, Frederick B. (Frederick Bayley), 1865-1945.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Pratt, John T. (John Teele), 1873-1927.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Rhees, Rush, 1860-1939.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Roosevelt, Sara Delano, 1854-1941.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Shipman, Ellen.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Walker, H.O. (Henry Walker), 1843-1929.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID

Additional Creators (Corporate Names)

HeadingCUL Archives:
CUL Collections:
Nat'l / Int'l Archives:
Century Association (New York, N.Y.)PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Cheney family.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Hedrich-Blessing (Firm)PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Peter A. Juley & Son.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
William & Geoffrey Platt.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Wurts Brothers.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID

Additional Titles

HeadingCUL Archives:
CUL Collections:
Nat'l / Int'l Archives:
Italian Gardens.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID

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History / Biographical Note

Biographical Note

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.

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