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Ward Wellington Ward

Ward Wellington Ward, Architect [1875-1932]

Ward Wellington Ward [†] was one of the most important and prolific architects in Syracuse, New York, in the early twentieth century. Ward practiced in Syracuse between 1908 and 1926, designing some 250 buildings during that time. More than 120 of these buildings were built and survive, two thirds of them in Syracuse. [1]

Best known for his residential work in the Arts and Crafts style and its subtypes such as Tudor Revival, English Cottage, Swiss Chalet and California Bungalow Ward was conversant in all of the architectural styles popular in his day. Employing the architectural eclecticism that characterized the early twentieth century, he typically combined a variety of design elements into an aesthetically pleasing and unified whole. In addition to his Arts and Crafts-inspired designs, Ward designed several buildings that incorporated the form and detailing of the Colonial Revival and Dutch Colonial styles. Other designs show the influences of the Italian Renaissance, Prairie, and Foursquare styles. Ward designed very few non-residential buildings, but a small number of his commercial and industrial buildings also survive.

One of the hallmarks of Ward's style after the early 1910s was his collaboration with other master craftsmen in the Arts and Crafts tradition. In particular, Ward made frequent use of ceramic tiles from Henry Mercer's Moravian Pottery and Tile Works in Doylestown, Pennsylvania, and stained glass from the studio of Syracuse craftsman Henry Keck. On Ward's residential exteriors, Mercer tiles decorated stuccoed walls and chimneys, while on the interior they were used primarily around hearths. An integral part of the Arts and Crafts aesthetic that permeated Ward's designs, these handcrafted items were used in the majority of his buildings.

The surviving Ward buildings represent all phases of the architect's career in Syracuse and display the full range of styles he employed. None of Ward's buildings in Syracuse has received National Register designation, but eight are locally designated, seven as part of the Sedgwick-Highland-James Preservation District. Many other Ward buildings are eligible for historic designation, not only for their connection to the architect but also for their individual artistic value. [2]

Ward Wellington Ward was born in Chicago in 1875 to English emigrant parents.[3] After attending public schools in Detroit, he studied architecture at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology between 1894 and 1897. While at M.I.T. he met his future wife, Maude Moyer of Syracuse, who was a student at the Boston Conservatory of Music. After their marriage in 1900, the Wards lived in New York City. In 1908, they moved to the Syracuse area, where they remained until Ward Wellington Ward's death in 1932. Maude Moyer Ward's father, Harvey Moyer, was a successful automobile and carriage manufacturer who provided Ward with one of his first commissions after his move to Syracuse, a new automobile factory on Wolf Street. It is likely that many of Ward's earliest commissions in Syracuse came through Moyer family connections. Members of the Estabrook family, in particular, were important sources of commissions for Ward; Charles Estabrook was Harvey Moyer's lawyer.

After spending six years with his wife's family in the Syracuse suburb of Liverpool, Ward designed a separate home and studio for his family on land opposite his father-in-law's estate. During his career in Syracuse, most of Ward's commissions came from clients in Syracuse or nearby communities, but towards the end of his life he designed an increasing number of buildings for clients in Rochester, New York.[4] In 1926, Ward became ill and was hospitalized for the remaining six years of his life. Although he created no new designs after 1926, two buildings, at 230 Salt Springs Road and 108 Strathmore Drive, were built subsequently from Ward's designs.

Syracuse in the early twentieth century provided ample employment for architects. During the nineteenth century, the city had grown from a small village based economically on the salt industry to a large city with a broad manufacturing base and a growing economy. Located along the Erie Canal and the New York Central Railroad main line, Syracuse had maintained strong transportation links to other areas of the state and nation since the 1820s. By the early twentieth century, the city supported a wide range of industries and a large and growing business and professional class whose members had both the desire and means to commission fashionable dwellings for themselves. It was for this clientele that Ward created most of his designs; few of Ward's known residential designs were for modest houses.

Many of Ward's houses were constructed in the affluent, exclusively residential suburbs that were developed in large numbers in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. These suburbs, usually subdivisions of former farmland created by a single developer, were characterized by streets curved to fit the area's natural topography, large lot sizes, and deed restrictions limiting the use of each lot to one single-family dwelling. Typically, the deeds also prescribed a minimum setback from the street and from neighboring properties for any house erected on the lot, and a minimum cost for the construction of any new house. Ward houses are well represented in exclusive residential subdivisions such as Strathmore, Berkeley Park, Scottholm and Sedgwick Farms.

Ward drew on many of the architectural styles and influences that were prevalent at the turn of the century, but the style in which he was most accomplished was the Arts and Crafts style. The Arts and Crafts movement originated in mid-nineteenth century England in reaction to the mechanization of the artistic and building trades following the Industrial Revolution. In an attempt to reunite art with craft, proponents of this movement emphasized the creation of high-quality, hand-crafted decorative work, including furniture, wallpaper, stained glass and other architectural and decorative elements. British Arts and Crafts architects such as Philip Webb and C.F.A. Voysey based their work primarily on prototypes from England's pre-industrial past, particularly the Tudor era, and emphasized hand-crafted details and native building materials such as wood, plaster and stone. By the turn of the century, the teachings of the English Arts and Crafts movement were well known in the United States. The quaint and picturesque English Cottage and Tudor Revival styles appealed to architects and clients alike, and became widely popular in the early twentieth century. As a favored style for upscale residential design in Syracuse and other American cities during the first decades of the century, only the Colonial Revival style, modelled after colonial American precedents, rivaled the Arts and Crafts style.

Ward's fluency in the Arts and Crafts vocabulary during his Syracuse years was doubtless aided by the strong Arts and Crafts tradition in central New York that had begun to flourish during the decade prior to his arrival. Indeed, the reputation of Syracuse during the 1890s and 1900s as a hub of Arts and Crafts activity may have influenced the architect's decision to relocate there. Two of the most prominent theorists and practitioners of the Arts and Crafts movement in Syracuse were Gustav Stickley and Adelaide Alsop Robineau. Gustav Stickley manufactured his furniture in the Syracuse suburb of Eastwood after the 1880s and began publication there of his influential journal, The Craftsman. Porcelain artist Adelaide Alsop Robineau and her husband Samuel Robineau settled in Syracuse in 1899 and began to publish Keramic Studio, which became a "major exponent and guide to a broad spectrum of Arts and Crafts design."[5] For an architect attracted to the Arts and Crafts tradition, Syracuse was a desirable place to work.

If the elaborate mansion that Ward designed in 1905 in Magnolia, Massachusetts, is any indication, Ward arrived in Syracuse an accomplished architect.[6] However, most of Ward's earliest commissions in Syracuse were for relatively modest dwellings that showed little of his later talent for Arts and Crafts design. In massing and details, his earliest houses reflected a generic late Queen Anne or Foursquare style that characterized much early 20th century architecture for the middle class. Ward's modest houses at 508 Turtle Street (1908), 609 Euclid Avenue (1909) and 502 Walnut Avenue (1910) exemplify his work during this period. Most of his designs for middle class residences erected along Allen and Lancaster Streets were also created at this time. An unusually late example of his simple residential work is 442 Seymour Street (1918).[7] Although Ward incorporated in his earliest designs some of the architectural vocabulary that he later refined in his Arts and Crafts houses—stucco and half-timbered wall cladding and Craftsman-style joinery, for example most of his early designs lack the detail and refinement characteristic of his later buildings.[8] The combination of half-timbering and a front-facing gambrel roof in the house at 819 Comstock Avenue, for example, creates an effect that is striking but crude in comparison to his later efforts. In addition to his frequent use of the Tudor Revival and English Cottage styles, Ward experimented with several other styles in his residential architecture during his early years. Examples include Swiss Chalet at 863 Lancaster Avenue, Colonial Revival at 330 Farmer Street, and California Bungalow at 215 Salt Springs Road, all built in 1910.

After about 1910, wealthier clients and a maturing sense of style permitted Ward to design larger and more sophisticated dwellings, many of them in exclusive residential areas such as Scottholm, Berkeley Park and Sedgwick Farms. During this period, Ward began to incorporate some of the design elements that soon became characteristic of his work. Most notable was his use of ceramic tiles produced by Henry Mercer's Moravian Pottery and Tile Works in Doylestown, Pennsylvania.

Henry Mercer founded the Moravian Pottery and Tile Works in 1898. Moravian tiles, unique in design, became his specialty. Moravian tiles were "pictorial storybook tiles, hand-crafted, sometimes glazed in bright colors, but often left unglazed to give a free unbounded value to the red clay from which they are made."[9] Although used by Arts and Crafts architects throughout the country, no architect employed Mercer tiles more often than Ward Wellington Ward, who used them in more than 200 installations.[10]

Ward used Mercer tiles on both the exteriors and interiors of his buildings. Examples of houses featuring Mercer tiles as exterior applications to brick or stuccoed wall surfaces include 111 Clairmonte Avenue (1914), 223 DeWitt Street (1915), 2201 East Genesee Street (1919) and 600-604 Walnut Avenue (1914). Even houses that were Colonial Revival or Dutch Colonial in form could receive tile treatment; examples include 423 Euclid Avenue (1912) and 309 Allen Street (1912). [11]

On the interiors, Mercer tiles were employed most often around the hearth, generally considered the center of the Arts and Crafts home. One of the most impressive examples of interior tile work is the unique tile mosaic, "St. George and the Dragon," at 110 Highland Street (1913). Other notable examples of interior tile work include 100 Circle Road (1914), 2201 East Genesee Street (1919), 106 Strathmore Drive (1919), 206 Summit Avenue (1914) and 211 Summit Avenue (1913).

Another significant architectural feature found in many Ward houses was stained glass windows from the studio of Syracuse artist Henry Keck. Keck's background included work with Art Nouveau innovator Louis Comfort Tiffany and two years training in Germany. After Keck opened his Syracuse studio in 1913, Ward frequently drew on Keck's talents to create the glasswork in his residences. Although Keck's studio was best known for the design and fabrication of stained glass windows for churches, it also designed stained glass and regular leaded glass windows for residences. According to Ward Wellington Ward and Henry Keck authority Cleota Reed, Keck's windows had a distinctive Arts and Crafts style, different from traditional stained glass. His drawing was simple but creative. By thickly leaded outlines, he emphasized stylized but naturalistic figures, trees, and other details. His compositions were carefully studied and arranged in mosaic-like patterns. Keck chose opalescent glass for its bright and pure colors and unique textures which produced remarkable and dramatic moods in response to changing light.[12]

Examples of Ward buildings containing Keck glass include 711 Comstock Avenue (1923), 2201 East Genesee Street (1919), 2669 East Genesee Street (1923), 255 Robineau Road (1919), 265 Robineau Road (1926) and 206 Summit Avenue (1914). Another distinctive feature of many Ward homes was the use of Craftsman-style joinery in trellis and porch work, even on buildings that were not predominantly Arts and Crafts in form. Latticework was sometimes applied directly to the exterior surface of a house, as at 1029 East Genesee Street (1911), 2017 East Genesee Street (1917) and 110 Highland Street (1913). More often it appeared in porches, as at 518 Danforth Street (1912), 725 Allen Street (1912) and 758 Euclid Avenue (1911).

Ward's eclecticism continued to influence his mature works, constructed after the mid-1910s. One of his most notable designs from this period was the house at 223 DeWitt Street, built in 1915. Cleota Reed has described this house, modelled after English Cottage architecture, as "the epitome of the Arts and Crafts house and one in which Ward demonstrated his total command of the Arts and Crafts language: his mastery of proportion and detail, his original use of sources in an age dominated by eclecticism, and his architectural craftsmanship."[13] Another remarkable building from Ward's mature period was the robust Tudor Revival house at 2201 East Genesee Street (1919). The textual variety of the building's exterior, its rich and precise detailing, and its fine Mercer tile work on the interior, make this "easily one of Ward's most outstanding designs."[14] Among many other notable examples of Ward's work from this period were the collection of four houses he designed along Robineau Road, each quite different from the others. Three were designed in 1919 one in the Italian Renaissance style (176 Robineau Road), one Colonial Revival (225 Robineau Road, Ward's only stone design), and one Tudor Revival (255 Robineau Road). A fourth house designed in Ward's more austere late Arts and Crafts style, 265 Robineau Road, was added in 1926.

In Ward's last years as a practicing architect, his designs took on a more formal and austere quality than they had previously. Cleota Reed attributes this to a move towards a "more modern, less traditional view of the English house" and a greater influence on his work by the work of British Arts and Crafts architects C.F.A. Voysey and M.H. Baillie Scott. A greater emphasis on broad, flat surfaces, and a refinement of detail characterize this later work, exemplified by the houses at 2205 East Genesee Street (1923), 265 Robineau Road (1926) and 301 Scottholm Boulevard (1923).[15]

With the exception of one design that Ward used for five different houses, no two Ward houses are alike.[16] Throughout his career, Ward was always willing to experiment in new styles and designs. Although he emphasized the Tudor Revival, English Cottage, and Colonial Revival forms, he frequently created unique designs that did not draw on his usual repertory of design elements. One-of-a-kind Ward designs include 111 Clairmonte Avenue (1912), 206 Summit Avenue (1912) and 301 Scottholm Boulevard (1923).

In many of his designs, Ward included certain ornamental details that can be considered signature details. His windows, for example, frequently display a row of pointed arch lights, reportedly because the sawtooth pattern thus created can be viewed as Ward's true "signature": a series of W's. Another signature detail in the figurative sense was Ward's frequent use of circles within gables, as on 111 Clairmonte Avenue (1912), 518 Danforth Street (1912), 2654 East Genesee Street (1919) and 329 Westcott Street (1914). Finally, the alternating bands of wide and narrow clapboards that Ward employed on two of his houses 1035 Oak Street (1915) and 112 Scottholm Boulevard (1916) are sufficiently unusual to be considered a signature Ward detail in the absence of evidence to the contrary.

In addition to his many residential buildings, Ward designed a small number of commercial and industrial buildings. Of the four that survive, three were designed during his first five years in Syracuse: the Moyer Automobile Factory (1908), James Corbett auto showroom (1909) and Syracuse Bread Co. factory (1912). The only commercial or industrial building he designed after 1915 was a commercial garage built in 1919 for his earlier client James Corbett. It is not known whether Ward preferred to design smaller residential buildings, or whether he simply never received many commissions for non-residential buildings. Although these four buildings are significant as surviving examples of their types and as rare examples of Ward's nonresidential work, the designs themselves are unexceptional in comparison to Ward's residential efforts.

Ward also designed a small number of interior alterations to older buildings. He added fireplaces with Moravian tiles to a Greek Revival house at 2627 East Genesee Street, for example, and a fireplace, new stairway and bay window to an Italianate house at 209 Highland Avenue. The only type of building Ward designed that is not represented in the city of Syracuse is the summer camp; his two camps were built in Skaneateles and Clayton. All other building types represented outside the city are also represented in Syracuse.[17]

Ward Wellington Ward was significant as a proponent of the Arts and Crafts movement in central New York, particularly in the Syracuse and Rochester areas. Ward's buildings are significant for their high artistic value. Most of his designs are outstanding examples of middle and upper middle class residential design in the region, reflecting the eclectic style that characterized early twentieth century architecture. Of particular note is the unique way in which Ward regularly incorporated the work of two other master craftsmen, Henry Mercer and Henry Keck, into his designs.[18]

Although Ward was not the only architect in the region to practice in the Arts and Crafts style during the first decades of the twentieth century in Syracuse, architects such as Paul Hueber, Dwight James Baum and Merton Granger did as well his work was among the finest produced at that time. Although Ward's work is not so distinctive that it can always be distinguished from houses designed in a similar style by his contemporaries, it generally possesses a high artistic value and exemplifies the best of the Arts and Crafts ideal in American architecture.

The overwhelming majority of Ward's commissions were residences, nearly all of them single-family dwellings. Of the eighty-two known Ward buildings still standing in Syracuse, seventy-eight are residences. The only two Ward residences identified as two-family houses are very early commissions 508 Turtle Street (1908) and 609 Euclid Avenue (1909). Ward's residences represent a variety of architectural styles and influences, and range from modest Foursquare and Bungalow designs to elaborate upper middle class residences. Nonetheless, the Arts and Crafts style, with its subtypes of Tudor Revival and English Cottage, is by far the most common style in which Ward chose to work. Balloon framing permitted Ward to create buildings in almost any form, allowing the functional consideration of interior spatial arrangements to dictate the outer form of the building.[19] For materials he generally used wood, brick and stucco, but also used stone, wood shingles, and at least one tile roof.

Although some one-family and two-family residences have garages incorporated into the house, many others have a separate garage on the lot. In some cases, Ward designed these garages at the same time as the house or shortly afterwards. In other cases, the garage was built several years after the house. It is not known how many of these later garages were designed by Ward, but garages that do not appear on a 1924 map of the city are unlikely to be Ward's.

Only two multiple-unit dwellings designed by Ward are known to exist one apartment building (the Sherbrook Apartments, 1914) and one fraternity (Beta Theta Pi, 1923). Another fraternity, at 801 Ostrom Avenue, is also reported to be a Ward design. These buildings are designed in the Tudor Revival style common in Ward's work and contain distinctive Arts and Crafts design elements, such as stained glass from the Keck studio in the case of the Beta Theta Pi fraternity.

Only seven commercial or industrial buildings are known to have been designed by Ward in Syracuse. Of these, only four survive: the Moyer Automobile Factory (1908), James Corbett auto showroom (1909), Syracuse Bread Co. factory (1912), and James Corbett commercial garage (1919). All but the last of these are products Ward's first few years in Syracuse.

Four buildings in Syracuse are known to have been remodelled by Ward: 109 Concord Place (1908), 2627 East Genesee Street (1916), 209 Highland Avenue (1919) and 237 Washington Square (1913). These alterations were done in the Arts and Crafts style for which Ward is best known.

  1. The total number of designs is estimated from the job numbers provided by Ward; not all of his designs were built, and some were for small buildings such as garages. A list of all known Ward buildings is presented in Section 5 and Appendix B of Landscape & Prospect, City of Syracuse Intensive-Level Survey, Volume 3; The Historic Architecture of Ward Wellington Ward, prepared for the City of Syracuse and the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, 1993.
  2. Landscape & Prospect, Methodology, p. 1.
  3. The following biography of Ward is derived from Cleota Reed Gabriel, The Arts & Crafts Ideal; The Ward House, An Architect & His Craftsmen (Syracuse: The Institute for the Development of Evolutive Architecture, Inc., and New York State Council on the Arts, 1978), pp. 9-11.
  4. See the list of properties cited in Note 1.
  5. Peg Weiss, "Foreword" to Reed Gabriel, The Arts and Crafts Ideal, pp. 3-4.
  6. This house, reminiscent of one of British architect Richard Norman Shaw's confections, is pictured in Reed Gabriel, p. 8. It was designed for the mother-in-law of Charles Estabrook, a Syracuse lawyer who numbered Ward's father-in-law, Harvey Moyer, among his clients; conversation with Cleota Reed, August 28, 1996.
  7. Ward received few commissions during World War I, which may account for his willingness to undertake this modest design.
  8. The greater affluence of Ward's later clients, who began to commission showcase houses for their own use rather than speculation houses for sale, was also partially responsible for the appearance of greater sophistication in Ward's later work.
  9. Reed Gabriel, pp. 18-20.
  10. Reed Gabriel, p. 20. Some buildings contained more than one installation.
  11. The latter house, together with 100 Circle Road (1914), were built on speculation by the Wards.
  12. Reed Gabriel, pp. 15-16.
  13. Reed Gabriel, p. 39.
  14. Landscape & Prospect, New York State Building-Structure Inventory Form for the Frank P. Collins Residence (1993).
  15. Reed Gabriel, p. 33.
  16. These five are 464 Allen Street, 100 Berkeley Drive, 1917 West Colvin Street, 116 Rugby Road, and 102 Scottholm Terrace. See Landscape & Prospect, New York State Building- Structure Inventory Form for 464 Allen Street.
  17. This conclusion is based on the complete list of Ward properties provided by Landscape & Prospect, Section 5 and Appendix B.
  18. Landscape & Prospect, Existing Conditions, p. 2.
  19. Reed Gabriel, p. 24.

† Richard Carlson, consultant, Architecture of Ward Wellington Ward in Syracuse, New York, 1908-1932, nomination document, 1996, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.