Tour - Wallingford, Meriden, Hartford, CT
Ancient Art History Architectural Design Elements
can find all kinds of architectural discoveries in your own home
town. Using architectural terms and information applied
from an Ancient Art History course taken at Middlesex Community-Technical
College in Middletown, CT, I've selected ten special places and
terms to focus on. Thanks to my instructor, Paula Anderson, for
a very informative on-line class and instructive assignment.
The following are examples
of specific architectural terms which relate to ancient art history
and show how that history is incorporated into buildings and architecture
today. These architectural details are located in Meriden, Wallingford,
Middletown, and Hartford, CT. Enjoy the tour.
the most beautiful contributions to the world from art history is
the legacy of the stained-glass window. Throughout the surrounding
communities there are many beautiful churches with equally as many
wonderful representations of stained-glass art. The stained-glass
windows were so beautiful it was difficult to choose which one to
use for an example.
one church in particular had glorious stained-glass windows which
stood out from the rest. The Holy Trinity Church in Wallingford,
CT has beautiful stained glass with representations of the prophets
as the main theme in them.
centuries when the stained-glass technique first evolved, the most
predominant colors used in Gothic stained glass were varying hues
of blues and reds. What are similar and immediately apparent in
these beautiful gothic style stained-glass windows are the striking
blue and red colors.
religious theme of these windows are two prophets each signifying
a different portion of the bible. The central theme of the prophets
encompass much of the window and the strong colors stand out so
that they would be able to be seen from anywhere within the church.
The dominance of the vibrant royal reds and the glowing gold colors
of their robes demand attention.
the overwhelming colors in these windows are the deep blues and
the vibrant reds. The different hues of blue complement one another.
Not only are the rich hues of red and blue used intensively throughout
the design but what contributes to the beauty in these scenes is
the addition of yellow-gold, opaque white, and some splattering
of green colors. These are also colors that were used frequently
in the 12 - 13th c. gothic stained glass windows. Among
the other colors there is a sprinkling here and there of another
royal color, light purple. Surrounding the narrative of the prophets,
geometric designs and floral patterns are used to create vertical
line in these windows. The use of vertical line helps to guide the
eye upward in the typical influence of Gothic style, creating the
illusion of height and heaven. The use of the geometric design of
pieces of glass around the prophets also helps in contrasting and
defining the figures. Like the stained glass of previous centuries,
one can still see the highly intricate assemblage of the painted
glass pieced together to form the beautiful design. Also, the use
of vertical line in the flowing robes of the prophet dominates the
scene in strength and beauty.
glory of these two stained-glass windows is achieved by the placement
of a small cross-shaped window. This window is also stained glass
with much of the same theme and uses the same royal blues and vibrant
reds. Placement of the centered window here is another way to create
the illusion of height and cause emotion in looking towards the
Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Arch
Bushnell Park, Hartford, CT
Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Arch in the Bushnell Park in Hartford
has many of the features of a typical Triumphal Arch. Although this
monument typifies a Gothic style Arch, with the pointed arch and
spires, it nonetheless is based on the original style Roman Triumphal
"This Memorial Arch
was designed to honor the 4,000 Hartford citizens who served in
the Civil War, and the 400 who died for the Union." (www.bushnellpark.com).
This arch is immense
in size as befitting any gateway or commemorative monument. It is
built from heavy carved brownstone which helps to project strength.
Even though it is gothic in design, it has the heaviness of roman
architecture. Another feature of a triumphal arch is that it has
to have one or more arches. This arch with its one entrance is more
typical of the "Arch of Titus" design. Interestingly placed
on each side of the arch are two small recessed roman arch "windows"
on the lower portion of each side. Placing the arches in this position
may have been created to cause an illusion of the triumphal triple
Early Roman triumphal
arches were adorned with artwork such as relief sculptures and other
decorative carvings and designs. To compare, this arch is highly
adorned with many fine examples of relief sculptures. From the raised
relief on the frieze, to the carved shields, and to the raised relief
of the stag above, these carved art pieces help to tell a narrative
of historical significance. What is also so striking about this
arch is the high relief art on the terra cotta frieze. The relief
is a continual play of motion with much of the scene showing strong
diagonal design and movement. The narrative of this relief are events
from the Civil War and are continuous around the entire arch. These
carvings are heavily detailed and deeply carved in order to project
three-dimensionally. It helps to have them stand out so much so
that they can be easily seen from the street.
statues representing people who fought in the war also surround
the arch. In addition, at the top of each spire are other three-dimensional
statues of angels. One is a statue of the angel Gabriel and the
other, Raphael. In the center of the top of the arch is another
relief sculpture. This final sculpture is a raised relief of a stag,
which has historical significance to the City of Hartford. Interestingly,
another word for stag is "hart" as in Hartford.
comparison to the look of a Roman triumphal arch are the
church portals of the Presbyterian Church in Hartford, CT
arch design was originally a religious significance and was incorporated
into the façade of the church. Shown here is a representation
of that triumphal arch style. The large rounded roman arch in the
middle is flanked on each side by smaller roman arches. All three
arches are covered with a design that encompasses all three to give
the illusion of one grand arch. Although the earlier freestanding
Roman triumphal arches had one arch, the more familiar design is
one central higher arch with two smaller arches on each side. After
the creation of the Arch of Titus the three arch design became more
Both the Memorial arch
and the triumphal arch represented in the Presbyterian church are
both inspiring works of art recreated from the ancient Roman period.
covered with a dome
The Augusta Curtis
the Curtis Memorial Building
East Main St.
Augusta Curtis Cultural Center, Memorial building, the building
that formerly housed Meriden's Library from 1903 to 1974, is a
Greek Revival style, white marble building, and is an example
of a building covered with a dome with its unique copper domed
roof. The building was in much disrepair but has been renovated.
The City of Meriden hopes to keep this fine example of architecture
in use for use for any individual or group for the arts, science,
history, celebrations, and other types of gatherings.
Although the building
is a Greek Revival style, the building has many similarities to
the Roman Partheon. One of the Romans finest contributions to architecture
is the dome structure. The Augusta Curtis Cultural Center seems
to have been modeled from the Roman domed, temple style building.
This building is an imposing architectural structure because it
has a Roman temple quality. What makes it stand out is its copper-sheeting
dome that covers it. It speaks of another century where the domed
building created great openness in design. To illustrate the similarity
to the domed structures of Rome, the first portion of the dome that
is important is the concrete wall that supports the dome itself.
This supporting octagonal wall is known as the drum. The drum is
of a simple, plain style. Then, as you view above the drum, the
next striking detail you notice is the ornamental pattern worked
around under the dome. They almost seem to be reversals of roman
arches. The designed pieces spike upward drawing the eye also up
toward the next portion of the dome. Next is the round dome with
the raised curved lines that also form a pattern around the dome.
Finally, after following the curved lines up toward the top of the
structure is another ornamental pattern which surrounds the oculus.
In modern times, most of the domes that have an oculus are enclosed.
In the past, the oculus of the domed building was open to the sky
causing a feeling of endlessness as one viewed the stars.
Also contributing to
the Roman design of this building is the white marble facing exterior.
It has an impressive recessed front entrance with two ionic columns.
In the familiar design of the Roman Partheon, the front entrance
of the Curtis building is similar to a portico. The sides and the
rest of the building are rectangular, and similar to other Roman
structures, although the actual Partheon was connected to a round
room that was the rotunda.
In viewing this Memorial
Building with its worn, oxidized, green dome reminds us of ancient
Roman times and history.
St. Rose Church
35 Center St.
The rose window, crafted
of stained glass, is a beautiful addition to the stained glass and
overall design that is reminiscent of the Gothic period and predominant
in many churches today.
Typically, the rose window
is firmly ensconced in the Gothic Style churches. What is unusual
about this rose window is that this church is more of a typical
Romanesque style with its rounded arches throughout the structure.
The rose window itself is even placed within a Romanesque arch instead
of enclosed in its own circular window. While there are many other
fine examples of rose windows in Gothic style churches throughout
the City of Meriden, this was one of the largest and most beautiful.
In the Gothic period,
because of the difficulty in creating large size stained glass windows,
builders designed more intricate window shapes using tracery, which
used stone ribs to create different designs. Patterns of rose windows
are an example of this technique. Because of the immensity of some
of the windows, the petal design allows much detail and use of glass
to create these geometric, round, or circled patterns.
The rose window in St.
Rose's church has a central inner round window with surrounding
circular patterns. The surrounding stone ribs separate the 16 "petals"
of the rose. The cross in blue and green is the central focus of
this beautiful window. Each of these petals is styled with an intricate
geometric, linear flow of pattern around each petal. All designs
are accentuated with glowing yellow and opaque colors. Within each
petal also is a geometric design of a cross within the circle. The
design around the perimeter of the petal is light green interspersed
with circles of sunny yellow in a flowing pattern.
Around the rose window
are also more panels of stained glass separated by stone. You can
see how the many panels would need to be separated by the intricate
stone work to support the immense rose window design. All the designs
flow upward to surround and encompass the focal point of the rose
23 S. Main St.
As with the stained-glass
windows, there were also so many beautiful churches in the area
which had prime examples of Rose windows that I felt another one
needed to be included as another example. The First Congregational
Church is a nice simply designed Rose window in the Gothic style.
The relief design in the church portal also incorporated a painted
red and blue rose design to complement the rose window above it.
Unfortunately, the relief art has since been painted
over a single blue to match the door. The familiar pointed gothic
design above the portal points upward and raises one's eye up to
view the rose window above. Enclosed in a circle, centered above
the church portal is a rose with seven petals.
The appealing design
of the rose window is certainly a welcome addition to the many wonderful
churches throughout our communities.
Board of Education
22 Liberty Street
The Board of Education's
building, formerly Meriden High School, was built in 1885. This
building is reminiscent of the heavy ancient Roman style of architecture.
What is most impressive about this building is the huge rounded
The prominent rounded
arch exemplifies the Roman arch design. The design of the arch follows
the typical Roman style with large cut pieces of brownstone, which
are pieced together to form the arch. The large rough-cut, heavy
brownstone used in this building also helps to signify the strength
of the arch. Each piece is carefully placed tightly together until
they meet at the top where the last piece of stone is placed. The
final piece of stone at the top is the keystone. The keystone is
the strength of the arch which holds the arch or vault intact. The
keystone in this arch at the top center is carved with the date
In addition, the building's
main arch is deeply recessed which gives the overall look of the
arch more power and character. If the arch were recessed any deeper
it would not only be a reproduction of a simple Roman arch, but
a representation of the barrel arch. More examples of a typical
roman arch are in the arcade of windows two floors above the main
arch. These windows are also recessed which makes them stand out.
These windows are also a nice representation of the Romanesque style.
The rounded arch is distinctly Roman yet these windows have the
columns between them signifying a Romanesque influential style.
The Romans left a wonderful
legacy for art and architectural design. With their contribution
of the design of the arch, buildings such as the Board of Education
building add history and style to the community.
Architectural Order - Corinthian Order
at Wesleyan University
35 High Street
throughout our communities show a strong influence of Greek architecture.
Perhaps the most identifying feature of this influence are the Greek
columns. The most beautiful and stylized of all the orders is the
The administration building
at Wesleyan University is a strong example of the Corinthian order
columns. These particular columns contain all of the necessary elements
which make them distinctly Corinthian.
The Corinthian column
has three separate parts to its structure. First is the white-painted,
wooden column base. The square, heavy base is one piece. Next is
the tall shaft of the column, which is deeply fluted, rather than
plain as in the Doric columns. Most of these types of shafts are
designed by securing together pieces of the column. Finally, is
the piece that captures the most attention - the flared head of
the capital. The capital is also all one piece and is beautifully
detailed. The use of many detailed acanthus leaves, outstanding
volutes and the ornamentalized boss deserve its attention. In this
Corinthian column capital the distinctive design is the highly projected,
stylized acanthus leaves. These leaves add a sense of dimension
and space to the overall design. The boss on this capital is a rosette
ornament that adds dimension to the capital by projecting out from
the top center. The capital also has leaf-like structures below
the scroll design.
Following the blueprint
of a typical column, above the column is the entablature. First
is a plain architrave and above that is the frieze with a decorative
pattern that runs throughout the bottom of the pediment.
These Corinthian columns
at Wesley University are probably some of the finest and well-maintained
examples of Greek columns around. The Greek Revival style on Wesleyan's
campus is a highly appropriate setting for these beautiful columns.
East Main St.
Many churches and public
buildings in cities throughout the state have been built based on
the Greek Temple design. There are many different styles of Greek
temples to emulate in modern architecture. One such building based
on the Greek temple is the Meriden Town Hall.
The Meriden Town Hall
actually incorporates two different styles of Greek temple design.
The first is the prostyle. The prostyle design is a rectangular
building, which has four columns at the front of the building that
form a portico. In comparison, the front of the Town Hall has a
deep Ionic order porch, which supports the pediment above. Behind
the portico represented here as the porch entrance is the rectangular
building In Greek Architecture the main room of the building is
the cella. The peaked, triangular pediment front is also what typifies
Greek temple design. Shown here in the face of the pediment, the
entablature is unadorned yet it is designed of brick and white stone
to give it some contrast. Last, a repeating band of white dentil
for some decoration surrounds the cornice of the pediment.
The second type of design
this building emulates is the peristyle. In Greek architecture if
the colonnade runs around all four sides, the temple is identified
as "peripteral". Also most important in simulating a Greek
temple are the columns. Looking closely at the detail of this building,
there are simulated columns made of brick, placed side by side,
full height, continuously around the building. These simulated columns
are projected to give a sense of depth to them so they are noticeable.
Each "column" is topped with an Ionic capital. The familiar
double scrolled volute identifies the Ionic capital. Each column
also has a plain unadorned base.
The windows in the front
of the building are floor to ceiling to give as much light as possible.
This may have been done on purpose also to imitate a Greek temple.
Also, there are many windows around the building to allow even more
light imitating the openness of temple design.
As in ancient Greek architecture,
the temple design with its stately columns, surely adds an impressive
and grand appearance to the city.
SS Cyril & Methodius Church
The Romanesque church portal
in the SS Cyril & Methodius Church is imposing with its highly
decorated presence. The design is truly representative of the Romanesque
First, the round arch
is pieced together in the Roman arch style therefore transporting
its weight down onto the buttresses below it. Other supporting elements
are the Corinthian order columns below the ledge of the buttress.
A Romanesque contribution to architectural decoration was the use
of the Corinthian capital. The use of these columns in this church
portal complements the detailed styling in the arch. Next, the wooden
door is surrounded by the marble-like stone sculpture of the portal.
Normally in a Romanesque style church the tympanum would also be
a carving relating to a Christian theme. In stretching the imagination,
in this church portal the design of the tympanum was left to the
representation of a triumphal arch, the larger stained-glass circle
(arch) in the middle is surrounded by the two smaller stained-glass
In identifying the features
of this Romanesque church portal, you can see where the joints of
the voissoirs are joined together to form the archivolts (curved
moldings). You can also see where the moldings are separate, each
with their own distinctive pattern. The many rows in this design
provide an overall illusion of the greatness of some of the ancient
church portals. The first architrave is the largest and most deeply
carved in high relief style. This archivolt is decorated in a detailed
pattern of three-dimensional acanthus leaves. Following the outer
protruding acanthus leaves is a decorated molding distinctly geometric.
Next, to provide contrast is a simple plain band followed by another
geometric diagonal design. Closest to the middle of the arch, the
sharply diagonal design indicates movement and helps to guide the
eye around the arch. The next architrave provides the illusion of
more depth by incorporating a pattern of low relief carved into
circular interconnecting scrolling. Again, another contrast is a
patterned geometric rope design. Following that is another plain,
unadorned, simple band and lastly is the simple diagonal rope design.
The diagonal design and style of the rope also creates movement
by guiding the eye around the arch. Each architrave with its individual
design may have some religious symbolism.
The highly adorned, beautiful
representations of Romanesque church portals are few and far between.
Hopefully, the churches that incorporated these works of art will
endure for future generations to enjoy.
Bushnell Memorial Building
An outstanding relief
sculpture graces the corner of the street in front of the Bushnell
Memorial building in Hartford. This sculpture is a freestanding
three-dimensional work of art with a highly stylized and detailed
relief. Initially, what draws attention first is the overall uniqueness
of this highly carved work of art.
Upon first glance what
is most noticeable are the carvings of the female statues. The smooth
bowed figure of the female projects forward like the figurehead
on the masthead of a ship. The form is nude, in an imitation of
a Greek or roman statue. Her features are soft and rounded along
with her long, flowing hair. The two female sculptures form symmetry
by projecting forward on both sides of the urn-like sculpture.
Also carved as high relief
on the bottom portion of the piece and which flows around the work
is a carved vine with highly detailed leaves. The leaves give the
piece a sense of space and dimension because of the use of the overlapping
on the vine. Also placed in the middle, on top, of the draped vine
is a rosette whose petals are deeply carved also. This placement
also creates depth in this carving.
Following the next portion
of the sculpture, the deeply fluted shaft of the cylinder flows
upward to the next section of the relief. This middle portion is
balanced by the flowing geometric designs. These rope-like designs
are also of the type of stylized carvings sometimes seen in architraves
in Romanesque church portals. This section is ornamental and deeply
carved. A repeating pattern flows around the white stone form. Petals
flow toward each other to encompass a deeply carved flower. Flowing,
curved ribbons also carved in a representation of movement. The
central focus of this top section is the carving of the harp. Finally,
the top piece is a rounded dome on which another highly stylized
ornament is placed. This top piece is also carved to give it dimension
by the overlapping design of leaves.
The overall composition
of this carving all relates through symbolism to the arts and music
which is what the Bushnell Memorial Building is known for. Overall,
this striking work of art is an excellent example of a unique relief
Immanuel Lutheran Church
164 Hanover St.
A simple, modern, arched
rib vault is a great example to illustrate the structural design
of a ceiling vault.
This example of a gothic
arch ceiling vault is a freestanding structure outside of the church.
It is a modern brick structure with contrasting white concrete on
the top of the outside piers. The top of each of the pointed arches
are also outlined in contrasting white concrete. This design highlights
the top of the arch which causes an illusion of more height. This
vaulted structure mimics the basics of what is essential to create
a rib vault. The intersecting vaults are simple brick style, unadorned.
The only contrast is in the horizontal placement of the bricks inside
each actual arch.
Focusing on the inside
of the vault, one can see how the ceiling vault is formed. While
certainly not as impressive as an actual soaring ceiling vault of
many gothic churches, this simple design is an accurate portrayal
of a simple ceiling vault. Instead of seeing only a skeleton of
masonry this gothic ceiling vault has been added in a painted white
woodwork. The contrast of the white against the brick structure
creates a lightness in order to draw attention upward and give an
illusion of space. While the ribs inside this ceiling vault are
formed with vertical pieces the wood in between has been placed
horizontally. This may be for structural support or also to create
yet another contrast. Interestingly, the overall impression of the
ceiling vault is of a five-pointed star.
Also, anchored at the
top of the ceiling vault for more detail is a light designed in
a gothic style. This light is a stained-glass style, opaque white
overlaid with black ribbing. This light is to illuminate the structure
and probably causes even more impression when lit.
Finally, if not for the
ingenious design of these ceiling vaults, we wouldn't have the fantastic,
impressive soaring church ceilings we have today.
conclusion, there are many impressive examples of ancient art and
architecture in our communities today. Without the influence of the
Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans, we would not have the beauty in our
towns and cities that we see every day. Hopefully, some of the examples
included within have shown you what architectural delights surround
us. Hope you enjoyed the tour.