This Video Series Spotlights Overlooked Architectural Gems Across the Country

Hadley Keller
Photo credit: Phil Haber Photography - Getty Images
Photo credit: Phil Haber Photography - Getty Images

From House Beautiful

Been spending much more time close to home lately? You're—obviously—not alone. Amidst stay-at-home orders and travel bans due to the coronavirus pandemic, many of us are existing in a much smaller-than-usual radius—but that doesn't mean we can't find creative inspiration. This is the idea behind In Your Neighborhood, a new video series from the Institute of Classical Architecture & Art (ICAA), in which designers and architects around the country show off their favorite design treasures in their own backyards.

"We sometimes overlook those moments of brilliance and beauty that are right in front of us, and this series is an opportunity to learn about homes, gardens, and other special places, whether rural or urban, that inspire our talented architects and designers," ICAA president Peter Lyden tells House Beautiful. "Viewers can draw powerful lessons from the series, and can explore their own neighborhoods with an eye for moments of inspiration!"

Participants in the series so far include architects Russel Windham in Houston's River Oaks neighborhood, Eric Osth in Pittsburgh's Frick Park, and landscape designer Kathryn Herman in her own home garden. The latest two videos in the series both feature towns in Upstate New York—with very different design histories.

In the Hudson River Valley, architect Elizabeth Graziolo—who recently founded her own firm, Yellow House Architects, after working for Peter Pennoyer for years—explores the wide range of building styles in the area. From Olana, the unconventional, Moorish-style home of painter Frederic Church, to the Italianate houses in downtown Hudson, the region's architecture is one of the reasons Graziolo bought a house there.

"I first went to visit a friend, I think in 2015," she tells House Beautiful. "And the moment I set foot in the town, I loved it. It's just the energy about the place in addition to the fact that there's an example of almost every type of architecture."

Graziolo shows viewers downtown Hudson, pointing out the nods to its maritime influence as well as homes of no fewer than four distinct architectural styles. "As an architect, I'm always learning from precedent architecture," she says. "And Hudson is a great source of knowledge."

Meanwhile, about an hour west, Melissa DelVecchio, a partner at Robert A.M. Stern Architects who has been involved with the ICAA for over 20 years, has been quarantining at her home in Roxbury, New York, nestled in the Catskill mountains. "A lot of my work is big, academic buildings, so I'm thinking about big buildings more, and it's been nice to be here and be surrounded by smaller buildings and small towns," she tells House Beautiful. But, that doesn't mean the architectural impact is any smaller.

Roxbury, DelVecchio points out in the video, owes much of its visual legacy to several prominent figures of the Gilded Age, among them naturalist John Burroughs and robber baron Jay Gould, both born in the town.

After moving from Roxbury, Burroughs returned to spend time there in nature—alongside figures including Theodore Roosevelt, John Muir, and Thomas Edison, to name a few. Though Gould left the town, his children donated the Jay Gould Memorial Reform Church to the town in his honor—it was designed by architect Henry Janeway Hardenbergh, best known for New York City's iconic Dakota apartment building. Meanwhile, Gould's daughter, Helen, maintained a home and gardens in the town—her main residence, Lyndhurst, is one of the Hudson Valley's most famous estates. The gardens are now a town park and a campaign is currently underway to turn a building on the property into a teaching hotel.

Since switching to remote work this spring, DelVecchio has relished spending more time in the town and becoming involved in its community. "I kind of like the idea that maybe this whole thing will result in more acceptance of working remotely and maybe allow people to be in different places," says DelVecchio. "It really represents an amazing opportunity to revive these great places," many of which have been overlooked in the past century as work centered around large cities.

And, as DelVecchio points out, you don't have to be an antique fanatic to learn from classical architecture: "If you look at my projects for Stern, you'll notice that they aren't all straightforward classical— they aren't all columned up," she jokes. "But I always have gravitated towards the principles of proportion behind classicism. We're always looking to put a modern program in a traditional building. You don't have to live in a Palladian Villa—you can always put contemporary concepts into traditional buildings."

Watch all the In Your Neighborhood videos here.

Follow House Beautiful on Instagram.

You Might Also Like

More From