Following in the footsteps of Boston Bohemia, 1881–1900, Douglass Shand-Tucci's widely praised portrait of Ralph Adams Cram's early years, this volume tells the story of Cram's later career as one of America's leading cultural figures and most accomplished architects.
With his partner Bertram Goodhue, Cram won a number of important commissions, beginning with the West Point competition in 1903. Although an increasingly bitter rivalry with Goodhue would lead to the dissolution of their partnership in 1912, Cram had already begun to strike out on his own. Supervising architect at Princeton, consulting architect at Wellesley, and head of the MIT School of Architecture, he would also design most of New York's Cathedral of St. John the Divine and the campus of Rice University, as well as important church and collegiate structures throughout the country. By the 1920s Cram had become a household name, even appearing on the cover of Time magazine.
A complex man, Cram was a leading figure in what Shand-Tucci calls "a full-fledged homosexual monastery" in England, while at the same time married to Elizabeth Read. Their relationship was a complicated one, the effect of which on his children and his career is explored fully in this book. So too is his work as a religious leader and social theorist.
Shand-Tucci traces the influence on Cram of such disparate figures as Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Phillips Brooks, Henry Adams, and Ayn Rand. He divides Cram's career into four lifelong "quests": medieval, modernist, American, and ecumenical. Some quests may have failed, but in each he left a considerable legacy, ultimately transforming the visual image of American Christianity in the twentieth century.
Handsomely illustrated with over 130 photographs and drawings and eight pages of color plates, Ralph Adams Cram can be read on its own or in conjunction with Boston Bohemia, 1881–1900. Together, the two volumes complete what the Christian Century has described as a "superbly researched and captivating biography."