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Villa Turicum
American Renaissance

t the turn of the century architects like Frank Lloyd Wright were beginning to change America’s attitudes towards architectural revival styles. However, there were still popular revival movements that existed simultaneously with early modernism. The American Renaissance movement crystallized at the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair Columbian Exhibition which put forth a vision of the modern American city designed in the language of classicism, which expressed ideals of grandeur , harmony and stabilty.

These artists and architects believed that the classical tradition could serve as a model for a new American civilization. They were well-versed in history and comfortable with the architectural vocabularies of Greece and Rome. Architectural firms like McKim, Mead, and White were proud practitioners in the American Renaissance style. Their success was partially attributed to the influence of the Columbian Exhibition on the stylistic choices of the American public.

In the case of Harold and Edith Rockefeller, the decision of what style to use for their residence brought them to opposite sides of the debate between modernism and classicism. Initially this couple commissioned Frank Lloyd Wright to design a home for them in Lake Forest, Illinois. After Wright had completed a design for them, they changed their minds and decided that they wanted a more traditional-style home. They then asked Charles Platt; known for his revival style homes, to design an Italianate villa for them. The Villa Turicum, with its austere facade and entrance flanked by two classical columns, is a good example of the goals of the American Renaissance movement.

Pictured: Villa Tericum, The Harold and Edith Rockefeller McCormick Residence, Lake Forest, Illinois

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