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Panama-California Exposition

CHAPTER EIGHT: Sources and Attributions

Though most architects do not like to admit they borrow details from other buildings, they frequently do. This practice was even more prevalent in the early part of the 20th century when many architects visited and studied in Europe. It was inevitable that exposition architecture would reflect a vast amount of accumulated knowledge, for the architects did not have the time nor inclination to design original and innovative buildings for temporary purposes.

In newspaper and magazine accounts, Frank P. Allen, Jr. boasted he was responsible for the ground plan and design of buildings for the Panama- California Exposition, except for the Organ Pavilion and the California Quadrangle. This claim infuriated Bertram Goodhue, the consulting architect, as shown by his correspondence on file in the Avery Library of Columbia University. The determination of responsibility was important because on it hinged the assignment of future commissions. Carleton Winslow, Goodhue’s assistant, maintained that Goodhue designed the permanent California Quadrangle, and that he (Winslow) designed some of the temporary buildings, Allen the others.

The following attributions are offered to give credit where credit is due.

Carleton Winslow designed the Mission-style Administration, Indian Arts, and Kansas Buildings; the Spanish-Renaissance style Science and Education Building; the Spanish-Plateresque style Home Economy Building; the hybrid Persian-functional style Botanical Building; the Mexican-Churrigueresque style Varied Industries and Food Products Building and Southern California Counties Building; the Baroque-style corner entrances to arcades; and the Neo-Classical-style Seal of the City of San Diego on the crown of the arch of the West Gate.

Winslow was a talented decorator who worked best when his designs came from his imagination rather than from copybooks. The allegorical tableau on the east side of the Varied Industries Building, the tablet in honor of Father Serra on the apse end of the Food Products Building, and the geometric shapes on the patio tower of the Science and Education Building displayed his abilities.

H.L. Schmohl supervised a crew of 26 who modeled the ornament after Winslow’s drawings before they cast it in glue molds, using a medium of plaster and hemp fiber.

Frank P. Allen, Jr. designed the Roman-aqueduct style Cabrillo Bridge, the Neo-Classical style pergolas in the Montezuma and Botanical Gardens, the Romanesque colonnade between the Foreign Arts Building and the Commerce and Industries Building, the Italian-Renaissance Sacramento Valley Building, the rococo-style Commerce and Industries Building, the Mexican-Churrigueresque San Joaquin Valley Building, and the Mission-style Montana Building.

Cabrillo Bridge does not resemble the narrow and soaring bridge that spans the Tajo (ravine) at Ronda, Spain, as has been sometimes alleged. It does, however, duplicate the plain and functional massing of the aqueduct at Queretaro, Mexico.

Harrison Albright, architect for John D. Spreckels, designed the Neo- Classical style Organ Pavilion with a great arch in the center and curving arcades at the sides. He covered the exterior with rosettes, stars, satyr heads, floral sprays, and musical motifs. The arcade served as a vantage place from which to view the San Diego shoreline and harbor and distant islands and ocean.

Quayle Brothers and Cressey, San Diego architects, designed the stiff Neo- Classical style Salt Lake and Union Pacific Building to the east of the Organ Pavilion. Its austere Neo-Classical style was incompatible with the playful Spanish-Mexican character of the rest of the exposition.

The introduction of so many Neo-Classical buildings and features by Allen, Albright, and the Quayle Brothers shows that Bertram Goodhue’s power to impose a uniform architectural style had been eclipsed. His instruction to Winslow to stop cooperating with Allen was the most salient expression of his disillusionment.

A.F. Heide designed the Mission-style Washington State Building, John Fetzer the Spanish-Renaissance style Utah Building, and Fred de Longchamp the Italian-Renaissance style Nevada Building. All three buildings display a carefree spirit. Isaac Hamilton Rapp used the plan and elevation of the Mission compound of San Estevan at Acoma and open balconies, banisters, doors, windows and projecting rafters (vigas) from the Mission compound of San Buenaventura at Cochiti as sources for the autochthonous New Mexico Building, the most impressive of the state buildings. Winslow gave Allen credit for designing buildings not attributed to other architects.

Winslow and Allen admitted they took details from other buildings; Winslow more openly and Allen more reticently.

Winslow ascribed a tower on the Indian Arts Building to towers in Puebla and the east facade of the same building to the Sanctuary of Guadalupe in Guadalajara, both in Mexico; a tower on the Science and Education Building to Moorish sources and its east facade to the Church of San Francisco in Puebla; the west entrance of the Home Economy Building to the Palace of the Counts of Heras in Mexico City; and the southwest corner tower to the Palace of the Count of Monterey in Salamanca, Spain; the west facade of the Foreign Arts Building to the Hospital of Santa Cruz in Toledo, Spain; the upper balcony of the south side of the Varied Industries Building to sources in Queretaro, Mexico; and the double arcade on the north side of the patio in the Southern California Counties Building to the Convent of San Agustin in Queretaro.

Richard Pourade gave the source of the tower on the Indian Arts Building as a tower on the Church of Santa Catarina in Puebla. Pourade does not reveal his sources; however, he found many of them — but not all — in Sylvester Baxter’s book on Spanish-Colonial Architecture.

Winslow probably got his ideas from Goodhue except for plans for the High-Renaissance apse and Early-Renaissance arcade on the west side of the Food Products Building. These graceful, much-photographed features undoubtedly came from Winslow’s recollections of his sojourn in Italy.

Finding Allen’s sources is not easy. His most explicit account of the exposition describes the history of architecture in Spain and its colonies from the time of the Moors, but says little about the buildings in Balboa Park. Winslow drew the curtains back when he attributed the Sacramento Valley Building to municipal buildings in Verona; the cornice of the Commerce and Industries Building to the Casa Consistorial in Palma, Mallorca; and the San Joaquin Valley Building to civic buildings in Mexico City.

Pourade thought the model for the Sacramento Valley Building was the Loggia del Consiglio in Verona. Both buildings have deep porches and upper and lower levels; otherwise, they are different.

Eugen Neuhaus thought the Sacramento Valley Building “in its general features” resembled the Government Palace at Oaxaca, Mexico. The lower level arcades of the lateral wings of the palace at Oaxaca relate to their entablatures and finials in a manner similar to that of the Sacramento Valley Building. However, decorations and proportions are different. Most likely Allen derived the building from a generic idea of what a High-Renaissance civic building looked like without being able to trace the building to a specific source.

Allen may have derived the ornamental filigree covering the pillars and entablatures of the Sacramento Valley Building from the delicate stucco relief on the grand staircase of the National Conservatory of Music in Mexico City, a picture of which is reproduced in Sylvester Baxter’s book. On the other hand, H. L. Schmohl, who prepared the ornamental work for the buildings, may have talked him into it.

The Sacramento Valley Building’s symmetrical appearance, its location at the head of the Plaza de Panama, its wedding cake ornamentation, and the stepped platform in front gave it a commanding presence. The loss of this festive building and of the Science and Education Building and the Home Economy Building that flanked it to right and left have damaged the harmonious architectural character and joyful atmosphere that in 1915 pervaded the Plaza de Panama.

Allen definitely used Baxter’s book as the source for his copy of the facade of the Palace of the Counts of Ecala in Queretaro on the two north pavilions of the Commerce and Industries Building. As an act of professional courtesy, Winslow did not divulge Allen’s painstaking tracing of detail. The building in Queretaro has a rococo grace and fine wrought-iron balconies that are much commented on by connoisseurs of Mexican architecture. In Balboa Park these features are overshadowed by kneeling amazons who hold up the eaves. Allen transferred panels on the eaves and cornices of the Casa Consistorial in Palma, Mallorca directly to the Commerce and Industries Building . He highlighted details on the panels with blue, red, green and gold accents. The idea probably came from Renaissance Architecture and Ornament in Spain, by Andrew N. Prentice, published in 1893.

Artisans working under the direction of H. L. Schmohl modeled the nubile amazons. These abundantly buxom nudes were derived from generously endowed — but fully clothed — matrons who do similar work on the Casa Consistorial. Neuhaus was offended by the “over naturalistic” women and thought the treatment of the cornice would have been more effective if they were not there!

Allen may have derived his two-story San Joaquin Valley Building from the photograph in Baxter’s book of the one-story Casa de los Mascarones in Mexico City. Unlike the Casa de los Mascarones, the Balboa Park building used estipites, or inverted columns, in place of the grotesque figures (mascarones) that give the Mexico City building its distinction.

Whether today’s buildings should use ornament and be as sumptuous as the showpiece buildings Winslow and Allen created is an open question. Attempts are sometimes made in this direction, in theme parks, in historic restoration of old buildings, and in Post-Modern architecture. As the creative possibilities of people are unlimited, there is no reason Revival style buildings similar to those in Balboa Park, or Post-Modern adaptations of the same, cannot be created with a like theatrical success.