Ornamentation, arches define Moorish Revival, Venetian Renaissance in Lancaster [architecture column] | Architecture


Last month, we explored Chateauesque, one of several revival styles popular during the late 19th century.

Next up are Moorish Revival and Venetian Renaissance. Popular between 1880 and 1910, these styles reflect the architectural character and detailing found on structures in southern Europe and the Middle East.

Minarets, domes, belvederes, arches, arabesque details and surface ornamentation define these two distinctive revival styles. Their exterior appearance was dramatically different from other styles of the time because of the reference to Arabic and Venetian architecture.

Lancaster is fortunate to have several examples of the Moorish Revival and Venetian Renaissance styles remaining. Lancaster City Hall, designed by Philadelphia architect James H. Windrim in 1888, was the United States Post Office until its present use conversion in 1932.

Early renderings illustrate a tall, slender, highly ornamented limestone tower topped by a 36-foot tall copper ribbed open-air Moorish belvedere at the corner of North Duke and Marion streets.

Venetian references include the four large open-top fluted urns below the belvedere, florets, Roman arches and carved acanthus leaves.

City Hall 1892 2

Lancaster’s 1892 City Hall building, originally a U.S. Post Office, displays examples of a horseshoe arch, also known as a Moorish or keyhole arch.

Perhaps the most identifiable feature of this style is the “horseshoe arch” window. Unique to this style, the horseshoe arch, sometimes referred to as the keyhole or Moorish arch, continues the semi-circle shape beyond the halfway point creating the appearance of a horseshoe.

The Frank W. Woolworth Building, located in the first block of North Queen Street, was designed by New York architects Ditmar and Sheckles.

Constructed in 1899, this six-story structure was Lancaster’s finest example of Venetian Renaissance architecture.

Woolworth Building 1899 2

The Woolworth building on North Queen Street, built in 1899, was designed by Ditmar & Sheckles Architects. It had a rooftop garden and open-air, blue-tiled belvederes. Architect C. Emlen Urban’s office was in this building. It was razed in 1950.

Replete with a rooftop restaurant, open-air performance stage and twin belvederes, the office building brought an exotic lifestyle and experience to center city Lancaster.

Across the street, the Lancaster Business School at 48 N. Queen St. constructed its version of Moorish Revival with a 1911 four-story white brick structure displaying the horseshoe arch windows on the second floor.

257 W. King St. 1 Moorish arches

Two types of Moorish Revival arches can be seen on this circa 1898 building at 257 W. King St. At the top is an ogee four-center arch with an open-top urn and decorative railing. At the bottom is a pseudo three-centered arch.

Surprisingly, smaller examples of these two exotic revival styles can be found throughout the community in applied trim and decoration. Look for details that have a Middle Eastern appearance, especially window trim and ornamentation.

Why was the 1891 post office decommissioned?

By 1925, a larger and more up-to-date facility was required to handle the demands of a growing population. C. Emlen Urban was retained by the city in 1932 to convert the old post office to a municipal building.

What is the definition of arabesque?

Arabesque refers to the ornamental design of intertwined flowing lines found in Arabic and Moorish architecture.

What is a belvedere?

A belvedere is an open-sided, covered gallery atop a roof offering a commanding view.

This column is contributed by Gregory J. Scott, FAIA, a local architect with more than four decades of national experience in innovation and design. He is a member of the American Institute of Architects’ College of Fellows. Email

Ornamentation, arches define Moorish Revival, Venetian Renaissance in Lancaster [architecture column] | Architecture Source link Ornamentation, arches define Moorish Revival, Venetian Renaissance in Lancaster [architecture column] | Architecture

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