The curved monument to American-born architect Richard Morris Hunt sits weathered and leaf-covered at Fifth Avenue and 70th Street.
Though not a household name these days, Hunt (below right, in a portrait by John Singer Sargent) was the man who sculpted the look of the Gilded Age.
A brilliant visionary with a reputation for humility and humor, Hunt was the starchitect for high society yet also the genius behind public institutions and what’s regarded as the city’s first apartment house.
The memorial site is a fitting location; within the surrounding blocks once stood some of the spectacular buildings he designed.
(When the Lenox Library building was torn down, Henry Clay Frick built his exquisite mansion-turned-museum in its place.)
At Fifth Avenue and 65th Street, Hunt designed the mansion for Mrs. Caroline Astor, who left her previous, less showy mansion at 33rd Street in the 1890s.
(The Astor mansion was demolished in the 1920s, replaced by Temple Emanu-El.)
The facade of the Metropolitan Museum of Art was another Hunt creation.
After his death in 1895, plans for a memorial to the man who designed the Gilded Age were drawn. Daniel Chester French (he did the Lincoln Memorial in D.C.) created Hunt’s monument.
The understated site features a “central bust of the architect,” states centralparknyc.org. “A semicircular portico and curved bench support decorative columns and a cornice.”
“At each end stands a female figure, allegorical statues of Architecture, and Painting, and Sculpture,” explains the site.
It’s a perfectly Gilded Age-esque monument to the man who had much influence over the way the era looked—quite elaborate and fanciful compared to our pared-down, minimalist tastes today.
[Last photo: Wikipedia]
Source: FS – NYC Real Estate
A memorial to the Gilded Age’s favorite architect