April 4, 2008

Early Eclecticism: A Bizarre Bazaar

Credit the beginning of mockitecture to a mother in London from the 19th century named Frances Trollope. Leaving her children behind, she traveled to America, staying in Cincinnati, Ohio - a hub in the westward expansion of America during the Industrial Revolution. Ms. Trollope critically denounced Cincinnati as a city built of "architectural sameness." In response, an entertainment and shopping center was commissioned as a business venture for her son. This building was conceptualized by Trollope, and French painter, Auguste Hervieu, to be a "distinctive, light-hearted" building.
"The Bazaar was an amusing concoction of Moorish, Egyptian, and Gothic elements. It was one of the first examples of the spirit of Eclecticism - drawing upon historic styles from various exotic cultures - which came to dominate American building for the remainder of the century."

"Cincinnatians and visitors, who were accustomed in public buildings to the simplicity of the vernacular [...] delighted in attaching what they regarded as the tastelessness of the 'bizarre bazaar'."
The Trollopean Bazaar was designed by Seneca Palmer in 1829. He was one of Cincinnati's only architects (mockitects?) at the time and the designer of several significant architectural landmarks in the city. For more information, see Cincinnati the Queen City by Daniel Hurley (Cincinnati: Cincinnati Historical Society, 1982). This article references excerpts from chapter 1 of that text.

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