Monday, October 28, 2013

NEW! Robert Mills Finding Aid

The Southeastern Architectural Archive recently finalized the processing of the Moise H. Goldstein Collection of Robert Mills Papers. The collection consists of  papers associated with the career of Robert Mills, a South Carolina-born architect (1781-1855) who considered himself the first American to study architecture as a profession.

The papers were collected by New Orleans architect Moise H. Goldstein (1882-1972), who became interested in Mills during the early twentieth century.  Goldstein notably acquired the architect’s family correspondence, specifications, diaries, and a journal containing two essays and a series of South Carolina travel sketches.  He was especially drawn to documents related to Mills’ proposals for New Orleans: an 1826 proposal for an elevated railroad that would transport mail from Washington, D.C. to New Orleans; and the 1837 design for a new marine hospital (completed 1845).  Since the collection includes personal items associated with Mills descendants in New Orleans, it is likely that Goldstein acquired the papers directly from the family. With an interest in publishing a technical article regarding the papers, Goldstein also corresponded with Mills historians Helen M.P. Gallagher and  Charles C. Wilson, and shared his research with them. 

Earliest documents include Robert Mills’ manuscript essay on the Tuscan order, a short diary written while employed in the Washington, D.C. office of Benjamin Henry Latrobe and a corresponding survey of New Castle, Delaware.   Later documents include a journal from the 1820s-1830s that begins with a much-edited “Manuel on Railroads” and ends with a series of pencil and ink sketches of South Carolina. Sandwiched between the sketches is a short essay, “The Architectural Works of Robert Mills,” in which the architect emphasizes his national identity and the influential mentoring of Thomas Jefferson, who recommended the architect to Latrobe and for whom Mills developed a series of drawings. A second diary, dated 1828-1830, includes early sketches for a George Washington sculpture and monument, as well as related calculations and a short biography of the former president.

Image above:  Robert Mills. “Front view of the Town Hall, Columbia.” Journal. Box 2. Moise H. Goldstein Collection/[Robert Mills Papers], Southeastern Architectural Archive, Special Collections Division, Tulane University Libraries.

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