Black Dome Press

Charles S. Keefe


Charles S. Keefe (1876–1946): Colonial Revival Architect in Kingston and New York

by William Bertolet Rhoads

foreword by Richard Guy Wilson

8ʹ x 10ʹ, 266 pages, 133 illustrations (color and B&W)

Trade paper: isbn 9781883789893, $25.95

“The Colonial Revival is at the heart of American architecture.” —— Richard Guy Wilson (Commonwealth Professor at the University of Virginia and author of The American Renaissance, The Machine Age in America, Thomas Jefferson’s Academical Village, Edith Wharton at Home, and The Colonial Revival House)

A native and lifelong resident of Kingston, New York, with offices in both Kingston and New York City, Charles S. Keefe (1876–1946) established himself in the 1920s and 1930s as a leading architect in the study and revival of old Colonial buildings, specializing in middle-class houses and outbuildings on upper-class estates. His designs received wide publication in professional journals and popular magazines, but since his death in 1946 he has fallen into obscurity. In CHARLES S. KEEFE (1876-1946): COLONIAL REVIVAL ARCHITECT IN KINGSTON AND NEW YORK, William B. Rhoads, a leading scholar of the Colonial Revival, restores Keefe to his rightful place among tradition-minded architects who were dismayed by the rise of modernism. This richly illustrated volume gives a full and colorful account of Keefe's professional and personal life.

Following training in a Kingston architectural office, Keefe entered the New York City architectural office of Paris-trained Alfred Hopkins, who served as his mentor. Departing from Hopkins in 1920 to establish his own practice, Keefe became recognized as a leading Colonial Revival architect. Author of THE AMERICAN HOUSE and editor of a revised edition of THE GEORGIAN PERIOD, Keefe designed Colonial homes and estate buildings that were widely published in architectural journals and popular magazines, attracting clients from Maine to California and as distant as Ecuador and British Columbia, but with concentrations in the Kingston area, suburban New York City, and Connecticut. Forced to close his New York office during the Depression and retreat to his Kingston home, Keefe still managed to attract notable clients including Lowell Thomas and Thomas Dewey.

In the 1930s Keefe became an outspoken critic of the modern house. Proud of his Irish-American heritage and loyal to the Republican Party, Keefe stated his opinions boldly: the Colonial house was distinctly American and suited to the American way of life, in contrast to the modern house, which he vigorously condemned, associating it with the New Deal's attempt to alter the American way.

“Charles Keefe is an excellent example of the forgotten star. … [who] all but vanished from architectural history. But now, in William Rhoads’s excellent study, Keefe reemerges as a major figure.” Richard Guy Wilson

“America’s top expert on the Colonial Revival, Bill Rhoads, spent four decades on the trail of the elusive Keefe. Now he vividly brings this forgotten figure back to life, painting a colorful picture of the society and culture of the day, including the architectural quarrels that Keefe plunged into as he predicted, quite prophetically, that steel-and-concrete modernism would never supplant Colonial Revival as our favorite house style. Copiously illustrated and full of fascinating insights, this highly readable book fills a significant gap in our understanding of traditional American architecture in the twentieth century.” —— W. Barksdale Maynard, author of Architecture in the United States, 1800-1850

William Bertolet Rhoads is a professor emeritus of Art History at SUNY New Paltz where he taught between 1970 and 2005. A native of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, Rhoads studied architectural history at Princeton University under Donald Drew Egbert and David R. Coffin, receiving his A.B. degree (magna cum laude) in 1966 and Ph.D. in 1975. His doctoral dissertation, The Colonial Revival, was published by Garland in 1977, and he has lectured and published widely on the Colonial Revival, Franklin Roosevelt’s art and architectural interests, and the architecture of the Hudson Valley. Rhoads has served as book review editor for American topics for the Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians. He is the author of Kingston, New York: The Architectural History & Guide (2003) and Ulster County, New York: The Architectural History & Guide (2011), as well as a contributing author for Kingston: The IBM Years (2014) and Jervis McEntee: Kingston’s Artist of the Hudson River School (2015), all published by Black Dome Press. He also contributed to Re-creating the American Past: Essays on the Colonial Revival (University of Virginia Press, 2006).




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This product was added to our catalog on Tuesday 13 March, 2018.

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