There are four architects well known in Syracuse for the work they did during the city's boom period: Horatio Nelson White, Joseph Lyman Silsbee, Archimedes Russell and Ward Wellington Ward.
In addition to these four there are a number of other, sometimes overlooked architects whose work also helped to define Syracuse during this period. All are listed below.
Syracuse University School of Architecture
It is impossible to discuss Syracuse architects and architecture without reference to the School of Architecture at Syracuse University. Many of the architects listed here either taught at the school or were products of it.
The origins of the School of Architecture in 1873 are credited to George Comfort Fisk, dean of the College of Fine Arts, a fervent fine arts advocate and catalyst for creation of the Syracuse Museum of Fine Arts (now the Everson Museum). At that time, Syracuse University was in its infancy and the nation was in a severe economic depression. University instruction in architecture was extremely rare -- in fact, the program at Syracuse became one of the country's first four architecture programs (after Harvard, M.I.T. and Cornell) and the first to offer a four-year degree.
Fisk patched together a makeshift architecture faculty with professors from the painting department and the College of Liberal Arts. Then he approached local architects like Horatio Nelson White, who designed the Hall of Languages, asking them to teach architectural design -- without pay. Only one student enrolled in the program its first year, but enrollment grew steadily in the years to come.
The architecture department relied on local architects for free instruction well into the 1900's. Although this practice was thrifty, it also respected established practice. At the world's premiere architecture school, L'École des Beaux Arts in Paris, European students traditionally took their work to architects' offices for critiques. "These architects considered it their obligation to continue the profession by passing their experience on to a coming generation," explained Professor Emeritus Paul Malo. "The practice was modified here, with the architect coming to the studio. But the basic notion continued that architectural education should engage practicing designers as critics."
While institutions like MIT followed Germany's lead and stressed the structural underpinnings of architecture, Syracuse University put greater emphasis on the artistry. As Syracuse alum Dwight Baum put it, "Syracuse realizes that the architect must be the most fully trained man of the learned professions because of the wide knowledge he must possess. Its courses stress not only artistic ability, but also the need for good construction and the conduct of professional practice in a businesslike manner."