Sneha Girap (Editor)

Ralph Adams Cram

Updated on
Share on FacebookTweet on TwitterShare on LinkedInShare on Reddit

Yale University


Ralph Cram

Known for

Ralph Adams Cram Dorchester Atheneum Ralph Adams Cram

December 16, 1863 (age 78) (

Cathedral of Saint John the Divine, All Saints' Church

Black spirits & white, Walled towns, The ruined abbeys of Great Brit, Excalibur An Arthurian, The sins of the fathers

Similar People
Bertram Goodhue, Douglass Shand‑Tucci, Richard Upjohn, Hammatt Billings, Henry Vaughan

Organizations founded
Cram, Goodhue & Ferguson

September 22, 1942 (aged 78) Boston, Massachusetts, US

Sister maddelena by ralph adams cram

Ralph Adams Cram (December 16, 1863 – September 22, 1942) was a prolific and influential American architect of collegiate and ecclesiastical buildings, often in the Gothic Revival style. Cram & Ferguson and Cram, Goodhue & Ferguson are partnerships in which he worked. Together with an architect and artist, he is honored on December 16 as a feast day in the Episcopal Church of the United States. Cram was a fellow of the American Institute of Architects.


Ralph Adams Cram httpsuploadwikimediaorgwikipediacommonsthu

Feast of Ralph Adams Cram Evensong

Early life

Ralph Adams Cram Ralph Adams Cram Wikipedia the free encyclopedia

Cram was born on December 16, 1863 at Hampton Falls, New Hampshire to the Rev. William Augustine and Sarah Elizabeth Cram. He was educated at Augusta, Hampton Falls, Westford Academy, which he entered in 1875, and Exeter.

Ralph Adams Cram httpsuploadwikimediaorgwikipediacommons00

At age 18, Cram moved to Boston in 1881 and worked for five years in the architectural office of Rotch & Tilden, after which he left for Rome to study classical architecture. During an 1887 Christmas Eve mass in Rome, he had a dramatic conversion experience. For the rest of his life, he practiced as a fervent Anglo-Catholic who identified as High Church Anglican. In the 1890s, Cram was a key figure in "social-controversial-inspirational" groups including the Pewter Mugs and the Visionists.

Ralph Adams Cram The Architecture of Ralph Adams Cram and His Office Cram

In 1900, Cram married Elizabeth Carrington Read at New Bedford, Massachusetts. She was the daughter of Clement Carrington Read and his wife. Read had served as a captain in the Confederate Army during the American Civil War. Elizabeth and Ralph had three children, Mary Carrington Cram, Ralph Wentworth Cram and Elizabeth Strudwick Cram. The family burial site is at the St. Elizabeth's Memorial Churchyard. The churchyard is adjacent to St Elizabeth's Chapel, which Cram designed.


Ralph Adams Cram James J OMeara Ralph Adams Cram Wild Boy of American

Cram and business partner Charles Wentworth started business in Boston in April 1889 as Cram and Wentworth. They had landed only four or five church commissions before they were joined by Bertram Goodhue in 1892 to form Cram, Wentworth and Goodhue. Goodhue brought an award-winning commission in Dallas (never built) and brilliant drafting skills to the Boston office.

Ralph Adams Cram ralph adams cram bertram grosvenor goodhue st thomas church

Wentworth died in 1897 and the firm's name changed to Cram, Goodhue & Ferguson to include draftsman Frank Ferguson. Cram and Goodhue complemented each other's strengths at first but began to compete, sometimes submitting two differing proposals for the same commission. The firm won design of the United States Military Academy at West Point in 1902, a major milestone in their career. They set up the firm's New York office, where Goodhue would preside, leaving Cram to operate in Boston.

Ralph Adams Cram Flashback Photo Ralph Adams Cram High Priest of Gothic Revival

Cram's acceptance of the Cathedral of St. John the Divine commission in 1911 (on Goodhue's perceived territory) heightened the tension between the two. Architectural historians have attributed most of their projects to one partner or the other, based on the visual and compositional style, and the location. The Gothic Revival Saint Thomas Church was designed by them both in 1914 on Manhattan's Fifth Avenue. It is the last example of their collaboration, and the most integrated and strongest example of their work together.

Ralph Adams Cram NewChurchHistoryorg

Goodhue began his solo career on August 14, 1913. Cram and Ferguson continued with major church and college commissions through the 1930s. Particularly important work includes the original campus of Rice University, Houston, as well as the library and first city hall of that city. Also notable is Cram's first church in the Boston area, All Saint's, Dorchester. The successor firm is HDB/Cram and Ferguson of Boston.

A leading proponent of disciplined Gothic Revival architecture in general and Collegiate Gothic in particular, Cram is most closely associated with Princeton University, where he served as supervising architect from 1907 to 1929, during a period of major construction. The university awarded him a Doctor of Letters for his achievements.

For seven years he headed the Architectural Department at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Through the 1920s Cram was a public figure and frequently mentioned in the press. The New York Times called him "one of the most prominent Episcopalian laymen in the country".

He made news with his defense of Al Smith during his electoral campaign, when anti-Catholic rhetoric was used, saying "I... express my disgust at the ignorance and superstition now rampant and in order that I may go on record as another of those who, though not Roman Catholics, are nevertheless Americans and are outraged by this recrudescence of blatant bigotry, operating through the most cowardly and contemptible methods."

In around 1932, he designed the Desloge Chapel in St. Louis, MO, the Gothic chapel designed to echo the contours of the St. Chapelle in Paris. Desloge Chapel, which is associated with the Firmin Desloge Hospital and St. Louis University, in 1983, was declared a landmark by the Missouri Historical Society. In 1938, he was elected into the National Academy of Design as an Associate Academician.

Cram and Modernism

As an author, lecturer, and architect, Cram propounded the view that the Renaissance had been, at least in part, an unfortunate detour for western culture. Cram argued that authentic development could come only by returning to Gothic sources for inspiration, as his "Collegiate Gothic" architecture did, with considerable success. For his Rice University buildings, he favored a medieval north Italian Romanesque style, more in keeping with Houston's hot, humid climate.

A modernist in many ways, he designed Art Deco landmarks of great distinction, including the Federal Building skyscraper in Boston and numerous churches. For example, his design of the tower of the East Liberty Presbyterian Church, Pittsburgh, was inspired by the Empire State Building. His work at Rice was as modernist as medieval in inspiration. His administration building, his secular masterwork, has been compared by Shand-Tucci to Frank Lloyd Wright's work, particularly in the way its dramatic horizontality reflects the surrounding prairies.

The architectural historian Sandy Isenstadt wrote in a review of Cram's biography that "... (modernist) disdain (of Cram) turned out to be modernism's loss". Peter Cormack, director of London's William Morris Gallery, said regarding the critical neglect of Cram's work that it was "a phenomenon which has significantly distorted the study of America's modern architectural history... (Cram) deserves the same kind of international--and domestic--recognition accorded (all too often uncritically) to his contemporary Frank Lloyd Wright".


  • The Birches, Garrison, New York, 1882
  • House of the Rising Sun, 657 Highland Avenue, Fall River, Massachusetts, c.1890. Designed for Unitarian missionary Reverend Arthur May Knapp (1841–1921), it was inspired by a Japanese Pagoda.
  • Rehoboth, Chappaqua, New York, 1891–92
  • Richmond Court, Brookline, Massachusetts, 1896
  • Watkins Manor House, Winona, Minnesota, 1924–27
  • Churches and religious buildings

  • All Saints' Church, Ashmont, Massachusetts, 1892
  • Christ Church (Hyde Park, Massachusetts), 1892
  • Church of St. John the Evangelist, Boston, Massachusetts, 1892
  • Lady Chapel, Church of the Advent, Boston, Massachusetts, 1894
  • Philips Church, Exeter, New Hampshire, 1897
  • Emmanuel Church, Newport, Rhode Island, 1900
  • Calvary Episcopal Church, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, 1904
  • Holy Cross Monastery, West Park, New York, with Henry Vaughan, 1904
  • All Saints' Chapel, Sewanee: The University of the South, Sewanee, Tennessee, begun 1904, completed 1959
  • La Santisima Trinidad pro-cathedral, Havana, Cuba, 1905
  • Saint Thomas Church, New York City, 1905–13
  • First Unitarian Society in Newton, Massachusetts, 1905–06
  • St. Andrew's Episcopal Church (Denver, Colorado), Denver, CO, 1907
  • Cathedral Church of St. Paul, Detroit, Michigan, 1908
  • Russell Sage Memorial Church, Far Rockaway, New York, 1908-10
  • House of Hope Presbyterian Church, St. Paul, Minnesota, 1909-14
  • St. Florian Church, Hamtramck, Michigan, 1910, expanded by Cram 1928
  • All Saints Cathedral, Halifax, Nova Scotia, 1910
  • Park Avenue Christian Church, NYC, 1911
  • Church of the Covenant in the University Circle neighborhood of Cleveland, 1911
  • Cathedral of Saint John the Divine, New York City, begun 1912, unfinished
  • All Soul's Congregational Church, Bangor, Maine, 1912
  • remodeling of Richard Upjohn's Grace Church, Providence, Rhode Island, 1912
  • Saint Paul's Episcopal Parish, Malden, Massachusetts, begun 1913, unfinished, photos
  • Fourth Presbyterian Church, Michigan Avenue, Chicago, Illinois, 1914
  • Nave extension and Lady Chapel of Trinity Church, Princeton 1914.
  • Chapel of St. Anne, Arlington, Massachusetts, 1915
  • All Saints Church (Peterborough, New Hampshire), ca 1916-20
  • Chapel of Mercersburg Academy, Mercersburg, Pennsylvania, 1916–28
  • Cole Memorial Chapel, Wheaton College, Norton, Massachusetts, 1917
  • Trinity Episcopal Church, Houston, Texas, 1919
  • St. Mark's Episcopal Pro-Cathedral, Hastings, Nebraska, 1921–29
  • Saint James Church, Lake Delaware, New York, 1922.
  • Second Presbyterian Church (Lexington, Kentucky), 1922
  • The First Presbyterian Church, Tacoma, Washington, 1923
  • Sacred Heart Church, Jersey City, New Jersey, 1923
  • St. James' Episcopal Church, New York City, rebuilt, 1924
  • First Presbyterian Church, Utica, New York, 1924
  • First Presbyterian Church, Lincoln, Nebraska, 1925–27
  • Chapel at St. George's School, Newport, Rhode Island, 1928
  • Holy Rosary Roman Catholic Church, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, 1928
  • First Presbyterian Church of Glens Falls, Glens Falls, New York, 1928
  • St. Paul's Episcopal Church, Winston-Salem, North Carolina, 1928
  • Concordia Lutheran Church, Louisville, Kentucky, 1930
  • Knowles Memorial Chapel, on the campus of Rollins College, Winter Park, Florida, 1931–32
  • Christ Church United Methodist, New York City, 1931–33
  • chancel, Brown Memorial Presbyterian Church, Baltimore, Maryland, 1931
  • Cathedral of Hope, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, 1932–35
  • Christ Episcopal Church tower addition, Blacksburg Historic District, Blacksburg, Virginia, 1934
  • Conventual Church of St. Mary and St. John, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1936
  • Monastery and chapel at the Society of St. John the Evangelist, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1936
  • Libraries & academic buildings

  • Public Library, Fall River, Massachusetts 1899
  • Deborah Cook Sayles Public Library, Pawtucket, Rhode Island, 1899
  • The Mather School, Dorchester, Massachusetts, 1905
  • Hunt Memorial Library, Nashua, New Hampshire, c.1906
  • Sweet Briar College, Sweet Briar, Virginia, 1906–28
  • Mary K. Benedict Hall
  • Fletcher Hall
  • Mary Harley Student Health and Counseling Center
  • Mary Helen Cochran Library
  • Masters Hall, The Masters School, Dobbs Ferry, New York, 1921
  • Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey, 1911–28
  • Princeton University Graduate College, 1911–13
  • Cleveland Tower, 1917
  • Princeton University Chapel, 1928
  • Campbell Hall
  • McCormick Hall
  • University of Richmond, Richmond, Virginia, 1911–14
  • Ryland Hall,
  • Jeter Hall
  • North Court
  • Phillips Exeter Academy, Exeter, New Hampshire
  • Academy Building, 1914
  • other buildings
  • Rice University, Houston, Texas, 1910–16
  • Lovett Hall (Administration Building)
  • Mechanical Laboratory
  • Campus master plan
  • Lucius Beebe Memorial Library, Wakefield, Massachusetts, 1922
  • The Choate School, Wallingford, Connecticut, 1924–28
  • St. Andrews Chapel (now Seymour St. John Chapel)
  • Archbold Infirmary, 1928 (now Archbold House)
  • Julia Ideson Building of the Houston Public Library, Houston, Texas, 1926
  • Doheny Library, Campus of the University of Southern California, Los Angeles, 1931
  • Bell Tower, Dwight Morrow High School, Englewood, New Jersey, 1932
  • Saint Mary's Academy, Glens Falls, New York, 1932
  • Wheaton College (Massachusetts), Upper Campus
  • Other buildings

  • Virginia War Memorial Carillon, Byrd Park, Richmond, Virginia, 1932
  • U.S. Post Office and Courthouse aka J.W. McCormack Post Office and Courthouse, Boston, Massachusetts, 1933
  • buildings at the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery and Memorial, Belleau, France, 1937
  • buildings at the Oise-Aisne American Cemetery and Memorial, Fère-en-Tardenois, Aisne department, France, c. 1937
  • Cram & Ferguson, after Cram's death

  • Berkeley Building, Boston, Massachusetts, 1947
  • Marsh Chapel of Boston University, Boston, Massachusetts, 1950
  • St. Luke's Methodist Church (Monticello, Iowa), 1950
  • Publications

    Cram wrote numerous publications and books on issues in architecture and religious devotion. Titles include:

  • Impressions of Japanese Architecture, The Baker & Taylor Company, 1905
  • Heart of Europe, MacMillan & Co. London, 1916 325pgs.
  • The Substance of Gothic, Marshall Jones Company, Boston, 1917
  • Farm Houses Manor Houses Minor Chateaux Small Churches in Normandy and Brittany, The Architectural Book Publishing Company, Paul Wenzel and Maurice Krakow, 1917
  • Sins Of The Fathers, Marshall Jones Company, Boston, 1918
  • Walled Towns, Marshall Jones Company, Boston, 1919
  • Towards the Great Peace, Marshall Jones Company, Boston, 1922
  • My Life in Architecture, Little, Brown, and Company, Boston, 1936
  • Cram also wrote fiction. A number of his stories, notably "The Dead Valley", were published in a collection entitled Black Spirits and White (Stone & Kimball, 1895). The collection has been called "one of the undeniable classics of weird fiction". H. P. Lovecraft wrote, "In 'The Dead Valley' the eminent architect and mediævalist Ralph Adams Cram achieves a memorably potent degree of vague regional horror through subtleties of atmosphere and description."

    Professional memberships

    Cram was a

  • Fellow of the:
  • Boston Society of Architects.
  • American Institute of Architects.
  • North British Academy of Arts.
  • Royal Geographical Society of London.
  • American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
  • Member of the:
  • American Federation of Arts.
  • Architectural Association of London.
  • Member of the clubs
  • Puritan Club (Boston).
  • Century Club (New York).
  • Veneration

    Cram, together with the architect Richard Upjohn and artist John LaFarge, is honored on December 16 as a feast day on the liturgical calendar of the Episcopal Church (USA).


    Ralph Adams Cram Wikipedia