Claude Bragdon: His Work in Rochester

Work in Rochester 1891-1904

Bragdon returned to Rochester with enough money to establish an architectural partnership with Edwin S. Gordon and William H. Orchard. He continued other artistic pursuits as well; he did ad posters for Harper's magazine and The Chap Book, and also designed end papers and bookplates.

A high point occurred when the firm won a design competition for a new city hall for New York City, but the design was never executed. This was due to the passage of a bill by the state legislature forbidding the destruction of the old city hall.

In 1895 the partnership was dissolved and Bragdon began his travels in Europe. He followed no formal course of study there, but made many architectural drawings of European buildings. He also began to explore the field of painting. His experiences in England, France and Italy later inspired his personal style in his work at home.

After almost a year in Europe, Bragdon returned to Rochester. He opened a new partnership with J. Con Hillman, and continued to work in other fields also.

"On my return from America and to Rochester I busied myself with such jobs as I could pick up, architectural or otherwise: I designed advertisements, book plates, book covers; I contributed articles to architectural magazines, and I took to the writing of poetry, but which I afterwards discovered to be only fairly good didactic verse."

Page 51, More Lives Than One

Bragdon worked with J. Con Hillman until 1904. During that time, they had several commissions. One of them was for the Livingston County Courthouse in Geneseo, New York.

Livingston County Courthouse

Other buildings designed by the firm included the Rochester Athletic Club, the Fire Department and Town Hall in LeRoy, New York, five Rochester police precinct stations and various houses in the Rochester area and Oswego. He also designed the Otis Arch, built to honor the return of General Elwell Otis, a local military man who had served in the Spanish-American War.

Marchers passing through the Otis Arch. Residence, 4357 Nine Mile Point Road. Rochester Athletic Club.
Above, left, The Otis Arch, 1900, center a Bragdon-designed house in Perinton, and right, the Rochester Athletic Club, as seen in 1904

Bragdon also designed a house for himself. It was this house, a gray shingled affair, to which Bragdon took his new wife, Charlotte Wilkinson, after their marriage on November 3, 1903. This house is notable for its stylistic adherence to its natural surroundings.

Read Bragdon's account of this park-like area for the newlyweds.

In 1904, the firm created plans and designs for a civic center; however, the plan was never executed. Also, Bragdon and Hillman dissolved their partnership.

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