The event last night at University Settlement was just fabulous… a nice big screen to show my pictures of Newton and Edith and their world, a big crowd, lots of attentive faces. They even got my jokes.
Before my talk I got a tour of the premises, including the original 1898 boardroom upstairs, a space now given over to preschoolers, where the grand old mantelpiece imported from Europe still stands, buried in the necessary detritus of the classroom. Wonder what old Stokes would make of it. I bet he’d be pleased to see that the building he put so much heart and love into (it was his first commission as an architect) has found continued life serving the underprivileged of New York City.
Something about the light of the building strikes me as particularly wonderful. Stokes obviously knew what a commodity ample natural light was for people of the slums, like those Jacob Riis portrayed in dank, dark tenements. To come to the University Settlement with its soaring windows must have been a correlative for the worlds opening up to immigrants there.