Look at these photos of museums.  Do you notice any patterns?

Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, PA

Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, PA

Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, DC

Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, DC

You probably noticed the buildings’ temple-like appearance, massive columns lining the entrance, or the large set of stairs that, for some reason, you want to run up a bunch of times.  Well, Internet, let me tell you something:  you’re looking at examples of architecture based on Greek models.  But, these aren’t the only museums where you can find this architectural style.

Nestled in the Village Crossroads at The Farmers’ Museum sits Dr. Freeborn Garretson Thrall’s Pharmacy.  In 1951, this example of Greek Revival architecture came to Cooperstown from nearby Hartwick.

Dr. Thrall's Pharmacy, 1832-1842, Wood/metal/glass/brick/stone, 30'2" x 16'9", The Farmers' Museum, Cooperstown, NY, F0124.1987

Dr. Thrall’s Pharmacy, 1832-1842, Wood/metal/glass/brick/stone, 30’2″ x 16’9″, The Farmers’ Museum, Cooperstown, NY, F0124.1987

Walking towards the building, you see four wooden posts, painted white and carved to resemble Doric columns.  Two 6-over-6 sash windows flank the front door, providing the front façade with symmetry.   Directly above, the red-painted sheet metal roof creates something of a pediment, held up by the four posts.  This pediment caps the portico, which is essentially a porch.  An entablature adorned with two frieze band windows sits just above the pediment and portico.  Finally, another red-painted sheet metal roof leads up to a cupola, more common in the later Italianate style (more on that later…).

Originally built in 1832, the structure sat at the center of Hartwick—where County Highway 11 intersects State Highway 205 today—and served as the medical offices of Dr. Thrall.  Here, he operated a medical practice and gave lectures.  His office, however, was not the only Greek Revival building in Hartwick.  This 1870 photograph depicts the Methodist Church, stores, and a house, all of which embody the Greek Revival style.

Main Street, Hartwick, NY, Washington G. Smith, 1870, Smith & Telfer Photographic Collection, Cooperstown, NY, C-6-00897

Main Street, Hartwick, NY, Washington G. Smith, 1870, Smith & Telfer Photographic Collection, Cooperstown, NY, C-6-00897

Hartwick was one of many towns in central New York where Greek Revival structures or additions were built during the 1800s.  Middlefield, Norwich, and Schuyler Lake are among a few of the other towns and, today, you can find a sample of their Greek Revival buildings at The Farmers’ Museum in Cooperstown.

Middlefield Print Shop, 1825-1830, wood/glass/metal/stone, 34' x 20'7" x 24'6", The Famers' Museum, F0126.1987

Middlefield Print Shop, 1825-1830, wood/glass/metal/stone, 34′ x 20’7″ x 24’6″, The Famers’ Museum, Cooperstown, NY, F0126.1987

Hosea Dimmick House, 1839-1845, wood/metal, 49'7" x 37'11", The Farmers' Museum, Cooperstown, NY, F0004.2000(01)

Hosea Dimmick House, 1839-1845, wood/metal, 49’7″ x 37’11”, The Farmers’ Museum, Cooperstown, NY, F0004.2000(01)

Westcott Shop, 1790-1850, wood/glass, 30'4" x 16'3" x 18'6", The Farmers' Museum, Cooperstown, NY, F0008.1996

Westcott Shop, 1790-1850, wood/glass, 30’4″ x 16’3″ x 18’6″, The Farmers’ Museum, Cooperstown, NY, F0008.1996

Now, to recycle my original question:  do you notice any patterns?  If you said to yourself, “Hmmm, there’s a lot of Greek Revival structures at The Farmers’ Museum,” you are right!  But, why?  Well, the Village Crossroads at The Farmers’ Museum, dotted with Greek Revival structures from around the region, reflects the way rural communities shaped New York’s landscape during the 1800s.  Sure enough, there were plenty of Greek Revival buildings throughout the Empire State.

Oh, one more thing.  Remember the cupola from Dr. Thrall’s office that I mentioned earlier?  It served as a skylight for an “anatomical theatre,” where he performed “practical…demonstrations on Anatomy.”  I left the Italianate-style feature for the end because I thought it would…cut into…this post’s focus on Greek Revival architecture.

IMG_5922

Notice in October 17, 1842 Otsego Republican advertising Dr. Thrall's "anatomical theatre"

Notice in October 17, 1842 Otsego Republican advertising Dr. Thrall’s “anatomical theatre”

– Eric Feingold, Cooperstown Graduate Program 2014

Further reading:

Historic Structures at The Farmers’ Museum, http://www.farmersmuseum.org/farmers/collections/historic_structures

Robert Kent Sutton, Americans Interpret the Parthenon:  The Progression of Greek Revival Architecture from the East Coast to Oregon, 1800-1860 (Niwot, CO:  University Press of Colorado, 1992).

Roger G. Kennedy, Greek Revival America (New York:  Rizzoli, 2010).

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