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A Donor's Perspective

ABOVE LEFT  Detail from one of seven drawings for the W.W. Sherman House donated by the author.

ABOVE RIGHT  The house in the 1880s.

In 1970, I taught an introductory course to Yale sophomores in the architecture major. In addition to studio projects, we took field trips, traveling with sleeping bags from Philadelphia to Boston and places in between. Spirited on by Vincent Scully's classes in architecture, we sought out the W. Watts Sherman House in Newport, Rhode Island, the seminal house in the Shingle Style, designed by H. H. Richardson.

At the time, the house was a nursing home, but the director graciously showed us around. He asked us if we were interested in some architectural drawings that were folded up in one of the hidden cubby holes in the paneled library. We asked if we might buy them and donate them to some museum; he said he ought first to find out what they were worth. After being assured that they were not valuable, he agreed to sell the seven drawings for $50.

It was only later, when I used them in my class, that I found that some of the linens were stamped by the firm of McKim, Mead, and White. I decided to donate the drawings to Historic New England’s Library and Archives, where they join a wealth of other important architectural records and will be preserved, safely stored, and made accessible. I look forward to doing further research on them in the future.

-James V. Righter, Principal
Albert, Righter & Tittmann, Architects, Inc.

A Donor's Perspective