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This book examines the life and works of a major architect whose buildings today surpass him in recognition.
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Ten years have passed since The Architecture of Ralph Adams Cram and His Office was published and some twenty since I first began the research that became the foundation of the book.
A few commenters criticized the book for a few inaccuracies when it first came out and my response to that is to point out that often historical sources are not in agreement over more than a century. No other source has attempted to catalogue the work of the office or to cover the thousands of facts included in The Architecture of Ralph Adams Cram and His Office.
When I started the research the internet was in its infancy and many of the churches were impossible to locate to determine whether they even still existed. Attempts to contact churches and academic institutions to verify factual data were usually unsuccessful because no one knew the answers. The firm's records were confused with multiple project numbers on different lists maintained by various people over more than 100 years.
It was unimaginably difficult and tortuous to verify the year the commission was granted, when construction started and when the building was placed in service. The research was undertaken over a ten year period in spare time and largely without grant or other support funding. The exception was a small grant from the Ann Strange, the daughter of a former Cram associate.
With the growth of the internet many of the hundreds of institutions with Cram work have placed pages about their buildings on the internet and researching them has become far easier. Verification has been underway and some entries that were in error have been found and have been corrected.
In any event management up the thousands of facts has largely been successful. Anyone taking on the task of finding and verifying such a large volume of data does so with trepidation given the sheer size of the task. My decision was to put the data I had out there and to take the risk some of it might be incorrect. The alternative would have been not to attempt to publish at all. I trust that the resulting work is a good start for anyone studying the subject and that researchers will cross-verify the information on their own.
I have since written and published A Pocket Guide to the Architecture of Cram and Ferguson to help those who are interested in visiting the churches to do so. It is always better to see them in person than in a photograph and many have grown more beautiful with the patina of actual in addition to intentional age.
I am committed to continuing to keep both books in print. I have been informed by WW Norton that they do not plan to reprint The Architecture of Ralph Adams Cram and His Office when the current stock is exhausted so we are planning a paperback edition to keep it in print.
Ethan Anthony, president of Cram and Ferguson Architects, the successor firm of Cram and Ferguson, lives in Boston, Massachusetts.
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