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Frederick H. Brooke

Brooke, Frederick H.

When Robert and Mildred Bliss set out to renovate their newly-purchased Georgetown property in 1921, they hired respected Colonial Revival architect Frederick H. Brooke. A Pennsylvania native who graduated from Yale, Brooke studied architecture at the University of Pennsylvania and the École des Beaux Arts in Paris before opening his own architectural firm in Washington, D.C. Beginning in 1906 and continuing for forty years, Brooke’s firm successfully built and renovated many homes for clients in Georgetown and Sheridan Kalorama, earning a favorable reputation among the elite. His other well-known commissions included the District of Columbia War Memorial constructed in 1931, the Virginia Episcopal School, and the ambassador’s residence at the British Embassy in D.C.

At Dumbarton Oaks, Brooke worked directly with Mildred Bliss. She tasked him to return the neglected mansion to its original Georgian appearance, strip it of Second Empire and Victorian architectural accretions, and update the interiors.  Inside the house, he remodeled the Oval Salon and Living Room, but his designs did not ultimately satisfy Mildred Bliss. Certain details, such as his choice of varied moldings arranged at the same height, displeased her. In 1923, she let him go and hired the architectural firm of McKim, Mead & White in his place. Between 1926 and 1929, Armand Albert Rateau redesigned and renovated the Frederick H. Brooke rooms so that none of his interiors remain.

 

References:

A Home of the Humanities: The Collecting and Patronage of Mildred and Robert Woods Bliss. Edited by James N. Carder. Washington, DC: Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, 2010.

“Brooke, Frederick H., 1879?-1961.” Progressive Architecture 42 (February 1961): 60.

Carder, James. “Frederick H. Brooke Architectural Plans and Drawings.” Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, Dumbarton Oaks Archives. Accessed February 10, 2014. http://www.doaks.org/library-archives/dumbarton-oaks-archives/architectural-plans-and-drawings/frederick-h.-brooke-architectural-plans-and-drawings

Tamulevich, Susan. Dumbarton Oaks: Garden Into Art. New York: The Monacelli Press, 2001.

Karson, Robin S. A Genius for Place: American Landscapes of the Country Place Era. Amherst, MA: University of Massachusetts Press, 2007.

Whitehill, Walter M. Dumbarton Oaks: The History of a Georgetown House and Garden, 1800-1966. Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1967.