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date: 10 April 2020

Preston, William Gibbonslocked

(b Boston, MA, 1842; d Boston, MA, 1910).
  • Jean A. Follett

Extract

(b Boston, MA, 1842; d Boston, MA, 1910).

American architect, stained-glass designer, furniture designer, and photographer. Preston was the son of Jonathan Preston (1801–88), a successful builder in Boston. William completed a year’s study at the Lawrence Scientific School in Cambridge, MA (later incorporated into Harvard University), and then went to Paris where he enrolled briefly in the Atelier Douillard. He returned to Boston in 1861 to work with his father, with whom he remained in partnership until the latter’s death. William then practised independently until his own death.

Preston was a prolific architect, designing over 740 buildings in the course of a career spanning 50 years. His early work was in the French Renaissance style, as seen in his Boston Society of Natural History building (1861–4), a tripartite structure with its floor levels arranged to equate with the proportions of the base, shaft, and capital of a Classical column. It has monumental Corinthian columns and pilasters and a central pediment flanked by a balustraded parapet. He worked in a typically eclectic manner during the 1870s and became an extremely fine designer in the Queen Anne Revival style in the 1880s and early 1890s. The varied massing, stained-glass windows, terracotta, moulded brick, and carved-wood detail of the John D. Sturtevant House (...

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