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Charles A. Rich


Centurion, 1905–1943

Full Name Charles Alonzo Rich

Born 22 October 1854 in Beverly, Massachusetts

Died 3 December 1943 in Rockville, Maryland

Buried Christ Episcopal Church Cemetery, Keene, Virginia

Proposed by Ehrick K. Rossiter and George A. Plimpton

Elected 3 June 1905 at age fifty

Proposer of:

Century Memorial

Charles Alonzo Rich was born at Beverly, Mass., on October 22, 1855, and died December 3, 1943, at the age of eighty-eight [sic: he was born on that date in 1854 and died at age eighty-nine]. The Reverend and Mrs. Alonzo B. Rich were his parents, descendants of old and respected New England families.

At the age of seventeen he entered the Chandler Scientific School at Dartmouth College, graduating in 1875. The following four years were spent in the well-known office of William R. Emerson, architect, in Boston, Mass.; then came several years of travel and study in Europe. Upon his return to the United States he joined the staff of McKim, Mead & White, in New York, and in 1883 began independent practice which continued for fifty years until his retirement in 1933 to his home at Charlottesville, Va.

Always an ardent traveller and student, he visited Spain and North Africa in 1886 (when the African continent outside of Egypt was virtually unknown to any but explorers and pioneers); Egypt, the Holy Land, Turkey, Greece and Italy in 1892; and Russia in 1900. In 1926 he made a lengthy trip around the world, particularly to study the architecture of India; and in 1929, at the age of seventy-four, he sailed again across the Pacific to visit Japan, China, Indo-China, the Angkor-Wat temple ruins in Cambodia, the Dutch East Indies (Java and Bali), Borneo and the Philippines. On these many trips he invariably made numerous and excellent architectural sketches and water colors, many of which have been exhibited at the Century. An accomplished artist, he was also an etcher and musician of no mean ability.

During the many years of his professional career he designed several hundred buildings, many of major importance, and principally collegiate, religious and domestic edifices. His Alma Mater engaged his talents for twenty of its structures; and Barnard, Smith, Williams, Amherst, Colgate and Wesleyan colleges each show one or more examples of his work. Numerous churches and residences throughout New England, New York and New Jersey were the product of his facile mind and pencil, including the homes of President Theodore Roosevelt at Oyster Bay, Charles M. Pratt at Glen Cove, and Jeremiah Milbank at Greenwich. Always a romanticist in architecture and his other intellectual pursuits, he found it difficult to accept the rigid and then fashionable standards of classical plan and design. He preferred the spirit of Ruskin, Richardson and Sullivan.

Elected to Century membership in 1905, he soon became a picturesque and interesting personality at the Club. His professional activities and frequent travels precluded an active interest in its affairs; but pride in the Century and its standards of accomplishment dominated the thirty-eight years of his membership. He was also a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects and a member of the Architectural League of New York.

A gentleman of the old school, a thoroughly kind, charitable and lovable person, he enjoyed the friendship and respect of many during his long lifetime. His memory will be honored by those who knew him and by the numerous recipients of his kindnesses and charities.

Geoffrey Parsons
1943 Century Memorials