Benjamin Wistar Morris (1870 – 1944)

Pierpont Morgan Library in New York City

Benjamin Wistar Morris was born in Portland, Oregon in 1870 to Benjamin Wistar Morris and Hannah Rodney.  Morris’s father was the second Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Oregon.

Morris studied at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut, Columbia University in New York City, and , and the École des Beaux-Arts in France.  He studied to be an architect and apprenticed at Carrère & Hastings in New York City.  While with the firm, he helped prepare the drawings for the New York Public Library competition, which won. 

In the early 1900s, Morris went into business for himself and then from 1910-1915 he practiced with Christopher Grant LaFarge.  In the 1920s, Morris was beginning to see the positive results of his hardwork and dedication.  By 1921, Morris’ Cunard Building was built, and he received critical acclaim for his neo-Renaissance design.  This commission was followed by several others in New York City including the Pierpont Morgan Library Annex and the American Women’s Association Clubhouse.  Beyond New York City, Morris designed dormitories for Princeton University, the Connecticut State Armory and the Connecticut Mutual Life Insurance Company building in Hartford, and the Westchester County Courthouse in White Plains, N.Y. Among his most noteworthy accomplishments, Morris designed the interior of the S.S. Queen Mary. 

After an extremely successful career, Morris died on December 4, 1944.  Morris married Alice Fenwick Goodwin, daughter of prominent Hartford resident Reverend Francis Goodwin, in 1901 and they had two children – Mary and Benjamin.  Morris is interred in the Goodwin lot on Section 10 at Cedar Hill Cemetery. 

References:
ArchInform. Benjamin Wistar Morris. Accessed at
http://eng.archinform.net/arch/73868.htm on August 30, 2010.
Brainard, W.F. Who’s Who in New York City and State. Wm. G. Hewitt, Brooklyn, NY, 1911, pp. 682. 
NYC.gov. Cunard Building. Accessed at
http://nyc.gov/html/lpc/downloads/pdf/reports/cunard.pdf on August 30, 2010.
Wikipedia. Benjamin Wistar Morris. Accessed at
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Benjamin_Wistar_Morris on August 30, 2010.

Photo Credit: Pierpont Morgan Library, Rolf Müller, 2006