Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute Home

Living in Style—The New Haven Green and Its Architecture

Benjamin A. Gorman

Contents of Curriculum Unit 83.01.05:

To Guide Entry

“Here we are, class! Everyone off the bus; don’t push! Stand together near the steps.”

“I’ve been here before. Big trip, big deal.”

“I hope that you have been here before, Chuck. This is the heart of our city—the downtown area.”

“But all that’s here are buildings. My mother took me shopping over there.”

“Yes, I’m sure that all of you have been inside many of these buildings. Today we are to view the outside of the structures that surround the Green. There is a variety . . . ”

“Can I get a soda?”

“Soda! At nine-thirty in the morning, no Chuck! Now, each building serves a function, but more than that, each reflects a style that . . . ”

“Can we go over to the stores? How come the church is in the middle? How tall is that pointed thing?”

“ . . . reflects a style that often exhibits people’s hopes in reaching beyond their earthbound physical limits. Look at. . . .”

New Haven, and other cities as well, are viewed according to an individual’s perceptions. How a people relate to an urban activity or how it affects their lives are often the limits of contact with the broader concept add experience of-urban living. Our students tend to view only segments of the city at a time, unfamiliar with its complex functions beyond their front yards and neighborhoods. Certainly they are limited by their years and isolated experiences. Thus an exposure, both conceptually and physically, to the city’s center can promote an understanding and give an overview to the larger place—New Haven. As city dwellers and citizens who will continue to live within its borders, the students need a feeling of belonging and a sense of pride in their city.

The unit’s objectives are:

1. To illustrate how architecture reflects our human values with focus on the Center Church at the Green.
2. To provide a basis of information for a slide presentation of the city’s center and to acquaint the students with its notable structures, their variety and purpose.
3. To increase students’ appreciation of architecture within New Haven.
4. To provide activities for students so that they become acquainted with some of the elements of architecture.
This unit is intended for use with eighth grade social studies students. It can be used to help illustrate the development of New England towns while focusing on New Haven as a model when studying the Northeast. Establishing New Haven’s purpose for settlement and examining the growth of the community, will help the students to realize how people have strived to improve their environment. While primarily designed for an eighth grade class, the unit may serve useful to high schoolers studying urban development and to art students studying the built environment. Also, the unit may be helpful for sixth graders, in their study of Connecticut. The unit’s content and activities could be used with any achievement level of student with appropriate teacher adjustment. A week of teaching time may be needed at a minimum expanded discussion of the topic will depend upon the extent of teacher coverage and student interest.

The center of New Haven continues to draw people into itself. It is an employer, an entertainer, a market place for shoppers. Cultural experiences, sports, recreational activities are available aside financial and investment facilities. Activity abounds on the streets, city government and politics are at work and justice is administered in nearby courtrooms. The center’s churches provide for peoples’ religious needs. The Green with its variety of surrounding buildings, designed to serve as well as to enhance the environment, make a pleasing facade for ten human activity behind. From its colonial beginnings, New Haven has drawn people to engage in various endeavors; over the centuries, it has developed, expanded, modernized and restored itself while reflecting the needs of its inhabitants and their style of living. From this center, people moved outward in order to extend their opportunities; today many are returning to live along its maze of streets that extend from the original pathways that formed the first planned community in America.

Using New Haven’s center as a focus, the students may better relate to our city’s various functions and may better visualize their relationship to it. Students travel to the “downtown” area but do not view any structures as representing the culmination of human endeavor and progress. Seldom, if ever, have they ventured within most of the buildings in the core of the city. This is understandable for they have neither need nor reason to enter. But from these buildings one can get a sense of our past, realize how the city has grown and changed, and in turn, shaped the lives of the inhabitants. The city will no longer just exist as sections or disjointed elements but will become a complete organization of connected human activity. Throughout our region, the town green and churches are easily seen, and still serve as centers of community activity. Once a beginning is established in the student’s mind, an understanding of the complex urban picture may follow.

A major concept of this unit is to develop pride in New Haven through its architecture. People need a sense of pride in who they are and what they do. This can be achieved through what they build. At New Haven’s center, we can view the structures that represent human activity and progress. Our Green area is basically a civic facade containing buildings that illustrate the community’-efforts to put its best on center stage. The architecture is an illusion created not just from practical need but out of a desire to attest to human achievement; the architecture attempts to explain who we are and what we wish to do. It is the architecture of a building that distinguishes it from a mere structure. By a study of the structures that surround the Green, coupled with awareness of our city’s past, growth and changes, the student can also share in our civic pride.

People like to have things simple and clear; they like to know the limits of a place and define themselves according to that reference. Although, today, the city of New Haven flows into its surrounding neighbors, the Green has the same shape that the early settlement had when it was first surveyed. Even the bounding streets-Church, Elm, Chapel and College—lend a solid feeling and define the space. The area outside the Green echoes with the variety and complexity of human life. It portrays an image of life in today’s city which is as well defined as the original. Thus the Green is a true and natural beginning from which to develop the student’s perspective. Since New Haven was settled around the existing Green and it remains for all practical purposes the center of the city, this unit focuses on the buildings that border the upper and lower Green.

By studying the Green, the city’s purpose in the classic sense can be established. To the ancient Greeks, the city was a clearly defined physical entity. Their city expressed their aspirations concerning religion, government and the market place; therefore the temple, court and business areas were set at the center. At New Haven’s center, these elements are still present as well as people’s continued attempts to dramatize their dream in monuments of human accomplishment, During its Greek Revival period, New Haven divided its Green with a street appropriately called Temple Street. By studying the Green’s structures, why and what they reflect can impart to the students the fact that these human creations testify to our style of living.

The buildings which define the edges of the Green serve as a boundary enclosing the civic center. The architecture of the buildings identifies human achievement and can be viewed as solid testimony to our accomplishment, dreams and memories. As the buildings enclose the space of the Green, they also visually exclude the “backside” of city existence. Outside the edge is the surrounding busy, reality of complex human activity with daily life, work and concerns often limiting our creative, thoughtful selves and our flights of fantasy. But the architecture surrounding the Green maintains a facade, not unlike the false fronts on movie staging lots, that illustrate our best attempts to make real our dreams in stone, brick, glass and masonry. Retail stores are masked by stately fronts, dwellings places are hidden behind walls of glass or elegantly arched windows, a columned portico gives no hint of the handling and sorting of mail; the fronts maintain a face that denies the world behind. Thus the Green’s architecture does not just fulfill a need for building but expresses a pride in creating a civic place and reveals our human desire to reach our dreams.

to top

The Beginnings.

In the early spring of April, 1638, the ship Hector brought a group of English colonists into what is now New Haven harbor. The settlers were led by Theophilus Eaton, a merchant, and John Davenport, a Puritan minister. The professions of the colonists’ leaders were significant because they revealed the motivations of the settlers in seeking a new home in America. As Puritans they did not like the laws of the King’s Church of England and as businessmen they resented the high taxes. Virtually unsettled, America offered the opportunity to establish a theocracy whereby their religious beliefs could be enjoyed without oppression. Also, with its seemingly limitless natural resources, America provided the opportunities to trade and to prosper with little constraint. The land near the Quinnipiac River would be cleared, the ground tilled and a new home established where the settlers could have their own church, make their own laws and build a busy commercial town.

The settlement was made between what was called East and West Creeks. As merchants, they wanted to by near the harbor. A half mile square between the creeks was marked off. This square was divided into nine smaller ones; the middle one was to be the market place. The land in the surrounding eight squares was sub-divided and given to the settlers. The size of the land received was determined by the amount of money invested in the Company that had been formed in England to finance the settlement and by the number of family members. John Brockett, a surveyor, was credited with laying out the town’s pattern but his role has been questioned by recent researchers. Among the settlers were carpenters, masons, joiners and other craftsmen, who soon began to replace the crude huts and cellars with permanent homes modeling them on the houses that they had left in England. With the exception of the wealthiest settlers like Eaton whose house on Elm Street had nineteen fireplaces, most of the houses were of one room, a story and a half with the chimney at one end. (For more information: “Colonial Connecticut—Learning to Look and Understand”, Y.N.H.T.I., Volume IV, 1978.) The early homes would be improved, expanded and rebuilt throughout the colonial period as the colonists prospered and had the time to improve their dwellings.

The New Haven settlers being strict Puritans built a “Meeting House” in the middle of the center square within a year of landing. For meetings and for worship, the “House” was a simple, square framed building with a small tower rising from the center of its steep sloping roof. From the tower, at eight o’clock Sunday mornings, two drummers sounded the signal for those who lived at a distance that the service would soon begin. After the long sermons, both in the morning and in the afternoon, the colonists would meet with friends, visit and trade news. The Market Place became the meeting ground for business, social activity, worship, sports and even a training area for the local militia upon which to drill.

In 1670, a second “Meeting House” was built; a ships bell was bought and put into the tower to replace the drummers. Like the first, this “House” was also simple and unpretentious. It was square in design with sloping roofs up to a turret at the top. Church and state existed as one in the New Haven Colony. Seven church members, known as the “seven pillars”, constituted the government as well as leading the church. Until 1664 and the union with the Connecticut Colony, this was how the colony was ruled. The union also brought an end to prosperity as commercial ventures ended and the colonists concentrated on farming.

The colony’ 6 houses were typical of a provincial community and the Green became neglected. A State House was built there in 1717 for the legislature which would meet there, New Haven having become the co-capital with Hartford as of 1701. The town’s public place remained an area where merchants bought and sold, where animals grazed and Yale College sprang to life although activity focused on the harbor. A wharf was constructed to reach the many snips and their cargoes that began to bring new wealth to New Haven. The wharf would eventually extend 3500 feet outward by the 1750’s. This increased trade and wealth brought a new beginning to the town. From the other sides of the square, thoroughfares extended settlement into surrounding areas. In 1756, the old “Meeting House” was again replaced with a larger one of brick. This third one was barn like, oblong in form with the roof running up to a ridge pole. The entrance was on the broad side and a square tower was built at one end with a steeple.

The Revolution interrupted New Haven’s renewed prosperity. After the War, with attention returning to domestic affairs, New Haven, under the leadership of Mayor Roger Sherman found a new pride in its appearance. New streets were opened and the elm trees planted. The Green would be rescued from a period of neglect. It was graded, fenced and transformed into a true public place and civic center. The Federal period was the most important period in forming the physical appearance of New Haven’s center. The energy that began then would continue until the Civil War. New Haven became the most important city in Connecticut. New Haven, because of the curious minds at work here, would attain national prominence as a result of innovation and inventiveness.

to top

The Center

As a white jewel upon a field of green, the current First Church of Christ occupies the central position on the New Haven Green. The church in its history, mirrors the development of New Haven life, especially of upper class values. Its architectural style reflects the economic and social conditions from which it developed. The church clearly exhibits the spirit of that time which tended to be expansive, visionary and proud.

In November, 1812, the church members decided that the old “Brick Meeting House” was too small and that it no longer served their needs. A committee of seven members took the responsibility for building a new meeting house that would stand where its three predecessors also stood since the colony was settled. The committee signed a contract with Isaac Damon and his associate Itniel Town in February, 1813 to build a structure for $26,000 plus the value of the materials of the old one which was to be torn down. From Asher Benjamin, the Boston architect and builder, under whom Town had studies, the committee purchased a design. Benjamin possibly based his design on that of St. Martin’s in the Fields, a London church built by James Gibbs in 1726. At the beginning of the 19th Century? the design of meeting houses changed because, after the Revolution in America, the secular role of the meeting house decreased and the unity of Church and state declined. Architects began to emphasize the religious character in keeping with its essential purpose. Ithiel Town’s task was to execute the design and construct the framing.

Foundation changes were made and extra costs were added to the construction as well as complications due to the War of 1812. Getting tall enough timbers past the British blockade of New Haven harbor posed one problem. Erecting the tall steeple was another problem but Town’s engineering skills showed forth as he raised the spire, built within the tower, by windlass and tackle. In the fall of 1814, the church was ready for use at a total cost of $34,323.46. This “New Brick Meeting House” was not referred to as a ‘church’ until 1818 when the new state constitution separated church and state.

Center Church belongs to the third period, 1800-1825, of New England architecture. The church designers of that period got their ideas from the English Georgian style and were largely influenced by Sir Christopher Wren. Both James Gibbs and Asher Benjamin published books of designs that took much from Wren. His churches were built of masonry as was Center Church, because unlike other New England communities which used wood, New Haven had the resources to use masonry.

An outstanding feature of Center Church is its wide portico with the pillars standing out from the front wall. The pediment contains carved leaves as decoration. In the frieze below are a carved series of ox skulls and garlands that were often used in Roman classical architecture. The animal needs are an interesting pagan addition to this Christian church. A wooden balustrade runs along the sides of the roof; carved urns set atop the balustrade which are repeated at various stages of the steeple. The columns of the various stages actually tip inward a little to give the—effect of greater height. Reaching skyward is the well proportioned spire that sits as a monument to the architect’s design.

Beside and behind the Church are the buried remains of over 4000 persons who died between the colony’s start and 1797 when Grove Street Cemetery was first used. Only a single tablet at the rear wall of the Church recalls their presence as most of the stones were removed to the new cemetery. When the latest church was built, it was constructed farther back than the old one and higher so that part of the old burial ground would be under the Church. The Crypt contains 135 stones upon which are found the names of the early pastors, Theophilus Eaton, the wife of Benedict Arnold and James Hillhouse.

Today the viewpoint of the Church’s membership is that Center Church should continue to serve as a meeting house. Due to its location in the center of the city, it should serve a wider parish and reach out into the community. It should be a place where citizens can gather to discuss or celebrate as well as to worship. Certainly the church and its majestic spire make it a visual centerpiece for New Haven.

to top

The Green

Town life came to be centered around the Green during the Federal period. By 1800, it had become impractical for the descendants of the original settlers to operate as a group in dealing with the business of the “proprietors common and undivided lands.” Thus a committee of five members was given all the power and obligation to perpetuate itself. From 1805 until the present, this committee has continued to function and although the lands now consist of a single plot—the central Green, they remain committed to keeping the Green inviolate. The Green that they now administer attained its true image as a public and civic center in the Federal period.

On Elm Street, three houses still exist that take the observer back to our Revolutionary time. They have been added to, changed and restored; as a result, they are not the best representatives of the period. But their presence gives the viewer a sense of the Green’s border at the end of the 18th Century. The Nicholas Callahan House, c. 1762-1776, at one time a tavern, had a two story porch added over the front door in Victorian times. During its 20th Century restoration, the upper half of this porch was removed and replaced with a seemingly Federal entrance porch that appears to float above the doorway. The house is now a Yale Senior Society.

Truer to their original building are the Jonathan Mix House, 1799, and the John Pierpont House, 1767. The later house also received a two story porch, but it was completely removed when it was restored in 1929. The metal roof had already replaced its shingles after 1870. Now the Yale Faculty Club, the Pierpont House, is the sole example of a Georgian country house with its center chimney. By observing the Mix House, the change from Colonial to Federal style can be noted. The ornament contrasts with the plainness of its neighbor especially noted in the cornice and over the windows. The Palladian windows may not have been a feature of the original house which is now the Yale Graduate Club.

Using these houses as a reference, it is not hard to visualize the general appearance of New Haven after the Revolutionary War. The public buildings reflected the dignity of Georgian architecture which was serious and stately, reflecting a desire for order and symmetry. There were no factories and the retail shops were small. Except for the busy waterfront, the city was still concentrated around the nine squares with their dusty and often muddy dividing roads. These restored houses remain a symbolic image of old New Haven.

The planning and concept that gave New Haven its 13th Century charm were the work of James Hillhouse and Timothy Dwight. These men created the setting around which the upper class constructed the Greek Revival designs of Itniel Town, Alexander Jackson Davis and others. These efforts resulted in the architecture that transformed the Green from merely a market place to a celebrated public square .

Flanking the Center Church, Trinity Church was built between 1812 and 1814 by Ithiel Town. It was the earliest Gothic Revival building in New Haven and although it has been altered, it maintains a quiet beauty that is medieval in nature. The Gothic Revival style was chosen by the Episcopal Church as they considered it to be the appropriate architectural form for the true English church. To the right of Center Church stands United Church or the North Church built by David Hoadley between 1814 and 1816. Hoadley worked from the plans of others in constructing a good example of Federal design which influenced the design of other churches. Also on the Green, in the north corner was a Methodist Church which was induced to move across the street in 1849. This church was built by Henry Austin; originally Federal in style much was changed until 1905 when it was re-Federalized. The continued presence of these churches symbolize the religious beginnings of the community.

As New Haven prospered, expanded and entered the Canal Era, its architecture continued to be fashionable. The residences on Elm Street would give it the title “Quality Row.” Governor Ingersoll’s house at the corner of Elm and Temple Streets was designed by Town and Davis in 1829 and built by Nahum Haywood. It is a brick town house of late Georgian style with pure Greek Revival detail. The flight of steps lead to a simple Doric porch which reaches out to the street. Of great contrast along Elm Street is Hendrie Hall which was built as the Yale Law School in 1894. This stone building contains the facade of a Venetian palazzo and appears to be out of place and time with its wooden neighbors. At the time of its construction, Hendrie Hall was to be a new step in the development of Elm Street as its unfinished side walls indicate. However it was to be the first and last attempt to redesign this section of the street. Today it adds to the architectural medley running along Elm Street.

Greek Revival architecture based upon the classical Greek buildings was reintroduced into the western world by England. In simple terms, the ancient temples were raised on a base with an approach by steps across the front. A colonnade supported an entablature and the pediments held a low pitched roof. The columns created 8 portico that allowed one to pause and reflect upon entering the sacred place. The Greek temple form began to be the motive for churches, public buildings and even houses in England and then America. With the rise of Jacksonian democracy in the 1820’s the Greek Revival style became popular architecture.

This style was adapted to a New Haven commercial structure in 1832. The Exchange, on the corner of Chapel and Church Streets, was an attempt at commercial architecture; it was built by Atwater Treat possibly based on a Town design. Today you must blot out the confusion of the street level which contains storefronts. Originally, between the piers, wide shops existed and a domed cupola marked the corner. New Haven’s wooden dwellings were giving way to more commercial buildings and brownstone and brick structures. Another side of New Haven’s development and architecture is connected with Yale University. The Brick Row, a campus designed by John Trumbull and James Hillhouse, with Connecticut Hall facing the Green, was separated from it by an outer row built close to College Street facing inward to create its own green or common. Russell Sturgis designed the High Victorian Gothic style of Farnam Hall and Lawrance Hall on College Street and Battell Chapel which serves as a cornerstone at the corner of Elm Street. The many gables, scrupulous masonry, green copper roofs and now dirty red brick seen to present a solid face to the street sealing the activity within. Welch Hall was built in 1891 leaving a gap that was filled by Phelps Gate in 1895. This Tudor gatehouse with corner towers as menacing as battlements, is Yale’s front door. At the Chapel Street corner on College Street is Charles gingham Hall; it was the last building to be constructed on the Old Campus Quadrangle. Walter Chambers designed the tower in 1928 which includes dormitories and offices.

By 1846, the wooden fences around the Green gave way to stone and iron enclosures and the Elm trees reached a beautiful maturity. The jail that had stood on Church Street across from Center Church was replaced by a Victorian Gothic City Hall in 1861. Designed by Henry Austin the existing facade of limestone and sandstone alongside the Old Court House built by David Brown in 1871 stand today, as false fronts, as monuments to civic pride. Austin’s city hall is an impressive example of an architectural style that dominated America until the 1890’s. For the rest of the 19th Century, the Green remained the same. Prosperity fell off after the Civil War and building declined. By the 1690’s, there was new wealth from the industrial growth and the railroads that carried New Haven products across the nation. It was not until around World War I that the Green would acquire additional buildings and the urban look of today.

to top

The Perimeter Closes

The early Twentieth Century saw a building boom around the Green which produced an architecture that illustrated civic pride and attested to commercial progress. The Public Library, 1908, sought an image that would preserve the colonial past yet proclaim the wealth of the new century. The building by Cass Gilbert is of brick and marble; it blends Georgian with the classic columns and steps. It repeats architectural elements of the two closest churches that it faces and at the same time, it does not detract from them nor does it change the character of the street. It invites the outsider to enter the quiet place inside where the texts of literary culture are housed. Beside the library is the shining white Courthouse. Built a year later, this Neo-Classical structure is imposing and heavy; it is rich in detail and certainly imparts a solid, serious face to the public. Both buildings anchor the lower Green at this side of Elm Street and this placement suggests the importance placed on the inner activities where knowledge and justice are pursued.

The Post Office on Church Street followed in 1913; designed by James Gamble Rogers, who used a classical temple front, it gave an added dignity to the area of the Green. Rogers flattened and extended the colonnaded portico to fit into the busy street. The architecture hides any knowledge of the activity that once was within while externally stating its importance, as a building on the Green and to the public, and belonging to the Federal Government.

Business and commerce always had a place in New Haven’s center. On Chapel Street, the Edward Malley Company had grown into a fullfledged department store. Continuing along the street a number of two to four story buildings rose that made for shopping attractive for the public. At the corner, the twelve story Hotel Taft of 1911 replaced the older 1851 New Haven Hotel. It was designed by F. H. Andrews and the large arched windows and detail raises the eyes of the viewer upward towards more elegance. On Church Street in l926, an early skyscraper was built by R. A. Foote. The Powell Building of stone, bronze and glass forms a shaft over its arches; it is finished on all sides as it soars above its neighbors making it a true tower rather than a stretched palazzo like the Taft. Another commercial skyscraper was erected in 1929 on the Elm and Church Street corners yet it faces the Green and attempts to match its colonial flavor. The Union Trust Company is an example of Colonial Revivalism which borrowed its tower and cupola from the United Church. Commercial architecture was making itself prominent around the Green by its height, thrusting itself skyward and stating to the viewer what progress had brought.

1965 saw the building of Chapel Square that replaced the old Malley’s with a new hotel-business and retail complex. Viewed from the Green, this Hugh glass box sits atop a base of cave-like stores. The glass does not reflect the Green, thereby enlarging its concept; it remains apart from it, cool and uninviting. The building does not project a public image yet it bounds a public place. More recently, in 1972, the New Haven Savings Bank constructed a beveled tower on the corner of Church and Elm. It is a radical change from the existing architecture around the Green and tends to serve notice that it is not a public place but serves private interests. These modern structures which dot the Green’s border do illustrate our commercial progress and do add to New Haven’s architectural diversity.

Scanning the Green today, the past is still in evidence this center is still vital and functioning. The center serves many needs and continues to attract people to it. Its structures, while defining this public space, have created, according to Elizabeth Mills Brown, “a balance of architectural scale and rhythms.” (New Haven: A Guide to Architecture and Urban Design, p. 103). Viewing New Haven’s Green and its bordering structures can give a sense of living in a style that goes beyond our needs and touches our dreams.

to top

Lessons for Living as Style—The New Haven Green and Its Architecture.

The following classroom lessons are designed to expose the students to some of the elements of architecture. Coupled with viewing the architecture around the New Haven Green, the students should obtain a sense of appreciation and pride. A personal visit to the Green itself not being possible, a slide set is available at the Teachers Institute office which can be used to view the buildings around the Green. The structures illustrate the community’s pride, exist as memorials of accomplishment and testify to our human progress. The students need to be aware of what the structures mean architecturally in order to realize New Haven’s concept of center and to understand their relationship to it. The major objective of these lessons is to give students a starting point in looking at architecture. The parts of the narrative in this unit may serve as teacher reference when visiting the Green of when showing the slides.

Lesson I Use of Shapes.

Main Concept:

In a sense, the architect is the mastermind of building. The building contains geometric shapes which the architect uses to organize the space. By handling the shapes, the students will realize that these shapes are the building “blocks” of architecture.

Performance Objectives:

1. Students will become acquainted with some geometric shapes used in building.
2. Students will arrange the shapes in constructing a facade.
3. Students will become aware of the problem of proportion.


1. Cut out from one or two blank sheets of paper a number of squares, triangles, rectangles and hemispheres. Make a variety of sizes. Students can be given a dittoed pattern to cut out or copy the shapes from the board.
2. Arrange the shapes on a colored piece of paper to form a facade of a building of the students’ choice but not a house. Note that the space between the cut outs can be used to create the overall image. Keep scissors handy for recutting.
3. Students should then glue their cutout facades and label the building.
4. Some outlining may be necessary in order to make stronger contrasts on the facade.
Follow Up Questions:
1. Does there exist a building similar to yours? Where? What goes on inside?
2. What is proportion and why is it important?

Extended Activity:

Define the following terms.


Lesson II Tells a Story

Main Concept:

Certain values of society are reflected in our architecture; the worth of certain human activities has been represented by the structures that house them. The students can realize that what is of individual value to them and to society has been translated into buildings and can be found at the center of New Haven.

Performance Objectives:

1. Students will become aware of values that are of importance to our society and in their lives.
2. Students will identify buildings that reflect these values.


1. Make a list of values; ideas that are important to most societies. For example:
Politics Religion Work Culture Possessions
School Authority Death Money Leisure time
2. For each value, the students should name a building that commemorates the activity expressed by that value.
3. Distribute Handout I showing an overhead view of New Haven’s center. The students are to match the above list of examples (the values) with the buildings on the handout by writing the value near the building’s name.
4. Have the students place the street names on the map.

Follow Up:

1. Discuss New Haven’s beginnings and growth around the Green.
2. Make a map of the local neighborhood indicating the buildings that illustrate the values mentioned or just list the buildings that exist in the area.

Extended Activity:

Select a neighborhood building that signifies a value under discussion, draw its front and outline in red the distinguishing shapes that make it different or mark it as an important building.

Lesson III: The Column

Main concept:

Since a number of our civic buildings illustrate the Greek Revival period and its origin is rooted in the Greek concept of a city, the students should become aware of a particular feature of this architecture—the column. It has its own story to relate.


More than for support, the column illustrates human use of a building member to make a visual statement about himself. The form of the column represents our human stance; its upright position symbolizes our human relation to the flat, though undulating, landscape. As we stand independent from the earth, a pillar, a totem pole, a shaft of stone or fashioned column stands as a reflection of ourselves. Practically, columns support overhead protection and allow openings for passage and for the wind to enter but they also serve as a symbol of power. In ancient Greece, the columned porch designated the location where the city’s ruler sat when dispensing justice. Like the pediment above the column, they were used to mark the important places for various civic functions. In Roman times, the column became part of the walls in the triumphal arches and it also served as a pedestal atop which might be a symbol of authority. The medieval cathedral used columns to help visualize the power of God. Over time, the use of columns was not just restricted to civic or church buildings or to mark an event; people of position or power used columns in their homes to symbolize their place in society. A columned entrance or porch on the home of a wealthy merchant or ship captain marked his success in life. It was not just because he could afford to build the columns but because he was a community leader and wanted all to know who he was. A visitor might pause and note that they were entering a special place; one in which an accomplished individual abided. Thus the column can speak to us and for us.

This introduction is a summary of observations made by Kent C. Bloomer and Charles W. Moore in Body, Memory, and Architecture.

Performance Objectives:
1. The students will become aware of the importance of the column in architecture.
2. The student will understand the column’s use on various buildings.


1. Using the social studies textbook, the students are to find illustrations of buildings and houses that use columns. Make a 1ist containing the page number, name of the structure, its date if given and put a check if it looks like a Greek temple.
2. Read Handout II and copy the Greek Doric temple with the fables .
3. Compare it to any picture found in the textbook; note similarities and differences. Why were the columns used?
4. Memorize the parts of the column.

Follow Up:

Show the slides of the architecture surrounding the New Haven Green or visit and relate the information gained to the buildings.

(figure available in print form)

(figure available in print form)

to top


Bloomer, Kent C. and Moore, Charles W. Body, Memory, and Architecture. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1977. Re-establishes the individual’s proper relationship to architectural design; emphasis is on the “feeling” of space and the body-image theory. Highly readable with many illustrations; basic reading for the architectural novice.

Brown, Elizabeth Mills. New Haven: A Guide to Architecture and Design. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1976. Not a history but an indispensable guide in viewing the buildings of New Haven. Contains architectural notes and an index of architects and builders.

Fisher, Leonard Everett. The Architects. New York: Franklin Watts, Inc., 1970. Easy reading, an overview of builders’ work in the Colonial Period; illustrations included, 40 pages.

Hillyer, V. M. and Huey, E. G. Young People’s Story of Architecture. New York: Meredith Press, 1966. Good student reference for the Greek and Roman columns, pages 44-59.

Metz, Don. New Architecture in New Haven. Cambridge, Massachusetts: M.I.T. Press, 1966. Excellent photographs of the Green and architecture within the city since the 1950’s.

Osterweis, Rollin G. Three Centuries of New Haven, 1638-1938. Yale University Press, 1953. Contains information of the city t8 history, social and economical growth and a record of civic improvement.

Sinnott, Edmund Wilson. The Meeting House. New Raven, 1960. History of the Center Church, its development and role that its played in New Haven life over the years 1814-1960.

Summerson, Jonn. The Classical Language of Architecture. London: Methuen and Co. Ltd., 1964. Almost a handbook explaining the language of architecture; readable, good glossary, 56 pages.

Ware, Dora and Beatty, Betty. A Short Dictionary of Architecture. New York: Philosophical Library, 1945. Exactly what the title states with illustrations.

to top

Contents of 1983 Volume I | Directory of Volumes | Index | Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute

© 2016 by the Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute
Terms of Use Contact YNHTI