The Role of the Treasury Department in the Production of Public Architecture in the 1930s: A Case Study of the Federal Building, Chattanooga, Tennessee

Butler, Sara Amelia, Department of Architectural History, University of Virginia
Wilson, Richard, Department of Architectural History, University of Virginia
Reilly, Lisa, Department of Architectural History, University of Virginia
Murphy, Kevin, Department of Architectural History, University of Virginia

The Depression dominated the cultural landscape of the 1930s. During the decade, government patronage embraced both architecture and the arts. The Office of the Supervising Architect of the Treasury Department designed or oversaw the production of hundreds of post offices distributed across the country. A federal art program, also under the jurisdiction of the Treasury architectural arm, directed the addition of murals and sculpture to these buildings. This study will focus on the construction of the Federal Building in Chattanooga as a representative product of the Treasury Department architecture and art programs and on the subsequent adoption of the building, by both private and federal architects, as a symbol validating their contributions to the development of public architecture. The role of Louis Simon, the Supervising Architect, as the agent behind the dissemination of a federal style will be a topic of particular emphasis. Chapter one uses the work of Emily Harris and Lois Craig as the points of departure for an analysis of the political climate that surrounded the construction of federal architecture in the second and third decades of the twentieth century. Chapter two explores the relationship between the representatives of the three entities responsible for the design of the Federal Building. The R. H. Hunt Company was the architect of record. Chapter three looks at the changing structure and configuration of the Treasury architectural arm in the decade of the Depression. Chapter four looks at the impact of the Federal Building. At the most basic level, the building's inclusion in publications, an exhibition, and discussions of style indicates that contemporaries regarded it as a worthy representative of its type, suitable for emulation.

MARH (Master of Architectural History)
Chattanooga, Tennessee, Treasury Buildings, Public Architecture

Abstract was created from text in the thesis' Introduction.

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