Affiliated in Stone: An Old Athenian House in Modern Athens, Greece, 1834 - 1969

Schneider, Matthew, Architectural History - School of Architecture, University of Virginia
Johnston, Andrew

“Affiliated in Stone” tells the story of modern Athens and its architecture through a vernacular house at 36 Hadrian Street. Little is known about this house, including its builders and most of its inhabitants. Using photographs, drawings, notebooks, and other archival fragments in the American School of Classical Studies at Athens archives, it is given a place in its context. With its construction complete sometime around 1860 and its demolition in 1969, it was representative of the Athenian Neoclassical style as translated through vernacular building in this period. By the time of 36 Hadrian Street’s appearance in Athens, the typical Athenian house had adapted to the changing urban conditions of the new capital. All along street fronts in Athens and throughout Greece, a new collective urban character was promoted through sculpted, Neoclassical façades that concealed traditional Greek houses behind. Approximately 150m2 in area with two floors and a basement, the house was originally arranged in an L shape around an exterior courtyard. Nearly everyone in Athens and Attica at this time built their houses in a variation of this type, and nearly all houses were built with stone. An addition to the house dating to the late nineteenth or early twentieth century was most likely made to accommodate increasingly dense living conditions in its neighborhood of Vrysaki, a working-class neighborhood that grew quickly after the War of Independence to meet the demands of housing in the city. Vrysaki was built on the site of the ancient Athenian Agora, which was designated for archaeological investigation in the nineteenth century and excavated in the twentieth century primarily by the American School of Classical Studies at Athens, one of many foreign archaeological schools founded in Athens in the late nineteenth century. With the American School at the helm and in collaboration with the Greek State, the Agora became a public display of American ideological pursuits underneath foreign soil, the birthplace of democracy leveraged as grounds to promote a claim on this lineage. The American School’s curation of the Agora remains foremost a dedication to ancient Athens. The story of the house at 36 Hadrian Street represents the making of modern Athens through Athenians in their time, and embodies the qualities of a distinct culture of building that not only precedes it but continues today.

MARH (Master of Architectural History)
Issued Date: