The 1923 European trip undertaken by Francis Barry Byrne and his collaborator, the sculptor Alfonso Iannelli, is the subject of Expressing the Modern: Barry Byrne in 1920s Europe. As vividly recorded in the letters written by Byrne to his future wife, he and Iannelli visited the Weimar Bauhaus and met with Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Erich Mendelsohn, J. J. P. Oud, T. H. Wijdeveld, and other leading modernists. Byrne, who trained in Frank Lloyd Wright's first studio, was especially drawn to the work of the expressionists, and Vincent L. Michael associates Byrne's distinctive architecture with that strain of modernism and with the liturgical reform movement that he helped to promote within the Catholic church, his most significant patron. In 1928 Byrne became the only Prairie School architect to build in Europe with the commission for Christ the King church in Cork, Ireland, and he continued to design modern churches into the 1960s.

If you were to visit Europe in the early summer of 1924 looking for modern architecture, you would be most likely to see the colorful and curvaceous expressionism that was then thriving, and not the rectilinear purism of the incipient International Style. This is precisely what American architect Barry Byrne (1883––1967) and sculptor Alfonso Iannelli (1888––1965) encountered that summer in a visit that reaffirmed their faith in a design philosophy that had few contemporary adherents in America. Byrne and Iannelli toured the modernist ateliers of France, Holland, and Germany; met leading architects including J. J. P. Oud, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, and Eric Mendelsohn; and marveled at great historic monuments like Chartres Cathedral (Figure 1). They did not conclude, as Henry-Russell Hitchcock did about a year later, that expressionism was a "new traditionalism," but rather saw it as the same modernism that they had experienced working with Frank Lloyd Wright and developed in their own subsequent practice.1 In 1928 Byrne became the only Prairie School architect to build in Europe (church of Christ the King, Cork, Ireland), yet he and Iannelli, like their expressionist European connections, would soon be eclipsed by the rationalist formalism evidenced in the Weissenhofsiedlung and institutionalized by the Congrèès international d'architecture moderne (CIAM).2

Figure 1

Barry Byrne and Alfonso Iannelli at the Indiana Dunes, mid-1920s (courtesy Barry Byrne family)

Figure 1

Barry Byrne and Alfonso Iannelli at the Indiana Dunes, mid-1920s (courtesy Barry Byrne family)

Recent scholarship has illuminated the formal heterogeneity of the modernisms of the 1950s, but although Byrne and Iannelli had practiced such heterogeneity since 1914 and would pursue it until 1964, their contribution to the diversity of early modernism remains underappreciated.3 Sarah Williams Goldhagen argues that the "style-based paradigm of modernism in architecture still broadly informs not only popular accounts but also the topics, directions, and character of scholarly inquiry."4 To counter this logic of the eye, she defines modernism as a "heterologous array of individual positions and formal practices," continuing the critique of modernism launched by Reyner Banham a half-century ago, when he explored variants to the dominant International Style narrative.5 However, because of the power of visual images, the study of forms and their influence continues to overshadow the examination of the dialogic discourse of early modernism.

Chronicled in previously unstudied letters written to his girlfriend in Chicago, Barry Byrne's 1924 trip unveils the complexity of modernism in early 1920s Europe.6 His early church designs, the record of his trip with Iannelli, and his Irish commission show that Byrne was a rare designer who brought elements of European expressionism to America and a Prairie School outlook to Europe.

Like his European contemporaries, Barry Byrne believed in modernism as a cause, a principled rejection of historical mannerisms and a celebration of industrial production, and, like some of those contemporaries, he realized this ideological position within an expressionist idiom, practicing a modernism unafraid of emotion and subjectivity. He never rejected ornament or abandoned complexity, designing buildings as bodily skins that enveloped the visitor, not mechanistic and structural, but warm, purposeful, and resolute.7 Following Louis Sullivan and Wright, Byrne saw the artist as the agent who was needed to humanize modern materials and techniques. His buildings celebrated the technology of the present without mythologizing it.

Byrne had another strong belief. He was a progressive Catholic who participated in the liturgical reform movement in the 1920s and 1930s. In his practice he focused on the design of Catholic churches and schools, revolutionizing the ground plans of churches in anticipation of the reforms of Vatican II forty years later. This focus has pushed him into the shadows of architectural history. The more conservative modernism of European Catholics has only recently attracted study, and the modernism of American Catholics remains unexplored.8

In 1928 Architectural Record profiled Barry Byrne's churches alongside Auguste Perret's Notre Dame du Raincy and Karl Moser's St. Anthony in Basel, but this was rare recognition. Just as the winning narrative of modern architecture rejected expressionism as a style, it rejected churches, especially Catholic churches, as a type. On the Continent, factories and workers' housing embodied utopian socialism and the machine age. In America, skyscrapers and Wright's suburban houses reflected the Progressive Era. Factories were modern. Houses with automobile garages were modern. Cinemas and department stores were modern. Churches, and especially Catholic churches, were not, could not be modern. As Nikolaus Pevsner noted in 1943, "The men of the new world no longer thought in terms of churches and palaces. No church designed anywhere after 1760 is among the leading examples of architecture. . . . Their world——it is in many respects the modern world——is that of Protestantism."9

Byrne, however, brought the challenges of modernity in function, design, and construction to Catholicism.

Byrne and Iannelli

Barry Byrne, a grade-school dropout, was a teenager wrapping packages at Montgomery Ward's catalog warehouse in Chicago when he saw the 1902 exhibit of Frank Lloyd Wright at the Art Institute of Chicago and picked up Wright's essay "The Art and Craft of the Machine." Determined to work for Wright, he pleaded his way into the Oak Park Studio and became Wright's "first Catholic."10 From 1902 to 1908 Byrne's role grew until he became supervising architect for such noted projects as the Avery Coonley house and Unity Temple. He then practiced in Seattle with Andrew Willatzen, producing typical Prairie Style homes until 1912.

Byrne met Alfonso Iannelli in Los Angeles in 1913 while rooming with John and Lloyd Wright, and both moved to Chicago in 1914, Byrne to supervise Walter Burley Griffin's practice when he went to Australia and Iannelli to execute sculpture for Frank Lloyd Wright's Midway Gardens.11 Iannelli never worked with Wright again, but he worked with Byrne for the next fifty years, designing ornament, statuary, murals, and interior finishes for homes, churches, and schools.

Back in Chicago, Byrne developed his own manner, characterized by warm, enveloping skins of brick with a sculptural quality closer to Sullivan than Wright. In 1916 he designed the John F. Kenna Apartments, abandoning Prairie stylisms for pure geometry, with a single sculptural group——by Iannelli——framing the recessed entrance (Figure 2). The angular geometries of this minimalist masonry box inspired a young Walter Netsch to become an architect.12 Another commission of the same year, the Chemistry Building for the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque, demonstrated a similar advanced minimalism and the acknowledged influence of Irving Gill, whom Byrne had come to admire while in Los Angeles.

Figure 2

Barry Byrne, John F. Kenna Apartments, Chicago, 1916 (photo: Felicity Rich)

Figure 2

Barry Byrne, John F. Kenna Apartments, Chicago, 1916 (photo: Felicity Rich)

Although both projects seem to prefigure later European modernism, formal results were secondary for Byrne, who followed Sullivan and Wright in seeking a design process focused on function. The concept was distinct from the German Funktionalismus in that Sullivan and Wright retained the Vitruvian idea of decoration as the expression of a building's function. Their goal was to achieve that expression organically by designing outward from a functional core, allowing materials and construction to shape a natural expression without prefiguration, rather than the ascetic utility of the Neue Sachlichkeit. Yet Byrne defined his ideals in 1929 with words nearly identical to those used to describe other strains of modernism:

Function is at the beginning of design; imagination finds its place in sensing the value of these functions for artistic disposition and effect.

The purpose for which the building is erected is prior to the building. The progress of the design of a building has order and rightness when the function determines both the plan and the architectural forms that result from that plan.

Building forms, because of themselves, have no artistic validity. Their claim to be architectural forms depends on their relation to function and structure.13

By the early 1920s Byrne had been celebrated by The Western Architect for his "complete emancipation from the forms or manner of the teacher (Frank Lloyd Wright)."14 However, in those years architectural taste in the United States continued to favor Colonial, Renaissance, and Tudor styles, which filled the architectural journals. American architecture innovated in structure and systems, but buildings still wore the old clothes the European avant-garde was discarding.

Upon his return to Chicago in 1914, Byrne had been invited by the poet T. A. Daly and developer Herbert Vanderhoof to join the Medievalists dinner club. There he met influential and progressive Catholic clergy Father Thomas Vincent Shannon and Father Francis Clement Kelley, who soon provided architectural commissions.15 Barry Byrne claimed he never intended to design Catholic churches, but during his years in Wright's Studio the challenge of bringing modernist principles to the design of a Catholic church played in his mind.16 As he later explained his youthful vision,

Deeply conscious, as I have always been, of the Church as a living organism, I looked upon the dead architectures as envelopments of musty, discarded clothing for her. . . . I saw that if our architecture was again to be a living, rather than a dead thing, it would be necessary to rediscover its basis. On what was it predicated? What was the nature of the building and its functions? These underlying facts, it was evident, were embodied in the building plan, and if a new and logical church plan were to be achieved, it was also evident that that plan would beget a living architecture. The plan was the cause; the enveloping form of architecture, integrated with the plan, was the effect resulting from that cause.17

Byrne's attitudes should be seen in the context of international interest in the reform of the catholic liturgy, which was sanctioned by the proclamations of Pope Pius X (1835––1914), who in the first years of the twentieth century called for more frequent communion, congregational involvement in the mass celebration, and the reintroduction of Gregorian chant.18 The so-called Liturgical Movement was spreading in European monasteries at the time that Byrne was developing his own ideas about liturgical reform, but there seems to have been no direct or indirect influence.19 The earliest significant publications in the movement, Dom Lambert Beauduin's La Piéétéé de l'ÉÉglise (1914) and Father Romano Guardini's Vom Geist der Liturgie (1918) were not available in English until after 1926.20 The founder of the Liturgical Movement in the United States, Virgil Michel, began to publish in 1926, conventionally cited as the starting point for American liturgical reform.21 By this time, Byrne had designed several churches that fulfilled its precepts, and he had written extensively on the role of architecture in the church.

Byrne decided that the primary and essential function of a Catholic church was a visible, communal Eucharistic mass, and in 1922, working with Iannelli, he designed St. Thomas the Apostle church on Chicago's South Side, where a thrust altar and column-free interior brought a palpably uncomfortable, modern, and Wrightian approach to the tradition-bound liturgical tradition (Figure 3).22 Contrary to centuries-old Catholic practice, the sanctuary was thrust into the nave with pews wrapping either side, and no supporting columns interrupted sightlines in the vast 90-by-139-foot space. Byrne's functional approach collapsed the divide between sanctuary and nave, eliminating the chancel and side aisles and creating the first modern Catholic church. St. Thomas's exterior of serrated blond brick and abstract terra-cotta suggested the soaring filigree of Gothic but had no direct model and no bell tower. The church was so modern that Chicago's Cardinal Mundelein forbade Byrne to work again in his diocese. Unbowed, by the spring of 1924 he and Iannelli were working on a similar towerless, column-free brick church with a square floor plan in Racine, Wisconsin, designed while they planned their European trip (Figures 4, 5).

Figure 3

Video discussion and tour of Barry Byrne with Alfonso Iannelli (completed by Robert Kane), St. Thomas Apostle church, Chicago, 1922––25 (video: Ali Zahid)

Figure 3

Video discussion and tour of Barry Byrne with Alfonso Iannelli (completed by Robert Kane), St. Thomas Apostle church, Chicago, 1922––25 (video: Ali Zahid)

Figure 4

Barry Byrne, St. Patrick church, Racine, Wisconsin, 1924, floor plan (courtesy Chicago History Museum)

Figure 4

Barry Byrne, St. Patrick church, Racine, Wisconsin, 1924, floor plan (courtesy Chicago History Museum)

Figure 5

Barry Byrne with Alfonso Iannelli, St. Patrick church, Racine, Wisconsin, 1924 (photo: Felicity Rich)

Figure 5

Barry Byrne with Alfonso Iannelli, St. Patrick church, Racine, Wisconsin, 1924 (photo: Felicity Rich)

By 1924 Byrne had been successful enough to be able to take more than two months off to visit Europe for the first time. The trip was preceded by two events that focused his attention on the practice of modern architecture. First, the artist Annette Cremin, whom Byrne had courted for four years, rejected his proposal of marriage.23 Cremin, a professional illustrator, had worked for local newspapers and in Iannelli's studio. While she wanted to maintain a collegial friendship, she was intent on remaining a professional, progressive woman and feared the constraints of marriage. Piqued, Byrne hastily made up his mind to go to Europe. His letters to Cremin from Europe were probably intended in part to arouse her jealousy.

Then Louis Sullivan, whose work had inspired Byrne to architecture, died. After the funeral, Byrne wrote to Cremin, mourning the lost opportunities of Sullivan's last years: "Twenty years of inaction for such a talent. That is terrible. Did I ever show you the sonnet I wrote to him? Death is a tragic close to human endeavor. It is like a gigantic no to nearly everything we struggle for."24 Had Sullivan's quest been in vain? Should it continue? Could it continue? Byrne would soon find the spirit of Sullivan and Wright alive in Europe in a way it was not in the United States.

Europe 1924: Before Rationalism

Between 1917 and 1925 more actively creative movements sprang to life than at any other time in this century. It was an explosive fission of the European spirit; a critical mass had been reached and there was an intellectual chain reaction that makes other periods look dull by comparison.25

——Charles Jencks

1924 was a messy, creative and vibrant time in Europe as Expressionism, Constructivism, Cubism, and the offspring of Futurism jostled for supremacy in the cultural world while Communism and Fascism threw their elbows in the political realm. Design schools thrived in Holland, Austria, and Germany. Walter Gropius's Bauhaus in Weimar was still reeling from the invasion of De Stijl. Avant-garde expressions ranged from the curving contours of Eric Mendelsohn to the rectilinearity of Mies van der Rohe; from the bold primary colors of De Stijl to the earthy, humanistic brickwork of Piet Kramer and Michel DeKlerk and the austerity of Le Corbusier's Villa Roche-Jeanneret. An active transnational artistic ferment radicalized traditional ideas and forms, and Europeans were eager to debate two young American associates of Frank Lloyd Wright.26

Le Corbusier had just published Vers une architecture (1923) and Van Doesburg Naar een beeldende architectur (1919). Amsterdam hosted the monthly Wendigen, Paris L'Espirit Nouveau, and Berlin G, but modernism had precious few built works in 1924. The Bauhaus, so richly chronicled after its move to Dessau in 1926, was in its experimental and less visible Weimar phase, having hosted its first exhibition and built its first buildings——the Haus am Horn and Jena Theater——the previous fall. The most prominent modern buildings in Germany were expressionist works by Hans Poelzig, Bruno Taut, Hans Scharoun, and Eric Mendelsohn, while in France Le Corbusier had completed but one project. Only in Holland, with its large housing schemes, had much "modern" been built, and there the influence of Sullivan and Wright was perhaps the strongest, especially in the functional yet emotive brickwork of the Amsterdam School.

Iannelli and Byrne sailed from New York in May 3, traveling with journalist Henry Sell and his wife.27 In Paris they saw Notre Dame and the Sainte Chapelle, the Folies Bergèère, and numerous galleries. They ventured to Versailles and to Chartres, about which Byrne wrote an emotional, one might say expressionistic, account to Cremin:

I wish I could tell you my sensations when I saw the cathedral there and in particular the interior. I have never thought that so inanimate a thing as a building could affect me as some have here and as Chartres did so strongly. It moved me indescribably. It scarcely seemed a human creation it was so wonderful. . . . We are going back there to remain for several days to study it. The glass makes the windows like great jewels. . . . Above all to see buildings like Chartres——Notre Dame de Paris——Ste Chappelle and work like Rodins where greatness is so compelling that it overwhelms you——that is a wonderful experience. Those are greater works than I ever imagined——the pictures give no adequate impression of them. After years of thinking about it all, to at last face greatness in my chosen work and to know it for greatness——that is beyond comparison a wonderful inner experience. It is so moving that it is necessary to return again and again to the buildings in order to be able to calmly study them.28

Byrne and Iannelli remained in Chartres, sketching and studying the cathedral (Figure 6). Like Gropius's evocation of the cathedral in his Bauhaus manifesto, Byrne's reaction to Gothic mastery is about content rather than form. Other modernist architects revered medieval monuments for the unity of artistic production, and this reverence would be a leitmotif in Nikolaus Pevsner's Pioneers of the Modern Movement. However, for Byrne it was the emotional clarity of Chartres Cathedral, not its construction or its form, that was impressive.

Figure 6

Sketches of Chartres from Barry Byrne's notepad, 1924. Notation on left reads "Closer spacing at top increases ecstasy" (courtesy Barry Byrne family)

Figure 6

Sketches of Chartres from Barry Byrne's notepad, 1924. Notation on left reads "Closer spacing at top increases ecstasy" (courtesy Barry Byrne family)

Bauhaus on the Brink

After Paris they traveled through Strasbourg toward Munich, enjoyed ancient Rothenburg, Nuremberg, and the modern war memorial at Leipzig before arriving in Weimar to visit the Bauhaus. At the time of Byrne and Iannelli's visit, Walter Gropius had recently published Idee und Aufbau and replaced Johannes Itten with Láászlóó Moholy-Nagy and Joseph Albers, moving the Bauhaus toward the rationalism of Neue Sachlichkeit.29 The Americans were welcomed as comrades in the modernist cause, and were widely introduced by former Ithaca, New York, client Carl Tallmann, who preceded them to Weimar. Lyonel Feininger, the Bauhaus' English speaker, toured them through the school and formed an ongoing friendship with Byrne.30 They also met Adolf Meyer, Wassily Kandinsky, Paul Klee, and Moholy-Nagy, who would contact Byrne when he emigrated to America in 1937.31 They missed Gropius, in Dresden for a conference, but they did see his famous office, where they discovered an echo of the restless planar interactions and speeding orthogonals of Unity Temple and discussed Wright's influence with Meyer.32 They appear to have been received by the wife of painter Alexander Olbricht at the Weimar Academy of Fine Art, the competing institution that would supplant the Bauhaus after its political troubles and move to Dessau.33 Byrne wrote to Cremin on July 6 about Weimar and their later visit to Berlin where they met theater designer Oskar Kaufmann and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe:

We stayed in Weimar for several days. How you would have enjoyed it. Delightful place. Tallman as ever the world's nicest guy. Town turned out for us on his press agenting and we had three parties thrown in our honor. Met some delightful and intelligent people. Our hostess Mrs. Walbrich [apparently Olbricht] a beautiful woman and many of the women stunning but Mrs. W. a wonder to see + know. Place full of artists. Some of the greatest modernists in Germany live there. Feininger——one of them——extraordinary——the best modern work I've ever seen. He personally of an agreeable unasserting personality and his work——well——what's the use. I sincerely think it is of the greatest. Gave Alfonso and me each one of his wood cuts. Bought a lot of books in Weimar and one porcelain——Hope to pick up a few good porcelains to ship back.

We met Kaufman today and Van der Rohe——two of the modern men here. The last an arresting powerful personality in work and physique. Will meet Poelzig next week. Berlin has the best of the newest work——saw some of it today and it was worth the trip over. . . . We visited the art school at Weimar and saw the classes and studios. It is entirely modernist——full equipped with all necessary machinery and design is accompanied by execution which the pupils do——carrying out their own designs. Splendid atmosphere in the place. Student body earnest——cheerful and working. Alfonso, thinking of the Art Institute's classes, inwardly groaned. German people are allowing it and I'm for them. . . . The trip has benefitted me tremendously and I am becoming clear as to the way I want to work which was one thing I wanted to settle. I'm commencing to be keen to get back at the job. Alfonso seems tired most of the time and I'm not sure that he won't need to rest from this rest but I feel splendid and fresh the last being not unusual.34

The letter suggests Byrne may have entertained thoughts of adapting to the eclectic architectural fashions of the 1920s, but Weimar and the Bauhaus——still unknown in America——dispelled such notions. He was "keen to get back at the job" and "settled" on practicing modernism. The Bauhaus——and especially the work of its most expressionist teacher, Feininger——reminded Byrne of the unity of art, architecture, and practice he had experienced in the Oak Park studio of Frank Lloyd Wright.35 The school's essential mission was to bridge the gulf between art and industrial production, exactly the point of Frank Lloyd Wright's 1901 essay "Art and Craft of the Machine," which had so inspired the young Barry Byrne. Within two years Gropius's Bauhaus would formalize a very different modernism from Byrne's, but in 1924 the Bauhaus stood for a type of artistic discourse, not a style, and that discourse was logically consistent with the organic functionalism of Sullivan and Wright.

After Weimar, the Americans went to Berlin, where they met Mies van der Rohe, who had joined the G group and helped form the Bund Deutscher Architeckten to promote what would become known as Neue Sachlichkeit.36 Byrne and Mies hit it off, as revealed in a 17 June 1924 letter, which also details encounters with architects Eric Mendelsohn and Otto Firle, travels in Holland, and plans to meet American expatriate sculptor John Storrs in Paris (Figure 7):

Figure 7

First page of letter from Barry Byrne to Annette Cremin, 17 June 1924 (courtesy Barry Byrne family)

Figure 7

First page of letter from Barry Byrne to Annette Cremin, 17 June 1924 (courtesy Barry Byrne family)

Berlin proved very interesting——not the city as a city for that was almost depressing everyone is in such hard straits, but interesting because of several new buildings and the architects we met there. We were taken about by a Mr. Mies Van der Rohe (all one name) an architect belonging to the constructivist group——the most modern of the modern architectural + art movements. I'll tell you about it. Van der Rohe proved to be a great friend before we left Berlin. A large powerful reposeful person——spoke no English but we got on famously——A distinctive and unusual personality. Mr. and Mrs. Mendelsohn also took us in hand and showed us things we wanted very much to see. We had a delightful evening with them——dinner etc. He is one of the extraordinary talents among the architects his work leaves me gasping——I am——or rather my work——very conservative when shown alongside some of these men. Mrs. Mendelsohn a beautiful woman. They both expect to come——or go——to America this fall. Another architect——Firle by name took us in hand also. Saw a good deal of Dr. and Mrs. Koepke whom we had previously met in Weimar.37

Mies at this date had built only relatively sedate residences, but had embarked on a new radical phase with his "five projects."38 His design of the current June issue of G and attendant association with Theo van Doesburg, Hans Richter, and El Lissitzky likely earned him the "constructivist" label.39 Like Byrne, Mies had learned architecture through apprenticeship, and he shared a love of brick, despite Hitchcock's later assertion that the use of brick was "fatal to really new aesthetic expression.40 It is tempting to assign Byrne and Mies's attraction to their mutual interest in liturgical reform and Thomist philosophy, but given their language differences, such interaction was unlikely in 1924, although the two did discuss religious architecture on the radio in Chicago in 1950.41 Mies knew Catholic social activist Carl Sonnenschein and Father Romano Guardini, author of The Spirit of the Liturgy (1918), who experimented with a more communally-oriented liturgy and had been appointed chair in philosophy at the University of Berlin in 1923.42

The more likely connection between Byrne and Mies lay in their shared understanding of modern architecture as a search for clarity and order without regard for style and form. In the June 1924 issue of G Mies proclaimed, "Form is not the aim of our work, but only the result," a phrase Byrne would later paraphrase in describing his own architecture: "Building forms, because of themselves alone, have no artistic validity. Their claim to be architectural forms depends on their relation to function and structure."43 Mies's insistent search for artistic and spiritual perfection "within the discipline of an idealizing order" was close kin to Byrne's own mission, and thus both men in 1924 embraced the communal and universalizing aspects of the modernist discourse.44 The translation of that discourse into forms was as yet incomplete.

Eric Mendelsohn, whose curving department stores, cinemas and office buildings can be seen as descendants of Louis Sullivan's Carson, Pirie Scott Store, a building Byrne admired in his youth, was seeking a middle path between ascetic structuralism and dynamic expressionism.45 Byrne was awed by his architecture, and he stayed in touch; later that year he guided Mendelsohn through Frank Lloyd Wright's buildings in Chicago and at Taliesin.46 Hans Poelzig, whose expressive brickwork shares the sculptural simplicity and skin-like envelopment of the best of Byrne's work, proved similarly inspirational.47 Byrne does not mention Bruno Taut or Fritz Hoeger, although the latter's brick expressionist work, notably the just-completed Chilehaus in Hamburg, was already well known.48

Dutch Style

Byrne had great enthusiasm for the romantic, expressionist tendency of the Amsterdam School, especially the work of Piet Kramer, Michel de Klerk, and Johan ven der Mey, who rejected H. P. Berlage's rational medievalism as too traditional in the 1910s and early 1920s (Figure 8). His 17 June 1924 letter continued:

Figure 8

Piet Kramer and Michel De Klerk, De Dageraad Housing, Amsterdam, 1922 (photo: Felicity Rich)

Figure 8

Piet Kramer and Michel De Klerk, De Dageraad Housing, Amsterdam, 1922 (photo: Felicity Rich)

Amsterdam has a modern architectural movement also. It is romanticist. All interesting and the work of several men——who are talents of the first rank——proved very exciting to us. One of these men——the best——De Clerq [Klerk] by name——died last year. A very great loss. His buildings beautiful. A Mr. + Mrs. Weideveldt [Wijdeveld] and Mr. Kramer——Architects to whom we had letters took us in tow. Went to Haarlem to visit a modern art and architectural school. Just the kind of art etc school I've dreamt about. Liked it better than that at Weimar. We will stay here two days. Have letters to Mr. Oud the leading architect——also modernist——in fact all of Holland is modernist——then we go to Paris——where we are to meet the few French who are sympathetic——see Storrs——pick up the stuff we left in Paris and then for the Leviathan.49

As inaugurated by van der Mey's Scheepvaarthuis of 1912, the Amsterdam School integrated figurative sculpture and animated brick walls with expressive folds and ridges, mirroring Byrne and Iannelli's compositions. Theodorus Hendrickus Wijdeveld, architect impresario of the modernist organ Wendigen, which would soon devote two issues to Frank Lloyd Wright, took Byrne and Iannelli through Amsterdam and to the Kunstnijverheidschool at Haarlem, which Byrne preferred to the Bauhaus. Unlike the Bauhaus, the Kunstnijverheidschool had explicitly taught architecture since 1918, although under the leadership of Samuel Jessurun de Mesquita it was known primarily for the graphic arts.50 Dutch modernism had a connection to painting that was explicit in van Doesburg and implicit in the colorful cubism of the Schroeder House rising in Utrecht.51 Haarlem was at the height of its artistic flowering, and the school, internationally known by this time, was linked to the Amsterdam School expressionists, as was Wendigen. Wijdeveld gave the Americans a letter of introduction to Le Corbusier.52

Rotterdam's J. J. P. Oud spent a frenetic day with the Americans and became a long-term correspondent, trumpeting the "modern workers of U.S. and Holland staying upright" in a 1925 letter.53 As a designer, Oud was moving toward the purism of the nascent International Style with his stark, bright, streamlined worker's houses and shops at the Hook of Holland (1924––27), but Byrne and Iannelli would have seen the housing projects at Tusschendijken (1921––23) and Spangen (1920––23), more akin to Amsterdam School brick expressionism, the latter with a redented corner entrance reminiscent of Byrne and Iannelli's school buildings.54 Ignoring those earlier housing projects, Hitchcock declared Oud's Hook of Holland "the finest monument of the new architecture" and along with his 1925 Caféé de Unie, a realization of principles Oud enunciated in De Stijl in 1921.55 Yet Oud shared "those principles" with Byrne and Iannelli in 1924, and this fellow feeling continued via correspondence in succeeding years, including a 1925 postcard to Byrne describing his brightly colored Caféé de Unie as "a bit 'Dada.'"56 The fact that they shared modernist "principles" did not, of course, mean their buildings looked similar.

Back in Paris Byrne and Iannelli visited John Storrs, bought two of his architectural sculptures, and suggested a future collaboration.57 It is not clear whether Byrne and Iannelli used Wijdeveld's letter of introduction to visit Le Corbusier.58 Byrne did see the work of Auguste Perret, whose 1922 Notre Dame du Raincy contests with Byrne's St. Thomas Apostle in Chicago the distinction of being the first modern Catholic church in the world.59 A wall of glass wraps a frame of slender concrete pillars to crerate a powerful interior whose openness resembles that of Byrne's churches, although the sanctuary remains distant, set above and beyond the congregation.60 The refined use of concrete, however, gave Perret's church a more secure place in modernist history, and the building had been published widely in France at the time of Byrne's visit.61

Bringing Modernism Back Home

In Paris, Weimar, Berlin, Amsterdam, and Rotterdam Byrne was invigorated by a European expressionism that was resonant with his own work, a modern style that in 1924 was fully as valid as the emergent Neue Sachlichkeit.62 Most importantly, he had developed camaraderie with leading architects of his generation, including the expressionists and also those who, like Mies and Oud, were soon to be labeled "new pioneers" by Hitchcock.63 Byrne viewed these architects as partners in the modernist enterprise. They participated in the same discourse, trying to express in contemporary technology the spirit of the age without reference to previous architectural forms. Unlike Hitchcock, he did not parse the formal distinctions among these architects, which in any case were barely emergent in 1924. Even Hitchcock had found it "impossible to find any buildings reflecting a truly new aesthetic until 1922."64

The next generation of observers, notably Hitchcock and Philip Johnson, would "discover" Mies, Oud, Le Corbusier, and Gropius, and by then modernism would be seen to have coalesced into the International Style.65 It is hard to overemphasize the retrospective impact that those later narratives would have had on subsequent perceptions of early 1920s modernism. In fact, architecture in 1924 was characterized by a great diversity of modernisms. Byrne owned Herman George Sheffauer's 1924 The New Vision in the German Arts, which argued that the expressionism of Eric Mendelsohn "seems to point the way which architectural development will pursue in the future," despite the fact that Scheffauer had published an article on the Weimar Bauhaus in 1923.66 The exhibition that would give Art Deco its name was still a year away, as was Van Doesburg's American publication of Dutch modernism and Gropius's Internationale Architektur. Architectural Record and Architectural Forum ignored most strains of modernism until 1928. The smooth, machine-like surfaces Hitchcock and Johnson celebrated in 1932 were nearly invisible in 1924 Europe. Beyond the Haus am Horn, which Byrne and Iannelli probably saw, there was the Rietveld's Shrööder house in Utrecht and the Atelier Ozenfant in Paris by Le Corbusier. Expressionism was much more prominent, from the extensive brick housing projects of Amsterdam and Rotterdam to the factories of Poelzig and Mendelsohn. While Byrne identified Mies's "Constructivism" as "the most modern" on the basis of his "five projects," Mies's built works in 1924 were a small a handful of rather traditional looking suburban homes.67

Byrne returned to a country where the Tudor and Mediterranean Revivals were popular for suburban houses and shopping districts, and Georgian was favored for large city houses; even the middle-class Arts and Crafts bungalow had been dipped in Renaissance or Spanish Colonial frosting. Church and university architects employed the academic Gothic of Ralph Adams Cram. Byrne was outraged that his contractor partner Henry Ryan had built a conventional Collegiate Gothic school, the Marywood Academy in Evanston, designed by architect D. A. Bohlen and Sons, during his absence.68

Emboldened by the lessons of Europe, Byrne persisted on his unlikely and lonely modernist path. The California houses of Wright and of the transplanted Europeans Rudolf Schindler and Richard Neutra were among the few modernist works built in America in the early 1920s. John Van Bergen, William Drummond, and Purcell and Elmslie were extending the Prairie School with modest residential commissions, although their institutional architecture, including Drummond's churches, was increasingly conservative.69 Art Deco had not yet made an appearance. Avant-garde architects needed avant-garde clients, and while an individual like Alice Barnsdall or Dr. Philip Lovell might be willing to buck fashion in a private home, convincing an entire building committee——especially a Catholic one——was nearly impossible. That Byrne continued to build as much as he did in Catholic circles in the 1920s is astonishing.

Alfonso Iannelli returned to a thriving sculptural practice and secured a 1925 solo exhibition at the Art Institute of Chicago, consisting largely of work designed for Byrne buildings.70 By 1926 the pair had completed both the construction of the Racine church and the design of Christ the King church in Tulsa, Oklahoma, a project that brought Byrne and Iannelli in contact with a young Bruce Goff (Figure 9, see Figures 4, 5). He was clearly influenced by Christ the King when he designed the nearby Boston Avenue Methodist church just a few years later.71 Goff worked for Iannelli in the 1930s and remain a regular correspondent of both Byrne and the sculptor into the 1960s.72

Figure 9

Barry Byrne and Alfonso Iannelli, Christ the King church, Tulsa, Oklahoma, 1926, view toward altar (photo: Felicity Rich)

Figure 9

Barry Byrne and Alfonso Iannelli, Christ the King church, Tulsa, Oklahoma, 1926, view toward altar (photo: Felicity Rich)

Byrne's letters to Annette Cremin from Europe had been filled with references to the beauty of European women, and the jealousy gambit paid off. As her daughter Ann, recounted: "Meanwhile, back in Chicago, Annette had, to her own considerable surprise, 'realized that I couldn't live without him."73 Byrne and Cremin wed in April 1926. An accomplished illustrator and portrait painter, Cremin became Byrne's collaborator, like Iannelli, designing mosaics, stained glass, and color schemes and drawing renderings for his churches, schools, and seminaries.74

Byrne's enthusiasm for expressionist forms became more pronounced after his European trip, evident in the curving brick faççade of St. Patrick's School in Racine, and the McDermott House in Glencoe, Illinois, both of 1928, where a reductive triangular mass is enlivened only by curving brick forms and insistent variations in the punched openings (Figures 10, 11). And his ongoing work with Catholic clients and progressive liturgical ideas soon made him a national figure in Catholic liturgical reform.

Figure 10

Barry Byrne, St. Patrick's School, Racine, Wisconsin, 1928, entrance detail (photo: Felicity Rich)

Figure 10

Barry Byrne, St. Patrick's School, Racine, Wisconsin, 1928, entrance detail (photo: Felicity Rich)

Figure 11

Barry Byrne, McDermott House, Glencoe, Illinois, 1928 (photo: Felicity Rich)

Figure 11

Barry Byrne, McDermott House, Glencoe, Illinois, 1928 (photo: Felicity Rich)

Rhetoric and Reality

Barry Byrne remained a progressive Catholic throughout his life. Following his 1922 design of St. Thomas Apostle church, he remained on the leading edge of liturgical reform among American Catholics in the 1920s and 30s. Along with a reshaping of the church's rituals and rites, the reform movement also called for a renewal of church arts.75 This last concern was institutionalized with the creation in 1928, of the Liturgical Arts Society, an organization that considered Byrne's approach "something of a litmus test of adequate church design."76

Byrne first wrote about his enthusiasm for modernist church design in The Commonweal, a Catholic journal that debuted in late 1924. There he confronted neo-Gothic architect Ralph Adams Cram, who was a frequent contributor and defender of Catholicism and Gothic architecture in the face of nativist and modernist attacks.77 Although Cram was an Episcopalian, "no Roman Catholic in America ever exerted Cram's influence over the American Catholic Church."78 Byrne took this iconic figure to task, lambasting the Gothic Revival as "A Gesture of Impotence," and outlining the new "necessities" of "modern Catholic churches." He specified: "there must be a higher degree of intimacy with the sanctuary than existed in other times, and there must be ready access to the communion rail for large numbers of the congregation, due to the increasing number of communicants."79

A pitched battle ensued in the pages of The Commonweal between Byrne, a few modernist clergy, and the defenders of Gothic.80 In November 1925 he published "A New Architecture," touting designs derived not from Cram's "improbable theories" but based on "natural and practical demands" and justified by quotations from Sullivan and references to the Europeans Gropius, Meyer, and Oud.81 Cram responded with "Why a New Architecture" the next month, and Byrne penned a reply titled "Why an Old Architecture."82 Cram may have won the hearts and minds of most Catholics, but Byrne garnered the support and friendship of Lewis Mumford, who joined The Commonweal debate in 1925.83 They met in January 1927, and Mumford lauded Byrne in the journal two months later as "A Modern Catholic Architect."84 Byrne helped convince Mumford that Chicago had been the inspiration for modern European architecture, a theme that emerged later in The Brown Decades.85 Mumford summarized the Cram-Byrne debate in Architecture in 1928, having previously declared Byrne's practice "more deeply historic" because it embraced change:86

Here is an architect who has reconciled tradition and innovation; here is an artist who expresses the continuity of the church with its own past, without attempting to stereotype its present activities and ministrations in some dead form of that past; here is a builder who has faced sincerely the problems of his own day, who uses simple and direct modern methods of construction, and who, out of this simplicity and directness, lays aside the means necessary for a fresh and vital art in every intimate element of the Catholic ritual.87

An arbiter of the modernist discourse, Lewis Mumford saw Barry Byrne as fully engaged in its ideas and practice.

Christ the King, Cork, Ireland

The Commonweal was read by Catholics around the world, and Mumford's 1927 article on Byrne inspired Bishop Daniel Cohalan of Cork, Ireland, to commission a church from the American that year.88 By May, Byrne had made a design, whose parameters he outlined in a letter to the bishop:

The conditions we established to determine the plan were these; seating accommodation; dominance of the high altar; closeness of the high altar to the congregation; acoustics; relative economy of construction. The exterior design was studied with these ends in view; the character, while modern, was to be expressive of our religion; it was to be in every way indicative of aspiration and religious purpose; the fact that it was to be a Catholic Church in Ireland was to be made evident; the means by which all of this was to be accomplished was to be as economical as possible.89

Byrne's plan——the design engine——had been taken to the next logical step beyond his earlier, rectangular churches and made even more centralized (Figure 12). He said, "The plan of the church approximates an oval, the planes being straight rather than curved. As the oval form is acoustically perfect the arrangement shown would give a very happy result."90 His oval is in fact an elongated hexagon with four serrated faces, each with eight facets.91 The plan is recapitulated in elevation as the main faççade steps down in eight stages from a central tower of nearly 80 feet. The eight facets of the faççade sweep down to low side walls beneath an enveloping roof that is virtually invisible from the front.92 The sculptural mass is a series of right-angle reveals in both plan and elevation.93

Figure 12

Barry Byrne, Christ the King church, Cork, Ireland, 1928––31, plan (courtesy Chicago History Museum)

Figure 12

Barry Byrne, Christ the King church, Cork, Ireland, 1928––31, plan (courtesy Chicago History Museum)

Unlike his earlier churches, whose spiky finials and pinnacles were suggestive of Gothic spires, the exterior at Cork was pure reductive modernism (Figure 13). Byrne's biographer Sally Chappell lauded its advance over his earlier work:

Figure 13

Barry Byrne, Christ the King church, Cork, Ireland, 1928––31 (photo: Felicity Rich)

Figure 13

Barry Byrne, Christ the King church, Cork, Ireland, 1928––31 (photo: Felicity Rich)

He seems to have been emboldened by the expressionism he saw in Germany. Before 1926, he had had the tendency, as seen in the truncated corners of Tulsa, and his eschewing of gentle old-world curves in favor of zig-zags in his ornament, but now he seems emboldened to make what was his favorite decorative motif, the chevron or zig-zag, into a grand mass——a zig-zag church.94

Chappell saw that in the Cork church "a new style had crystallized. In earlier work Byrne had used simpler masses defined by severe walls and enlivened by serrated ornament. In Cork, the mass is serrated and lively and the ornament severe."95 Byrne enlisted John Storrs to execute the entrance sculpture, consummating the collaboration proposed in Paris in 1924. His reasons for working without Iannelli are not clear, although the Iannelli Studios were unusually busy during this period.96

Cohalan pushed Byrne to use concrete rather than brick, returning the architect to his formative experience supervising the construction of Wright's Unity Temple and at the same time bringing him into line with the emergent modernist orthodoxy. Byrne requested "a finished surface to the concrete itself," without stucco rendering, which he said would produce "a more honest building."97 A 1930 American Architect article noted: "Concrete, in its various forms, is used in practically every element of the structure. Floors and wainscoting are of terrazzo; the altars and various fittings are of precast concrete; the peculiar step-like walls and the monolithic shell in general are all more or less the same thing in different guises."98

Approaching from downtown Cork, one first apprehends the concrete bell tower with three vertical lancets, flanked by stepped projections. The red tile roof is barely perceptible behind the sharply serrated concrete facade. The outstretched arms of Storrs's Christ shelter the churchgoers who enter through the two triangle-headed doorways (Figure 14).99 Christ's hands reach from the main pier over the doors, with a curving swath of angled chevrons denoting each draped sleeve. These are the only departures from the orthogonal elements that make up the church. As Byrne described to the bishop:

Figure 14

Barry Byrne, Christ the King church, Cork, Ireland, 1928––31, entrance (photo: Felicity Rich)

Figure 14

Barry Byrne, Christ the King church, Cork, Ireland, 1928––31, entrance (photo: Felicity Rich)

This doorway dominates the exterior as the high altar dominates the interior, and we have studied the design with this in view. You will note that all of the lines above rise from the doorway and all of the side motifs, while vertical in character have an embracing feeling. I have thought of this as indicating the aspiration and spiritual elevation arising from this dogma as well as the all embracing love that is embodied in it.100

Unlike Byrne's churches with Iannelli, where ornament modulated the architectural form and ribbing animated the austere wall planes, here the entire building was modulated, and the walls were formed by serrations. Monumental without being massive, its forms and volumes radiated its purpose.

The Church without a Pillar

The roof truss supports a suspended interior plaster ceiling that follows the scheme of eight facets.101 Inside, all compositional lines focus on the altar, and thus on the priest celebrating mass, which was for Byrne, the essential function of a church (Figure 15). In addition to projecting the altar and sanctuary into the nave, Byrne elevated it "so that the ceremonies at the altar may be seen in every detail."102 "The high altar is planned to set well forward in the church and should, with its reredos, be of grand proportions, as it is meant to be the center of the decorative scheme of the interior and to dominate it."103

Figure 15

Barry Byrne, Christ the King church, Cork, Ireland, 1928––31, view of main altar (photo: Felicity Rich)

Figure 15

Barry Byrne, Christ the King church, Cork, Ireland, 1928––31, view of main altar (photo: Felicity Rich)

Byrne designed the windows "narrow and strongly vertical, distributed all around the church, so that the light will be well diffused and without glare."104 A skylight running the length of the roof ridge is articulated with chevron-shaped diffusers. While the typical Gothic church is largely illuminated from the sides by tall nave windows, supplemented by clerestories, and with only a rose window in the front or rear, in Christ the King illumination comes from the taller front and rear walls. Windows 21 inches wide are set deeply within 4-foot piers, and each pier steps back from the next, drawing more light inside. The serrations that envelop the congregation in plan create a haptic dynamism that pushes the body toward the altar. The reredos recapitulates the pleated pattern of the ceiling, the piers and windows, and ultimately the plan.

Figure 16

Barry Byrne, Christ the King church, Cork, Ireland, 1928––31, interior view (photo: Felicity Rich)

Figure 16

Barry Byrne, Christ the King church, Cork, Ireland, 1928––31, interior view (photo: Felicity Rich)

The exterior of Christ the King in Cork is a stepped-back cliff of masonry, its projecting concrete piers rendering the intervening windows nearly invisible. But the interior is bathed in light because the tall stained glass windows stretch from floor to ceiling. Like Unity Temple, from the outside the church seems all wall and from the inside it seems all light (Figure 17). Perhaps due to the sharp decline of Byrne's finances during the Depression, Cremin Byrne assumed Iannelli's usual role as designer of the glass tile altar mosaics, stained glass windows, the sanctuary lamp, and architectural finishes for the church in 1930. Her subtle white and yellow reredos reinforced the volumetric focus on the altar while her windows graduate from blue at the base, through green, to amber at the ceiling, creating a rising, uplifting illumination.105

Figure 17

Barry Byrne, Christ the King church, Cork, Ireland, 1928––31, piers on exterior

Figure 17

Barry Byrne, Christ the King church, Cork, Ireland, 1928––31, piers on exterior

Byrne and contractor Jack Buckley "had many a headache trying to convince the traditionalists" about the design, but it was finally regarded as "a wonder to behold."106 At the 1931 church dedication, locals were struck by the "imposing nature of the altar and its surrounding architecture, with its subdued coloring and strikingly modern style of designing" and granted that "the entire effect was one of greatest solemnity (during High Mass)."107 The Irish Times called it "notable for the entire absence of any supporting pillars, thus leaving an uninterrupted view of the three altars from all portions of the church," and it is still known locally as "the church without a pillar."108 Contemporary critic James Johnson Sweeney praised the Cork church as "frank, logical and devoid of pedantic associations" and trumpeted its honest expression of materials.109 More recently, architectural historian Sean Rothery called it "the most advanced of the architect's churches and a pioneering work, not only for Ireland, but also for modern European architecture as a whole"110 and his colleague Paul Larmour deemed it "revolutionary in its plan, its constructional technique and its modernist idiom."111

In the positivist discourse of twentieth-century modernism, which Byrne largely embraced, societal ills became solvable design problems and the particular was subsumed by the universal. Thus for Byrne architecture was a search for "clarity," which meant solving structural and engineering problems while expressing the building's human purpose. At Cork, he was informed by his apprenticeship under Frank Lloyd Wright and his experience at Unity Temple, filtered through the lens of his experience of modernist expressionism in Europe. Byrne understood architecture as a process whose forms could never be prescribed, only arrived at. Of his Cork church, he said "Modernism was the result. The basis was practical functionalism, imaginatively treated."112 This formula was not in principle divergent from the machine age rationalism of Oud, Gropius, Mies or Le Corbusier, but for the newest most ardent critics like Hitchcock, the "imaginative treatment" at Cork was too redolent of "German Expressionistic medievalism."113 For them, clarity required fully modern materials and technologies like glass and concrete, forms that were smooth and continuous, and decoration that was reduced and abstract, if it existed at all. Forms were supposedly secondary to the "practical functionalism" at the heart of modernism, but in practice, the style-based paradigm was decisive.

Alone in Europe

Italy was great. Met Perret in Paris. That city is now entirely moderne——some of it good.

——Byrne to Iannelli, 17 March 1928114

By the time Byrne's Cork church was being built in 1928, modernism was appearing in church design across Europe. The German Dominikus Bööhm had crafted stark spaces that twisted and abstracted Gothic arches and ribbed groin vaults.115 William Curtis concludes that Bööhm's churches "drew upon the Expressionist interest in elongated motifs and formal accentuations intending to evoke mood," and the dynamic tapered, serrated edges of his Kriegergedäächnis church in New Ulm (1926) may have influenced Byrne's emboldened serrated volumes at Cork.116 Like Perret, Bööhm retained the traditional nave-and-aisles floor plan and placement of pulpits, baptisteries, bell towers, and choir loft——modernizing forms but not reorganizing functions.117 In 1947 Byrne called Bööhm's work "a simplification of medieval types, allied to a considerable esthetic knowledge of primary historic architectural forms" and while considering it the best of this type, he pronounced its contribution to the future of church architecture as "negligible."118

The organ-pipe faççade of Peder Vilhelm Jensen-Klimt's Grundtvig church in Copenhagen, designed before World War I but not completed until 1940, is another expressionist triumph. The interior, in contrast, is more securely Gothic than the work of Byrne or Bööhm, a hall of columns solemnly proceeding from organ and choir loft to sanctuary and altar.

In 1920s Finland, Alvar Aalto's modernism in church design was still discursive. While his 1925 essay "On Our Church Architecture" called for radical simplification, he was still adding classical, Renaissance and Baroque elements to neo-Gothic churches and beginning to experiment with the arrangements of forms in space, especially in the exterior relation of campanile, church, rectory and hall.119 Karl Moser's St. Anthony in Basel, celebrated in The Architectural Record in 1928 alongside Byrne's Tulsa church, went further than Perret or Bööhm in creating a column-free openness in a structurally bold design that nonetheless remained only evolutionary in program.120

Barry Byrne revolutionized the ground plan of the Catholic church in a way European modernists did not. As John F. Ryan noted in The American Architect, "the bulk of these structures [modern European churches] are modernized versions of academic designs."121 While Europeans dressed buildings in the red scarf of the architectural revolution on the outside, they did so without changing the ideas inside. Byrne later said of the Europeans:

The past, and the perfection and finish of the old architectures that surrounded them, made them unable to see the present with the clarity necessary to function adequately as artists. Their excursions into architectural inventiveness, therefore, were in the field of detail and not in that which involved a basic general concept. The United States, however, was not hampered by much in the way of a past, architectural or of any other kind.122

When Europeans did rethink the ground plan, as Otto Bartning did in his Sternkirche project of 1922, the detailing remained traditional and suggestive of historic forms. Rationalism settled in with Bartning's all-steel church of 1928 and Oud's contemporary church at Kiefhoek, but Byrne was convinced that the International Style could not express a church's function:

The relative honesty of the structure of a modern factory building is an admirable thing, and what it reveals in this respect is basic to one aspect of architecture. A church, however, is not a factory nor can the design of it be approached as if what applied in one case fitted with the other. A like honesty, religiously expressed, would be right in a church, and it is a regrettable fact that it so rarely exists there.123

Expressionism abounded in German churches built throughout the 1930s, such as Fritz Hoeger's 1933 Kirche am Hohenzollernplatz, Berlin and Bartning's Gustav-Adolf Kirche in the same city a year later, both of which bear a formal resemblance to Byrne's Cork church. However, regardless of the architectural vocabulary, the ground plan generally remained traditional. In contrast, in designing churches Byrne had discarded bell towers and side aisles, tucked choirs behind the altar, integrated baptisteries into the entrance, and reduced altar and reredos to architectural masses based on the volume they inhabited. However, Byrne worked largely out of sight in the American Midwest and in Ireland, one of the darkest corners of twentieth century Europe, obscuring his unique and vigorous contribution.

Expressionism Returns

The Depression robbed Barry Byrne of his most productive years, but in its aftermath he, Iannelli, and Cremin Byrne continued to design innovative and expressive churches and schools, developing ground plan innovations and helping define the new solidity that modernism came to embrace. Byrne's first church in a decade, the 1939 Sts. Peter and Paul in Pierre, South Dakota, has an unusual splayed plan with two legs that converge on the altar. This split symbolizes the church's dedication to two saints, united in a wall that spans the entrance and rises up into a planar tower with a longitudinal cutout. The building has best qualities of Byrne's midcentury work: strong juxtaposition of solid and void, more fluid treatment of surface, and persistently vigorous geometries. Resolutely modern, the Pierre church was celebrated in Time magazine in 1942 as "The Church Functional."124

In 1950 Byrne, Iannelli, and Cremin Byrne designed the path-breaking fish-shaped St. Francis Xavier church in Kansas City, realized in a postwar vocabulary of limestone, plate glass, and stainless steel. The elliptical body of the church nave rises into a knifelike tower that gives the composition the dynamic quality of a dreadnought, preceded by Iannelli's massive limestone sculpture of St. Francis Xavier (Figure 18).125 The association of the symbol of the fish with earliest Christianity brought meaning to this design, and the "fish church" later became a popular architectural type, although Byrne claimed its genesis was functional.126

Figure 18

Video of Barry Byrne, St. Francis Xavier church, Kansas City, Missouri, 1947––50 (video: Vincent Michael and Ali Zahid)

Figure 18

Video of Barry Byrne, St. Francis Xavier church, Kansas City, Missouri, 1947––50 (video: Vincent Michael and Ali Zahid)

The functional rationale for the fish-shaped plan lay in its good acoustics and visual focus, "so that every eye inevitably flows to the sanctuary and the altar (Figure 19)."127 The new plan allowed Byrne to abandon the physical projection of the sanctuary into the nave, relying on the elongated ellipse to connect the priest to the congregation visually and aurally. The interior is dominated by this elliptical volume, illuminated from the sides by tall windows and from above by a ridged light box. The bases of the piers are darker so they disappear, allowing the white walls and the curving clerestory guide the eye to the sanctuary. The sanctuary in turn is focused on Iannelli's aluminum Christ——robotic and almost menacing——set against a golden cross framed in deep red. Trapezoidal wings frame the ellipse and shelter the baptistery and "mother's room" in the rear and side altars in front.

Figure 19

Barry Byrne, St. Francis Xavier church, , Kansas City, Missouri, 1947––50,interior view of altar area

Figure 19

Barry Byrne, St. Francis Xavier church, , Kansas City, Missouri, 1947––50,interior view of altar area

The clerestory also dominates the exterior of St. Francis, where tall rectangular windows are set in yet taller reveals (Figure 20). At the front of the church, the windowless wing walls converged at the glass entrance doors, while from the side the wings are marked by continuous horizontal windows set in deeply molded frames. The dynamic masses converge into the bell tower and extending out into the elliptical porte cochere. Byrne's language is sleeker than the serrated idiom of his earlier churches: defined by continuous surfaces, sharp contrasts between solid and void, and a suggestion of speed.

Figure 20

Barry Byrne, St. Francis Xavier church, Kansas City, Missouri, 1947––50, side view

Figure 20

Barry Byrne, St. Francis Xavier church, Kansas City, Missouri, 1947––50, side view

Byrne repeated the form in concrete and limestone a year later at St. Columba's church in St. Paul, Minnesota. Unlike St. Francis, the entrance is polished metal rather than glass, but still reads as a void pressed beneath the bell tower. In St. Columba the forms are rounded, from the cylindrical tower itself to the piers supporting the clerestory and the wing walls flanking the entrance, replacing the blunted hexagonal forms seen at St. Francis. The interior features the same elliptical volume as St. Francis, accented by a deep underlit ceiling cove, but the undersized main altar with its traditional crucifixion figure does not rise to the anticipation of the sweeping nave.

In the 1950s Byrne had found a formal language for the Jet Age. He continued to explore new ground plan geometries at London, Ontario (St. Patrick's church, 1952) and Atchison Kansas (St. Benedict's Abbey, 1961). At London Byrne accentuated the expressiveness of the interior with oversized clerestory windows and very small horizontal bands of windows in the nave, creating a more distant and hence dramatic lighting effect. He also designed several Catholic seminaries in the 1950s, with chapels that lacked the projecting sanctuary. As in the fish churches, Byrne used the plan to unite the congregation and celebrant, highlighting the altar and using the oversized clerestory to fill the space with light without distracting attention from the altar. At St. Columban Seminary in Milton, Massachusetts (1953); Briarcliff College in Sioux City, Iowa (1959); and Holy Redeemer College in Windsor, Ontario (1958) tall glass block windows invisible from the nave allow light to flow onto the altars.128 Byrne reversed the lighting scheme of Cork, now using tall windows to illuminate the altar rather than the nave. Like Cork, the walls and setback voids create the same enigmatic relationship between lithic exterior and light-filled interior.

By the 1950s, the great modernists whom Byrne had met in the 1920s were designing churches, and even Le Corbusier was preoccupied by sacred architecture in his chapel at Ronchamp and La Tourette monastery.129 Expressionism returned in the staggered massing and rich textures of Alvar Aalto, while Oscar Niemeyer and Felix Candela brought new structural technologies to increasingly bold Catholic church designs. The industrial Puritanism of Neue Sachlichkeit was gone, and emotion and humanism had returned to architecture. Modernism was again as rich and varied as it had been in the early 1920s.

Barry Byrne was a lifelong modernist who never abandoned emotion, and his postwar buildings, like his early works, exhibit skin like envelopment, geometric dynamism, and surface tension. He never gave up masonry solidity for the crystalline glass and steel that enraptured critics in the late 1920s, nor did he delve into the structural bravado of folded slabs or parabolic concrete forms that rose to popularity in the 1950s and '60s. Practicing and writing until his death in 1967, two days shy of his eighty-fourth birthday, Barry Byrne created architecture that always harmonized with the European expressionism he had seen firsthand in 1924, when all modernisms were possible.


The author acknowledges the invaluable suggestions of Dr. David Brownlee in the research and editing of this article.

Henry-Russell Hitchcock, Jr., Modern Architecture: Romanticism and Reintegration (New York: Payson & Clarke, 1929).

Reyner Banham, Theory and Design In The First Machine Age (London: The Architectural Press, 1960).

Byrne and Iannelli first worked together on the design of several houses in 1914, including the Clarke House in Fairfield, Iowa and the Franke House in Fort Wayne, Indiana. See H. Allen Brooks, Prairie School Architecture: Studies from The Western Architect (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1975) and Dixie Legler, Prairie Style: Houses and Gardens by Frank Lloyd Wright and the Prairie School (New York: Stewart, Tabori and Chang, 1999). The last documented collaboration found in the Francis Barry Byrne archives at the Chicago History Museum was a competition entry for a fountain in Philadelphia's Fairmount Park in 1964.

Sarah Williams Goldhagen, "Something to Talk About: Modernism, Discourse, Style," JSAH 64, no. 2 (June 2005), 145.

Banham, Theory and Design in the First Machine Age. See also Vincent L. Michael, "Signs and Designs in the Time without Style," Design Issues 18, no. 2 (May 2002), 65––77.

All of Byrne's surviving design drawings are held in the Francis Barry Byrne Collection of the Chicago History Museum, which also contains project files, letters, and other documents from the late 1930s to late 1960s. Documents from Byrne's earlier career were apparently lost in the 1950s. The six letters from the 1924 European trip survived in the private collection of Annette Cremin Byrne (1898––1990), who had retained all of the correspondence from their six-year courtship. This material is currently in the possession of Byrne's granddaughter, Felicity Rich.

Byrne biographer Sally Chappell argues Byrne was never a Miesian modernist since he never abandoned ornament and worked in an expressionistic vein. Sally Chappell, Interview with the author, 23 July 1998.

Mark Jarzombek, "Joseph August Lux: Werkbund Promoter, Historian of a Lost Modernity" in JSAH 63, no. 2 (June 2004), 202––19. Jarzombek cites Bruce Berglund's explorations of Catholic moderns in the former Czechoslovakia but no American studies.

Nikolaus Pevsner, An Outline of European Architecture, 7th ed. (London: Penguin Books, 1963), 286.

Frank Lloyd Wright, An Autobiography (New York: Duell, Sloan and Pierce, 1943), 237.

See Paul Kruty, Walter Burley Griffin in America (Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1996) and Paul Kruty, Frank Lloyd Wright and Midway Gardens (Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1998), although Kruty downplays Byrne and Iannelli's contributions. See also Christopher Vernon, "An Accidental Australian: Walter Burley Griffin's Australian-American Landscape Art," in The Griffins in Australia and India, ed. Jeff Turnbull and Peter Y. Navaretti (Melbourne: Melbourne University Press, 1998).

As a youth Netsch would walk past the building as he carried water home from the filtration plant and always admired its geometry. The comment appears in "Architects of Chicago Culture: Interviews with Ramsey Lewis and Walter Netsch" Chicago History 32, no. 1 (Summer 2003), 65, and was also reported to the author in a personal interview on 9 May 2003.

Barry Byrne, "Christ King Church——Cork, Ireland," The Western Architect 38 (Oct. 1929), 176.

"The Evolution of a Personal Style as Shown in the Work of Barry Byrne and Ryan Company," The Western Architect 33 (March 1924), 30––35 and plates.

Shannon, a graduate of the University of Chicago and editor of the Catholic Daily World newspaper, commissioned Byrne five times between 1916 and 1922. Kelley later became Bishop in Tulsa and brought Byrne to design a church there in 1925.

Barry Byrne, transcribed interview by Jean Hunt, 5 April 1961. Byrne Family collection.

Barry Byrne, "Plan for a Church," Liturgical Arts 10 (May 1942), 58.

Alcuin Reid, O.S.B., The Organic Development of the Liturgy (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2005), is one of the more comprehensive treatments of Catholic Liturgical Movement in the early twentieth century. Pope Saint Pius X issued his motu propio Tra le solecitudini promoting ecclesiastical music in 1903, his Sacra Tridentia Synodus promoting frequent communion in 1905 and reformed the Roman breviary in 1911. For discussions of the role of architecture and liturgical history, see Theodor Klauser, A Short History of the Western Liturgy (Oxford, New York, Toronto, and Melbourne: Oxford University Press 1979), Peter Hammond, Liturgy and Architecture (New York: Columbia University Press, 1961) and Edward Foley, From Age to Age: How Christians Have Celebrated the Eucharist (Chicago: Liturgy Training Publications, 1991).

Reid, The Organic Development of the Liturgy. Also, Keith Pecklers, S.J., The Unread Vision: The Liturgical Movement in the United States of America, 1926––1955 (Collegeville, Minnesota: Liturgical Press, 1998), mentions Byrne in regard to his later 1950s churches, but the book's title alone indicates that Byrne was designing liturgically modern churches before the arrival of the movement in the U.S.

Reid, The Organic Development of the Liturgy, 78––85.

Pecklers, The Unread Vision: The Liturgical Movement in the United States of America, 1926––1955. See also Susan J. White, Art, Architecture and Liturgical Reform: The Liturgical Arts Society (1928––1972) (New York: Pueblo Publishing Company, 1990), who calls Byrne the "litmus test" for liturgical movement architecture by the 1930s.

Father Shannon was a progressive intellectual but it is not clear that he was a liturgical reformer. Father Kelley, who celebrated the first mass at St. Thomas, may well have been, for he later commissioned Byrne to design a church in Tulsa and as bishop there promoted Byrne's work into the postwar era.

Byrne acquired a passport and booked passage on the Leviathan for May 3. Byrne to Cremin, 15 April 1924. Byrne Family collection.

Byrne to Cremin, 17 April 1924. Byrne Family collection.

Charles Jencks, Modern Movements in Architecture, 2nd ed. (London: Penguin Books, 1985), 34.

The diversity of the early 1920s European avant-garde is still perhaps best analyzed in Banham, Theory and Design in the First Machine Age. See also Alan Colquhoun, Modern Architecture (Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2002); William J. R. Curtis, Modern Architecture since 1900, 3rd. ed. (London: Phaidon Press, 1996), Kenneth Frampton, Modern Architecture: A Critical History (London: Thames and Hudson, 1992).

Sell was the book review editor for the Chicago Daily News and editor at Harper's Bazaar.

Byrne to Cremin, 17 April 1924. Byrne Family collection. "Tallman" is almost certainly Carl C. Tallman of Ithaca, New York, where Byrne and Iannelli had done extensive work on the Morse estate in 1917.

The celebrated visit of Theo Van Doesburg in 1922 must also be considered in assessing the philosophical shift at Weimar.

In May of 1925 Feininger wrote Byrne of the impending move of the Bauhaus to Dessau while complementing him on the reviews of his work in the Western Architect. In 1929 he told Byrne of Gropius retirement, the new Bauhaus in Dessau, complimented Byrne on his Cork church design, and agreed with the American that the word modernist was distasteful and unfortunate. In 1931 he sent drawings and prints as Christmas gifts, including a sketch and note from Mies. Lyonel Feininger to Byrne, 14 May, 1925, 13 April 1929, 11 Dec. 1929 and 5 July 1931, Francis Barry Byrne collection, 1993.113 NA, Chicago History Museum.

No secretary's diary or similar log of the early years of the Bauhaus survives to corroborate Byrne's letters home. Christian Wolsdorff, Bauhaus-Archiv Museum füür Gestaltung, letter to the author, 30 March 2003.

Deutsche Bauzeituung, 3 July 1924. Gropius was one of several scheduled speakers at the Dresdener Stäädtbauwoche from June 2 through 7. Byrne wrote home from Weimar on June 5. The discussion with Meyer is documented in Margaret Kentgens-Craig, The Bauhaus and America: First Contacts, 1919––1936 (Cambridge and London: MIT Press 1999), 80––81.

I surmise that Mrs. Walbrich in the letter is Olbricht, the wife of Weimar Academy of Fine Art painter Alexander Olbricht, given Byrne's frequent misspellings of German names as well as the fact that the two Weimar academies were on friendly terms in 1922––24. The Academy of Fine Art had reopened in 1921 under Walther Klemm and Richard Englemann. In the 1922 Erste Thüüringische Kunstaustellung (First Thuringian art exhibition) at the Landesmuseum Weimar the Bauhaus artists Itten, Klee, Marcks, Muche, and Schreyer were exhibited on one side and the Academy artists Olbricht, Felix Mesek and Hugo Gugg on the other. Karl-Heinz Hüüter, Das Bauhaus in Weimar: Studie zur gesellschaftspolitischen geschichte einer deutscher Kunstschule (Berlin: Akademie, 1976).

Byrne to Cremin, 6 June 1924. Byrne Family collection.

The only American description of the Weimar Bauhaus was an article by Irving K. Pond in the Journal of the American Institute of Architects published in May 1924. Art school directors William Valentiner (Detroit) and Herman Sachs (Chicago) had also visited Weimar by 1924. Kentgens-Craig, The Bauhaus and America: First Contacts, 1919––1936.

Frampton traces the term Neue Sachlichkeit to journalist G. F. Hartlaub in 1924. Frampton, Modern Architecture: A Critical History, 130ff.

Byrne to Cremin 17 June 1924, on Grand Hotel Coomans stationery. Byrne Family collection. On 10 June 1924, Mies wrote to J. J. P. Oud in Rotterdam, using Iannelli's Park Ridge stationery, now in Oud archives, NAi collections, Amsterdam. This significant early meeting of Mies and Byrne has been overlooked because Howard Dearnstyne, who translated for Mies when he visited Byrne in New York in 1938, reported it was their first meeting, an error repeated in Inland Architect, 1968 and Phyllis Lambert, Mies in America (New York: Harry N. Abrams, 2001). Otto Firle had several homes and interiors published in July 1924 in Innen-Dekoration featuring relatively sedate "Heimat" houses with interior furnishings indicating the arrival of Art Deco through the use of extensive zig-zag and chevron motifs in elements such as fireplaces.

Franz Schulze, Mies van der Rohe: A Critical Biography (Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, 1985), 89ff.

G 3 (June 1924). For an image see Steven Heller and Louise Fili, German Modern: Graphic Design from Wilhelm to Weimar (San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 1998).

Hitchcock, Modern Architecture: Romanticism and Reintegration, 184.

Byrne to Howard Dearstyne, 21 Aug. 1950, Francis Barry Byrne Collection, Correspondence files, Chicago History Museum.

Thanks to David van Zanten for bringing Mies's connection to Guardini to my attention. Sonnenschein was the organizer of liberal Catholicism in Berlin. Mies's library, donated to the University of Illinois at Chicago in 1970, includes 13 titles by Guardini, dating from 1921 to 1950, the second largest grouping by a single author. I am further indebted to Christian Wolsdorff of the Bauhaus-Archiv Museum füür Gestaltung in Berlin for bringing Mies's association with Sonnenschein to my attention.

Byrne, "Christ-King Church——Cork, Ireland," Western Architect 38 (Oct. 1929), 176.

Schulze, Mies, 94.

Frampton, Modern Architecture: A Critical History, 120. Frampton says Mendelsohn tried to steer a "reconcilatory programme" between the "mere construction" of the Rotterdam School and the Amsterdam School's danger of being "destroyed by the fire of its own dynamism."

Erich Mendelsohn, Letters of an Architect (London: Abelard-Schuman, 1967). Mendelsohn spent the majority of his visit in Chicago with Byrne and then two days in Taliesin with Wright and Richard Neutra. Mendelsohn's letters home claimed he was the first European to visit Wright and the latter's work was by far the highlight of his trip.

See especially Sally Kitt Chappell and Ann Van Zanten, Barry Byrne John Lloyd Wright Architecture & Design (Chicago: Chicago Historical Society, 1982). Byrne referenced their plans to visit Poelzig in the letter to Annette Cremin 6 June 1924.

Byrne mentions a plan to visit Hanover in Byrne to Cremin 6 June 1924 but does not later report on the visit.

Byrne to Cremin, 17 June 1924. Byrne Family collection.

Samuel Jessurun de Mesquita taught M. C. Escher at the Kunstnijverheid.

See Curtis, Modern Architecture Since 1900, esp. chap. 9.

Wijdeveld to Le Corbusier, on Wendigen stationery, 17 June 1924, private collection of Wilbert R. Hasbrouck.

Oud to Iannelli, 11 May 1925. Francis Barry Byrne collection, Correspondence Files, Chicago History Museum. The Oud archives at NAi collections in Amsterdam contain several pieces of correspondence between Oud and the Americans, including a letter from Knut Lonberg-Holm 1 July 1924 referencing Byrne and Iannelli, at least four letters from Iannelli starting with one of 19 July 1924 after his return to America, and letters from Byrne on 7 Dec. 1924, 22 July 1925, and 15 Nov. 1928. The 1924 letter references the recent Chicago visit of Erich Mendelsohn.

For an illustration of Block IX in Spangen (demolished 1993) see Eva von Engleberg, JJP Oud: zwischen De Stijl und klassicher Tradition (Berlin: Mann, 2000), 413. Tusschendijken has a similar faççade format without the brick redentations.

Hitchcock, Modern Architecture: Romanticism and Reintegration, 180––81.

The Francis Barry Byrne collection at the Chicago History Museum contains three postcards from Oud to Byrne, including one of Cafe De Unie, sent 1 Aug. 1925. The Netherlands Architectural Institute's Oud archives also contains letters and cards from Byrne and Iannelli in the same period. One of the key links between American and European Modernists was Knut Lonberg-Holm. Correspondence between Oud and Lonberg-Holm was especially voluminous during the 1923––25 period, including references to Byrne and Iannelli. Netherlands Architectural Institute archives, index of Oud correspondence provided by collections administrator Ellen Smit.

Noel Frackman, John Storrs (New York: Whitney Museum of American Art, 1987), 60. Byrne and Iannelli met Storrs during a 1923 exhibit in Chicago, and had planned to meet him in Paris, but forgot his address. They then bumped into him at a Modernist play shortly after arriving, revisiting and buying the sculptures on their return to Paris after Germany and the Netherlands. On this second visit Byrne suggested a future collaboration.

Wijdeveld to Le Corbusier 17 June 1924. Private collection of Wilbert R. Hasbrouck. A 2002 search of the digital archives of the Fondation Le Corbusier in Paris found no mention of the Americans, so it is assumed that the letter of introduction survived because it was not used.

Chappell and Van Zanten, Barry Byrne John Lloyd Wright Architecture & Design. Chappell notes that Byrne saw Perret's 1903 25 bis rue Franklin apartment building. The Raincy church was published in America later that year. William D. Foster, "A French Expression of Modern Architecture: The Church of Notre Dame, at Le Raincy, Seine et Oise" Architectural Record, 56, no. 2 (Aug. 1924). Byrne did visit Perret on his return to Paris in 1928.

For a view of the elevation, interior and plan of Notre Dame du Raincy, see Dennis Sharp, Twentieth Century Architecture: A Visual History (New York: Facts on File, 1991).

Plans, sections, elevations and photos of the du Raincy church were featured in current issues of both L'Architecte and L'Architecture.

In Byrne's library was the 1924 volume The New Vision in the German Arts by Herman George Scheffauer (New York: B. W. Huebsch, 1924) which included a chapter on "Activisitic Architecture" celebrating Erich Mendelsohn. Byrne Family collection.

Byrne was the same age as Gropius and about three years older than Mies, Bööhm, Oud, and Le Corbusier. Banham called this the Rationalist generation, architects enchanted by the diagrammatic drawings of Choisy. In contrast, Curtis stresses the enduring spirituality and classicizing tendencies of Mies and Le Corbusier. Banham, Theory and Design in the First Machine Age, 25. Curtis, Modern Architecture Since 1900.

Hitchcock, Modern Architecture: Romanticism and Reintegration, 157.

Hitchcock toured Europe in 1922 and served a fellowship in 1924––25 but showed no interest in modernism until he read Vers une architecture in late 1926. Elaine S. Hochman, Bauhaus: Crucible of Modernism (New York: Fromm International, 1997), 178. Hitchcock first wrote about modernism in 1927. Kentgens-Craig, The Bauhaus and America: First Contacts, 1919––1936, 25.

Herman George Scheffauer, The New Vision in the German Arts (New York: B.W. Huebsch, 1924), 176.

See Dietrich Neumann, "Three Early Designs by Mies van der Rohe," Perspecta 27, 1992.

The Marywood Academy in Evanston, Illinois by architect D. A. Bohlen was built by Barry Byrne Company and commissioned at the time of the European trip. It also appears the construction end of the firm completed Alvernia High School in Chicago by architect Brust & Phillipp at a slightly later date. Both are pictured in the catalog Barry Byrne Company (Chicago: Universal Press Publishers, ca. 1926).

H. Allen Brooks, The Prairie School: Frank Lloyd Wright and His Midwest Contemporaries (New York and London: W.W. Norton, 1972); Martin Hackl, The Architecture of John Van Bergen, self-published monograph, 2004.

The exhibit ran from 22 Dec. 1925 through 26 Jan. 1926 and also included a stained-glass window of the Holy Family, now in the Smith Museum of Stained Glass, Chicago. Art Institute of Chicago Exhibition catalogs, Ryerson/Burnham Library, Art Institute of Chicago.

See David Gilson DeLong, The Architecture of Bruce Goff: Buildings and Projects, 1916––1974 (New York: Garland, 1977).

Bruce Goff archives, Burnham Library, Art Institute of Chicago. Goff is also frequently mentioned in 1940s and 1950s correspondence between Byrne and Iannelli found in the Francis Barry Byrne Collection of the Chicago History Museum.

Ann C. Byrne, "The Stories," unpublished manuscript, 1995, 28.

Annette Cremin also worked with Iannelli and had business cards printed identifying her with Iannelli Studios. Byrne Family collection.

Patrick W. Carey, Catholics In America (Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Publishing Group, 2004), 83ff.

White, Art, Architecture, and Liturgical Reform, 156.

Ralph Adams Cram, "A Challenge to Mr. Chapman," The Commonweal 1 (3 Dec. 1924), 88.

Douglass Shand Tucci. Ralph Adams Cram: AmericanMedievalist (Boston: Boston Public Library, 1975), 5.

Barry Byrne, "A Gesture of Impotence," The Commonweal 1 (25 Feb. 1925), 436.

Letters by Thomas Coakley of Pittsburgh on 4 March 1925 and Oliver Reagan of New York City, The Commonweal 1 (11 March 1925). Byrne responded in the 25 March issue.

Barry Byrne, "A New Architecture," The Commonweal 2 (25 Nov. 1925), 83.

Cram's article boasted of wide naves in Gothic churches, including a 76-foot clear span, nearly 20 feet less than Barry Byrne achieved at St. Thomas Apostle. See Sally Anderson Chappell, "Barry Byrne: Architecture and Writings" unpublished doctoral dissertation, Northwestern University, 1968. Chappell quotes the response in full but it is not clear whether it was ever published.

Lewis Mumford, "Architecture and Catholicism," The Commonweal 2 (15 April 1925).

Lewis Mumford, "A Modern Catholic Architect," The Commonweal 5 (2 March 1927).

Chappell, Sally Anderson, "Barry Byrne: Architecture and Writings," PhD diss., Northwestern University, 1968. See also Robert Wojtowicz, Lewis Mumford and American Modernism (Cambridge, New York and Melbourne: Cambridge University Press, 1998), 55––56.

Lewis Mumford, "American Architecture To-day: The Third of a Series Analyzing and Criticizing Our Modern Architecture in Several Important Phases. III: Monumental Architecture," Architecture 58, no. 4 (Oct. 1928), 193.

Mumford, "A Modern Catholic Architect," The Commonweal 5 (2 March 1927), 458––59.

Ibid. Mumford had previously outlined the criteria for modernity in Catholic churches and was pleasantly surprised that Byrne was already following this tack.

Barry Byrne to Bishop Cohalan, 16 May 1927. Archives of Christ the King Church, Cork, Ireland.


Each serration is 4 feet 4 inches in both dimensions, reduced to two half steps of 2 feet 2 inches before reaching the side wall. Architectural drawings of Christ the King Church, FBB––54, Francis Barry Byrne Collection, Chicago History Museum.

Drawing entitled "Sketched on shipboard enroute to Ireland——1st stage of idea," 1928, Francis Barry Byrne collection, Chicago History Museum.

Sheet 3 dated May 9, 1928, Architectural drawings of Christ the King Church, FBB––54, Francis Barry Byrne Collection, Chicago History Museum.

Chappell, "Barry Byrne: Architecture and Writings," 100.

Chappell, and Van Zanten, Barry Byrne John Lloyd Wright Architecture & Design, 25.

Information about Iannelli Studios is courtesy of Tim Samuelson. It is possible that Byrne intended to bring Iannelli in to design interior finishes but by the time this work was going forward, his financial condition had changed radically for the worse.

Byrne to Bishop Cohalan, 26 April 1928. Archives of Christ the King Church, Cork, Ireland.

John F. Ryan, "Modernism Goes to Church," American Architect 138 (Nov. 1930), 50ff.

Architectural drawings of Christ the King Church, FBB-54, Francis Barry Byrne Collection, Chicago History Museum. See also the discussion in Frackman John Storrs, 82ff. In 1930 Byrne expressed preference for an earlier plaster of the figure rather than Storrs's "final" almost life-size version. Storrs changed the sculpture and agreed to a 20 percent reduction in the commission.

Byrne to Bishop Cohalan, 23 Nov. 1927. Archives of Christ the King Church, Cork, Ireland.

Architectural drawings of Christ the King church, FBB––54, Francis Barry Byrne Collection, Chicago History Museum, sheet 3 dated May 9, 1928 and revised sheet D3 dated Jan. 30, 1929. The original scheme had four steps on the interior ceiling. The ceiling steps are not square but canted, suggesting the plan without mimicking it. Byrne modified the detailing of the ceiling, replacing parallel chords with perpendicular ones at the suggestion of Bruce Goff. Byrne to Goff, 18 Nov. 1930, Bruce Goff Archives, Series I Box 4, Burnham Library, Art Institute of Chicago.

Byrne to Bishop Cohalan, 16 May 1927. Christ the King church, Cork. In 1997 Pastor Father Eddie Keohan's only criticism of the church was that the altar is too high, reflecting the current, post––Vatican II liturgical fashion. Conversation of the author with Father Eddie Keohan, 13 Aug. 1997.

Byrne to Bishop Cohalan, 16 May 1927. Archives of Christ the King Church, Cork, Ireland.

Byrne to Bishop Cohalan, 23 Nov. 1927. Archives of Christ the King Church, Cork, Ireland. Byrne further described the crucifixion: "This [the colossal crucifixion] might be treated as more particularly representative of the perpetual sacrifice, rather than the actual death of Our Lord, if desired. This would possibly relate to the entrance, in idea, more particularly to the scheme of the church which centers about the Eucharistic Altar. The two doorways, in connection with the figure of Our Lord, have a happy significance."

Cremin Byrne's curved leading pattern was abandoned for a simplified diaper scheme Architectural drawings of Christ the King Church, FBB––54, Francis Barry Byrne Collection, Chicago History Museum. Window detail drawing dated 17 March 1931.

"Church Was Once Storm Center of Controversy," unlabeled newspaper clipping, ca. 1981, Church of Christ the King folder, Cork Public Library.

Clipping from Cork Evening Echo, 26 Oct. 1931, Christ the King folder, Cork Public Library.

"Cork's New Church; The Opening Ceremony," Irish Times, 26 Oct. 1931.

James Johnson Sweeney, "Barry Byrne and New Forms in Church Construction," Creative Art (Summer 1932), 61ff.

Sean Rothery, "Ireland and the New Architecture, 1900––1940," in 20th-Century Architecture: Ireland (Munich and New York: Prestel, 1997), 20.

Paul Larmour, "Twentieth-Century Church Architecture in Ireland" in 20th-Century Architecture: Ireland, 63.

Barry Byrne, "Christ-King Church——Cork, Ireland," in Brooks, Prairie School Architecture: Studies from The Western Architect, 175.

Hitchcock, Modern Architecture: Romanticism and Reintegration, 117.

Barry Byrne, postcard to Alfonso Iannelli, 17 March 1928. Collection of Timothy J. Samuelson.

Bööhm's work, notably his church in New Ulm, was featured in Der Baumeister 25, no. 10 (Oct. 1927), 250ff. For more about Bööhm's work in context, see John Zukowsky, The Many Faces of Modern Architecture: Building in Germany between the World Wars (New York and Munich: Prestel, 1994).

Curtis, Modern Architecture since 1900, 298.

Der Baumeister, Oct. 1927, 250ff. Plans of several of Bööhm's churches are included in the feature.

Byrne, Barry, "Toward a New Architecture of Worship," Architectural Record 102 (Sept. 1947), 94.

See Goran Schildt, Alvar Aalto: The Early Years (New York: Rizzoli, 1984). Aalto restored or rebuilt seven churches in the 1920s and produced sixteen unbuilt designs in the same period. Schildt characterizes his work before 1928 as "his period of unadulterated Renaissance inspiration" (185). Even his unbuilt competition entries from the pre-1928 period seem Renaissance inspired and clearly antedate a pronounced modernism that would become a mastery by the 1950s.

Curtis, Modern Architecture since 1900, 300.

John F. Ryan, "Modernism Goes to Church," American Architect, Nov. 1930, 52.

Barry Byrne, "From These Roots," American Benedictine Review 2, no. 2 (1951), 138.

Barry Byrne, "Toward a New Architecture of Worship," Architectural Record 102 (Sept. 1947), 95.

"The Church Functional," Time, March 23, 1942.

Byrne to William Purcell, 5 March, 1956. Correspondence files, Francis Barry Byrne Collection, Chicago History Museum. The comment was in response to Purcell's praise of the church, which Byrne noted "recalls what Huysmans wrote of Chartres, and of medieval cathedrals in general: that they all looked as if they could sail away. I suppose our churches look as if they might "steam" away. I generally like a non-static quality in architecture." The Kansas City Star of 30 July 1950 noted the "cry" room, which was featured in the May/June 1951 issue of PPG Products, the supplier of the soundproof glass. Byrne had also included a "cry" room at Pierre.

For example, Wallace K. Harrison's First Presbyterian Church in Stamford Connecticut, often identified as a fish-shape, was designed between 1953 and 1958, long after Byrne's was published. Victoria Newhouse, Wallace K. Harrison, Architect (New York: Rizzoli, 1989).

Daniel A. Lord, S.J., "Architecture Moves Forward" in Canadian Register and Canada's National News Weekly, both 5 Aug. 1950, clippings in St. Francis Xavier Parish archives, Kansas City.

St. Columbanus Seminary, Milton, Massachusetts, Barry Byrne Collection, Chicago History Museum, Drawings from file FBB-108. The photo files also contain several images of the chapel interior, which was converted along with the rest of the complex into a nursing home in 1982.

Frampton, Modern Architecture: A Critical History, 227.