Welcome to the soft launch of the Medieval America website! Here you can get a brief overview of our project or you can aggressively follow our blog for stories and snippets about the medieval European buildings now scattered across the U.S.
What Is Medieval America?
Medieval America is a pop history project chronicling the early to mid twentieth-century trade in medieval European buildings moved to the U.S. This website is primarily intended to compile the work we've produced for various venues and provide updates on ongoing research as we track down some big chunks of medieval architecture all across the U.S.
Where Can I Learn More?
Atlas Obscura published the original iteration of our project. Many scholars are writing about American collectors of medieval art, architecture, and sculpture, from the crowds flocking to Cleveland to see the Guelph Treasure to the, uh, contrasts in taste that distinguish Isabella Stewart Gardner's collecting of Italian sculpture from Hearst's later conquests. The catalog Medieval Art in America and the special issue of the Journal of the History of Collections on Gothic Art in America have more context and more specifics, while you can find more examples of medieval sculpture, some of it architectural, in the recently completed Gothic Sculpture in America. For a lifetime's worth of work on the international trade in architectural salvage and period rooms, check out Moving Rooms. If you want a closer look at how the historical sausage is made, see Leslie Bussis Tait's dissertation, "Sculpture from the Church and Cloister from Saint-Pons-de-Thomières," if you have access, for an example of the breathtaking level of archival and stylistic sleuthing required to piece together what medieval buildings actually ended up where.
Who Are We?
Brianna Nofil and Jake Purcell, Ph.D. candidates at Columbia University in American and medieval history respectively, started the project after being told that they would never find something to collaborate on. Since, they have received funding from the Mellon-supported History in Action program at Columbia University, visited a handful of states and dozens of archives, and published and presented their work in and at various venues. They continue to be on speaking terms.