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Guide to the Papers of William Halsey Wood
circa 1865-1982
 MS 141

New-York Historical Society
170 Central Park West
New York, NY 10024
(212) 873-3400


New-York Historical Society

Collection processed by Luis Rodriguez

This finding aid was produced using ArchivesSpace on May 21, 2022
Description is in English.

Descriptive Summary

Creator: Wood, William Halsey, 1855-1897
Title: William Halsey Wood papers
Dates [inclusive]: circa 1865-1982 (bulk 1888-1897)
Abstract: The William Halsey Wood Papers consist of architectural drawings, photographs, personal correspondence, clippings, and other material related to the life of the architect William Halsey Wood (1855-1897).
Quantity: 4 Linear feet (3 archives boxes, 1 flat box)
Location: Materials in this collection may be stored offsite. For more information on making arrangements to consult them, please visit www.nyhistory.org/library/visit.
Language: The documents in the collection are in English.
Call Phrase: MS 141

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Biographical / Historical

William Halsey Wood (1855-1897) was born on April 24, 1855 in Danville, NY to Daniel Halsey Wood and Hannah Bell Lippincott. The family moved to Newark, NJ, where Halsey Wood was educated at the Episcopal House of Prayer parish school. In 1870 he began an apprenticeship with the architect John F. Miller in Newark. After leaving the unsuccessful firm Taylor, Roberts and Wood, he opened his own office in 1879. The same year, he completed the William Clark House, which was followed by a number of other notable domestic projects, including his own home, "Winmarleigh".

His ecclesiastical designs, meanwhile, reached a height in 1888, when he entered his drawings for "Jerusalem, the Golden" into the design competition for the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City. While his design was not ultimately accepted, he continued to work on a number of other prominent religious buildings, primarily Episcopal churches in New Jersey and New York. Like other noteworthy architects of the period, he tended to embrace a version of eclecticism that combined historic European styles with modern American sensibilities.

In 1889 he married Florence Hemsley in Tannersville, NY. They had three children. Halsey Wood died in 1897 in Philadelphia, PA at age 41.

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Scope and Contents

The collection contains correspondence, architectural drawings, photographs, clippings, and other material related to the personal and professional life of William Halsey Wood. A primary focus is his design for the Cathedral of St. John the Divine. Additionally, there are drawings and clippings related to approximately two dozen additional projects, the majority of which are churches. The design for his home "Winmarleigh" in Newark, NJ is also prominent. Correspondence and other personal materials describe the architect's youth and wedding, followed later by his illness and death.

Arrangement

The material is arranged into two primary series: Personal Papers and Project Records. The former contains personal and biographical material and the latter documents the architectural output of William Halsey Wood. A third series contains mainly secondary source material sent to the repository decades after the initial donation.

Series I: Personal Papers

Series II: Project Records

Series III: Additional Donation

Material is arranged chronologically where appropriate. See series descriptions for more detail.

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Access Points

Subject Names

  • Carnegie, Andrew, 1835-1919

Document Type

  • Architectural drawings (visual works)
  • Clippings (information artifacts)
  • Correspondence.
  • Photographic prints.
  • Sketchbooks.

Subject Topics

  • Architecture -- Competitions -- United States.
  • Architecture -- United States.
  • Church buildings -- New York (State) -- New York -- Design and construction.
  • Weddings -- United States.

Subject Places

  • Manhattan (New York, N.Y.)
  • Newark (N.J.)

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Administrative Information

Access Restrictions

Materials in this collection may be stored offsite. For more information on making arrangements to consult them, please visit www.nyhistory.org/library/visit.

Use restrictions

Taking images of documents from the library collections for reference purposes by using hand-held cameras and in accordance with the library's photography guidelines is encouraged. As an alternative, patrons may request up to 20 images per day from staff.

Application to use images from this collection for publication should be made in writing to: Department of Rights and Reproductions, The New-York Historical Society, 170 Central Park West, New York, NY 10024-5194, rightsandrepro@nyhistory.org. Phone: (212) 873-3400 ext. 282.

Copyrights and other proprietary rights may subsist in individuals and entities other than the New-York Historical Society, in which case the patron is responsible for securing permission from those parties. For fuller information about rights and reproductions from N-YHS visit: https://www.nyhistory.org/about/rights-reproductions

Preferred Citation

This collection should be cited as William Halsey Wood Papers, MS 141, The New-York Historical Society.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of William Halsey Wood Jr. and Emily Hemsley Burrows (children), 1955.

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Container List

Series I: Personal Papers, circa 1865-1938

Scope and Contents

The personal papers consist of correspondence, travel sketches, and biographical material related to the life and death of William Halsey Wood.

Subseries I.A: Correspondence, 1889-1897

Scope and Contents

The correspondence consists primarily of letters written by William Halsey Wood to his fiancé Florence Hemsley in the months leading up their marriage in 1889. Wedding preparations are the focus of this correspondence, but there is also mention of the work being done on Peddie Memorial Church, the plans for the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine, and a meeting with Andrew Carnegie. There are also letters to WHW from Florence Hemsley (Florence H. Wood) and her mother, Emily Hemsley, as well as correspondence regarding the illness and death of WHW. The correspondence is partially catalogued at item level in the onsite manuscript card catalog.

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 1 Folder : 1 William Halsey Wood to Florence Hemsley
1889 September 8-15
Box: 1 Folder : 2 William Halsey Wood to Florence Hemsley
1889 September 16 - 1889 October 4
Box: 1 Folder : 3 William Halsey Wood to Florence Hemsley
1889 October 7-15
Box: 1 Folder : 4 William Halsey Wood to Florence Hemsley
1889 October 16-25
Box: 1 Folder : 5 William Halsey Wood to Florence Hemsley
1889 November 3-13
Box: 1 Folder : 5 Outgoing from William Halsey Wood, additional recipients
1890-1897
Box: 1 Folder : 6 Florence Hemsley to William Halsey Wood
1889
Box: 1 Folder : 6 Emily Hemsley to William Halsey Wood
1889
Box: 1 Folder : 7 Various senders re: wedding, illness and death
1889, 1897

Subseries I.B: Sketchbooks, 1875-1881

Scope and Contents

There are two sketchbooks. The first (1875-1876) contains rough drawings of existing buildings and hypothetical designs. The latter contains drawings from a European trip in July and August 1881. Both are reflective of Halsey Wood's design education.

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 2 Folder : 1 Early sketchbook
1875-1876
Box: 2 Folder : 1 Travel sketchbook
1881

Subseries I.C: Biographical Records, circa 1865-1938

Scope and Contents

The subseries contains a copy of "Memories of William Halsey Wood by his wife" (Florence Hemsley Wood), accompanied by additional copies of plates and illustrations. There are also memorial and obituary clippings, a will, and related ephemera.

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 2 Folder : 2 Personal ephemera
1889-1918
Box: 2 Folder : 3 Portraits
circa 1865-1890
Box: 2 Folder : 4 "Memories of William Halsey Wood" by his wife [Florence H. Wood]
1938
Box: 2 Folder : 4 Illustrations from "Memories of William Halsey Wood"
1938
Box: 4 Folder : 1 St. Hilda's Guild photographs
circa 1918-1919

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Series II: Project Documents, 1885-1982

Scope and Contents

Project documents consist of original drawings and secondary material documenting the architectural work of William Halsey Wood.

Subseries II.A: Drawings, circa 1888-1895

Scope and Contents

Files contain original drawings reflecting William Halsey Wood's professional practice in various design phases. Included are sketches, details and perspectives on paper.

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 3 Folder : 1 Cathedral of St. John the Divine - New York, NY
circa 1888
Box: 4 Folder : 3 "Winmarleigh" residence - Newark, NJ
undated
Box: 4 Folder : 4 St. John's Episcopal Church - Cohoes, NY
undated
Box: 4 Folder : 4 St. Paul's Episcopal Church - East Orange, NJ
undated
Box: 4 Folder : 4 St. John the Evangelist Episcopal Church - Tannersville, NY
undated
Box: 4 Folder : 4 St. Matthew's Episcopal Church - New York, NY
undated
Box: 4 Folder : 4 Newton Parish House - Newton, NJ
undated
Box: 4 Folder : 5 Trask residence, unidentified
undated
Box: 4 Folder : 6-7 Unidentified residential and religious buildings
undated

Subseries II.B: Reference Files, 1889-1982

Scope and Contents

The subseries contains pamphlets, clippings, prints, and other secondary material related to the architectural work of William Halsey Wood.

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 3 Folder : 2 Scrapbook (primarily St. John the Divine)
1889-1891
Box: 3 Folder : 3-4 Cathedral of St. John the Divine: printed material
1889-1982
Box: 3 Folder : 5 Churches: printed material
1889-1906
Box: 3 Folder : 6-7 Winmarleigh: photographs and printed material
1897-1902
Box: 4 Folder : 2 Oversize project images (primarily Winmarleigh)
undated

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Series III: Additional Donation, 1968-1976

Scope and Contents

This series consists of a group of later donations made by William Halsey Wood Jr., the son of the late architect. It contains correspondence, academic work, and other supplementary material.

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 3 Folder : 8 William Halsey Wood Jr. correspondence and supplementary material
1968-1976
Box: 3 Folder : 9 R. Craig Miller correspondence and academic work
1970-1972

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