October 5, 2023

An American Renaissance: The Gilded Age – Lecture & Book Signing

The Union League
140 S. Broad Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103

In the Grant East Room

Cocktails at 6:00pm
Program at 7:00pm

ICAA Members: $25 | General Public: $35
Registration required

Note: The Union League’s dress code is business casual—for men: jacket, collared shirt, and slacks, for women, something comparable. For more information, visit here.

The Gilded Age, also referred to as the American Renaissance, is an era associated with unparalleled growth, technological advancement, prosperity, and cultural change. Spanning from the 1880s to the 1930s it marks the first time that the titans of American finance and industry had more wealth than their European counterparts. As the center of this dynamic economy, New York City attracted immigrant works and millionaires alike. It was not be enough for the self-appointed elite to just build their own grand chateaux’s and palazzo’s along Fifth Avenue, as collectively they dreamed of creating a new metropolis to rival the great cultural capitals of London, Paris and Rome. To fluent their newly acquired wealth they needed an architecture dripping in embellishment and historical reference.Enter the Beaux-Arts.

In Phillip James Dodd’s book, An American Renaissance: Beaux-Arts Architecture in New York City, which has been painstakingly researched and beautifully photographed over many years, takes a close look at twenty of the finest examples of Beaux-Arts architecture in New York City. While showing public exteriors, its main focus is on the lavish interiors that are associated with the opulence of the Gilded Age – often providing a glimpse inside buildings not otherwise viewable to the public.While some of the buildings and monuments that are featured are world renowned landmarks recognizable and accessible to all; others are obscure buildings that history has forgotten.

Set amid the magnificent achievements of an American Renaissance, this is not just an architectural history book. It recounts not only the fascinating stories of some of New York’s most famous and significant Beaux-Arts landmarks, it also recalls the lives of those that commissioned, designed, and built them. These are some of the most acclaimed architects, artists and artisans of the day – Daniel Chester French, Cass Gilbert, Charles McKim, Augustus Saint-Gaudens, Louis Comfort Tiffany, and Stanford White – and some of the most prominent millionaires in American history – Andrew Carnegie, Henry Clay Frick, Jay Gould, Otto Kahn, J.P. Morgan, and the ubiquitous Astor and Vanderbilt families. Name’s that – as Julian Fellowes notes in the Foreword – “still reek of money”.

At this special event for the Philadelphia Chapter of the ICAA, Phillip will discuss the five homes featured in his book – The Samuel Tilden Mansion (now The National Arts Club), the Joseph DeLamar Mansion (now the Polish Consulate), The Frick Collection, and the Otto Kahn and James Burdens (which now combine as the Convent of the Sacred Heart); as well as the patrons and architects that designed them, and their influences on Julian Fellowes’ television series The Gilded Age.


Born and raised in the United Kingdom, Phillip James Dodd is an alumnus of the Prince of Wales’ Institute of Architecture in London. He moved to America more than twenty years ago, and after training with some of the most recognized classical architecture firms in the country founded his eponymous design firm Phillip James Dodd: Bespoke Residential Design LLC in 2015. Phillip’s designs can be found in New York, Greenwich, Palm Beach, and as far as away as Bangalore, India. In 2022 he was the recipient of the prestigious Elizabeth L. and John H. Schuler Architectural Award, and was named as one of the Top 50 Coastal Architects by Ocean Home magazine.

Phillip has a Masters in architecture from the University of Notre Dame, and an undergraduate Degree in Architecture from the Manchester School of Architecture. He is a Fellow Emeritus of The Institute of Classical Architecture & Art, and serves as a commissioner on The Town of Greenwich Historic District Commission. In 2013 Phillip was elected by his peers as an Honorary Fellow of the INTBAU College of Traditional Practitioners, an invited international body for practitioners in traditional architecture, under the auspices of the former Prince of Wales.

With a rich academic and practice-based background, Phillip is recognized as an international authority on classical and traditional architecture. His designs are always specific to the property, and are rooted in a thorough understanding of the architectural history and details that create a unique Sense of Place. He has lectured extensively throughout the United States on the subject of classical, vernacular, and Beaux-Arts architecture.

In addition to his design work, Phillip is also the author of several best-selling books – The Art of Classical Details: Theory, Design & Craftsmanship (2013); An Ideal Collaboration (2015); The Classical American House (2017); and An American Renaissance: Beaux-Arts Architecture on New York City (2021). His most recent volume on the architecture of the Gilded Age includes a foreword by Julian Fellowes (the acclaimed creator of Downton Abbey and the HBO series The Gilded Age), and has been featured in Architectural Digest, The Associated Press, The New Criterion, Washington Post, and World of Interiors. He was recently engaged by Cunard as one of their Guest Insight Program Speakers, where he will be giving a series of talks onboard The Queen Mary 2 as passengers travel from Southampton to New York.