Biographical/historical: The architect, Richard Upjohn, was born in 1803 at Shaftesbury, England, and died in 1878 at Garrison, New York. His son, Richard Michell Upjohn, also was born at Shaftesbury, became a full partner with his father in 1853, and died in Brooklyn in 1903.
Richard Upjohn Sr. was apprenticed as a cabinetmaker and later became a draftsman and master-craftsman. After settling in New Bedford, Massachusetts, he opened an evening drawing class. The sight of some architectural drawings convinced him that he could make a living as an architect. In 1834 he moved to Boston where he worked for Alexander Parris. His own early work included numerous villas in the neo-classical style. In 1837 he finished St. John's Church in Bangor, Maine, the first of many commissions in that state.
In August, 1839, Upjohn moved to New York City to work as a draftsman for repairs and alterations to the old Trinity Church. When it was decided to erect a new church Upjohn was retained as architect. The Church was consecrated in 1846. This was his first notable success and led to may commissions for neo-Romanesque and neo-gothic churches, and Italian renaissance office buildings, such as the Trinity Building on lower Broadway in Manhattan.
Although notably influenced by his father and the aesthetic ideas of John Ruskin, some of Richard Michell Upjohn's designs, such as the state capitol at Hartford, Connecticut, were brilliant solutions to the problems of reconciling new materials with the Victorian love for the bizarre effect.
Content: The papers consist of the records of the architectural firms of Richard Upjohn, 1839-50, and Richard Upjohn and Richard Michell Upjohn, 1851-1901, and papers relating to the Upjohn family.
The firms' records comprise general correspondence; papers relating to architectural commissions, which include additional correspondence as well as specifications, articles of agreement, various estimates, and bills for timber; the articles of copartnership of 1853; some accounts; drawings; letters of commendation by the firms' pleased customers; and various material related to the American Institute of Architects.
The family papers include family correspondence; financial papers; correspondence, maps, deeds, and other material related to family properties; the wills and related papers of Elizabeth and Richard Upjohn; as well as other documents relating to Richard Upjohn's private affairs.