Warren, Whitney

WARREN, Whitney (1864-1943) and his partner Charles Delavan WETMORE (1867-1941) conducted a successful practice in New York City from 1898 until after 1930. Warren was born in New York City and obtained his early architectural education at Columbia University and at the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris, France. He returned to New York in 1894 and briefly worked for McKim, Mead & White before opening his own office. One of is early clients was a young lawyer named Charles D. Wetmore, a graduate of the Harvard Law School who asked Warren to design a country house. During their frequent meetings Warren was able to persuade Wetmore to abandon the field of law and join him in an architectural partnership which was formed in 1898. Later that same year they attracted national attention with their design for the New York Yacht Club (1898) and were able to cultivate many connections with prosperous commercial and hotel clients during the next two decades. Their outstanding American work is the collaborative effort developed with Reed & Stem on the design for Grand Central Terminal (1903-13). Warren contributed innovative urban ideas for elevated roadways and restrained architectural designs for the Commodore, Vanderbilt and Biltmore hotels situated around the station.

In Canada the experience they had gained with hotel and railway architecture proved invaluable when they were asked by the Canadian Northern Railway to prepare a design for the Union Station in Winnipeg in 1907. The result was a dramatic formal Beaux Arts building dominated by a sweeping arched entranceway and enormous rotunda and dome nearly one hundred feet high. A new and elegant repertoire of refined details inside the station give this work a presence and dignity rarely attained in twentieth century Canadian architecture, and it must be regarded as the outstanding work by the firm in this country. In Montreal Warren & Wetmore designed the sumptuous Ritz Carlton Hotel which, though essentially traditional in character, projects a sophisticated European image with expansive and spacious public rooms and a fastidious attention to architectural detail.

Other Canadian entrepreneurs sought out the firm for their designs; in 1912 Ernest G. McConkey of Toronto commissioned Warren & Wetmore to develop a proposal for a two million dollar hotel on Bay Street, but the project was never realized (Ottawa Journal, 21 Nov. 1912, 11, descrip.; C.R., xxvii, 8 Jan. 1913, 67; dwg. at Metropolitan Toronto Reference Library, Baldwin Room, E.C. Bird Scrapbook, 61). Their most ambitious proposal was that prepared in 1914 for the vast complex of the Canadian Northern Passenger Terminal stretching over four city blocks in Montreal, but a lack of funds and onset of World War I prevented the work from proceeding (C.R., xxviii, 4 Feb. 1914, 138, illus.). Only a small component of the plan, for the Tunnel Passenger Station in downtown Montreal, was built (demolished in 1952). In 1926 the firm was asked to prepare conceptual proposals for the new C.N.R. Hotel in Vancouver, to cost $5 million dollars, but this too was abandoned (C.R., xlii, 1 Aug. 1928, 51, 54).

Warren retired from active practise in 1933 and died in New York City on 24 January 1943 (obituary in New York Times, 25 Jan. 1943, 13; biography in W. Jordy & C. Monkhouse, Buildings on Paper-Rhode Island Architectural Drawings 1825-1945, 1982, 239; MacMillan Encyclopedia of Architects, 1982, iv, 377). Charles Wetmore died in New York City on 8 May 1941 (obituary in New York Times, 9 May 1941, 21; H. Withey, Biographical Dictionary of American Architects, 1956, 647)

(works in Canada)

THOUSAND ISLANDS, ONT,, 'Midriver Farm', a summer residence for Charles Bohlen, Grindstone Island, Ont., 1903 (Pierre du Prey et al, Ah, Wilderness! Resort Architecture in the Thousand Islands, 2004, 79-81, illus. & descrip.)
WINNIPEG, MAN., Union Station, Main Street at Broadway, built for the Canadian Northern Railway and the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway, designed 1904-05; built 1908-10 (Winnipeg Daily Tribune, 5 May 1904, 2, descrip.; 5 Aug. 1910, 3, descrip.; Manitoba Free Press [Winnipeg], 3 April 1905, 6; 27 June 1908, 3rd Section, 1, illus. & descrip.; 8 April 1911, 12, illus. & descrip.; Const., i, July 1908, 40-3, 45; iii, Dec. 1909, 65-7; v, June 1912, 48-51, illus. & descrip.; Railway & Marine World, xi, June 1908, 381-7; xiv, August 1911, 765-69, illus. & descrip.; Canadian Engineer, xx, 19 Jan 1911, 191-94, illus. & descrip.; American Architect [New York], xcv, 10 Feb. 1909, 46-9 and plates, illus.)
PORT ARTHUR, ONT., CNR Railway Terminal and Station, 1905 (Manitoba Morning Free Press [Winnipeg], 3 April 1905, 6)
WINNIPEG, MAN., extensive freight sheds in the CNR Yards, 1908 (Winnipeg Daily Tribune, 9 Oct. 1908, 3, descrip.)
PORT ARTHUR, ONT., The Prince Arthur Hotel, Cumberland Street, 1910-11 (Daily News [Port Arthur], 27 April 1909, illus; Financial Post [Toronto], 12 March 1910, 10, descrip.; Railway & Marine World, xiii, March 1910, 197, descrip.; xiv, Aug. 1911, 765-69, illus. & descrip.)
TORONTO, ONT., 'Fallingbrook', the residence of Sir Donald D. Mann, Kingston Road near Wood Glen Road, Scarborough, 1911; burned January 1930 (Const., v, May 1911, 79-82, illus.; dwgs. at Avery Library, Columbia University, New York)
MONTREAL, QUE., The Ritz-Carlton Hotel, Sherbrooke Street West at Drummond Street, 1911-12 (Gazette [Montreal], 5 Jan. 1911, 1; C.R., xxv, 12 July 1911, 52-3, illus. & descrip.; xxvi, 24 Jan. 1912, 52, illus. & descrip.; Const., vi, Feb. 1913, 42, 45-55, illus. & descrip.; Architecture [New York], xxvii, March 1913, 46, 48, 50, 52, illus.; Montreal, Les Hotels, 1983, 293-6, illus.)
MONTREAL, QUE., Tunnel Station, Lagauchetiere Street West at Mansfield Street, a passenger station for the Canadian Northern Railway, designed 1913; built 1917-18; demol. 1952 (Gazette [Montreal], 10 April 1913, 4, descrip.; 7 July 1917, 9, descrip.; 11 July 1917, 12, descrip.; C.R., xxx, 20 Dec. 1916, 46, t.c.; xxxi, 24 Jan. 1917, 39; 25 July 1917, 637; inf. Scott Edwards)
(with H.L. Stevens & Co.) HALIFAX, N.S., Lord Nelson Hotel, South Park Street at Spring Garden Road, 1927-28 (Acadian Recorder [Halifax], 6 May 1926, 2; Canadian Hotel Review, vi, Nov. 1928, 29-34, illus. & descrip.; dwgs. at PANS; inf. Scott Edwards)