The Metropolitan Chapter of the Victorian Society in America

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The Decorated Tenement

February 25, 2020 @ 6:30 pm - 7:30 pm

$5 – $10

Zachary J. Violette focuses on what he calls the “decorated tenement,” a wave of new buildings constructed by immigrant builders and architects who remade the slum landscapes of the Lower East Side of Manhattan and the North and West Ends of Boston in the late nineteenth century. Drawing on research and fieldwork of more than three thousand extant tenement buildings, Violette uses ornament as an entry point to reconsider the role of tenement architects and builders (many of whom had deep roots in immigrant communities) in improving housing for the working poor.

Utilizing specially commissioned contemporary photography, and many never-before-published historical images, The Decorated Tenement complicates monolithic notions of architectural taste and housing standards while broadening our understanding of the diversity of cultural and economic positions of those responsible for shaping American architecture and urban landscapes.



Zachary Violette has a PhD in American and New England Studies from Boston University. His first book, The Decorated Tenement: How Immigrant Builders and Architects Transformed the Slum in the Gilded Age(University of the Minnesota Press, 2019), is the winner of the 2019 Fred Kniffen Award from the International Society of Place, Landscape, and Material Culture. Violette is the recipient of the 2019 short-term H. Allan Brooks Traveling Fellowship for travel in Central Europe. He serves on the Board of the Vernacular Architecture Forum and is a lecturer at Parsons/The New School of Design in New York. He is currently researching a follow-up volume to The Decorated Tenement on the inner suburban apartment house in the early twentieth century


Please note reception will be post lecture, 7:30 p.m.

Tickets may be purchased here




February 25, 2020
6:30 pm - 7:30 pm
$5 – $10


Victorian Society


The General Society of Mechanics & Tradesmen
20 W 44th St
New York, NY 10036 United States
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