Bertram Grosvenor Goodhue

Bertram Grosvenor Goodhue, F.A.I.A., (1869-1924) was selected as Advisory and Consulting Architect of the Panama-California Exposition. He supervised other architects and designed the California Building, the Fine Arts Gallery and the California Quadrangle as permanent structures. He wanted most of the remaining structures to be demolished after the Exposition.

Goodhue, who had resented Olmsted’s criticisms of his designs, entered the fray with a plan for the exposition in the Viscaino or central mesa of the park. The approach over a bridge spanning Cabrillo Canyon would incorporate the same dramatic features as the Alcantara bridge of Toledo, Spain. Elated, he wrote to Olmsted, “I don’t know in any American public park of any effect that could compete with the bridge, the permanent buildings and the mall terminated by the statue of Balboa.” (That statue was never built). Goodhue’s plan allowed access to the grounds from what was to become Park Boulevard on the east, thus making it possible to build the electric railway desired by the Spreckels’ Companies along the right of way.

Goodhue had developed a liking for Spanish Colonial architecture and for Muslim gardens as a result of trips to Mexico and Persia. A believer in “art for art’s sake,” he made many drawings of buildings and scenery suffused in a romantic haze. After he established his New York office and his successes as a designer of Gothic Revival churches mounted, he put his knowledge of Spanish Churrigueresque to use in designs for the Holy Trinity Church in Havana, Cuba, and the Hotel Colon in Panama and re-created his impressions of the gardens of Shiraz and Isfahan on the grounds of the Gillespie House in Montecito, California. With the assistance of Carleton M. Winslow and Clarence Stein from his New York office and of Frank P. Allen Jr. in San Diego, Goodhue conjured up a fairytale city in Balboa Park of cloud-capped towers, gorgeous palaces and solemn temples.

…adapted from Balboa Park and the 1915 Exposition by Richard W. Amero.