A building is a work of art without a signature. Occasionally, a structure designed by a big-name architect will gain recognition, but most of the human-made landscape in which we live is created by people whose names have been lost to history.
Trenton’s Ellarslie Museum is rescuing some of this forgotten history by dedicating an exhibit to one of those anonymous designers. The museum is hosting an exhibit on FVHD Architects, a Trenton-based firm that has built so many of the public buildings in Mercer County that not even the firm itself knows exactly how many of its creations are still standing today.
Architecture historian Jennifer Leynes spent years combing through old newspaper archives and historical records to find hundreds of examples of FVHD’s work in recognition of its 100th anniversary. FVHD’s work includes the now-abandoned Mercer Hospital in Trenton, Riverfront Park, town halls throughout Mercer County, and, Leynes says, “more schools buildings in the surrounding area than you can count.”
The “Changing Face/Changing Place: A Look at the Architectural History of the Trenton Area” exhibit will run from Saturday, September 15, through Sunday, January 13, with an opening reception Sunday, September 16, from 2 to 4 p.m.
The company began as PL Fowler in 1918 and has changed its name many times over the years as principal architects have come and gone. Ellarslie’s exhibits include historical photographs and architectural sketches of the company’s buildings, many of which will be familiar to people who live and work in the Route 1 corridor.