The Cumberland-born architect who received national and international recognition was Bruce Price. Born in 1845, Price studied architecture in Baltimore and later in Europe. He started his architectural practice in Baltimore in 1869, moved to Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania in 1872, and in 1877 moved to New York City. Locally, Price designed the Second National Bank (now Farmers and Merchants Bank) and the parish house for Emmanuel Episcopal Church, which is located on Washington Street. Although he designed relatively few buildings in Cumberland, he gained quite a respectable reputation in this country and around the world. Price designed the Chateau Frontenac in Quebec, the Welch Dormitory at Yale University, as well as numerous residential and commercial buildings in New York City. Considered a New York City landmark, Price designed the American Surety Building in 1895.
Price was a member and past-president of the New York Architectural League, the New York Chapter of the American Institute of Architects and received a Fellowship designation from the A.I.A in 1890. Of additional interest, Price was the father of Emily Post, noted for her works concerning etiquette.
Perhaps one of his most visible works is the Allegany County Court House, located at Prospect Square and Washington Street. This building was designed in the Romanesque Revival style. The residence that Butler as his own home, located at 205 Columbia Avenue, is listed individually in the National Register of Historic Places and is an interesting adaptation of the Queen Anne style, designed in a narrow, vertical style to meet the restrictions of the dimensions of the city lot on which it is situated. Examples of Butler's work can be encountered throughout the Washington Street Historic District as well as the Downtown Cumberland Historic District. His trademarks include using shingled rounded towers, stone lintels, dormer windows, dropped cornices, and stone walls around the lawns. Overall, Wright designed nearly 100 buildings within Cumberland.
The legacy of the buildings that were the products of these three Cumberland-born architects defines the rich architectural heritage of the "Queen City." Bruce Price, Wright Butler, and George Sansbury embraced a variety of styles and uses of materials to create within the city a microcosm of architectural styles of the mid-19th to early 20th centuries. As we enter into a new millennium, residents and visitors alike can appreciate the extraordinary built environment that Cumberland possesses.
Written by Kathleen McKenney, Historic Planner/Preservation Coordinator, Department of Community Development, City of Cumberland.