Parke Edwards and Bryn Athyn Cathedral (1913-1929): A Case Study of Monel Metalwork in Machine-Age America

Andreadis, Timothy
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University of Delaware
This thesis examines the Monel metalwork at Bryn Athyn Cathedral in Bryn Athyn, Pennsylvania and the contributions of the Cathedral’s chief metal designer, Parke Emerson Edwards, between the years 1913 and 1929. Using archival letters, preparatory drawings, period photographs, and the extant Cathedral structure as evidence, this thesis re-examines Bryn Athyn Cathedral and its Monel metalwork as a product of modernity and not America’s Arts and Crafts movement. The quality of the metalwork at Bryn Athyn Cathedral is equal to or exceeds that produced by small Arts and Crafts communes or larger companies alike, but the Monel metalwork at Bryn Athyn was not a commercial enterprise and for this reason, among others, has not received adequate attention in the scholarship. Although medieval in style, the Cathedral can be more thoroughly understood as Bryn Athyn’s skyscraper extraordinaire, a twentieth-century building constructed for, and in response to, a new American era. Parke Edwards and Bryn Athyn Cathedral’s Monel metalwork provide parallel narratives that explore the contradictions between modernity and anti-modernity operating in the Cathedral’s construction. This thesis contributes to existing scholarship that explores the social and economic tensions in the first quarter of the twentieth century and the series of Arts and Craft revivals that punctuate the period.