Carrère and Hastings - Hastings


Thomas S. Hastings was born in New York City on March 11, 1860. His father, also Thomas S. Hastings (1827–1911), was a noted Presbyterian minister, homiletics professor, and dean of the Union Theological Seminary. His grandfather, Thomas Samuel Hastings (1784–1872), was one of America's leading church musicians of the 19th century: he composed hymns, including 'Rock of Ages,' and published the first musical treatise by a native-born composer in 1822. Hastings was educated in private schools in New York, and began his architectural apprenticeship at Herter Brothers, the premier New York furnishers and decorators. He attended the École nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris from 1880–1883 as a student in the atelier of Jules André. There he met his future partner, and both maintained ties to Europe throughout their lives (Hastings earning the French Legion of Honor as well as the Gold Medal of the RIBA).

Upon returning to New York, Hastings entered the office of McKim, Mead & White, the leading American firm of the American Renaissance. Renewing his friendship with Carrère, who was also in the office, he remained there for two years. A referral through his father to Henry Morrison Flagler resulted in the commission for the Ponce de Leon and later Alcazar hotels in St. Augustine, Florida. Further ties to wealthy patrons, who were also members of his father's mid-town congregation, propelled the rapid success of the young architects. His brother Frank's ties to E. C. Benedict, a leading financier, introduced him not only to patrons but also to his future wife. In 1900, at the age of 40, he married Benedict's daughter Helen at the Presbyterian church in Greenwich, Connecticut. The ceremony was attended by many of New York's wealthy citizens. Charles F. McKim was the best man, Stanford White designed the church decorations, and White's son was a page.

Hastings is credited with many of the firm's designs and, in part because he survived Carrère by eighteen years, he is the often cited as the leader of the firm. He lectured widely and wrote a number of influential articles, later collected by David Gray in his brief biography of the architect. He and his wife enjoyed riding, and they built a country house in Old Westbury, Long Island. Following Carrère's death in 1911, Hastings maintained the firm's name and continued his role as principal in the firm, but shared responsibility in large commissions with trusted associates such as Richmond Shreve, Theodore Blake and others. Owen Brainard, an engineer, was a junior partner in the firm during Carrère's lifetime and continued to consult with the firm thereafter. Eventually this collaborative arrangement would result in the formation of Shreve, Lamb and Blake (later Shreve, Lamb and Harmon), the noted builders of skyscrapers.

Hastings died of complications of an appendectomy on October 23, 1929. Some of his papers were given to the American Academy of Arts & Letters, where he was a member and treasurer for many years. He was survived by his wife but left no heirs.

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