Dwight James Baum
Dwight James Baum
(b. 1886, d. 1939)
Distantly related to L. Frank Baum who wrote the Wizard of Oz, Dwight James Baum was born near Newville, New York. He attended Syracuse University to study architecture and graduated in 1909, winning the school's Architectural Fellowship. Baum worked for several architectural firms in New York City including Boring and Tilton; Kirby, Petit and Green; Sanford White; and finally Frank M. Andrews. In about 1912, Baum purchased a lot in the Riverdale area of the West Bronx where he built a Dutch Colonial style home for himself. He eventually resigned from the Andrews firm and devoted all his efforts to his own designs. From 1914 to 1939, Baum designed 140 houses in the Riverdale area, primarily Tudor and Greek Revival styles. His design for Dr. Francis Collins won the Better Homes in American Gold Medal in 1931 for the best two-story house constructed between 1926 and 1930. In addition to these residential works, Baum also designed the Riverdale Country Club (1917) and the Arrowhead Inn, a restaurant in Riverdale (1924).
In 1922 Baum received the most important residential commission of his career from John and Mabel Ringling. John Ringling was best known as one of the Ringling Brothers of Ringling, Barnum and Bailey Circus. This building is now part of the Ringling Museum of Art in Sarasota, Florida. Baum worked in Florida and designed the Sarasota County Courthouse, the Sarasota Times Building and the First Presbyterian Church. He was credited by American Architect magazine (October, 1926) with developing a new Mediterranean Revival style through his work in the area.
During the depression, Baum developed a close association with the Architectural League of New York. From the early 1920's Baum had been active in preservation activities. Among the projects undertaken at this time by Baum's office was the research and documentation of historic buildings in Barrytown, New York and Charleston, South Carolina. Two of Baum's most noteworthy designs during the Depression were the West Side YMCA in New York City (at 5 West 63rd Street), and the Federal Building in Flushing, New York. It was during the Depression that Baum made his major contributions to the architecture of his alma mater, Syracuse University.
Baum's designs can be found the entire length of the eastern seaboard including New England, New York, New Jersey, the Carolinas and Florida.