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Francis Palmer Smith (1886-1971)
Francis Palmer Smith of the architectural firm Pringle and Smith was an academic architect in the prevailing tradition of early-twentieth-century eclecticism. His breadth of interests and range of practice were as extensive as those of any architect of his period in Georgia.
Education and Early Career
The Pringle and Smith Partnership
In 1922 the partnership of Pringle and Smith was formed and immediately benefited from the rapid growth of architectural development in Atlanta and throughout the South.
The firm undertook extensive commercial work, contributing landmark skyscrapers to skylines of cities throughout the Southeast, most notably in Atlanta: the Cox-Carlton Hotel (1925) and four office buildings:
Smith's Later Work
After Pringle's retirement in 1934 Francis Smith continued to practice on his own, building additional bottling plants in Florida, Alabama, and Georgia, but like most architects during the depression years of the 1930s,
The Importance of Smith's Career
This range of work, from domestic to commercial, collegiate to ecclesiastical, marked Francis Smith as one of the preeminent designers of his day in Georgia. His students Ed Ivey and Lewis Crook rivaled his output in quantity, and Philip Shutze surpassed it in reputation within the classical aesthetic. But Smith's love was medieval architecture, and in his scholarship (he privately published translations of Viollet-le-Duc's essay on stained glass and Emile Mâle's study of medieval iconography), as well as in his practice as a church architect, he complemented the classicists, led the earliest modernists and skyscraper builders, and created, throughout the state and region, noteworthy landmarks of eclectic design in the best Beaux-Arts tradition.
Robert M. Craig, Atlanta Architecture: Art Deco to Modern Classic, 1929-1959 (Gretna, La.: Pelican, 1995).
Robert M. Craig, "Beaux Arts Meets Southern Industry: The Coca-Cola Bottling Plants of Francis Palmer Smith," ARRIS 12 (2001).
Robert M. Craig, "Francis Palmer Smith, 'Beaux-Arts' Architectural Educator in the South," Southeastern College Art Conference Review 13, no. 3 (1997).
Robert M. Craig, "The Tall Southern Building Artistically Considered: Francis Palmer Smith's Legacy from Sullivan," Southeastern College Art Conference Review 14, no. 1 (2001).
Gerald Sams, AIA Guide to the Architecture of Atlanta (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1993).
Robert M. Craig, Georgia Institute of Technology
A project of the Georgia Humanities Council, in partnership with the University of Georgia Press, the University System of Georgia/GALILEO, and the Office of the Governor.