Swedish architect in the USA
The book Swedish Architects in the USA, 1846-1930, due out in 2016, offers a sneak peak into the fascinating stories and lives of some of the 150 Swedish architects who immigrated to and worked in America during the Great Swedish Migration. While a lot is known about professionals in education, religion, journalism and farming, very little has been written about Swedish architects in America - until now. After years of research, Goran Rygert compiled this comprehensive collection of architectural histories in "Svenska Arkitekter i USA 1846-1930," which will be published in English by Nordstjernan. Here is an excerpt about one architect to whet your appetite.
Swedish architect in the USA:
Herman Cedershield (1827-1864)
What makes an architect — graduated at the Institute of Technology in Stockholm, Sweden — a soldier in the U.S. Army to partake in campaigns against indians? We don’t know. A childhood dream? He could have read early books about the Indians, such as "The Last of the Mohicans," printed in 1826.
Cedershield (Cederschöld) was born in Småland, Sweden of a noble family. After graduation in 1847 he worked as an architect for two years. Then he moved to Chicago and got enlisted in a U.S. Dragoon Regiment and in 1850 was sent to New Mexico to fight against the Jicarilla Apaches and the Utes, in the northern parts of the state.
We know Cedershield became stationed at the Cantonment Burgwin, 10 miles southeast of Taos, a fort whose location was chosen because it was far enough away from population centers and their bars. In 1852 the Dragoons began the construction of buildings, barracks and stables. The fort was designed for defense and not comfort. There was no gate and no windows in the outer fort wall, so no hostile Indians could hope to overrun such a classically designed fortification.
We don’t know if Cedershield was involved in the building of this fort, but he was an architect and an officer there, so it is most likely that he participated in the supervising.
One encounter Fort Burgwin had with Indians was disastrous. In the morning of March 30, 1854, about 250 Jicarilla Apaches ambushed 60 Dragoons at Cieneguilla (today Pilar), near Fort Burgwin. After a three-hour fight the Dragoons had to retreat. The U.S. suffered 22 killed and 36 wounded. This battle was reported as one of the most severe ever to take place between American troops and Red Indians.
In 1855 Cedershield left the Army. At that point he had advanced to the rank of colonel. For some reason he had changed his first name to Samuel, a family name. He lived in Santa Fe as a stone mason and died in 1864, only 37 years old. He is buried at the U.S. Veteran Gravesite in Santa Fe at Section K, Site 342.
Today Cantonment Burgwin has become Fort Burgwin Research Center, devoted to the pursuit of education.
(Southern Methodist University)