Thomas Stedman Whitwell (1784–1840) was an English architect and civil engineer, best known for his collaboration with Robert Owen on an unrealised design for a secular communal utopia at New Harmony, Indiana, USA.
Thomas Stedman Whitwell was born in 1784 in Coventry, England. He moved to London in his early twenties, as evidenced in records of his having exhibited at the Royal Academy. In 1811 he was employed in the Architect's Office at the London Docks.
After gaining some experience at the London Docks, Whitwell returned to Coventry where he designed a modest number of built works both there and in Birmingham, few of which survive.His last completed commission in England was for the Brunswick Theatre in Whitechapel, London. Mortalities were suffered after the roof trusses, overloaded with theatre equipment, collapsed days after its opening.
Perhaps due to interest in his exhibition at Leamington Spa of an unbuilt plan for an ideal community named Southville,Whitwell became involved in the designing of a utopian community at a site then named Harmonie (or New Harmony, Indiana) in Indiana, United States, collaborating with the mill owner and social reformer Robert Owen. Owen had previously provided workers at his cotton mills with a pioneering model company town, New Lanark, Scotland, intended to raise the standard of living and education of his employees. Inspired by stories of utopian self-sufficient communities, such as those of the Shakers, springing up in the United States, Owen proposed to create a town unconstrained by the economic conditions and religious influence that he believed had undermined his social experiment in the United Kingdom.
Owen purchased the land and town of Harmonie in Indiana from George Rapp and the Rappites, a separatist religious community. The Rappites had built a substantial and successful town on the site, but sold it to Owen so that they could relocate to an area with more opportunities for trade.
Owen intended to redesign the town as a self-sufficient secular community, complete with factories, pleasure gardens, a gymnasium and educational facilities. Whitwell devised an ordered quadrangular layout for the proposed town, "thirty-three acres; that of the enclosed quadrangle twenty-two acres, nearly three times as large as Russell Square, London".Communal residences were located on the periphery, acting as a boundary wall, and all facilities were to be placed symmetrically within. Whitwell wrote about his careful consideration of the positioning of the building massing to provide ample light and air to all residents. The engraving of Whitwell's famous perspective of the proposed town was entitled "DESIGN for a Community of 2,000 Persons Founded upon a Principle Commended by Plato, Lord Bacon and Sir Thomas More".
The direct influence of Sir Thomas More's book Utopia (1516) on Whitwell's design is obvious. The layout of long communal dwellings of the New Harmony design recalls More's portrayal of the fictional capital of Utopia, Aircastle, where houses built as long terraces contain back doors opening onto shared gardens, features employed in New Harmony.
While New Harmony was intended to be a secular community, Rapp's religious doctrine appears to have influenced Whitwell's design too. Rapp's emphasis on the spiritual experience of nature had led to the inclusion of a labyrinth with a temple in the middle within Harmonie, and other Rappite towns such as Economy, Pennsylvania. All included this vital feature.Whitwell's design for New Harmony also features multiple paths along which residents could meander, but the temple was replaced by a secular "Conservatory, of about one hundred feet in diameter, for the reception and cultivation of exotics".
Whitwell spent some time in New Harmony around 1825-26. However, he returned to England, disillusioned, when the construction of the new town proved financially unviable.
Whitwell's short stay at New Harmony allowed him to publish in the New Harmony Gazette a proposal for a new system of town naming according to latitude and longitude, allowing travellers to immediately understand their location from such place names.
Whitwell spent the last part of his life composing theoretical works. One, entitled On Warming and Ventilating Houses and Buildings By Means of Large Volumes of Attempered Air, was published in 1834, but another, intriguingly titled Architectural Absurdities, is now lost.
Whitwell's reputation as an architect has not withstood the test of time, and his texts have either been lost or had little or no influence, but his design for New Harmony has been revisited as one of the culminations of early 19th-century Utopian experimentation in the United States. The proliferation of new communities with emphasis on either religious or secular collective living reached its high point as Whitwell was producing his design for New Harmony. However, none displayed such a graphic interpretation of their own philosophy as Whitwell's famous perspective did.
One of the key features of Whitwell's design, the botanical garden in the centre with equal views and access from every dwelling, was echoed in Ebenezer Howard’s Garden City values and has been carried out in various permutations around the world. One example is Milleara Estate in Avondale Heights, Victoria, Australia, designed by Walter Burley Griffin.
Much of the influence of Whitwell's New Harmony design can be credited to Owen, who toured both the United States and the United Kingdom promoting the plan, even persuading President John Quincy Adams to keep a model of it in his office for a period of time.Owen continued to exhibit and publish it after Whitwell's death in a brochure, Plan for a Model Community.
The Harmony Society was a Christian theosophy and pietist society founded in Iptingen, Germany, in 1785. Due to religious persecution by the Lutheran Church and the government in Württemberg, the group moved to the United States, where representatives initially purchased land in Butler County, Pennsylvania. On February 15, 1805, the group of approximately 400 followers formally organized the Harmony Society, placing all their goods in common.
A utopia typically describes an imaginary community or society that possesses highly desirable or near-perfect qualities for its members. It was coined by Sir Thomas More for his 1516 book Utopia, which describes a fictional island society in the New World. It can also refer to an intentional community.
Frances Wright, widely known as Fanny Wright, was a Scottish-born lecturer, writer, freethinker, feminist, utopian socialist, abolitionist, social reformer, and Epicurean philosopher, who became a US citizen in 1825. The same year, she founded the Nashoba Commune in Tennessee as a utopian community to demonstrate how to prepare slaves for eventual emancipation, but the project lasted only five years.
New Harmony is a historic town on the Wabash River in Harmony Township, Posey County, Indiana. It lies 15 miles (24 km) north of Mount Vernon, the county seat, and is part of the Evansville metropolitan area. The town's population was 789 at the 2010 census.
Robert Owen was a Welsh textile manufacturer, philanthropist and social reformer, and a founder of utopian socialism and the co-operative movement. He strove to improve factory working conditions, promoted experimental socialistic communities, and sought a more collective approach to child-rearing, including government control of education. He gained wealth in the early 1800s from a textile mill at New Lanark, Scotland. Having trained as a draper in Stamford, Lincolnshire he worked in London before relocating aged 18 to Manchester and textile manufacturing. In 1824, he moved to America and put most of his fortune in an experimental socialistic community at New Harmony, Indiana, as a preliminary for his Utopian society. It lasted about two years. Other Owenite communities also failed, and in 1828 Owen returned to London, where he continued to champion the working class, lead in developing co-operatives and the trade union movement, and support child labour legislation and free co-educational schools.
An intentional community is a voluntary residential community which is designed to have a high degree of social cohesion and teamwork. The members of an intentional community typically hold a common social, political, religious, or spiritual vision, and typically share responsibilities and property. This way of life is sometimes characterized as an "alternative lifestyle". Intentional communities can be seen as social experiments or communal experiments. The multitude of intentional communities includes collective households, cohousing communities, coliving, ecovillages, monasteries, survivalist retreats, kibbutzim, hutterites, ashrams, and housing cooperatives.
Modern Times was a Utopian community existing from 1851 to 1864 in what is now Brentwood, New York, United States. Founded by Josiah Warren and Stephen Pearl Andrews, the community based its structure on Warren’s ideas of individual sovereignty and equitable commerce. Modern Times existed until 1864 when its citizens decided to change the name of the town to Brentwood. Writers have cited different reasons for the community’s failure.
Étienne Cabet was a French philosopher and utopian socialist who founded the Icarian movement. Cabet became the most popular socialist advocate of his day, with a special appeal to artisans who were being undercut by factories. Cabet published Voyage en Icarie in French in 1839, in which he proposed replacing capitalist production with workers' cooperatives. Recurrent problems with French officials, led him to emigrate to the United States in 1848. Cabet founded utopian communities in Texas and Illinois, but was again undercut, this time by recurring feuds with his followers.
John George Rapp was the founder of the religious sect called the Harmony Society and a number of associated communes.
Owenism is the utopian socialist philosophy of 19th-century social reformer Robert Owen and his followers and successors, who are known as Owenites. Owenism aimed for radical reform of society and is considered a forerunner of the cooperative movement. The Owenite movement undertook several experiments in the establishment of utopian communities organized according to communitarian and cooperative principles. One of the best known of these efforts, which were largely unsuccessful, was the project at New Harmony, Indiana, which started in 1825 and was abandoned by 1829. Owenism is also closely associated with the development of the British trade union movement, and with the spread of the Mechanics' Institute movement.
Fourierism is the systematic set of economic, political, and social beliefs first espoused by French intellectual Charles Fourier (1772–1837). Based upon a belief in the inevitability of communal associations of people who worked and lived together as part of the human future, Fourier's committed supporters referred to his doctrines as associationism. Political contemporaries and subsequent scholarship has identified Fourier's set of ideas as a form of utopian socialism—a phrase that retains mild pejorative overtones.
Old Economy Village is an historic settlement that is located in Ambridge, Beaver County, Pennsylvania, United States. Administered by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, it lies on the banks of the Ohio River and is surrounded by downtown Ambridge.
The New Harmony Historic District is a National Historic Landmark District in New Harmony, Indiana. It received its landmark designation in 1965, and was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1966, with a boundary increase in 2000. The district includes properties within the Historic New Harmony State Historic Site. Twelve buildings from the early 19th century and twenty from the mid-19th century are within the district. The original boundary was Main Street between Granary and Church Streets and was later increased to include the area bounded by North and Steam Mill Streets and between Third and Arthur Streets.
The Harmony Historic District encompasses the first early 19th century settlement of the Harmony Society, in what is now Harmony, Butler County, Pennsylvania, USA. It covers an area two blocks wide, extending north from German Road to Conoquenessing Creek between Liberty and Wood Streets. The area retains a number of buildings dating to the original settlement period, and was designated a National Historic Landmark District in 1974.
An ideal city is the concept of a plan for a city that has been conceived in accordance with a particular rational or moral objective.
Gregory Claeys is Professor Emeritus of History at the University of London.
Lucy Way Sistare Say was an American naturalist and scientific artist. Say illustrated and colored 66 of 68 plates included in American Conchology, a depiction of the North American mollusks collected by her husband, Thomas Say, during his expeditions in North America. Lucy Say became the first female member of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia (ANSP) on October 26, 1841.
The Franklin Community was the first American Owenite community established in New York state. Founded in 1826 two miles from the Hudson River near the town of Haverstraw in Rockland County, the enterprise stumbled in its first year of existence and was terminated later that same year.
Utopian socialism is the term often used to describe the first current of modern socialism and socialist thought as exemplified by the work of Henri de Saint-Simon, Charles Fourier, Étienne Cabet, and Robert Owen. Utopian socialism is often described as the presentation of visions and outlines for imaginary or futuristic ideal societies, with positive ideals being the main reason for moving society in such a direction. Later socialists and critics of utopian socialism viewed utopian socialism as not being grounded in actual material conditions of existing society. These visions of ideal societies competed with revolutionary and social democratic movements.