The Steedman Fellowship in Architecture was established in 1926 to honor James Harrison Steedman through the generosity of his brother, George Fox Steedman, and James’ widow, Virginia Clark Weddell.
Initially founded to “promote architectural progress in the St. Louis region,” the Fellowship provided funds to a young architect for travel abroad. Now with a stipend of $50,000, The Steedman Fellowship is one of the largest and most prestigious awards of its kind in the world. The Steedman Fellowship is governed and administered by the Sam Fox School at Washington University and the St. Louis Chapter of the American Institute of Architects.
From its inception, the Steedman Fellowship has been awarded to promising young architects. These innovative proposals have marked the beginning of many illustrious careers. The first Steedman Fellow, Paul James Saunders, was selected in 1926. For his travels through Europe, he purchased a Citroën, which he humorously named Old Faithless. The 1927 Fellow, Arthur B. Gallion, vividly described in his proposal why travel is essential to an architect:
Upon setting foot on foreign shores for the first time one experiences something akin to bewilderment, and this sensation does not subside until consciousness of the vast background and history of these many countries has been fully realized. Rather than trace each physical step of the journey, as the accompanying map indicates, and make jottings of ‘motifs’ which might be ‘used’ in the future practice of our profession on this side of the Atlantic, my principal object is to discern as clearly as possible the true essence of architecture as it is represented in the myriad examples left to us from past ages.
Gallion went on to become dean of the School of Architecture at the University of Southern California. He co-authored the book The Urban Pattern: City Planning and Design. With sixty-one fellows to date, including Robert Vickery, Professor Emeritus from the University of Virginia, George F Helmuth, the “H” of HOK Architects, and many others of note, the Fellowship continues to fulfill its original mission: to develop leaders in the practice or teaching of architecture.
Visit the St. Louis Public Library’s online exhibit of The Steedman Architectural Collection here. Read about the creation of the online exhibit in The Society of Architectural Historians 2005 newsletter here (scroll down to page 4).