Ralph F. Bogardus is an amateur architect with a twenty-five year connection to Seaside. He and his wife, Ann, became homeowners (lot purchased with Ken and Mary Ann Clark) in 1988, and he designed and built two houses (front/back, side-porch connected Charleston type) on Grayton Street, between 1990 and 1993. During the mid 1990s, he served on the town council.
His interest in architecture began much earlier, and while he never pursued it professionally, he was admitted to the master’s-degree program in architecture at Washington University (St. Louis, MO) in 1970. He instead pursued Ph.D. study in American studies at the University of New Mexico (1971-74), spent a post-doctoral year at Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, MN (1974-75), and then joined the American studies faculty of the University of Alabama, in Tuscaloosa, in 1975. He retired in 2001 and is currently Professor Emeritus. Today, he and his wife reside in Old Seagrove, next door to Seaside.
Bogardus credits architects Michelangelo, Palladio, Leon Krier, Aldo Rossi, Alvar Alto, Louis Kahn, Michael Graves, Robert Venturi—as well as writers Jane Jacobs, Ada Louise Huxtable, and Vincent Scully—for providing his architectural education. Also important were the mid-Western vernacular, Italianate farmhouses he grew up with, and the early-20-century vernacular houses he later found in places like Tuscaloosa, AL, De Funiak, FL, and Florala, AL. Finally, the numerous houses and buildings by architects that he has visited over the years—from Antoine Predock’s La Luz in Albuquerque, NM, to Frank Gehry’s Guggenheim in Bilbao, Spain—have provided instruction.