First as book review editor and editor of the Journal, then as vice-president and president of the Society, and then as a continuing active member, Patricia Waddy has been concerned with the intellectual vitality of SAH. Particularly noteworthy was her work with the other officers in meeting the many challenges in moving the organization’s headquarters from Philadelphia to Chicago, where it now occupies the historic Charnley-Persky House, a prestigious setting exemplifying its mission.
No less distinguished are her scholarly achievements. Her study of seventeenth-century Roman palaces has elevated the art of space-planning to a new level of appreciation, emphasizing the role of the designer’s artistry in the creation of a plan. Basing her methodology in the rigorous accumulation and scrutiny of archival construction documents, mundane household accounts, and forgotten manuals of etiquette, she formulated a new analytical strategy for the interpretation of room plans, one that re-animates those spaces with the life and decorum of both men and women in a patrician society. So formidable is her deployment of primary sources to undergird her argument that an Italian scholar publicly referred to it as “terrificante.” At the same time, she advocates a down-to-earth view of even the most exalted ranks. Where did the princess’s children play? Where did the cardinal bathe? Where did the servants live and work? Her insistence that we focus on use in our study of domestic space has helped transform the kinds of questions we now routinely ask in our analysis of Early Modern architecture.