Simultaneously, other revival styles began to compete nationally with classicism. In the Southwest, the Spanish tradition, occasionally modified by Eastern influences (as in California), remained dominant until the Mexican War. The English-based Gothic revival style became increasingly popular after 1835, especially for houses and churches. Prominent examples include A. J. Davis's Lyndhurst in Tarrytown, N.Y. (begun 1838) and James Renwick's St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York City (1853–88). The widely distributed books of A. J. Downing on the picturesque cottage style and landscape gardening further advanced the trend. Other revival styles popular at the same time included the Italian villa and the Lombard Romanesque.
The writings of John Ruskin began to influence American architects at about the time of the Civil War, and a short-lived fashion for Victorian Gothic buildings ensued, such as Frank Furness's Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia (1872–76). The trend toward historical eclecticism intensified in the decades following the Civil War. Newly wealthy patrons commissioned buildings in styles characterized by unbridled ostentation, as for example Richard Morris Hunt's designs for the sprawling mansions of Newport, R.I. The highly influential Henry Hobson Richardson designed massive, dignified buildings in an abstracted Romanesque style that contrasted sharply with the surrounding eclecticism. During this period many architects went to Paris, if possible to the École des Beaux-Arts, to receive their training. Architectural schools were established in the United States along the model of the École, beginning with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1865.