Medievalist architectural historian. Gardner was raised in Arkansas. [mother's maiden name: Boyette?]. He graduated with a B.A. in art history from Duke University in 1970, continuing graduate work at Princeton University, earing his M.A. and Ph.D in 1976. His thesis, on the topic of British Romanesque planning was supervised by Alan Borg and Robert Branner of Columbia University. He taught as a graduate instructor at Boston University. When Branner died in 1973, several temporary hires were made until ulimately Gardner was appointed as his tenure-track replacement. Gardner supervised many of the dissertations of Branner's graduate students and well as attracting his own. A homosexual, Gardner had been active in the lifestyle but not public to his colleagues. In 1985 his partner died of an AIDS-related disease the same year his bid for tenure appointment at Columbia was denied. Gardner spent his terminal year as a fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts (CASVA) at the National Gallery of Art, Washgington, D. C. He himself contracted the illness and moved to Santa Barbara where he joined the Department of Art History at the University there. In May of 1991, his health declining, a symposium in his honor was organized by his former students and held at Riverside Church, New York. Gardner succumbed to an AIDS-related illness in 1991. He was succeeded at Santa Barbara by C. Edson Armi. Gardner's papers papers, including his unfinished manuscript on the origins of Gothic in the Ile-de-France, are deposited at The Cloisters Museum NYC.
William Stephen Gardner
11 March 1948
18 August 1991
[dissertation] The Role of Central Planning in English Romanesque Chapter House Design. Princeton University, 1976; "Notes on a view of St. Lucien at Beauvais." Gazette des Beaux-Arts (November 1980): 149-156; "The Nave Galleries of Durham Cathedral." Art Bulletin 64 no 4 (December 1982): 564-579; "Two Campaigns in Suger's Western Block at St.-Denis." Art Bulletin 66 no. 4 (December 1984): 574-587;"Sources for the Façade of Saint-Lucien in Beauvais." Gesta 25 no 1, (1986): 93-100; "L'église Saint-Julien de Marolles-en-Brie et ses rapports avec l'architecture parisienne de la génération de Saint-Denis." Bulletin Monumental 144 no.1 (1986): 7-31.
Duke University Alumni Association archives; Columbia University Archives; [Mary Parvo, personal correspondence, February 2012].