Benjamin Henry Latrobe

Benjamin Henry Boneval Latrobe (May 1, 1764 – September 3, 1820) was an Anglo-American neoclassical architect who emigrated to the United States. He was one of the first formally trained, professional architects in the new United States, drawing on influences from his travels in Italy, as well as British and French Neoclassical architects such as Claude Nicolas Ledoux. In his thirties, he emigrated to the new United States and designed the United States Capitol, on "Capitol Hill" in Washington, D.C., as well as the Old Baltimore Cathedral or The Baltimore Basilica, (later renamed the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary). It is the first Cathedral constructed in the United States for any Christian denomination. Latrobe also designed the largest structure in America at the time, the "Merchants' Exchange" in Baltimore. With extensive balconied atriums through the wings and a large central rotunda under a low dome which dominated the city, it was completed in 1820 after five years of work and endured into the early twentieth century.

Benjamin Henry Latrobe
Benjamin Henry Latrobe, c. 1804. Portrait by Charles Willson Peale.
Architect of the Capitol
In office
March 6, 1803  July 1, 1811
PresidentThomas Jefferson
James Madison
In office
April 6, 1815  November 20, 1817
PresidentJames Madison
James Monroe
Preceded byWilliam Thornton
Succeeded byCharles Bulfinch
Personal details
Born(1764-05-01)May 1, 1764
Fulneck, Leeds, West Riding of Yorkshire, England
DiedSeptember 3, 1820(1820-09-03) (aged 56)
New Orleans, Louisiana, U.S.
NationalityBritish-American
Known forHammerwood Park, Ashdown House, East Sussex, Decatur House, Pope Villa, Old West, Dickinson College, Adena Mansion, Baltimore Basilica, United States Capitol, White House porticos
Signature

Latrobe emigrated in 1796, initially settling in Virginia where he worked on the Virginia State Penitentiary in Richmond. Latrobe then moved to Philadelphia where he established his practice. In 1803, he was hired as Surveyor of the Public Buildings of the United States, and spent much of the next fourteen years working on projects in the new national capital of Washington, D.C., (in the newly-laid out Federal capital of the District of Columbia) where he served as the second Architect of the Capitol. He also was responsible for the design of the White House porticos. Latrobe spent the later years of his life in New Orleans, Louisiana working on a waterworks project, and died there in 1820 from yellow fever.

Latrobe has been called the "father of American architecture".[1] He was the uncle of Charles La Trobe, who was the first Lieutenant-Governor of Victoria in Australia.


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