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Benjamin Henry Latrobe

Benjamin Henry Latrobe, British engineer, architect.

Background

  • Latrobe, Benjamin Henry was born on May 1, 1764 in Fulneck, England. Son of Benjamin and Anna Margaret (Antes) Latrobe.

  • Education

    • Studied architecture under Samuel Pepys Cockerell (pioneer in Greek revival), England, 1788-1789.

    Career

    • Executed his 1st independent architectural work “Hammerwood Lodge,” East Grinstead, Sussex, England, circa 1787. Later became surveyor of police force of England. Came to American, 1796.

      Consultant on improvement of navigation on James River, 1796. Designed prison on principle of solitary confinement, Richmond, Virginia, 1797. Completed exterior of Virginia State Capitol (designed by Jefferson).

      Designed Bank of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, 1798. Designed and engineered project for pumping Philadelphia’s water supply from Schuylkill River by using pumps operated by steam engines, 1799. Undertook improvement of navigation on Susquehanna River.

      Designed several houses in Philadelphia including “Sedgby” for William Cramond, the Burd House at Chestnut and 9th Streets. Appointed surveyor of public buildings by President Jefferson, 1803. Commissioned to design South Wing of Capitol Building which would contain United States House of Representatives.

      Commissioned by Bishop John Carroll to design cathedral for Diocese of Baltimore, 1804, executed in Gothic revival style. Did much work on Washington and New York City naval yards, 1804. Designed 1st building at Dickinson College, Carlisle, Pennsylvania, 1804, building for Pennsylvania Academy Fine Arts, Philadelphia, 1805.

      Appointed engineer Chesapeake and Delaware Canal, 1804. Became partner of Robert Fulton, Robert R. Livingston and Nicholas J. Roosevelt to build steamboat to navigate Ohio River, 1812 (project collapsed after Fulton’s death, 1815). Worked on reconstruction of Capitol Building and White House, Washington, District of Columbia (after destruction by British), 1815-1817.

      Adviser to Thomas Jefferson on design of Pavillions V and III for University of Virginia, 1817. After death of son Henry, completed building of water works, New Orleans, 1817. Author: View of the Practicability and Means of Supplying the City of Philadelphia with Wholesome Water, 1799.

    Works

    • Author: View of the Practicability and Means of Supplying the City of Philadelphia with Wholesome Water, 1799.

    Connections

    • Married Lydia Sellon, 1790, 4 children including Henry, Lydia. Married second, Mary Hazlehurst, May 2, 1800, children—John, Benjamin Henry.
    • father: Benjamin Latrobe
    • mother: Anna Margaret (Antes) Latrobe
    • spouses: Lydia Sellon
    • Mary Hazlehurst
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    Born March 1, 1764
    Died September 3, 1820
    (aged 56)
    Nationality