Thomas Ustick Walter

Last updated
Thomas Ustick Walter
Thomas U. Walter - Brady-Handy.jpg
Architect of the Capitol
In office
June 11, 1851 May 26, 1865
President Millard Fillmore
Franklin Pierce
James Buchanan
Abraham Lincoln
Andrew Johnson
Preceded by Charles Bulfinch
Succeeded by Edward Clark
Personal details
Born(1804-09-04)September 4, 1804
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, US
DiedOctober 30, 1887(1887-10-30) (aged 83)
Washington, D.C., US
Nationality American
ProfessionCivil Engineer
Thomas Ustick Walter
OccupationArchitect
Buildings Moyamensing Prison
Girard College
Projects United States Capitol dome
Philadelphia City Hall

Thomas Ustick Walter (September 4, 1804 October 30, 1887) was an American architect of German descent, the dean of American architecture between the 1820 death of Benjamin Latrobe and the emergence of H.H. Richardson in the 1870s. He was the fourth Architect of the Capitol and responsible for adding the north (Senate) and south (House) wings and the central dome that is predominately the current appearance of the U.S. Capitol building. Walter was one of the founders and second president of the American Institute of Architects. In 1839, he was elected as a member to the American Philosophical Society. [1]

Contents

Early life

Born in 1804 in Philadelphia, Walter was the son of mason and bricklayer Joseph S. Walter and his wife Deborah. [2] Walter was a mason's apprentice to his father. He also studied architecture and technical drawing at the Franklin Institute.

Walter received early training in a variety of fields including masonry, mathematics, physical science, and the fine arts. At 15, Walter entered the office of William Strickland, studying architecture and mechanical drawing, [2] then established his own practice in 1830. [3]

Works

Founder's Hall Girard College, Philadelphia, PA Girard College, Founder's Hall, Girard and Corinthian Avenues, Philadelphia, Philadelphia County, PA HABS PA,51-PHILA,459A-49 (CT).tif
Founder's Hall Girard College, Philadelphia, PA

Professional career

As Architect of the Capitol

Late career

It has been suggested that Walter designed the Second Empire-styled Quarters B and Quarters D at Admiral's Row in Brooklyn, New York.[ citation needed ]

The U.S. Capitol and its dome

Inauguration of Abraham Lincoln, March 4, 1861, beneath the unfinished capitol dome LincolnInauguration1861a.jpg
Inauguration of Abraham Lincoln, March 4, 1861, beneath the unfinished capitol dome

The most famous of Walter's constructions is the dome of the U.S. Capitol. By 1850, the rapid expansion of the United States had caused a space shortage in the Capitol. Walter was selected to design extensions for the Capitol. His plan more than doubled the size of the existing building and added the familiar cast-iron dome.

There were at least six draftsmen in Walter's office, headed by Walter's chief assistant, August Schoenborn, a German immigrant who had learned his profession from the ground up. It appears that he was responsible for some of the fundamental ideas in the Capitol structure. These included the curved arch ribs and an ingenious arrangement used to cantilever the base of the columns. This made it appear that the diameter of the base exceeded the actual diameter of the foundation, thereby enlarging the proportions of the total structure. [21]

Walter family with servant, circa 1850 Thomas Ustick Walter & family c1850.jpg
Walter family with servant, circa 1850

Construction on the wings began in 1851 and proceeded rapidly; the House of Representatives met in its new quarters in December 1857 and the Senate occupied its new chamber by January 1859. Walter's fireproof cast iron dome was authorized by Congress on March 3, 1855, and was nearly completed by December 2, 1863, when the Statue of Freedom was placed on top. The dome's cast iron frame was supplied and constructed by the iron foundry Janes, Fowler, Kirtland & Co. [22] He also reconstructed the interior of the west center building for the Library of Congress after the fire of 1851. Walter continued as Capitol architect until 1865, when he resigned his position over a minor contract dispute. After 14 years in Washington, he retired to his native Philadelphia.[ citation needed ]

In the 1870s, financial setbacks forced Walter to come out of retirement, and he worked as second-in-command when his friend and younger colleague John McArthur, Jr., won the design competition for Philadelphia City Hall. He continued on that vast project until his death in 1887. He was interred at Laurel Hill Cemetery in Philadelphia. [23]

Other honors

For their architectural accomplishments, both Walter and Benjamin Latrobe are honored in a ceiling mosaic in the East Mosaic Corridor at the entrance to the Main Reading Room of the Library of Congress.

Walter's grandson, Thomas Ustick Walter III, was also an architect; he practiced in Birmingham, Alabama, from the 1890s to the 1910s. [24]

See also

Related Research Articles

United States Capitol Seat of the United States Congress

The United States Capitol, often called The Capitol or the Capitol Building, is the meeting place of the United States Congress and the seat of the legislative branch of the U.S. federal government. It is located on Capitol Hill at the eastern end of the National Mall in Washington, D.C. Though no longer at the geographic center of the federal district, the Capitol forms the origin point for the district's street-numbering system and the district's four quadrants.

Daniel Chester French American sculptor (1850–1931)

Daniel Chester French was an American sculptor of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, best known for his design of the monumental statue of Abraham Lincoln (1920) in the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C.

William Thornton British architect and activist

William Thornton was a British-American physician, inventor, painter and architect who designed the United States Capitol. He also served as the first Architect of the Capitol and first Superintendent of the United States Patent Office.

Robert Mills (architect) American architect

Robert Mills, a South Carolina architect known for designing both the first Washington Monument, located in Baltimore, Maryland, as well as the better known monument to the first president in the nation's capital, Washington, DC. He is sometimes said to be the first native-born American to be professionally trained as an architect. Charles Bulfinch of Boston perhaps has a clearer claim to this honor.

Charles Bulfinch American architect

Charles Bulfinch was an early American architect, and has been regarded by many as the first native-born American to practice architecture as a profession.

Burning of Washington Event in the War of 1812

The Burning of Washington was a British invasion of Washington City, the capital of the United States, during the Chesapeake Campaign of the War of 1812. To this date, it remains the only time since the American Revolutionary War that a foreign power has captured and occupied the capital of the United States.

William Strickland (architect)

William Strickland, was a noted architect and civil engineer in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and Nashville, Tennessee. A student of Benjamin Latrobe and mentor to Thomas Ustick Walter, Strickland helped establish the Greek Revival movement in the United States. A pioneering engineer, he wrote a seminal book on railroad construction, helped build several early American railroads, and designed the first ocean breakwater in the Western Hemisphere. He was elected as a member of the American Philosophical Society in 1820.

Napoleon LeBrun American architect

Napoleon Eugene Charles Henry LeBrun was an American architect known for several notable Philadelphia churches, in particular St. Augustine's Church on Fourth Street and the Cathedral-Basilica of Sts. Peter and Paul on Logan Square. He also designed the Academy of Music at Broad and Locust Streets. LeBrun later moved to New York City, where he established the firm Napoleon LeBrun & Sons, which designed numerous notable buildings.

Edward Clark (architect)

Edward Clark was an American architect who served as Architect of the Capitol from 1865 to 1902.

Samuel Sloan (architect) American architect

Samuel Sloan was a Philadelphia-based architect and best-selling author of architecture books in the mid-19th century. He specialized in Italianate villas and country houses, churches, and institutional buildings. His most famous building—the octagonal mansion "Longwood" in Natchez, Mississippi—is unfinished; construction was abandoned during the American Civil War.

Addison Hutton American architect

Addison Hutton (1834–1916) was a Philadelphia architect who designed prominent residences in Philadelphia and its suburbs, plus courthouses, hospitals, and libraries, including the Ridgway Library and the Historical Society of Pennsylvania. He made major additions to the campuses of Westtown School, George School, Swarthmore College, Bryn Mawr College, Haverford College, and Lehigh University.

Wilson Brothers & Company American architectural firm

Wilson Brothers & Company was a prominent Victorian-era architecture and engineering firm established in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, that was especially noted for its structural expertise. The brothers designed or contributed engineering work to hundreds of bridges, railroad stations and industrial buildings, including the principal buildings at the 1876 Centennial Exposition. They also designed churches, hospitals, schools, hotels and private residences. Among their surviving major works are the Pennsylvania Railroad, Connecting Railway Bridge over the Schuylkill River (1866–67), the main building of Drexel University (1888–91), and the train shed of Reading Terminal (1891–93), all in Philadelphia.

William L. Johnston American architect

William L. Johnston (1811–1849) was a carpenter-architect who taught architectural drawing at the Carpenters' Company of Philadelphia, and won a number of important Philadelphia commissions. He died of tuberculosis at the age of 38 after a trip abroad for his health.

Newkirk Viaduct Monument

The Newkirk Viaduct Monument is a 15-foot white marble obelisk in the West Philadelphia neighborhood of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Installed in 1839, it is inscribed with the names of 51 railroad builders and executives, among other information.

First Presbyterian Church of West Chester United States historic place

First Presbyterian Church of West Chester is a historic Presbyterian church located at 130 W. Miner Street in West Chester, Chester County, Pennsylvania. It was designed in 1832 by Thomas U. Walter, who later became the fourth Architect of the Capitol. The church is a stuccoed stone building measuring 75 feet long and 45 feet wide in the Greek Revival style. Additions were built in 1860 and 1955. The front facade features a recessed porch flanked by two projections with pilasters.

Portico Row United States historic place

Portico Row is a set of 16 historic rowhouses located in the Washington Square West neighborhood of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The brick houses were built between 1831 and 1832, and designed by Philadelphia architect Thomas Ustick Walter (1804–1887). They have the typical Philadelphia rowhouse plan with front building, piazza, and back building and are in the Greek Revival style. Each of the eight mirror-image pairs shared a common entrance portico supported by Ionic order columns.

Thomas Hannah American architect

Thomas Hannah was an architect in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia in the United States. He is credited with designing the Saint Nicholas Greek Orthodox Cathedral. He also designed the Western Theological Seminary in Pittsburgh. He also designed Midtown Towers, originally known as the Keenan Building and built in 1907. It was built for Colonel Thomas J. Keenan, owner and founder of the Penny Press, which became Pittsburgh Press. The building may have been modeled after the Spreckel Building/ Call Building (1898) of San Francisco. It is decorated with visages of 10 notables associated with Pittsburgh and Pennsylvania, including then-mayor George Guthrie and then-governor Edwin Stuart, in addition to George Washington and Teddy Roosevelt. The dome was once capped with the figure of an eagle in flight.

Tabb Street Presbyterian Church United States historic place

Tabb Street Presbyterian Church is a historic Presbyterian church located at Petersburg, Virginia. It was designed by architect Thomas Ustick Walter and built in 1843, in the Greek Revival style. It has stucco covered brick walls and features a massive Greek Doric order pedimented peristyle portico consisting of six fluted columns and full entablature. It has two full stories and a gallery. A three-story rear brick wing was added in 1944.

Nicola Monachesi (1795–1851) was an Italian painter believed to have painted the earliest frescos in America. He was born in Tolentino, Marche Italy and was considered a citizen of Rome. When he died in Philadelphia, he had become a naturalized citizen of the United States. In Italy he was a pupil of the Accademia di San Luca, Rome, studying under Gaspare Landi, and won his first prize for painting. After studying in Rome, he emigrated to America in 1831-32 entering through New York and settling in Philadelphia. He worked mostly as an interior decorator, drawing neoclassical artistic paintings on wall surfaces and portrait paintings on canvass decorating churches, commercial buildings, and Mansions.

Walter Horstmann Thomas American architect

Walter Horstmann Thomas (1876–1948) was an American architect from Philadelphia whose career spanned 44 years. He is best known for approximately eighty church designs.

References

  1. "APS Member History". search.amphilsoc.org. Retrieved 2021-04-09.
  2. 1 2 Frary, Ihna Thayer (1940). They Built the Capitol. Ayer Publishing. p. 201.
  3. 1 2 Mason, Jr., George C. (1888). "Memoir". Proceedings of the ... Annual Convention of the American Institute of Architects. 21–22: 101–108.
  4. Filemban, Mustafa. "WC History: The Shipwrecked Entrepreneur". www.downtownwestchester.com. Retrieved 2015-12-09.
  5. Tasman, William (1980). The History of Wills Eye Hospital. Harper & Row. ISBN   978-0061425318.
  6. Moss, Roger W. (1998-05-29). Historic Houses of Philadelphia: A Tour of the Region's Museum Homes. University of Pennsylvania Press. p. 154. ISBN   978-0-8122-3438-1.
  7. "St. George's Hall. [graphic]". The Library Company of Philadelphia. Retrieved 2011-06-18.
  8. Building & Furnishing of Christ Church Philadelphia. Christ Church Philadelphia. p. 30. ISBN   978-1-4223-6535-9.
  9. "Bank of Chester County, 17 North High Street, West Chester, Chester County, PA" (Searchable database). Library of Congress, Historic American Buildings Survey, Engineering Record, Landscapes Survey Collection. Retrieved 2012-11-12.
  10. "Newkirk Monument". www.philadelphiabuildings.org. Retrieved 2020-04-18.
  11. Virginia Historic Landmarks Commission Staff (March 1978). "National Register of Historic Places Inventory/Nomination: Lexington Presbyterian Church" (PDF). Virginia Department of Historic Resources.
  12. Crichfield, George Washington (1908). Foreigners in Latin America and relations with foreign governments. Brentano's. p. 304.
  13. Virginia Historic Landmarks Commission Staff (February 1978). "National Register of Historic Places Inventory/Nomination: Tabb Street Presbyterian Church" (PDF). Virginia Department of Historic Resources.
  14. dsf.chesco.org Archived 2012-02-05 at the Wayback Machine - Chester county courthouse West Chester, Pennsylvania
  15. Curl, James Stevens; Wilson, Susan (2015-02-26). The Oxford Dictionary of Architecture. OUP Oxford. p. 822. ISBN   978-0-19-105385-6.
  16. "Ingleside (Stoddard Baptist Home) - Originally designed by Thomas Ustick Walter, this house is an important example of his domestic design". DC Historic Sites. Retrieved 2021-09-20.
  17. "Garrett-Dunn House destroyed". WHYY. Retrieved 2021-09-20.
  18. Caparella, Kitty (3 August 2009). "Garrett-Dunn House, a landmark in Mt. Airy, destroyed in fire". The Philadelphia Inquirer . Retrieved 2021-09-20.
  19. Pressley Montes, Sue Anne (28 August 2007). "Church's Face-Lift Plans Uncover Ties to U.S. Capitol Architect". The Washington Post .
  20. Harrison, Stephen G. (1992). "Documenting a Design: The Thomas Ustick Walter House, 1861-1866, Germantown, Pennsylvania". University of Pennsylvania.
  21. August Schoenborn at archINFORM
  22. Terrell, Ellen (2015-05-20). "The Capitol Dome: Janes, Fowler, & Kirtland Co. | Inside Adams: Science, Technology & Business". blogs.loc.gov. Retrieved 2021-08-25.
  23. Laurel Hill Cemetery
  24. Fazio, Michael W. (2010) Landscape of Transformations: Architecture and Birmingham, Alabama. Knoxville, Tennessee: University of Tennessee Press ISBN   978-1-57233-687-2
  25. Lukens, Ph.D., Rob (December 11, 2011). "THOMAS U. WHO???". www.chestercohistorical.org. Archived from the original on 2016-03-20. Retrieved 2020-04-18.
Political offices
Preceded by
Charles Bulfinch
Architect of the Capitol
1851–1865
Succeeded by
Edward Clark