James Hoban

James Hoban was an architect from Callan, Kilkenny. He is famous for designing the White House, home to the President of the United States, and possibly the most recognisable building in the world. Hoban is said to have modelled the design on Leinster House in Dublin, seat of the Irish Parliament (The Dáil).

Hoban grew up on the large estate of the Earl of Desart, at Cuffesgrange, Kilkenny. Having studied architecture in Dublin, he emigrated to the United States and soon established himself as an architect in Philadelphia. In 1792 he moved to the District of Columbia and submitted plans in a competition for the design of the Presidential residence. Hoban's design was successful and on the 12th of October 1792, the cornerstone of the White House was laid. He then oversaw the work until completion in 1800.

 

His build didn't last long though. In a British attack against Washington DC in 1812, the building was attacked and burned leaving only the charred shell standing. Hoban went about restoring the building, deciding to keep the exterior walls which had withstood the attack. Restoration was completed in 1817.

Since it's restoration in 1817 the White House of Hoban's design has been enlarged by the addition of the North and South Porticoes and also the West and East Wings. In 1948 a balcony was built behind the pillars of the South Portico.

Hoban became the superintendent of all Washington's public works in 1798. He directed the construction of the Treasury and War Department buildings, based on the design of English architect George Hadfield. He was also superintendent of the construction of the US Capitol building.

On the 29th of September 1981, the first joint issue between the Irish Post office and a foreign postal union took place with the United States Postal Services, the 'James Hoban Commemoration Stamp'. Both stamps featured the same design on which artists from both postal unions worked together. The stamp was issued as a single 18p stamp in Ireland and as an 18c and 20c value in the United States.

Two of his works still survives in Kilkenny; Rossenarra House (c.1820) and Kells Glebe House (c.1830). According to locals of Kells, Hoban adapted a rejected proposal for the White House for the design of the Glebe House.

Notable Works: The White House, Charleston County Courthouse, First Bank of the United States, Oak Hill (residence of James Monroe, former US President) and many more.

Hoban had a profound impact on US architecture and he continues to do so far beyond his death in 1831. His designs have held impact across every state in America making Hoban one of the great influencers of America.

Can you spot any similarities?

Some of Hoban's early drawings for the White House

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