The White House, Washington D.C.

Designed by Brother James Hoban

The official residence of the Presidents of the United States, The White House, at Washington, D.C., was designed and built by Brother James Hoban, (1762?-1831) the architect who who supervised the construction and laid the cornerstone of the first White House in 1792.  After the destruction of Washington's public buildings during the War of 1812, he also designed the present building.  He studied architecture under Thomas Ivory, and in 1785 arrived in Philadelphia.  He then went to Charleston, South Carolina, where he built several public buildings, and the state house at Colombia.  For this he was recommended to President Washington, and he went to Philadelphia to confer with Washington about developing the Federal City.  His plan for the White House was accepted, and he received the contract to supervise the construction at 200 guineas a year.  Hoban collaborated with William Thornton in constructing the U.S. Capitol, and, in 1797, was named superintendent of executive buildings to be erected, including the Treasury, State, War, and Navy buildings.  He married Susanna Sewell in 1799, and they had ten children.  Although a devout Catholic, he was ardently interested in Masonry.  Bishop Carroll stated, in a letter in 1794, with reference to probationary edicts, that they would not be enforced in his diocese.  James Hoban laid the cornerstone of the White House with Masonic ceremonies, October 12, 1792.  It is not known where he received his degrees, but under his leadership a group of Irish Catholics and Scotch Presbyterians organized Federal Lodge No. 1, Washington, D.C. and he became its first Worshipful Master, and afterwards, treasurer.  The Lodge also participated in the laying of the cornerstone of the U.S. Capitol by President and Brother George Washington, September 18, 1793.  He was a member of an early Royal Arch "encampment" in the District of Colombia.  He died December 8, 1831, and his body was interred in the graveyard of St. Patrick's Church, but reinterred in Mt. Olivet by his grandson in 1863.

A bronze plaque depicting Brothers James Hoban and President George Washington laying the cornerstone of the White House.




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