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Thomas Ustick Walter

(1804—1887)


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(1804–87).

American architect of German descent. A pupil of Strickland and John Haviland, he began to practise on his own from 1831, building (1831–5) the Gothic Moyamensing Gaol (Philadelphia County Prison—destroyed), and making his reputation with the peripteral temple-like Girard College for Orphans, Philadelphia (1833–48), one of the finest monuments of the Greek Revival in the USA, although inspired by the Madeleine in Paris, and employing the Corinthian Order of the Choragic Monument of Lysicrates in Athens (334 bc). Thereafter, he designed a vast number of buildings in a variety of styles, including the Egyptian Revival Debtors' Apartment, Moyamensing (1836—destroyed), influenced by Haviland's New Jersey Penitentiary, Trenton (1833–6). With John Jay Smith (1798–1881) he published (1846) Guide to Workers in Metal and Stone and Two Hundred Designs for Cottages and Villas. In 1850 he prepared designs for the extension of the Capitol in Washington, DC, and until 1865 worked on the building. His greatest contributions were the wings and the elegant dome on its cast-iron frame (influenced by Montferrand's St Isaac's Cathedral, St Petersburg, Russia (completed and publicized 1857). He was assisted by August Gottlieb Schoenborn (fl. 1850–65) in this work, although Montgomery C. Meigs (1816–92) was also involved as engineer-in-charge, and openly challenged Walter's authority in 1858. While in Washington Walter also extended the Treasury (1852), Patent Office (1850), Post Office (1856), and Hospital for the Insane (1852). He was responsible for Marine Barracks at Pensacola, Fla. (1857), and Brooklyn, NYC (1858–9). A parsimonious US Government never paid Walter or his heirs for the last-mentioned works, and he died in straitened circumstances.

Americana, xxxiii (1939), 151–79;G. Brown (1970);Ennis (1982);Hamlin (1964);Hitchcock (1977);Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians, vii/1–2 (Jan./June 1948), 1–31, xvi/2 (May 1957), 22–5, xxxix/4 (Dec. 1980), 307–11;Placzek (ed.) (1982);Jane Turner (1996);W&K (1983);T. Walter (1984)

Subjects: Architecture — Art.


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