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Building AmericaThe Life of Benjamin Henry Latrobe$
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Jean H. Baker

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780190696450

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: December 2019

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190696450.001.0001

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This New American

This New American

Chapter:
(p.35) 2 This New American
Source:
Building America
Author(s):

Jean H. Baker

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/oso/9780190696450.003.0003

Chapter 2 begins with Latrobe’s emigration to the United States in 1796 and includes his exciting journey on the Eliza. He spent three and a half years in Virginia. After only a few months in Norfolk he moved to Richmond, the capital. There, he met Bushrod Washington, the president’s nephew, who introduced him to George Washington and arranged a visit to Mount Vernon. Socially, Latrobe benefited from his membership in the Freemasons, a connection that helped him in business as well. However, he continued to chafe against the common belief that an architect was an unnecessary expense, with most buildings requiring only skilled carpenters. Seeking more opportunities as an architect, Latrobe moved to Philadelphia. Here he built the Bank of Pennsylvania, a structure that brought him recognition, and the Philadelphia water supply system, a project that was hampered by his inability to match his artistic vision with financial reality. In Philadelphia, Latrobe met and married Mary Elizabeth Hazlehurst: a wife whom he adored, a woman who treated her stepchildren as if they were hers, a physical and intellectual partner who created the nurturing and intimate family he had never known.

Keywords:   Eliza, Norfolk, Bank of Pennsylvania, American Philosophical Society, Mary Elizabeth Hazlehurst, Chesapeake and Delaware Canal Company, Philadelphia Water Supply, Virginia State Penitentiary

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