A Project of the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts, National Gallery of Art
History of Early American Landscape Design

Benjamin Henry Latrobe

[http://www.nga.gov/content/ngaweb/research/casva/research-projects.html A Project of the National Gallery of Art, Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts ]
File:507px-Benjamin latrobe by peale.jpg
Charles Willson Peale, Portrait of Benjamin Henry Latrobe (1804)

Benjamin Henry Boneval Latrobe (May 1, 1764 – September 3, 1820) was a British-born American neoclassical architect best known for his design of the United States Capitol, along with his work on the Baltimore Basilica, the first Roman Catholic Cathedral in the United States. Latrobe was one of the first formally-trained, professional architects in the United States, drawing influences from his travels in Italy, as well as British and French Neoclassical architects such as Claude Nicolas Ledoux.


Harper's Estate, Oakland, Place D'Armes (renamed Jackson Square), Sedgeley, United States Capitol, United States Navy Hospital and Asylum

Associated Terms

Ancient style, Basin, Canal, Clump, Column/Pillar, Flower Garden, French style, Gate/Gateway, Grove, Ha-Ha/Sunk fence, Landscape Gardening, Lawn, Mall, Obelisk, Parterre, Piazza/Veranda/Porch/Portico, Picturesque, Pleasure ground/Pleasure garden, Quarter, Square, Statue, Temple, Wood/Woods

Associated Texts

Carter II, Edward C., John C. Van Horne, and Charles E. Brownell. Latrobe’s View of America, 1795-1820: Selections from the Watercolors and Sketches. New Haven and London: Yale University Press for the Maryland Historical Society, 1985. view on Zotero

Hamlin, Talbot. Benjamin Henry Latrobe. New York: Oxford University Press, 1955. view on Zotero

Latrobe, Benjamin Henry. Impressions Respecting New Orleans: Diaries and Sketches, 1818-1820. Edited by Samuel Wilson. New York: Columbia University Press, 1951. view on Zotero

———. The Journals of Benjamin Henry Latrobe, 1799-1820: From Philadelphia to New Orleans. Edited by Edward C. Carter II, John C. Van Horne, and Lee W. Formwalt. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1980. view on Zotero

———. The Virginia Journals of Benjamin Henry Latrobe, 1795-1798. Edited by Edward C. Carter II. 2 vols. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1977. view on Zotero


“The general plan of the building is as at Mr. Man Pages at Mansfield near Fredericsburg, of the old School. . . . The center is an old house to which a good dining room has been added at the North end, and a study &c. &c., at the South. The House is connected with the Kitchen offices by arcades.”

  • Latrobe, Benjamin Henry, 28 November 1798, describing a prison in Richmond, Va. (CWF)
“The Ground floor contains the Kitchen and Bakehouse and an open Arcade, the use of which is to admit air into the Area of the building from the Westward, the Quarter from which the Summer winds most usually blow.”

  • Latrobe, Benjamin Henry, 17 March 1807, in a letter to Thomas Jefferson, describing the White House, Washington, D.C. (Colonial Williamsburg Foundation)
“My idea is to carry the road below the hill under a Wall about 8 feet high opposite to the center of the president’s house. At this point, I should propose, at a future day to throw an Arch, or Arches over the road in order to procure a private communication between the pleasure ground of the president’s house and the park which reaches to the river, and which will probably be also planted, and perhaps be open to the public.”

  • Latrobe, Benjamin Henry, 26 March 1805, describing a design for a house in Philadelphia, Pa. (CWF)
“From the kitchen a door leads to the Back stairs, which communicate immediately with the Dining room, and the Lady’s apartment above stairs. At the foot of these stairs is a small room, which can be well adapted to the purpose of a bath, or a store room.”

Associated Images

not dated





Architect of the Capitol website: http://www.aoc.gov/aoc/architects/latrobe.cfm/

University of Pennsylvania archives: http://www.archives.upenn.edu/people/1700s/latrobe_benj.html

Library of Congress: http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/95858242/

Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Benjamin_Latrobe

Retrieved from "https://heald.nga.gov/mediawiki/index.php?title=Benjamin_Henry_Latrobe&oldid=1912"

History of Early American Landscape Design contributors, "Benjamin Henry Latrobe," History of Early American Landscape Design, , https://heald.nga.gov/mediawiki/index.php?title=Benjamin_Henry_Latrobe&oldid=1912 (accessed November 29, 2023).

A Project of the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts

National Gallery of Art, Washington