Benjamin Henry Latrobe Is Born

On May 1, 1764, Benjamin Henry Latrobe, considered to be the first professional architect in America, was born at Fulneck, a settlement of the Moravian Church near Leeds in Yorkshire, England.

The son of a Pennsylvania-born musician and an Irish-born minister and church leader, Latrobe received a progressive education at Moravian schools in England and later in Germany. He apprenticed briefly in London, first with leading civil engineer John Smeaton (known for rebuilding the Eddystone Lighthouse) and then with Samuel Pepys Cockerell, an eminent neoclassical architect. Latrobe soon went into business for himself, but following the death of his first wife and subsequent financial problems, he emigrated to Virginia in 1795-96.

During two years in Norfolk and Richmond, Latrobe designed several private houses as well as his first major public commission, the Virginia State Penitentiary (1797-1806). In 1798 he moved to the more cosmopolitan environment of Philadelphia, where he soon remarried. There, his Bank of Pennsylvania (1798-1801) became the first major Greek revival building in America, influencing the nation's public architecture thereafter. Of similar style, his Philadelphia Water Works (1799-1801) pumped river water into the city's center using steam engines; though only moderately successful it was the first municipal water system in America. In addition to private houses, Latrobe’s other work in this period included planning for the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal (1803-6).

Benjamin Henry Boneval Latrobe (May 1, 1764 - September 3, 1820) was a British-born American architect best known for his design of the United States Capitol, as well as his design of the Baltimore Basilica, the first Catholic Cathedral built in the United States. Latrobe came to the United States in 1796, settling first in Virginia and then relocating to Philadelphia where he set up his practice. In 1803, he was hired as Surveyor of the Public Buildings of the United States, and spent much of the next fourteen years working on projects in Washington, D.C. Later in his life, Latrobe worked on a waterworks project in New Orleans, where he ended up dying in 1820 from yellow fever. He has been called the "Father of American Architecture".