James Hoban

1758-1831; b. Callan, Co. Kilkenny, on the Desart [fam.] Estate; began work as a wheelwright and carpenter; trained in architecture under Sir Thomas Ivory in Dublin Society Drawing School [later RDS], Grafton St.; moved to Philadelphia, 1785, working as an architect and builder; settled in Charleston, South Carolina and built the Charleston Country Courthouse; won the competition for the plans of the White House in Washington, commissioned by George Washington - following the dismissal of the French engineer and architect L’Enfant for insubordination - and settled in Washington that year, 1792; designed Rossenarra House, nr. Kilmaganny, Co. Kilkenny, 1824; served on the City Council from 1802 to his death; d. in Washington DC, 1831, re-interred in Olivet Cemetery, Washington; there is a James Hoban Lifetime Achievements Award (US); himself a Catholic, his son became a Jesuit in Georgetown.

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John F. Kennedy, President of the United States of America, referred to Hoban in his address to Dail Eireann in (1963: ‘Features of this stately mansion (Dail Eireann) served to inspire similar features in the White House in Washington, begun in 1792. I know that the White House was designed by James Hoban, a noted Irish architect and I have no doubt that he believed by incorporating several features of the Dublin style he would make it more homelike for any President of Irish descent. It was a long wait, but I appreciate his efforts.’

Note, however, that his remarks would have been more appropriate if made in Aras on Uachtharain - the Irish President's Residence in the Phoenix Park - and formerly the Viceregal Lodge - since it was this building which is considered the true antecedent of the one in Washington. The other architects involved were Benjamin Henry Latrobe, Charles Follen McKim, and  Nathan C. Wyeth (who won the competition for the addition of the Oval Office to the West Wing under the aegis of President Taft).

See official History of the White House - online; accessed 19.12.2014; see also Robert Ross [q.v.], the Irish-born British soldier who burnt down the White House during the Ango-American War of 1814.

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