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Charles Bulfinch

Charles Bulfinch, Architect [1763-1844]

Charles Bulfinch [†] is generally regarded as the first native-born American to practice architecture as a profession. He was born in Boston, Massachusetts, son of Thomas Bullfinch, a prominent physician, and Susan Apthorp. Charles attended Boston Latin School and Harvard University earning a Bachelor of Arts in 1781 and a Master's degree in 1784.

From 1785 to 1787 he toured Europe where he was influenced by classical and neoclassical architecture, especially buildings in Italy and the United Kingdom. While in Europe he was mentored somewhat by Thomas Jefferson. Upon returning to the U.S. he promoted a world voyage aboard the ship Columbia Rediviva, the first American ship to circumnavigate the globe. He married Hannah Apthorp, his first cousin, in 1788. Thomas Bullfinch, author of Bulfinch's Mythology, was one of their sons.

Bulfinch's first building design was the Hollis Street Church, 1788. In addition to his institutional and municipal designs, he built a remarkable number of private dwellings in the Boston area over a period of 10 years, beginning 1793.

While serving in the roles of selectman, designer and public official during the summer of 1817, Bulfinch met President James Monroe in Boston. Throughout the President's two-week visit the two were near-constant companions. Some months later, in 1818, Bulfinch was appointed by the President to succeed Benjamin Latrobe as Architect of the Capitol in Washington, D.C..

While working on the U.S. Capitol as Commissioner of Public Building, Bulfinch undertook various additional commissions in Massachusetts, Maine and Washington, D.C.

Charles Bulfinch, en.wikipedia.org, accessed July, 2014.