Architect Henry Bacon

Henry Bacon (1866-1924)

Henry Bacon was an American Beaux-Arts architect, is best remembered for his severe Greek Doric Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. (built 1915–1922), which was his final project.

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Henry Bacon was born in Watseka, Illinois 1866. At the age of  15, Henry Bacon was sent north to Boston’s Chauncey Hall School. In 1884 he matriculated at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, but left within a year to launch an architectural career in the office of Chamberlin & Whidden in Boston as a draftsman. Bacon was soon hired into the office of famed McKim, Mead & White in New York City, the best-known American architectural firm of its time.

While at McKim, Mead & White (MMW), Bacon won, in 1889, the Rotch Traveling Scholarship for architectural students, which gave him two years of study and travel in Europe. Returning to the U.S. he spent a few more years with his mentor, McKim, working on projects like the Rhode Island State House in Providence, Rhode Island, and serving as McKim's personal representative in Chicago during the World's Fair in Chicago, where MMW was at work designing certain buildings for the World’s Fair.

In 1897, Bacon left the office of McKim, Mead & White (MMW) to found, with a younger MMW architect James Brite, a new partnership Brite and Bacon Architects.

During 1897 , Bacon was approached by a group which was organized with the intent to raise public and private funds to build a monument in Washington DC to memorialize President Lincoln. Bacon began his conceptual, artistic, and architectural design for the Lincoln Memorial that year, and continued with significant passion in the effort, even though the funding for the building of the project did not materialize until years later.

Aside from the Lincoln Memorial, the list of Bacon’s significant and well-loved monuments and public buildings is very long. Among the long list, are the Danforth Memorial Library in Paterson, New Jersey; the Train Station in Naugatuck, Connecticut; the Observatory, Olin Library, the Eclectic House, at Wesleyan University; the Union Square Savings Bank, New York City; Ambrose Swasey Pavilion (1916) Exeter, New Hampshire; Chelsea Savings Bank, Chelsea, Mass; Halle Brothers Department Store, Cleaveland, Ohio; Waterbury General Hospital, Waterbury, Conn; National City Bank, New Rocellle, NY; Citizens & Manufacturers National Bank, Waterbury, Conn; First Congregational Church, Providence, RI; Gates for the University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA; Woodmere High School, Woodmere, NY; Public Bath, Brooklyn, NY.
Bacon was very active as a designer of monuments and settings for public sculpture. He designed the Court of the Four Seasons, for the 1915 Panama-Pacific Exposition in San Francisco. He designed the World War I memorial at Yale University. He collaborated with sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens on the Sen. Mark Hanna Monument in Cleveland, Ohio, and with Daniel Chester French on numerous monuments, notably the Lincoln Memorial's pensive colossal Lincoln. The Olin Library one of Bacon's buildings at Wesleyan University, houses have many of Bacon's documents and blueprints of the Lincoln Memorial.

Architect Henry Bacon rarely found time for private residences. There are two known residential projects that are clearly his work. First is the La Fetra Mansion in Summit, New Jersey, designed and built under the firm Brite & Bacon from 1897 to 1900.

The other Henry Bacon private residence is the Chesterwood House, which Bacon designed for his friend and famed sculptor Daniel Chester French as his summer home and studio at Stockwood, Massachusetts.

In May, 1923 President Warren G. Harding presented Bacon the American Institute of Architects's Gold Medal, making him the 6th recipient of this honor.

Bacon died of cancer in New York City, and is buried at Oakdale Cemetery in Wilmington, North Carolina.