LATROBE, Benjamin Henry
(b. 1764, Fulneck, England, d. 1820, New Orleans)

Exterior view

White House, Washington D.C.

Competition for building the office of the president of the United States had been held in 1792. An effort had been made to ensure contributions were received from American architects. Their proposals failed to convince the judges, however, and the commission was eventually awarded to the Irishman James Hoban. His project borrowed heavily from a design for a country house by the English architect James Gibbs. The office of the president of the United States was therefore built in a very traditional, even old-fashioned manner - and, of course, in the style of the country's former colonial masters.

The White House owes its characteristic portico, shown in the photo, to Benjamin Latrobe.