A Year: Day to Day Men: 28th of November
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November 28, 1866 was the birthdate of American architect Henry Bacon.
Born in Watseka, Illinois, Henry Bacon studied briefly at the University of Illinois in 1884 but left to be employed at the office of McKim, Mead and White, one of the best-known architectural firms at that time. Bacon’s work was in the late Greek Revival and Beaux-Arts forms associated with the firm. He worked on the 1889 Paris World Expo, the Boston Public Library, the Harvard Club of New York, and New York’s Pennsylvania Station.
In 1889, Henry Bacon won a scholarship for architectural students, enabling him to travel in Europe, learning and drawing details of Roman and Greek architecture. Upon his return to the United States, he rejoined McKim’s firm, working on projects such as the Rhode island State House and the World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893 in Chicago.
In 1897, Bacon formed a partnership, called the Brite and Bacon Architects, with James Brite, a younger architect from the McKim firm. In the same year, they were selected to build three private residences including the La Fetra Mansion in Summit, New Jersey. The La Fetra Mansion was designed and built by Bacon, and his design was published in the September 1901 issue of “Architecture” the pre-eminent architectural professional journal of its time.
The La Fetra Mansion fully exhibits Bacon’s preference for Beaux-Arts Neo-Greek and Roman architecture styles. His simple and elegant lines, and his skill in dimensions and proportions, gave rise to a stately elegance, peaceful tranquility, and a sense of divine protection.
In 1897, Henry Bacon was also approached by a group which was organized with the intent to raise public and private funds to build a monument in Washington, D.C. to memorialize President Abraham Lincoln. Bacon began his conceptual, artistic, and architectural design for the Lincoln Memorial that year. He continued in the effort even though the funding for the building of the project did not materialize until years later. The Memorial opened in May of 1922.
The Brite and Bacon Partnership dissolved in 1902, partly resulting from Brite’s disagreement over Bacon’s passion and the unpaid time he spent on the design of the Lincoln Memorial. After that, Bacon practiced under his own name with significant success, building a large number of famous public buildings and monuments. In May of 1923 President Warren G Harding presented Bacon with the American Institute of Architects’s Gold Medal, making him the sixth recipient of that honor. Henry Bacon died in February of 1924 and is buried in North Carolina.
Top Insert Image: Photographer Unknown, “Henry Bacon”, 1910,, Vintage Portrait Photo, The Royal Institute of British Architects, London
Second Insert Image: Henry Bacon, “Competition Proposal for a Monument to Abraham Lincoln”, 1911-1915, Record Group 42, National Archives, Washington DC
Bottom Insert Image: George F. Landegger, “B. C. Scranton Library, Madison, Connecticut”, Architect Henry Bacon, 1900