Dictionary of Irish Architects 1720 - 1940

Irish-born architect, who emigrated to the United States and designed the White House in Washington. James Hoban, the son of Edward Hoban and his wife Martha (née Bayne) was born at Desart, near Callan, Co. Kilkenny. The date of his birth is given variously as circa 1758 and circa 1762. In 1779 he was admitted to the Dublin Society's School of Drawing in Architecture, where he studied under THOMAS IVORY  THOMAS IVORY and where, on 23 November 1780, he was awarded the second of three prizes for 'brackets, stairs, roofs, etc.' Further details of his career in Ireland are not recorded.(1) By 1785 he had emigrated to the United States, working first in Philadelphia and subsequently in Charleston, South Carolina. In 1792 he moved to Washington on winning the competition for designing the President's house.(2) He later supervised the completion of the Senate wing of the Capitol.(3) He lived and worked in Washington until his death on 8 December 1831, by which time he had become a major property owner in the city. For his works in Washington, see Macmillan Encyclopedia of Architects and P. Scott & A.J. Lee, Buildings of the District of Columbia (Society of Architectural Historians, 1993), 21-22,116,138,151-154.   See also Bob Arnebeck, Through a Fiery Trial: Building Washington 1790-1800 (Madison Books: Lanham, New York & London, 1991), passim.


All information in this entry not otherwise accounted for is from the article on Hoban in Macmillan Encyclopaedia of Architects (1982) and from Kenneth Severens. See also the biography of Hoban in Dictionary of American Biography.

(1) According to communication from William Seale, of Alexandria, Virginia, 1977, Hoban worked on the Royal Exchange and Newcomen's Bank in Dublin (IAA, Edward McParland files, Acc. 2008/44); Mary Cecilia Lyons, Illustrated Incumbered Estates Ireland, 1850-1905 (1993), states that the architect of Rossenarra House, Co. Kilkenny, 'is know to have been John[sic] Hoban, the architect of the White House' (p.125).
(2) For details of this competition, see The White House 1792-1992: Image in Architecture (American Architectural Foundation & White House Historical Association, 1992).
(3) Some details of nature of his activities in the years 1800-1801 are given in Letter from the Secretary of the Treeasury, covering rwo letters from the City Commissioners, with documents, exhibiting, I. Receipts and expenditures by them, and II., State and progress of their business and fund,  a rere pamphlet published by the United States Government in Washington in December 1801.