Dictionary of Irish Architects 1720 - 1940

Irish architect, active in New York and Montreal from 1812 to 1829. James O'Donnell, a Protestant, was born in Co. Wexford in 1774. Nothing is known of his early career in Ireland. A drawing by him for a mausoleum, dated 1798, is in the National Library of Ireland. He arrived in New York in 1812, and in 1816 was elected to the American Academy of Fine Arts. He designed various buildings in New York, including additions to Columbia College, for which there are drawings in the Avery Memorial Architectural Library at Columbia, and 2 Oliver Street (c.1820). In 1823 he moved to Montreal to superintend the construction of his vast Gothic Revival Catholic basilica of Notre Dame, which was completed, apart from the two towers on the entrance front, in 1829. He died in the same year and was buried beneath the basilica.


All information in this entry is from Kenneth Severens and from a leaflet on the Basilica of Notre Dame in Jones file 40A. For futher information see Macmillan Encyclopedia of Architects III (1982), 312, and Franklin Toker, 'James O'Donnell: An Irish Georgian in America', Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians 29 (May 1970), 132-143, which reproduces O'Donnell's mausoleum drawing (Fig. 1)

Author Title Date Details
Toker, Franklin 'James O'Donnell: An Irish Georgian in America' 1970 Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians 29 (May 1970), 132-143.