We are fast approaching that day in March when every American is a little bit Irish. In honor of St Paddy’s day, we decided to share a story about an Irish American named James Hoban. If you’ve never heard of him, we guarantee you’re familiar with his work. Hoban’s contributions to the early growth and development of Washington DC are many, but the legacy that keeps his name alive today comes from one very special architectural commission –he designed the White House!
Hoban was born and raised in Ireland. As a young man, he worked as a wheelwright and carpenter before becoming a professional architect and builder. He came to the United States after the Revolutionary War, working in Philadelphia, PA and Charleston, SC, eventually making his home in our nation’s capital home.
In July 1792, Hoban won the design completion for the Executive Mansion (he beat Thomas Jefferson who submitted his own design using a pseudonym). Historians aren’t sure how much Washington influenced his early designs following his commission, but you can clearly see the similarities in the White House and the Charleston Courthouse he designed just prior (it was built from 1790 to 1792).
If you’d to pay your respects to this architect, builder, militia captain, civic leader, and pillar of the Roman Catholic community…you can visit his grave at Mount Olivet Cemetery right here in Northeast DC. If you’d prefer to honor his legacy with a toast, I recommend heading to DuPont Circle. James Hoban’s Irish Restaurant & Bar is a neighborhood gem, serving up a modern taste of Ireland seven days a week. Stop in for a pint or plate—the Ruben is delicious!