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Walter, Thomas Ustick

Walter, Thomas Ustick (1804–87). American architect of German descent. A pupil of Strickland and John Haviland, he began to practise on his own from 1831, building (1831–5) the Gothic Moyamensing Gaol (Philadelphia County Prison—destroyed), and making his reputation with the peripteral temple-like Girard College for Orphans, Philadelphia (1833–48), one of the finest monuments of the Greek Revival in the USA, although inspired by the Madeleine in Paris, and employing the Corinthian Order of the Choragic Monument of Lysicrates in Athens (334 BC). Thereafter, he designed a vast number of buildings in a variety of styles, including the Egyptian Revival Debtors' Apartment, Moyamensing (1836—destroyed), influenced by Haviland's New Jersey Penitentiary, Trenton (1833–6). With John Jay Smith (1798–1881) he published (1846) Guide to Workers in Metal and Stone and Two Hundred Designs for Cottages and Villas. In 1850 he prepared designs for the extension of the Capitol in Washington, DC, and until 1865 worked on the building. His greatest contributions were the wings and the elegant dome on its cast-iron frame (influenced by Montferrand's St Isaac's Cathedral, St Petersburg, Russia (completed and publicized 1857)). He was assisted by August Gottlieb Schoenborn (fl. 1850–65) in this work, although Montgomery C. Meigs (1816–92) was also involved as engineer-in-charge, and openly challenged Walter's authority in 1858. While in Washington Walter also extended the Treasury (1852), Patent Office (1850), Post Office (1856), and Hospital for the Insane (1852). He was responsible for Marine Barracks at Pensacola, Fla. (1857), and Brooklyn, NYC (1858–9). A parsimonious US Government never paid Walter or his heirs for the last-mentioned works, and he died in straitened circumstances.

Bibliography

Americana, xxxiii (1939), 151–79;
G. Brown (1970);
Ennis (1982);
Hamlin (1964);
Hitchcock (1977);
Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians, vii/1–2 (Jan./June 1948), 1–31, xvi/2 (May 1957), 22–5, xxxix/4 (Dec. 1980), 307–11;
Placzek (ed.) (1982);
Jane Turner (1996);
W&K (1983);
T. Walter (1984)

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Walter, Thomas Ustick

Thomas Ustick Walter, 1804–87, American architect, b. Philadelphia. In 1819 he entered the office of William Strickland in Philadelphia as a student. In 1830 he began practice, the county prison (1831) at Moyamensing, Philadelphia co., being his first important work. The main building of Girard College in Philadelphia, which he designed in 1833 and completed in 1847, was one of the most ambitious works of the classic revival. In 1851, Walter was appointed to design extensions for the Capitol at Washington, D.C., which had remained unchanged since the completion of Bulfinch's plans in 1830. Holding the post of government architect until 1865, Walter added the wings for the Senate and House of Representatives, as well as the soaring central dome of cast iron, replacing Bulfinch's low dome, and rebuilt the west front. At Washington, D.C., Walter also designed the interior of the Library of Congress and built extensions for the Post Office, the Patent Office, and the Treasury. For the Venezuelan government he designed a breakwater at La Guaira. One of the original organizers of the American Institute of Architects in 1857, he held its presidency from 1867 until his death.

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Walter, Thomas Ustick

Walter, Thomas Ustick (1804–87) US architect. He is best remembered for his extensions to the Capitol at Washington, DC and he also designed the interior of the Library of Congress.

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