Strickland, William (1788-1854)
William Strickland (1788-1854), Philadelphia architect and engineer, was an early proponent of the Greek Revival style in America and a leader in the architectural profession. In North Carolina, he designed the United States Mint in Charlotte and provided key advice on the North Carolina State Capitol in Raleigh.
Strickland was born in Navesink, New Jersey, the son of a master carpenter who moved the family to Philadelphia in 1790. There young Strickland was apprenticed for two years to the distinguished English-born architect Benjamin Latrobe, gaining mastery of engineering and architectural skills. After parting with Latrobe, Strickland worked on his own for several years. He gained national fame with his Second Bank of the United States (1818), a landmark of the Greek Revival style in America, the Philadelphia Exchange (1832-1834), and other works. After designing the first United States Mint in Philadelphia in 1829, Strickland was chosen by the United States Treasury Department in 1835 to plan mints in New Orleans, Louisiana, Dahlonega, Georgia, and Charlotte, North Carolina. The latter two were located amid the nation’s leading gold region before the California strikes. For the Charlotte mint, Strickland was paid $150 for plans of a two-story brick structure 125 by 33 feet plus a rear wing, with cast iron piazzas. Estimated cost was $33,713. The contract went to Raleigh builders Reuben Perry and Thomas P. Ligon (see Ligon and Perry) and the project was completed in 1837. Strickland’s original mint building in Charlotte was similar in form to the one in Dahlonega, of which a photograph survives. The Charlotte mint burned in 1844 and was rebuilt in 1845 as a 1-story building. The 1845 mint was disassembled in 1936, moved, and rebuilt as Charlotte’s Mint Museum.
During construction of the State Capitol (1833-1840) in Raleigh, North Carolina, the commissioners in charge of the project terminated their relationship with architect Ithiel Town and put David Paton in charge. Thereafter, to assure that the building followed “the rules of Architectural taste,” when Paton began to suggest some changes from the Town and Davis design, the commissioners consulted Strickland for advice on various matters. Apparently confirming Paton’s ideas, Strickland advised on placement of the stairs (out of the rotunda) and column placement in the legislative chambers (fewer columns). He also commented on the finish of the cap of the dome: he urged a “honeysuckle or fret ornament,” for “a balustrade is Roman and inadmissible.” Through these consultations, Strickland contributed significantly to the final design. In 1841, he tactfully reminded the commissioners of his unpaid bill of $150 for “advice and assistance in revising and consulting with their Architect Mr. Paton upon the plans and details of the building. I had the honor of writing to you some time ago upon this matter, and fearing that the letter has miscarried I take the liberty of again addressing you, and requesting you at your earliest convenience to transmit me the above amount.”
- Catherine W. Bishir, North Carolina Architecture (1990).
- Capital Buildings Papers, North Carolina State Archives, Raleigh, North Carolina.
- Agnes Addison Gilchrist, William Strickland: Architect and Engineer, 1788-1854 (1950).
- David Paton Papers, North Carolina State Archives, Raleigh, North Carolina.
- Robert Russell, “Gold and Stone: The Southern Mints of William Strickland,” unpublished paper, Annual Meeting of the Southeast Chapter, Society of Architectural Historians, Auburn, Alabama (2006).
- Anthony Joseph Stautzenberger, The Establishment of the Charlotte Branch Mint: A Documented History (1976).
- Contributors:William W. Birth, superindendent, masonry department (1833-1834); Thomas Bragg, Sr., supervisor (1830s); John J. Briggs, carpenter (1830s); Thomas H. Briggs, Sr., carpenter (1830s); Alexander Jackson Davis, architect (1830s); William Drummond, supervisor (1830s); Robert Findlater, stonecutter (1830s); Asa King, carpenter (1830s); William Murdoch, stonecutter (1830s); William Nichols, architect (1830s); William Nichols, Jr., architect (1830s); David Paton, architect and supervisor (1830s); Henry J. Patterson, brickmaker (1830s); William Percival, architect (1858); James Puttick, stonecutter (1830s); William Strickland, consulting architect (1830s); William Stronach, stonecutter (1830s); Town and Davis, architects (1830s); Ithiel Town, architect (1830s)Dates:1833-1840Location:Raleigh, Wake CountyStreet Address:Union Square, Raleigh, NCStatus:StandingType:PublicImages Puslished In:Catherine W. Bishir, North Carolina Architecture (1990).
Catherine W. Bishir and Michael T. Southern, A Guide to the Historic Architecture of Piedmont North Carolina (2003).
Edward T. Davis and John L. Sanders, A Romantic Architect in Antebellum North Carolina: The Works of Alexander Jackson Davis (2000).Note:Although sometimes credited solely to Town and Davis, the design of the capitol was the result of a sequence of work by William Nichols, Sr. and Jr., Town and Davis, and David Paton, with advice from William Strickland. For a fuller explanation of the chronology and contributions of architects involved in the State Capitol, see Bishir, North Carolina Architecture and other sources cited herein.
- Dates:1835-1837Location:Charlotte, Mecklenburg CountyStreet Address:Charlotte, NCStatus:No longer standingType:PublicNote:Strickland's mint burned in 1844. The mint was rebuilt in 1845 on the old walls as a 1-story building, from a design supplied by Franklin Peale, son of Charles Willson Peale. A photograph of the rebuilt mint appears in Anthony Joseph Stautzenberger, The Establishment of the Charlotte Branch Mint: A Documented History (1976). That building was disassembled in 1936 and rebuilt on a different site as the Mint Museum. There are no known images of the original Strickland building, which was different in appearance from the one rebuilt after the fire.