Going Lanphier was a hired carpenter and joiner from Fairfax County, Virginia, who worked occasionally for George Washington a number of times between the 1750s and 1770s. Lanphier initially made clothing in 1753 for enslaved workers for the estate of Lawrence Washington, George Washington's older half-brother. A year later Lanphier was discharging apprentices in joinery and the following year was described as a "jointer."
During George Washington's first renovation of Mount Vernon in the late 1750s, Lanphier was employed by his brother-in-law John Patterson and built the turnery for the new stairs. Lanphier worked with William Bernard Sears on Pohick Church in 1769, after which Washington hired him to build the additions on the north and south ends of the Mansion. Lanphier was paid for his work on the additions in July of 1774, and in 1775 worked on the mantel in the Family Dining Room.1
With George Washington away serving in the American Revolution, Lanphier was supervised by farm manager Lund Washington, who had difficulties with Lanphier's work. Writing in 1778, Lund explained that: "Of all the worthless men living Lanphier is the greatest, no act or temptation of mine can prevail on him to come to work notwithstanding his repeated promises to do so."2 In September of that year, Lanphier was working on the covered walkways between the Mansion, the Servants' Hall, and Kitchen.
Between July of 1774 and July of 1777, Lanphier was provided with herrings, shad, salt, corn, bran, and wool. On July 31, 1777, Lanphier was paid sixty-nine pounds for working eleven and a half months, at a rate of six pounds per month. In addition, another fifteen pounds were given to Lanphier as "Extra Wages for the last Nine Months. . .you being dissatisfied with your former wages."3
By December of 1777, Lanphier was earning nine pounds per month. In addition to carpentry, Lanphier also mended and made parts for spinning wheels for both wool and linen fabric. Lanphier does not appear in the historical record after leaving Mount Vernon. His son, Robert Goin Lanphier, was trained as a carpenter/joiner and married Elizabeth, a daughter of William Bernard Sears. The younger Lanphier took part in the design competition for the United States Capitol in the 1790s and worked at Riversdale, the Maryland estate of Charles and Rosalie Stier Calvert, the brother and sister-in-law of Eleanor Calvert Custis, Martha Washington's daughter-in-law.4
1. See "Mr. Gowing Lanphier-------Dr….Cr.," Lund Washington Account Book, 64; and "Mr. Gowing Lanphier…Dr….Cr.," Lund Washington Account Book, 65.
2. Lund Washington to George Washington, 22 April 1778, Founders Online, National Archives, [Original Source: The Papers of George Washington Digital Edition, ed. Theodore J. Crackel (Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, Rotunda, 2008)].
3. See "Gowing Lanphier…Dr….Cr.," Lund Washington Account Book, 85.
4. Mesick, Cohen & Waite, "Building Trades," Mount Vernon: Historic Structure Report (Unpublished report, Mount Vernon Ladies Association), 2-35 to 2-36.