Join Mount Vernon for a digital Ford Evening Book Talk with historian Jean H. Baker in conversation with Dr. Susan P. Schoelwer, Mount Vernon's Executive Director for Historic Preservation and Collections, and Robert H. Smith Senior Curator. 

They will discuss Baker's new book, Building America: The Life of Benjamin Henry Latrobe.

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Add to Calendar 12/10/2020 19:00:00 12/10/2020 20:00:00 America/New_York Ford Evening Book Talk: Jean H. Baker

Join Mount Vernon for a digital Ford Evening Book Talk with historian Jean H. Baker in conversation with Dr. Susan P. Schoelwer, Mount Vernon's Executive Director for Historic Preservation and Collections, and Robert H. Smith Senior Curator. 

They will discuss Baker's new book, Building America: The Life of Benjamin Henry Latrobe.

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Cost

Free

Location

Online

Watch Live December 10 at 7 pm ET

About the Book

An Englishman who became America's first professional architect, Benjamin Henry Latrobe put his stamp on the built landscape of the new republic. Latrobe contributed to such iconic structures as the south wing of the U.S. Capitol building, the White House, and the Navy Yard. He created some of the early republic's greatest neoclassical interiors, including the Statuary Hall and the Senate, House, and Supreme Court Chambers.

As a young man, Latrobe was apprenticed to both a leading architect and civil engineer in London, studied the European continent's architectural and engineering monuments, worked on canals, and designed private houses. After the death of his first wife, he was bankrupt and emigrated to the United States in 1796 to restart his career. For the new nation with grand political expectations, he intended buildings and engineering projects to match those aspirations. Like his patron Thomas Jefferson, Latrobe saw his neoclassical designs as a way to convey American democracy. He envisioned his engineering projects, such as the canals and municipal water systems for Philadelphia and New Orleans, as a way to unite the nation and improve public health.

Jean Baker conveys the personality of this charming, driven, and often frustrated genius and the era in which he lived. Latrobe tried to establish architecture as a profession with high standards, established fees, and recognized procedures, though he was unable to collect fees and earn the living his work was worth. Like many of his peers, he speculated and found himself in bankruptcy several times.

Building America masterfully narrates the life and legacy of a key figure in creating an American aesthetic in the new United States.

About the Speaker

Jean H. Baker is Bennett-Harwood Professor of History Emerita at Goucher College, where she earned her undergraduate degree prior to completing graduate studies at Johns Hopkins University with David Herbert Donald. She has taught primarily at Goucher, with visiting professorships at various institutions including Harvard College. Most recently she taught in Goucher's prison education program in Jessup, Maryland. An eminent political historian and biographer, she is also the author of Margaret Sanger: A Life of PassionSisters: The Lives of America's SuffragistsJames Buchanan; and Mary Todd Lincoln: A Biography.

Sponsored By The Ford Motor Company Fund

Sponsored By The Ford Motor Company Fund

Mount Vernon has enjoyed a very special relationship with the Ford Motor Company dating back more than 90 years. We are grateful for their generous support and we applaud their abiding respect for American heritage.

Contact

Stephen A. McLeod

Director, Library Programs

703.799.8686

smcleod@mountvernon.org

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