August Schoenborn

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August Gottlieb Schoenborn[1] (October 20, 1827 - January 24, 1902) was a German American architect who helped design the United States Capitol dome.

Life and career[edit]

Grave of August Schoenborn at Prospect Hill Cemetery in Washington, D.C.

He was born in October 1827 in the town of Suble, Germany,[2] a major arms manufacturing center. He attended the city's public schools, and after graduation worked as a mechanic for three years. Schoenborn enrolled at the Technical Institute and School of Art in 1843, where he studied architecture. He emigrated to the United States in 1849 and settled in Wisconsin. Two years later, he moved to Washington, D.C.[2]

In June 1851, he found a position as a draftsman under Thomas U. Walter, Architect of the Capitol.[2] With only a small scale model and some very rough drawings to work from,[2] Schoenborn produced highly detailed architectural plans. Walter did not initially believe that Schoeborn had done the work himself, but was quickly satisifed that Schoenborn was a trained architect.[2][3] President Millard Fillmore was also highly impressed with Schoeborn's work, and often visited him in the architectural offices at the Capitol.[2]

Schoeborn made two important contributions to the United States Capitol. When the Capitol library burned on December 24, 1851, it was replaced with an iron library which was designed by Schoeborn.[2] Schoenborn also made the original drawings for the new iron dome of the Capitol.[4]

When the American Civil War broke out in April 1861, Schoenborn worked as a surveyor and mapmaker for Union Army General Irvin McDowell in Virginia.[3] He also drew numerous plans for barracks, hospitals, and offices for the Quartermaster General of the United States Army. He returned to work on the Capitol in May 1862.[2]

Personal life and death[edit]

Schoenborn spent the post-war years in Washington designing numerous public buildings,[2] for which he became very well known.[5] He married Helene Schoenbrun,[1] and had four daughters and two sons.[2][3] His son William committed suicide on January 4, 1897.[5]

He died at his home in Washington on January 24, 1902, at the age of 74. A member of Concordia Lutheran Church,[6] he was interred at Prospect Hill Cemetery in Washington, D.C.[4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Disposed of By Will". The Evening Star. February 12, 1902. p. 10. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "August Schoenborn Dead". The Evening Star. January 25, 1902. p. 2. 
  3. ^ a b c "Designed Capitol Dome". The Washington Post. January 26, 1902. p. 6. 
  4. ^ a b Polmar & Polmar 2010, p. 152.
  5. ^ a b "Suicide of a Draughtsman". The Washington Post. January 5, 1897. p. 2. 
  6. ^ "August Schoenborn Buried". The Evening Star. January 27, 1902. p. 2.