Horatio Nelson White

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Horatio Nelson White
Born 1814
Died 1892
Buildings Hall of Languages, Syracuse University, Gridley Building, Grace Episcopal Church

Horatio Nelson White (1814–1892) was an American architect.

He was one of New York State's most prominent architects from about 1865 to 1880. A resident of Syracuse, he designed many homes, armories, churches, and public buildings throughout central New York State, included: the Hall of Languages at Syracuse University, the Oswego County Court House, Syracuse High School, the Weiting Block in Syracuse, Oswego's City Hall, and more.[1]

White was born in Middletown, New Hampshire, on February 8, 1814. White was named after Horatio Nelson, famous British Admiral and hero of the Battle of Trafalgar. Before moving to Syracuse in 1843, White worked as a carpenter and a builder in Andover, Massachusetts. Upon arrival in Syracuse, White immediately made a name for himself, earning high praises as the building contractor for the Church of the Messiah. Following business reversals, White moved briefly to Brooklyn in 1847. In 1849 he set sail for San Francisco and worked in California during the 1849–1851 building boom and gold rush.[1]

In 1851 White returned to his wife and daughter in Syracuse, paid off his creditors and established what was to become a highly successful architectural practice. In 1856 White was given the prestigious opportunity of designing the new Onondaga County Courthouse in Clinton Square. The resulting design was hailed as a resounding success and elements from it were utilized in several of his subsequent plans, including the designs for the Jefferson and Chemung County courthouses.[1] White's reputation was growing as one of the best architects in Syracuse. Young architects came to Syracuse to study under him. One of these was Archimedes Russell, later to become a professor of architecture at Syracuse University from 1873 through 1881.[2]

In 1867, White designed the original Onondaga Savings Bank (now the Gridley Building). White adapted this style to the Hall of Languages, the first building constructed on the campus of Syracuse University. White was engaged to design New York State armories in Syracuse, Dunkirk and Ballston Spa. He also designed Plymouth Congregational Church in Syracuse. White prepared designs for over 100 churches.[1]

Although White undoubtedly designed many houses, the loss of his papers has obscured the identity of most of them. Accordingly, he is remembered mostly for his more monumental work. White's reputation remains to this day as one of the most distinguished architects to have been associated with Syracuse. White died in his home in 1892. His obituary referred to him as simply "the Venerable Architect".[1]

Extant buildings which he designed and which are listed on the National Register of Historic Places include:

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e The man who changed the face of Syracuse : Horatio Nelson White by Elinore Taylor Horning. Mexico, NY: E.T. Horning, c1988. Published in conjunction with an exhibit on his works at the Onondaga Historical Museum.
  2. ^ Syracuse University Archives. Faculty Papers: Archimedes Russell.

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