Egerton Swartwout

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Egerton Swartwout
Born March 3, 1870
Fort Wayne, Indiana
Died February 18, 1943 age 71
New York, NY
Occupation Architect

Egerton Swartwout (March 3, 1870 – February 18, 1943) was an American architect, most notably associated with his New York architectural firm Tracy and Swartwout and McKim, Mead & White. His buildings, numbering over 100, were typically in the Beaux-Arts style. 6 of his buildings are recognized on the National Register of Historic Places and 3 others are given landmark status by their City Commission's


Egerton was the first son of Satterlee Swartwout (grandson of Brigadier General Robert Swartwout) and Charlotte Elizabeth Edgerton (daughter of Ohio Representative, Alfred Peck Edgerton). Egerton married British-born Isabelle Geraldine Davenport, June 20, 1904 in Cambridge, England. They had two children, Robert Egerton Swartwout (1905-1951) and Charlotte Elizabeth (b. 1908). Robert Egerton Swartwout (1905-1951), better known as R.E. Swartwout, was an author and the first American to cox the Cambridge University rowing team to victory over Oxford University, in 1930.

Training and career[edit]

Egerton Swartwout, 1922

Egerton Swartwout graduated from Yale University in 1891 with a B.A. degree. He had no formal training in architecture, but spent two summers during college working in small architecture offices. After graduating from Yale he presented a letter of introduction to Stanford White of McKim, Mead and White. White took him into the firm as an unpaid student, and after a few months he was hired as a draftsman.[1]

Swartwout spent ten years at the firm and rose through the ranks of draftsmen. He worked primarily for Charles McKim, assisting in the design of several of McKim's major buildings, including the Low Memorial Library at Columbia University. The four internal staircases at the corners of the rotunda leading to four exits were Swartwout's contribution. Swartwout wrote in his memoir that he later regretted the idea, because when he used the library he could never manage to find the same stairs going down that he had used to come up, and when he was in a hurry to catch a train he often found himself leaving by the wrong exit in the rear of the building.[1]

Swartwout produced drawings for the University Club, another of McKim's important commissions, and borrowed some of its details for his design of the Missouri State Capitol. He worked with socialite Theodate Pope Riddle on the design of Hill-Stead, now the Hill-Stead Museum, for her parents. When he left McKim, Mead and White, Swartwout had charge of thirteen building projects.[1]

In 1900 he teamed with co-worker and fellow Yale graduate, Evarts Tracy, to form Tracy and Swartwout. The new firm designed many significant buildings, including the Missouri State Capitol. After Tracy's death in 1922, Swartwout continued in solo practice.

During his career, Swartwout developed guidelines for judging architectural competitions for the American Institute of Architects, making it possible for young architects to succeed. One of the first architects to incorporate acoustics in his designs, Wallace Clement Sabine, served as consultant on many of Swartwout's buildings. Swartwout sat on the American Battle Monuments Commission and served as vice chairman of the American Academy of the Fine Arts. Tracy and Swartwout were awarded The Medal of Honor by the New York Chapter of the American Institute of Architects in 1920 for distinguished achievements in architecture as exemplified by the Missouri State Capitol and Denver Post Office. Egerton served 3 terms as president of the New York Chapter of the American Institute of Architects.[2] He was made an honorary member of the Societe Nationale Des Beaux Arts.[3] Swartwout was a member of the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts from 1931 to 1936; the American Academy of Arts and Letters; and the National Academy of Design.[4]


Egerton Swartwout died in New York, NY on February 18, 1943. Architect Eric Gugler served as executor for his estate. He is buried alongside his mother and daughter in Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, Sleepy Hollow, New York.

Select Buildings[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Swartwout, Egerton. An Architectural Decade.
  2. ^ a b c d Turkel, Stanley (2011). Built to Last:100+ Year-Old Hotels in New York. 1663 Liberty Drive Bloomington Indiana 47403: Author House. p. 268. ISBN 978-1-4634-4340-5. 
  3. ^ Bulletin of Yale University Obituary Record of Graduates of Yale University Deceased During the Year I942-I943 Series 4 0 I January I944 Number I
  4. ^ Thomas Luebke, ed. ""Civic Art: A Centennial History of the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts"" (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Commission of Fine Arts, 2013): Appendix B.
  5. ^ a b c d e f Dearinger, David B (2004). Paintings and Sculpture in the Collection of The National Academy of Design Vol. I 1826-1925. New York and Manchester: Hudson Hills Press. p. 493. ISBN 1-55595-029-9. 
  6. ^ Woodward, Robert Irving (2001). John's Church in the Wilderness A history of St. John's Cathedral in Denver, Colorado, 1860-2000. 390 Saint Paul St. Denver, CO 80206: Prairie Publisher's Inc. p. 46. ISBN 0-938075-82-9. 
  7. ^ Ball, Jeffrey (2011). Art of the Missouri Capitol History in Canvas, Bronze, and Stone. Columbia and London: University of Missouri Press. p. 4. ISBN 978-0-8262-1921-3. 
  8. ^ a b The Grove Encyclopedia of American Art. 198 Madison Ave. NY, NY: Oxford University Press. 2011. p. 621. ISBN 978-0-19-533579-8. 
  9. ^ a b Federal Reserve Bank of Boston (1920). The Commission of Fine Arts 8th Report January 1, 1918-July 1, 1919. Washington D.C.: Washington Government printing Office. p. 89. 

External links[edit]