Elijah E. Myers

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Elijah E. Myers
Emyers colorado.gif
Elijah E. Myers
Born(1832-12-29)December 29, 1832
DiedMarch 5, 1909(1909-03-05) (aged 76)
OccupationArchitect
Notable work
Texas State Capitol

Elijah E. Myers (December 29, 1832 – March 5, 1909) was a leading architect of government buildings in the latter half of the 19th century, and the only architect to design the capitol buildings of three U.S. states, the Michigan State Capitol, the Texas State Capitol, and the Colorado State Capitol.[1] He also designed buildings in Mexico and Brazil. Myers' designs favored Victorian Gothic and Neo-Classical styles, but he worked in other styles as well.

Biography[edit]

He was born on December 29, 1832 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the second largest city in the country, at the time. Historians suggest Myers may have studied architecture under Samuel Sloan before serving in the Civil War. On March 24, 1860 Myers married Mary Haines, the daughter of a prominent businessman, John Haines. The Myers family raised five children. In 1863, Elijah and Mary decided to move westward, settling in Springfield, Illinois where they lived for nine years. In 1872 they moved to Detroit, Michigan while Myers was working on the Michigan State Capitol, where they remained. In 1881, he won the competition for the best design for the new Texas capitol in Austin. He was paid $12,000 USD ($289,000 in 2018) to be the project's architect, and the capitol cost $3,700,000 USD to build. Other examples of his work are the parliament buildings in Rio de Janeiro, the asylum building in Mexico City, as well as multiple courthouses, churches, hospitals, and city halls throughout the United States.


Myers had conflicts with fellow architects, whom he claimed stole his designs and sued, and sometimes his clients. He was fired from the Texas Capitol project in 1886 over complaints that he was not giving enough attention to the project, and his design was subsequently changed. He was also fired from the Colorado State Capitol project and the Howell Library project, apparently in disputes about money.

In 1879, Myers sued Edwin May, the architect of a new Indiana State House, claiming that elements of design were stolen. Myers lost the lawsuit.

In 1891, Myers applied for the position of Supervising Architect of the U.S. Treasury but another was chosen.

During the Chicago World's Fair in 1893, Myers served on the Board of Examiners for the fair's buildings.[1]

Myers died at home in Detroit, Michigan on March 5, 1909. He was buried in Woodlawn Cemetery, Detroit. His grave is currently unmarked but an Elijah Myers Memorial Commission is raising funds for an appropriate stone. The day following his death, his obituary was shown in the New York Times. The only known portrait of Myers hangs in the Elijah Myers room of the Michigan State Capitol.

Legacy[edit]

On January 5, 1914, the Supreme Court decided Radford v. Myers, 231 U.S. 725 (1914), in Myers' favor. The cases was a business dispute between Myers and his attorney, George W. Radford, involving litigation about the unbuilt Luzerne County Courthouse.

Works[edit]

Texas State Capitol
The Michigan State Capitol
Interior of the Michigan capitol dome
Colorado State Capitol

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c "Col. Elijah E. Myers" (pdf). The New York Times. March 6, 1909. Retrieved 2009-06-02.
  2. ^ "Seven Michigan Properties Added to the National Register of Historic Places," press release, Michigan Department of History, Arts and Libraries (HAL), Aug. 7, 2008

Other sources[edit]

  • Asylum: Pontiac’s Grand Monument from the Gilded Age, Bruce J. Annett, Jr., ISBN 0-9719141-0-9
  • "A Michigan Architect in Indiana: Elijah E. Myers and the Business of Architecture in the Gilded Age", Ronald D. Rarick, The Michigan Historical Review Vol. 26, No. 2, Fall 2000
  • Elijah E. Myers: Politics, patronage, and professionalism, Paul Goeldner
  • "The Designing Architect: Elijah E. Myers", Paul Goeldner, Southwestern Historical Quarterly 92 (October 1988)
  • Radford v. Myers 231 U.S. 725 (1914)

External links[edit]