John Haviland

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
John Haviland
John Haviland MET DT243863.jpg
Portrait of Haviland by John Neagle, 1828
Born(1792-12-15)15 December 1792
Gundenham, Somerset, England
Died28 March 1852(1852-03-28) (aged 59)
Mary Wright von Sonntag
(m. 1819)
ChildrenJohn de Havilland

John Haviland (15 December 1792 – 28 March 1852) was an English-born American architect who was a major figure in American Neo-Classical architecture, and one of the most notable architects working from Philadelphia in the 19th century.[1]


Born 15 December 1792, at Gundenham, near Wellington, England, Haviland was apprenticed in 1811 to a London architect. In 1815 he unsuccessfully pursued an appointment to the Russian Imperial Corps of Engineers. In Russia, however, he met George von Sonntag and John Quincy Adams, who encouraged him to work in the United States. He arrived in Philadelphia in 1816, and soon established himself as one of the few professional architects in the city.

Eastern State Penitentiary, Philadelphia, PA (1821).

By 1818, Haviland produced a book, The Builder's Assistant, which appeared in three volumes over several years. This publication was one of the earliest architectural pattern books written and published in North America, and likely the first to include Greek and Roman classical orders.

In part due to The Builder's Assistant, Haviland began to secure what would be his most important commissions in Philadelphia: the Eastern State Penitentiary,[2] the Pennsylvania Institution for the Deaf and Dumb (now Dorrance Hamilton Hall, University of the Arts), and the original Franklin Institute building (now home to the Atwater Kent Museum).[3]

During this time, Haviland unwisely speculated in his own projects, including commercial arcades in Philadelphia and New York, as well as an amusement park. He was eventually forced into bankruptcy, tarnishing his professional reputation in Philadelphia. Elsewhere, however, Haviland's reputation as a designer of prisons brought him important commissions, including the New Jersey Penitentiary, The Tombs in New York City, and prisons in Missouri, Rhode Island, and Arkansas.

Haviland was an Honorary and Corresponding Member of the Royal Institute of British Architects. In 1827, he was elected into the National Academy of Design as an Honorary Academician.

Personal life[edit]

On July 2, 1819, Haviland was married to Mary Wright von Sonntag by the Right Rev. William White, Bishop of Pennsylvania. She was the sister of George von Sonntag and the daughter of Captain William Ludwig von Sonntag of the French Army. Together, they had a son:[4]

He died March 28, 1852 in Philadelphia and was buried in the family vault at St. Andrews Church (designed by Haviland) in Philadelphia (now the Greek Orthodox Cathedral of St. George).[5]

Architectural work, partial listing[edit]

Philadelphia buildings[edit]

  • Additions & alterations to Old City Hall, 5th & Chestnut Sts., Philadelphia (1820).
  • First Presbyterian Church (Washington Square Presbyterian), SE corner 7th & Locust Sts., Philadelphia (1820–22, demolished 1939).
  • St. Andrew's Episcopal Church, 256 S. 8th St., Philadelphia (1822–23). Now Greek Orthodox Cathedral of St. George.
  • Pennsylvania Institution for the Deaf and Dumb, NW corner Broad & Pine Sts., Philadelphia (1824–26). Now Dorance Hamilton Hall, University of the Arts.
  • Franklin Institute, 15 S. 7th St., Philadelphia (1825). Now the Atwater Kent Museum.
  • Philadelphia Arcade, 615-19 Chestnut St., Philadelphia (1826–27, demolished 1860). The first American enclosed shopping gallery.
  • Walnut Street Theater, 9th & Walnut Sts., Philadelphia (1827–28). Oldest continuously operated theater in the U.S.
  • Eastern State Penitentiary, Fairmount Avenue between Corinthian Avenue and North 22nd St., Philadelphia (1829).[2]
  • Boston Row, NW corner 12th & Chestnut Sts., Philadelphia (1830).[6]
  • Independence Hall, 5th & 6th streets, renovation of second story (1831) and restoration of assembly room (1833)
  • Egyptian Revival style Pennsylvania Fire Insurance building, 1838, Philadelphia [1]
  • Kensington Commissioner's Hall, Frankford Avenue & Master Street (1833–34), still standing in 1878, demolished by c1890.[7]

Buildings elsewhere[edit]



  1. ^ "John Haviland | 1792-1852". Independence Hall Association. Retrieved 26 July 2017.
  2. ^ a b "Eastern Penitentiary of Pennsylvania. Near Philadelphia". World Digital Library. Retrieved February 14, 2013.
  3. ^ Moss, Roger W. "Haviland, John (1792-1852) -- Philadelphia Architects and Buildings". Retrieved 26 July 2017.
  4. ^ Havilland, John von Sonntag de (1895). A Chronicle of the Ancient and Noble Norman family of De Havilland: Originally of Haverland in Cotentin Normandy, now of Guernsey, including the English Branches of Havelland of Dorsetshire, now extinct, Haviland of Hawkesbury, Gloucestershire, also extinct, and Haviland of Somersetshire with the Documentary Evidences. St. Louis: Mekeel Press. Retrieved 26 July 2017.
  5. ^ "JOHN HAVILAND | Obituary Notice". The Pennsylvania Journal of Prison Discipline and Philanthropy. 7 (3): 96–107. July 1852. Retrieved 26 July 2017.
  6. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2013-10-20. Retrieved 2014-01-07.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  7. ^ "Monument to John Howard". Wikimedia Commons. 2017-08-26. Retrieved 2020-04-10.
  8. ^ Baigell, Matthew (1965). John Haviland (Ph.D. dissertation, see pages 56-7). University of Pennsylvania. Retrieved 2020-04-10.
  9. ^ Tables Archived 2011-08-14 at the Wayback Machine
  10. ^ Source:
  11. ^ Source for about half of the above: "The Civil Engineer and Architects Journal", Published by Published for the proprietor, 1852, page 227
  12. ^ The Lancaster County Prison — Franklin & Marshall Archived 2008-06-17 at the Wayback Machine
  13. ^ Republican Farmer & Democratic Journal (Wilkes-Barre, PA), February 14, 1849, page 3.

External links[edit]