Thomas Pope, who styled himself an architect, landscape gardner, and engineer, first appears in Philadelphia directories with an office on Library street in 1813, although in 1811 William Thornton, in his capacity as Commissioner of the Patent Office, had listed Pope as among those draftsmen in Philadelphia--together with James Aiken, Robert Dorr, John Justice, William Lehman, William Mason, Robert Mills, and William Strickland--who might be used by patentee applications, suggesting that Pope was already established in the city. During the period 1811 to 1813, Pavel Petrovich Svin'in, secretary to the Russian Consul General in Philadelphia, recorded that Pope was establishing "an Academy for the instruction in all the three branches of Architecture, i.e., civil, military, and naval. This institution is under the guidance of all the noted artists and patrons of the arts. Mr. Pope is the founder and he will also give lectures. Is it necessary to indicate how useful this institution will be for the country?"
In 1812 Pope exhibited at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts a "Design of alterations and additions to State-House buildings, Chestnut-st. Philadelphia." This design may have been in competition with Robert Mills's proposals for which his signed and dated elevation survives in The Athenaeum's collection. By the end of 1812 Pope's "Philadelphia Architectural Academy" advertisement was appearing with regularity in the Philadelphia General Advertiser. Here he promised that "The students of the different classes of this insitutuion will be instructed in all the various department sof CIVIL, NAVAL, AND MILITARY ARCHITECTURE, not only in the theory thereof, but also by occular demonstration or practice, that is to say, by models and extensive experiments, and by which superior mode the various talents possessed by the students of this Academy, will not only be assisted, but also more readily brought forward to public view." Pope's long list of recommenders must have agreed because such leading architects as Benjamin Henry Latrobe, Robert Mills lent their names to the project, along with painters Rembrandt Peale and Thomas Sully and sculptor William Rush.
Pope was listed in the Philadelphia directories for the last time in 1817. He may also have been the author of A Treatise on Bridge Architecture... (New York, 1811).
Roger W. Moss, and
Sandra L. Tatman.
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