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William Russell West first appears as the designer of two buildings published in Thomas Ustick Walter and John Jay Smith's Two Hundred Designs for Cottages and Villas (Philadelphia: Carey and Hart, 1846; second edition, 1847). An unabashed sampling of English pattern books by Goodwin, Loudon, Robinson, Lugar, Thomson, and Papworth, Walter and Smith's book included some additional designs by Americans, particularly G. P. Cummings, James C. Sidney, and William Russell West. Two years later West was appointed architect of the long planned but delayed Ohio Statehouse in Columbus, a position he held from 1848 to 1854. How much credit West should receive for this project that stretched from 1839 to 1861 is difficult to determine; according to the Illustrated London News (2 November 1850), West designed the conical roof over the rotunda. For the single year 1849 West was listed in the Cincinnati, OH, city directory as an architect.

West reappears in Philadelphia by 1856 although his first directory listing there is in 1858 at 703 South 10th Street. He maintained that address until 1871 when he disappeared from the directories in Philadelphia. Little is known of West's professional activity during this period although he is listed in the May, 1857 Hartford, CT, city directory as an architect. In 1866 he published Grecian Temples, How Roofed and Lighted? in an edition of 107 copies that he probably paid to have printed. A few years later he published Churches, Modern, Ancient and Medieval (Philadelphia: 1869) and Broad Street, Penn Square, and the Park (Philadelphia: 1871). In the latter year West also produced a burlesque under the pseudonym "A. Shortfellow" entitled Map of Boston and Adjacent Country, Showing That City to Be the Geographical, as Well as the Intellectual and Moral Centre of One-half of the Globe . . . (Philadelphia: Collins & M'Lester, 1871).


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