Former Supervising Architect of the U.S. Treasury, James Knox Taylor was born in Knoxville, IL, to H. Knox and Mary (Young) Taylor. He attended public schools in St. Paul, MN, and the two-year special course offered at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (1877-1879) before moving to New York City, where he worked in the offices of Charles Haight and Bruce Price. In 1882 he returned to St. Paul and worked in partnership with Cass Gilbert
as Gilbert & Taylor, a firm which produced the Endicott Building (according to Taylor's letter of application for a U.S. Treasury position, 5 September 1893). This enterprise continued for some 10 years, and Taylor moved to Philadelphia, the former home of his wife Adele Chambers Taylor, where he entered into a partnership with Amos J. Boyden
, another MIT graduate whom he had probably met through their mutual activities in the AIA.
Boyden & Taylor were in operation only a year when Taylor applied for a position as a "first class draftsman" in the office of the Supervising Architect of the U.S. Treasury, stating that the "general financial depression" then current made it difficult for him to support his family any longer in the Boyden & Taylor partnership. By 1895 Taylor had relocated to Washington, D.C., as a temporary draftsman, but continued to be listed in the Philadelphia city directories under Boyden & Taylor through 1898. In October 1897, as a result of a competitive civil service exam, Taylor was made Supervising Architect for the U.S. Treasury, a position in which he remained until 1912, when he returned to MIT as a professor of architecture. He resigned from MIT in 1914, returned briefly to Philadelphia and then settled in Tampa, FL, where he was residing at his death.