Samuel Blodget, Jr., merchant, economist and amateur architect, was born in Goffstown, NH. Following service in the Revolution as a captain of the New Hampshire militia, he acquired a fortune in the East India trade. In 1789 he moved from Boston to Philadelphia where he married Rebecca Smith, daughter of the Rev. William Smith, provost of the University of Pennsylvania, and became a director of the Insurance Company of North America.
By 1792 Blodget was involved in the development of the new Federal City where he began speculating in Washington real estate and promoting a national university, schemes that ultimately led him into bankruptcy,imprisonment, and an obscure death. In 1792 he also entered the United States Capitol competition with a preliminary study showing a tall dome and four porticoes modeled on those of the Maison Carree at Nimes. Although invited by the Commissioners of the Federal City (then meeting in Philadelphia) to submit revised and expanded drawings, Blodget appears to have dropped out of the running; he was, however, appointed Superintendent of Buildings to represent the Commissioners in 1793, which probably put him in line to have one of his designs realized.
The sally into architecture for which Blodget is chiefly remembered came shortly thereafter when he supposedly designed an imposing main office for the Bank of the United States on South Third Street. Begun in 1795 and not occupied until 1797, Blodget's building, according to Talbot S. Hamlin, "is a simple, large, dignified three-story house, barely to be distinguished from many mansions of the period in Salem and Boston.... The white marble portico which he put on the facade to give it a public character is noble, but it is still in the tradition of English Palladianism" in contradistinction to Latrobe's Bank of Pennsylvania(1798). "Blodget's design is of the past; Latrobe was prophetic of the new American architecture that was still ahead." Robert Raley has suggested that the Bank may have been designed by Christopher Myers.
Philadelphia Architects and Buildings |
Participating Institutions |
Website and System: Copyright © 2021 by The Athenaeum of Philadelphia.
Data and Images: Copyright © 2021 by various contributing institutions. Used by permission.
All rights reserved.