Henry Bacon Biography

Architect (1866–1924)
Henry Bacon was an award-winning architect known for designing Washington, D.C.'s Lincoln Memorial, among other works.


Born on November 28, 1866, in Watseka, Illinois, Henry Bacon studied architecture and went on to work in Boston and then in New York at McKim, Mead and White, taking part in the design of Chicago's World Fair. With a neo-classical vision, other notable works from Bacon include buildings for Wesleyan University and the award-winning Lincoln Memorial. He died in New York City on February 16, 1924.

Early Life and Career

Architect Henry Bacon Jr. was born on November 28, 1866, in Watseka, Illinois. One of seven children, Bacon moved with his family to the Wilmington, North Carolina, area when he was young. His father worked as a civil engineer with the United States Engineer Department.

Bacon attended the Tileston School in Wilmington and then enrolled at the University of Illinois. After a year at college, however, he decided to take a hands-on approach to learning about architecture. Bacon eventually landed a job with the legendary firm of McKim, Mead and White in New York City. There he developed in an interest in the Beaux-Arts style.

Famous Projects

While at McKim, Mead and White, Bacon helped the firm with its building designs for the 1893 World's Fair in Chicago. He soon went out on his own, creating a number of significant buildings and monuments. Bacon designed the Danforth Memorial Library in Paterson, New Jersey, as well as the observatory for Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut.

Bacon also spent much of his career developing special memorials for a variety of people and causes. In North Carolina, he worked with sculptor Augustus Lukeman on the Women of the Confederacy Monument. The architect also collaborated with other artists such as Daniel Chester French, the sculptor for Bacon's Henry Wadsworth Longfellow Monument in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Lincoln Memorial

In 1912, Bacon submitted a proposal for his best known work: the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. He was selected for the project the following year. For this impressive monument, Bacon drew upon his love for classic Greek architecture. A giant sculpture of the late president Abraham Lincoln, rendered by French, was made for the interior of this grand modern take on a Greek temple.

The Lincoln Memorial was finally complete in 1922, after eight years of construction. This project proved to be one of Bacon's last works. He died on February 16, 1924, in New York City.

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