Pacific Coast Architecture Database (PCAD)

Architects

Bacon, Henry

ID: 830
Full Name: Henry Bacon , Jr.
Occupation: Architect
Gender: M
Nationality: US
Birth Date: 1866-11-28
Death Date: 1924-02-17
Family: Spouse: While traveling the world on his Rotch Scholarship, Bacon met the daughter of a British Consul to the Ottoman Empire at Dardanelles, Turkey, Laura Florence Calvert (1867-1945). He married her on 04/27/1893.
Parents: His father, Henry Bacon, Sr., (1822-1891), born in Natick, MA, and educated at Leicester Academy, was a civil engineer, who worked with the Illinois Central Railroad and the Army Corps of Engineers; his mother was Elizabeth Kelton Bacon (1831-1912), born in Lexington, MA, whom Henry Bacon, Sr., had married in 1855. Soon after their marriage, they left MA for opportunities in IL. A homemaker, Elizabeth had seven children, six of whom were: Francis Henry Bacon (1856-1940), Katherine Bacon McKoy (1858-1949), James Hayward Bacon (1859-1924), George Fisher Bacon (1862-1884), Carl and Henry.
Children: Henry and Laura had no children.
Relocation: Born in Watseka, IL, Henry Bacon Jr.'s earliest years were spent in IL, where his father worked for the Illinois Central. His father moved the family c. 1872 to work on the construction of a dam at the New Inlet mouth of the Cape Fear River. The University of North Carolina, Wilmington, said of Bacon, Sr.'s mission in NC: "The family moved to Wilmington after Harry's father, a U.S. Government engineer, was placed in charge of Cape Fear River and Harbor improvements in 1875. In this capacity, Captain Bacon directed the closing of New Inlet with a dam between Federal Point and Smith Island. An engineering feat of its time, this dam is now called The Rocks." (See "MS003, Henry [Harry] Bacon Private Papers [1880-1922]," <https://library.uncw.edu/web/collections/manuscript/MS003.html> Accessed 09/14/2014.) Bacon's family resided at Smithville, NC, between 1876 and 1880, and Wilmington, NC, from 1880-1884 at 114 South Third Street. He graduated from Wilmington’s Tileston School in 1884. Mary Tileston Hemenway (1820–1894), heiress to the estate of the very wealthy New York merchant, Thomas Tileston (1796-1864), funded the construction of the Tileston School, commissioning Boston architect John A. Fox (1836–1920), the "Father of the Stick Style," to design the residentially-scaled Italian building. Mary Hemenway had a strong interest in American history and archeology, and donated generously to educational efforts in these areas. The progressive Tileston School opened in 1871, and operated under this name until 1891, the year of Hemenway's death from diabetes. After Tileston, Bacon attended the University of Illinois, (then called the "Illinois Industrial University,") in Champaign-Urbana for one year, before traveling to work for three years as a draftsman for the noted Boston architectural firm, Chamberlin and Whidden, who would become pioneers of the American Colonial Revival. He moved to New York City in 1888, switching his responsibilities to draftsman and perspective delineator for the illustrious Beaux-Arts firm, McKim, Mead and White (MMW). In 1889, he won a Rotch Traveling Scholarship enabling him to make a grand tour to France, Italy, Greece and Turkey until 1891. According to the Oxford Dictionary of Art, "Influenced by his brother Francis Henry Bacon (1856-1940), an architect and furniture designer who assisted in the excavations at the Greek site of Assos in 1881-3, he became attracted to ancient, especially Greek, architecture." (See Christopher A. Thomas, "Bacon, Henry," in the Oxford Dictionary of Art [Macmillan Publishers, Ltd, 1996], vol. 3, p. 30.) Following his trip, he returned to MMW, and gradually took on more design responsibility for the company's vast workload, ultimately rising to become Charles Follen McKim's chief design assistant. In the McKim office, Bacon would have met the leading artists and architects of the day, and would have crossed paths with wealthy patrons, who ultimately introduced him into their social networks. He remained with McKim, until he began his own firm with another MMW employee, James Brite (1865-1942), in 1897. During his partnership with Brite, and his following 22-year solo career, Bacon received commissions for commercial and institutional buildings all across the eastern half of the US. He did very little on the West Coast, save for a residence for his cousin, George Hunt Bacon (1867-1937) in Bellingham, WA, (1905-1906) and the Court of the Four Seasons, at the Pan-Pacific International Exposition (1915). Stricken with cancer, Bacon died in New York at age 57, and was laid to rest in the Oakdale Cemetery in Wilmington, NC.
Biographical Information: Education: Bacon's secondary school education was at the Tileston School in Wilmington. He attended the Illinois Industrial University, in Urbana, IL, (whose name was changed to the "University of Illinois," in 1885), for one year in 1884.
Work History: Draftsman, Chamberlin and Whidden, Architects, Boston, MA, c. 1885; Draftsman, McKim, Mead and White, Architects, New York, NY, c. 1886-1889, 1891-1897; Partner, [James] Brite and Bacon, Architects, New York, NY, 1897-1902; Principal, Henry Bacon, Architect, New York, NY, 1902-1924.
Miscellaneous: He was nicknamed "Harry." Henry Bacon, Sr.'s report about his engineering activities on the Cape Fear River from 1876-1884 are contained in the Annual Report of the Chief of Engineers, United States Army to the Secretary of War, for the Year 1886," (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1886), Part II, Appendix L8., "Improvement of Cape Fear River, below Wilmington, North Carolina," p. 1000-1016. Both Henry Bacon, Sr., and Henry Bacon, Jr., had ships named for them. To commemorate his accomplishments in the 1930, one of the dredges working at the mouth of the Cape Fear River was named for the engineer Henry Bacon. The S.S. Henry Bacon, named for the architect, was an EC2-S-C1 Liberty ship, launched 11/11/1942, and, on 02/23/1945, became the last Allied naval vessel destroyed by the Luftwaffe during World War II. (See "Dredge Henry Bacon Named for Former Engineer Here," Wilmington News, 07/09/1956, p. 15, and "SS Henry Bacon rescues Norwegian refugees at cost of American mariner lives," <http://www.usmm.org/wsa/henrybacon.html> Accessed 09/12/2014)
Professional Awards: College: Rotch Traveling Scholarship, 1889; this award paid for two years of travel and architectural study in Europe, 1889-1891.
Post College: Associate Member, National Academy of Design, New York, NY, 1913; Full Member, National Academy of Design, New York, NY, 1917; Gold Medal, American Institute of Architects (AIA), 05/1923;
Archives: Special Collections and Archives at Wesleyan University's Olin Memorial Library, in Middletown, CT, holds Henry Bacon, Jr.'s professional papers. Included in the collection are detailed drawings, photographs, and other materials. Bacon designed the Olin Library, completed in 1928. Bacon's Private Papers (1880-1922) have been housed at the Manuscripts Collection, William Madison Randall Library, University of North Carolina at Wilmington, since 1976.
Countries: United States
Locations: Architect's Birth:
Watseka, IL
USA
Architect's Death:
New York, NY
USA

Portrait of Henry Bacon, c. 1900. From the Lower Cape Fear Historical Society