Henry Bacon Gallery
Henry Bacon was born in Watseka, Illinois to father civil engineer Henry Bacon and mother Elizabeth Kelton Bacon, both of Massachusetts. Bacon was largely raised in Wilmington, N.C., where his father settled down and served as a government engineer in charge of the Cape Fear River improvements. At age 15, Henry Bacon was sent north to Boston's Chauncey Hall School. In 1884 he matriculated at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, but left within a year to launch an architectural career in the office of Chamberlin & Whidden in Boston as a draftsman. Bacon was soon hired into the office of famed McKim, Mead & White in New York City, the best-known American architectural firm of its time.
While at McKim, Mead & White (MMW), Bacon won, in 1889, the Rotch Traveling Scholarship for architectural students, which gave him two years of study and travel in Europe, learning and drawing details of Roman and Greek architecture as far afield as Turkey, where he met his future wife, Laura Florence Calvert, daughter of a British Consul. He traveled with another fellowship student, Albert Kahn who would become a leading industrial architect. Returning to the U.S. he spent a few more years with his mentor, McKim, working on projects like the Rhode Island State House in Providence, Rhode Island, and serving as McKim's personal representative in Chicago during the World's Fair in Chicago, where MMW was at work designing certain buildings for the World's Fair.
In 1897, Bacon left the office of McKim, Mead & White (MMW) to found, with a younger MMW architect James Brite, a new partnership Brite and Bacon Architects, where Brite was in charge of financial, administrative, and contracting aspects of the partnership, while Henry Bacon was in charge of the architectural design and construction. The partnership immediately won the competition for the Jersey City Public Library, the Hall of History for the American University at Washington, DC, and thereafter built a good number of public buildings and a small number of private residences. The partnership was selected to build two private residences in 1897, the "La Fetra Mansion" in Summit, New Jersey, and a three-story Georgian mansion "Laurel Hill" in Columbia, NC. The "La Fetra Mansion" was completed by the partnership sometime during 1899 to 1900, and published in the September 1901 issue of The Architecture, the pre-eminent architectural professional journal of its time. The LeFetra Mansion fully exhibits Bacon's Greek and Roman architectural predilections, his simple, austere, elegant lines, and his skill in dimensions and proportions that give rise to a feeling of the presence of divine spirituality, peaceful tranquility, and a sense of divine protection. While the La Fetra Mansion in Summit, NJ bears Bacon's signature style, the Georgian Mansion "Laurel Hill" was most probably designed by Brite.