The American architectHenry Bacon, Jr.He was born on November 28, 1866, in Walseka, Illinois.
Best known as the architect of theLincoln MemorialIn Washington, DC, he spent much of his youth in Wilmington, North Carolina, and as a result, he designed some notable buildings in that state. The friendships he made in Wilmington as a young man led him to various assignments in Wilmington and Linville, a mountain resort established by Wilmington residents. In contrast to his predominantly classical designs for which he is generally recognized, his little-known North Carolina work showcased his artistic approach towards a rustic and informal architecture adapted to coastal and mountainous settings.
Henry Bacon, Jr.he was one of seven children of Henry and Elizabeth Kelton (1831-1912) Bacon of Massachusetts. In the 1870s, Henry, Sr., a civil engineer, moved the family to the Wilmington area. He had been assigned to the Wilmington office of the United States Department of Engineering to take over the construction of the great New Inlet Dam and Swash Defense Dam near the mouth of the Cape Fear River, a major feat of engineering. The family lived in Southport from 1876 to 1880 and moved to Wilmington in 1880.
After graduating from Wilmington’s Tileston School in 1884,Henry Bacon, Jr., attended architecture school at the University of Illinois for a year, worked in a Boston architecture office, and later moved to the prestigious New York firm of McKim, Mead and White. He was involved with that firm in planning the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair. Later, in association with the noted architect James Brite and later on his own,Baconhe earned great respect and many honors as an architect in the Beaux-Arts tradition. hisLincoln Memorial(1912-1922), for which he won the prestigious Gold Medal of the American Institute of Architects, was by far the most famous of his works, which included major campuses, public buildings and, according to Beaux’s principles- Arts, memorials in collaboration with the leading sculptors of the time.
Baconhe kept in touch with family and friends in Wilmington, including his sister Kate Bacon McKoy. (She suggested a design for a Wilmington home for Kate and her husband, but the couple chose another design, which was built by local architect and builder James F. Post.) Although his work tended toward monumental classical designs, for Wilmington friends he planned buildings in more informal styles. Designed theDonald MacRae House(1902) in Wilmington in a picturesque Queen Anne-Shingle style. Beyond the city, in addition to sound, he designedLive Oaks(1913), an octagonal villa for Walter and Agnes MacRae Parsley, in which he used a local shell-rock material.
When the Wilmington MacRae family and others developed the mountain town of Linville,Baconhe designed some of his first buildings in an elegant rustic style adapted to the mountainous environment. Using the abundant local chestnut bark and natural branches in an ingenious way, he planned theEpiscopal Church of All Saints(1910-1913). He also designed at least three cabins in a similar style. Their use of natural chestnut shingles and siding inside and out set a local pattern for the distinctive tourist community, a pattern that continued until the chestnut blight wiped out the great trees.
BaconHe also designed two notable monuments in North Carolina: theMonument to the Women of the Confederacy(1913) in Union Square in Raleigh, with the sculptor Augustus Lukeman; and theConfederate Gabriel James Boney Monument(1924) in Wilmington, completed after his death, with sculptor Francis H. Packer. Upon his death in 1923,BaconHe was buried in the family plot in Wilmington’s Oakdale Cemetery. Although it is not usually recognized in larger studies of him and his contemporaries, forBaconhis friendships and projects related to Wilmington were an important part of his work and his life. A historic marker on the state road in Wilmington, one of the few (possibly the only) in the state that commemorates an architect, acknowledges his presence and work in the city.