John Haviland papers
Held at: University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts [Contact Us]3420 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6206
This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.
Overview and metadata sections
John Haviland was born December 15, 1792 in Somerset, England. In 1811, me moved to London and apprenticed with James Elmes, an architect who became known as both a scholar and a critic. In 1815, he traveled to Russia, hoping to work with the Russian Imperial Corp of Engineers. Instead, he met John Quincy Adams and George von Sonntag who suggested that he work in the United States.
Haviland moved to Philadelphia in 1816 and began practicing as a professional architect in an office at 26 North Fifth Street in Philadelphia. He is best known for the Eastern State Penitentiary, the PA Institution for the Deaf and Dumb, and the original Franklin Institute building; but also designed a number of churches, other prisons and, public buildings, and renovated portions of Independence Hall. He is also known for his book The Builder's Assistant, published in three volumes, which provided architectural patterns. This publication, "a landmark event in American neo-classical architecture" (Moss), was probably one of the earliest architectural pattern books published in American, and it increased his visibility, making him a well-known and prominent architect in his time.
His popularity may have led to over-ambitious projects and plans and he was, at one point, bankrupt. His work reputation in Philadelphia was somewhat damaged, but he continued to work, particularly on building prisons, in East Coast states and the Midwest.
Haviland married Mary Wright von Sonntag (sister of George von Sonntag) in 1919 and they were the parents of John von Sonntag de Haviland (1826-1886). Haviland was a member of the Royal Institute of British Architects and the National Academy of Design. He died on March 28, 1852.
For more detailed biographies, see his memorial in The Pennsylvania Journal of Prison Discipline and Philanthropy (1852 July) and Philadelphia Architects and Buildings.
Moss, Roger W. "John Haviland," Philadelphia Architects and Buildings
This collection consists of 26 bound volumes which document the architectural career of John Haviland. It is unclear who bound the volumes of papers or when they were bound, but there appears to be significant overlap in several of the volumes. The volumes include some sketches but no full renderings of architectural drawings.
Brief descriptions of the contents of each volume are contained within the container list; however, in general, volumes include estimates for projects and supplies, articles of agreement, financial records, correspondence, and biographical and family-related material (including letters from Charles and William Wells (stepsons of Haviland) during a trip to Russia from 1830 to 1832 and significant genealogical data.
Specific projects mentioned include (but are not limited to): Walnut Street Theatre, Presbyterian Church at Norfolk, Rail Ways at Fort Delaware, the State House, New Pennsylvania Hospital, Lancaster County prison, Berks County prison in Reading, prison in Harrisburg, and the "New Athenaeum" in Philadelphia.
Permanent transfer from the Somerset County Archives, Taunton, England, 1952.
- University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts
- Finding Aid Author
- Holly Mengel (processed prior to 2013)
- Finding Aid Date
- 2020 December 10
- Access Restrictions
This collection is open for research use.
- Use Restrictions
Copyright restrictions may exist. For most library holdings, the Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania do not hold copyright. It is the responsibility of the requester to seek permission from the holder of the copyright to reproduce material from the Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts.