Incidental Architect · William Thornton and the Cultural Life of Early Washington, D.C., 1794–1828 · By Gordon S. Brown

While the majority of scholarship on early Washington focuses on its political and physical development, in Incidental Architect Gordon S. Brown describes the intellectual and social scene of the 1790s and early 1800s through the lives of a prominent couple whose cultural aspirations served as both model and mirror for the city’s own. When William and Anna Maria Thornton arrived in Washington, D.C., in 1794, the new nation’s capital was little more than a raw village.

Cover of 'Incidental Architect'


Paris on the Potomac · The French Influence on the Architecture and Art of Washington, D.C. · Edited by Cynthia R. Field, Isabelle Gournay, and Thomas P. Somma

In 1910 John Merven Carrère, a Paris-trained American architect, wrote, “Learning from Paris made Washington outstanding among American cities.” The five essays in Paris on the Potomac explore aspects of this influence on the artistic and architectural environment of Washington, D.C., which continued long after the well-known contributions of Peter Charles L’Enfant, the transplanted French military officer who designed the city’s plan.

Cover of 'Paris on the Potomac'


Montgomery C. Meigs and the Building of the Nation’s Capital · Edited by William C. Dickinson, Donald R. Kennon, and Dean A. Herrin

At the age of thirty-six, in 1852, Lt. Montgomery Cunningham Meigs of the Army Corps of Engineers reported to Washington, D.C., for duty as a special assistant to the chief army engineer, Gen. Joseph G. Totten. It was a fateful assignment, both for the nation’s capital and for the bright, ambitious, and politically connected West Point graduate. Meigs's forty-year tenure in the nation's capital was by any account spectacularly successful.

Cover of 'Montgomery C. Meigs and the Building of the Nation’s Capital'