John Russell Pope

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John Russell Pope
Born(1874-04-24)April 24, 1874
DiedAugust 27, 1937(1937-08-27) (aged 63)
Alma materColumbia University
École des Beaux-Arts
SpouseSadie Jones
ChildrenMary and Jane Pope
Parent(s)John Pope, Mary Avery Loomis Pope
Medal record
Art competitions
Representing the  United States
Olympic Games
Silver medal – second place 1932 Los Angeles Architectural design
The Jefferson Memorial, built 1939–1943

John Russell Pope (April 24, 1874 – August 27, 1937) was an American architect whose firm is widely known for designing major public buildings, including the National Archives and Records Administration building (completed in 1935), the Jefferson Memorial (completed in 1943) and the West Building of the National Gallery of Art (completed in 1941), all in Washington, D.C.


Early life[edit]

Pope was born in New York City in 1874, the son of a successful portrait painter and his wife. He studied architecture at Columbia University and graduated in 1894.[1] He was the first recipient of the Rome Prize to attend the newly founded American Academy in Rome,[2] a training ground for the designers of the "American Renaissance." He would remain involved with the academy until his death.[2]

Pope traveled for two years through Italy and Greece, where he studied, sketched and made measured drawings of more Romanesque, Gothic, and Renaissance structures than he did of the remains of ancient buildings. Pope was one of the first architectural students to master the use of the large-format camera, with glass negatives. Pope attended the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris in 1896,[3] honing his Beaux-Arts style. After returning to New York in 1900, he worked for a few years in the office of Bruce Price before opening his own practice.

American architect[edit]

Throughout his career, Pope designed private houses such as The Waves, his personal residence at Newport, Rhode Island,[4] and public buildings in addition to the Jefferson Memorial and the National Gallery, such as the massive Masonic House of the Temple (1911–1915), also in Washington, and the triumphal arch Theodore Roosevelt Memorial (1936) at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City.

He designed the extension of the Henry Clay Frick mansion in New York City that created the Garden Court and music room, among other features, as the house was expanded to be operated as a museum.

In 1912, he submitted several proposals for the Lincoln Memorial, but lost out to Henry Bacon.[5]

Pope's overall plan for the building of the Yale University campus, 1919

In 1919, he developed a master plan for the future growth of Yale University. Pope's plan for Yale was significantly revised by James Gamble Rogers in 1921, who had more sympathy for the requirements of the city of New Haven, Connecticut. Rogers did keep the Collegiate Gothic unifying theme offered by Pope. Pope's original plan is a prime document in the City Beautiful movement in city planning. Pope won a Silver Medal in the 1932 Summer Olympics for his design of the Payne Whitney Gymnasium.[6][7]

National Archives, Washington D.C., James Earle Fraser, sculptor; opened 1935

His firm's designs alternated between revivals of Gothic, Georgian, eighteenth-century French, and classical styles. Pope designed the Henry E. Huntington mausoleum on the grounds of The Huntington Library in southern California. He later used the design as a prototype for the Jefferson Memorial in Washington, D.C. The Jefferson Memorial and the National Gallery of Art were both neoclassical, modeled by Pope on the Roman Pantheon.[citation needed]

Lesser known projects by Pope's firm include Union Station, Richmond, Virginia (1917), with a central rotunda capped with a low saucer dome; it now houses the Science Museum of Virginia; Branch House (1917–1919), a Tudor-style mansion in Richmond, now housing the Virginia Center for Architecture; the Baltimore Museum of Art; and in Washington, D.C., the National City Christian Church, DAR Constitution Hall, American Pharmacists Association Building, Ward Homestead, and the National Archives Building (illustration, left). In Milwaukee, Wisconsin, he designed a severe neo-Georgian clubhouse for the University Club (1926). In Oneonta, New York, he designed the first building for Hartwick College: Bresee Hall was constructed in 1928. During the 1920s the firm designed a number of well known country estates including Spring Hill Farms (name changed in to Cobble Court) In 1932, he constructed the chapter house for Alpha Delta Phi at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. Earlier, he designed the City Hall in Plattsburgh, New York, which was completed in 1917, and the city's Macdonough Monument, erected in 1926 to commemorate the naval victory of Commodore Macdonough in the Battle of Plattsburgh on September 11, 1814.

The West Building of the National Gallery of Art

Pope designed additions to the Tate Gallery and British Museum in London, an unusual honor for an American architect, and the War Memorial at Montfaucon-d'Argonne, France. Pope also designed extensive alterations to Belcourt, the Newport residence of Oliver and Alva Belmont. The Georgian Revival residence he built in 1919 for Thomas H. Frothingham in Far Hills, New Jersey has been adapted as the United States Golf Association Museum.[8]

Pope was a member of the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts in Washington, DC from 1912 to 1922, serving as vice chairman from 1921 to 1922. He also served on the Board of Architectural Consultants for the Federal Triangle complex in Washington, D.C.[9]


A 1991 exhibition at the National Gallery of Art, John Russell Pope and the Building of the National Gallery of Art, spurred reappraisal of his work. For some time, it had been scorned and derided as overly historicist by many critics influenced by International Modernism.

Pope also served as an early mentor and employer of American modernist Lester C. Tichy.[10][circular reference]

Pope was the maternal grandfather of the actress Andra Akers.[11]


Selected works[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "10 Iconic Buildings and Spaces Designed by Columbia Architects". Columbia Magazine. Retrieved 2022-02-16.
  2. ^ a b "Finding Aid". American Academy in Rome records, 1855–[ca.1981], (bulk dates 1894–1946). Archives of American Art. 2011. Retrieved 17 Jun 2011.
  3. ^ Placzek, Adolf K. Macmillan Encyclopedia of Architects. Vol. 3. London: The Free Press, 1982. ISBN 0-02-925000-5. NA40.M25. p450-451.
  4. ^ a b "John Russell Pope House". SAH Archipedia. Society of Architectural Historians. Retrieved 4 October 2018.
  5. ^ Tom (2013-06-17). "Other Proposed Designs for the Lincoln Memorial". Ghosts of DC. Retrieved 2019-02-25.
  6. ^
  7. ^ "John Russell Pope". Olympedia. Retrieved 30 July 2020.
  8. ^ "USGA Golf House & Museum", Historical Society of the Somerset Hills
  9. ^ Thomas E. Luebke, ed., Civic Art: A Centennial History of the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Commission of Fine Arts, 2013): Appendix B, p. 552.
  10. ^ Lester C. Tichy#Early Life
  11. ^ "Andra Akers Obituary - Los Angeles, CA | Los Angeles Times". Retrieved Apr 19, 2019.
  12. ^ "John Russell Pope's McCormick residence -Embassy of Brazil". architect design. 5 May 2015. Retrieved 4 October 2018.
  13. ^ Rosenfeld, Lucy D.; Harrison, Marina (2013). Art on Sight: The Best Art Walks In and Near New York City. The Countryman Press. ISBN 9781581577129. Retrieved 3 October 2018.
  14. ^ "Early 20th Century". Dartmouth. Retrieved 4 October 2018.
  15. ^ "Theodore Roosevelt Memorial". American Museum of Natural History. Retrieved 4 October 2018. The Museum is home to New York State's official memorial to its 33rd Governor and the nation's 26th President, Theodore Roosevelt. The two-story Theodore Roosevelt Memorial, which includes the Central Park West entrance, the Theodore Roosevelt Rotunda, and the Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Hall, is a tribute to the enduring legacy of the man known as the Conservation President. Designed in the grand Roman style by John Russell Pope, the Theodore Roosevelt Memorial was built between 1929 and 1935 after the New York State Legislature decided to honor Theodore Roosevelt with a memorial at the Museum of Natural History. The iconic Central Park West façade includes a triumphal arch above a 350-foot-long paved terrace
  16. ^ "Garden Court; The Frick Collection". Retrieved 4 October 2018.
  17. ^ "Duveen Galleries at Tate Britain | Tate". Tate. Retrieved 4 October 2018.
  18. ^ Dunlap, David. "Forgotten Treasures in the Woodlawn Cemetery Archives". New York Times. Retrieved 4 October 2018.
  19. ^ "History Dixie Plantation". Retrieved 4 October 2018.


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