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Cass Gilbert, 1859-1934, was a prominent American architect best known for his commercial and public buildings.

Gilbert was born in Zanesville, Ohio and educated in St. Paul, Minnesota. After only a year of study at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and subsequent travels in Europe, he began working for the New York firm of McKim, Mead, and White in 1880.

In 1883 He returned to St. Paul where he practiced briefly with James Knox Taylor, a classmate at M.I.T., designing private homes, churches, and commercial buildings. His first major commission was the Minnesota State Capitol (1895), which he modeled after the National Capitol and the dome of St. Peter's, Rome.

Gilbert returned to New York in 1899 when he won the prized commission for the design of the U.S. Customs House. This was followed by many other major projects. The most famous of these was the Woolworth Building in New York (1913); with its fifty-five stories and Gothic ornament it is considered Gilbert's greatest achievement.

Firmly supportive of the European tradition and eastern academic architecture, Gilbert continued his numerous and successful designs until his death in 1934. Among his many familiar public buildings are the Treasury Annex and the Supreme Court in Washington, DC, the state capitol buildings of West Virginia and Arkansas, and the public libraries of St. Louis and Detroit.  Go to Scope and Content Note.


Revised: January 24, 2003