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Prints and Photographs

The iconic architect Richard Morris Hunt (1827-1895) designed many notable buildings by combining historical architectural aesthetics with modern technology. Considered the dean of American architecture, Hunt also played a key role in shaping and professionalizing architectural practice and education in the United States. 

The Hunts were a respected New England family steeped in service. Hunt’s father, a U.S. Congressman for Vermont, died in 1832. Hunt’s mother moved her children to Europe in 1843, where they embarked on an extended Grand Tour and art education. Hunt was the first American architectural student trained in the illustrious École des Beaux-Arts in Paris. In 1855, inspired by a patriotic zeal to bring European knowledge, modern and historical, to the United States, Hunt returned to a country he scarcely knew but in whose unformed artistic landscape he saw promise. His training and extensive travels informed his views, but he also collected knowledge in the tangible form of a library intended to inspire American artists through books, plaster casts, and images, including examples of the burgeoning photographic medium.

In New York, Hunt lent crucial support to the architectural profession. A founding member and leader of the American Institute of Architects, he also established precedents for architectural education that incorporated formal intellectual, technical, and professional principles. The individuals in his circle went on to establish the first academic architectural training programs in America and to instruct by his example.

By the 1870s, Hunt’s personal success as an architect for the growing Gilded Age moneyed class bolstered his professional influence. America’s would-be aristocrats–families who, in one or two generations, had amassed previously unimaginable wealth–desired the symbols and caché to go with their bank accounts. Hunt’s background, talents, and personal élan positioned him to help them realize their ambitions through the built environment, developing a new visual language of modern urban power and instant country gentility. His celebrated projects combined what he saw as the best of the now-current and the long-storied, including mansions and manors in New York and Newport, the nouveau baronial Biltmore Estate in North Carolina, the Administration Building for the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago, and the base of the Statue of Liberty. (For a list of buildings designed by Hunt, see the Wikipedia essay,

Over the course of his multi-faceted career, Hunt created thousands of design documents and amassed source books and images judiciously selected to support his practice and educational activities. The American Institute of Architects and American Architectural Foundation further developed his tangible legacy after his death, continuing to collect items by other creators that reflected and inspired the practice of American architecture. The entire body of materials came to the Library of Congress beginning in 2010 and is now known as the Library of Congress AIA/AAF Collection. Library staff are inventorying the collection and readying it for service [view a selection of Hunt’s drawings and photographs]. Researchers can contact the Prints and Photographs Division online through “Ask a Librarian” [] to learn the status of these unprocessed materials and to inquire about appointments.

Selected Bibliography:
Understanding the Context, Creations, and Importance of Richard Morris Hunt

The following works represent a fraction of the books and articles that have been published about Richard Morris Hunt and his legacy. They provide a useful starting point for research and illuminate the forces that shaped Hunt as well as the organizations and built environment he shaped. A more extended bibliography is available upon request.

Biography and Family

Baker, Paul R. “Hunt, Richard Morris.” In American National Biography, last modified February 2000,

Baker, Paul R. “Richard Morris Hunt.” In Macmillan Encyclopedia of Architects, edited by Adolf K. Placzek, v. 2. New York: Free Press; London: Collier Macmillan, 1982. Call Number: NA40 .M25 1982

Baker, Paul R. Richard Morris Hunt. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1980. Call Number: NA737.H86 B34

Webster, Sally. William Morris Hunt, 1824-1879. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991. Call Number: ND237.H9 W4 1991

Wikipedia, s.v., “Richard Morris Hunt,” last modified September 14, 2012,


Carmona, Michel. Haussmann: His Life and Times, and the Making of Modern Paris. Translated from the French by Patrick Camiller. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 2002. Call Number: DC280.5.H3 C3713 2002

McCullough, David.  The Greater Journey: Americans in Paris. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2011. Call Number:  DC718.A44 M39 2011

École des Beaux-Arts: Architecture and Education

Middleton, Robin, editor. The Beaux-Arts and Nineteenth-Century French Architecture. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1982. Call Number: NA2310.F8 E33 1982

Nineteenth Century American Architectural Practice

Woods, Mary N. From Craft to Profession: The Practice of Architecture in Nineteenth-Century America.  Berkeley: University of California Press, 1999. Call Number: NA1996 .W64 1999

The American Institute of Architects

Wilson, Richard Guy. The AIA Gold Medal. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1984. Call Number: NA2340 .W5 1984

The Built Environments Hunt Influenced

Oeuvre and Legacy

Schuyler, Montgomery. “The Works of the Late Richard M. Hunt,” The Architectural Record 5 (1895): 97-180.

Stein, Susan R. The Architecture of Richard Morris Hunt. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1986. Call Number: NA737.H86 A88 1986


Downing, Antoinette F. and Vincent J. Scully, Jr. The Architectural Heritage of Newport, Rhode Island, 1640-1915. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1952. Call Number: NA735.N54 D6 1982

Hewitt, Mark Alan. The Architect & the American Country House, 1890-1940. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1990. Call Number: NA7561 .H4 1990

Onorato, Ronald J.. AIA Guide to Newport. Providence, RI: American Institute of Architects, Rhode Island Chapter, 2007. Call Number: NA735.N54 O56 2007

New York

Stern, Robert A.M., Thomas Mellins, and David Fishman. New York 1880: Architecture and Urbanism in the Gilded Age. New York: Monacelli Press, 1999. Call Number: NA735.N5 S727 1999

Van Pelt, Jean Vredenburgh. Monograph of the William K. Vanderbilt House, Richard Morris Hunt, Architect. New York City: J. V. Van Pelt, 1925. Call Number: NA7238.N6 V3


Bryan, John M. Biltmore Estate: The Most Distinguished Private Place. New York: Rizzoli, 1994. Call Number: NA7615.B54 B79 1994

Produced in conjunction with a traveling exhibition organized by the Octagon, the museum of the American Architectural Foundation.

Covington, Howard E., Jr. Lady on the Hill: How Biltmore Estate Became an American Icon. Hoboken, N.J.: John Wiley, 2006. Call Number: F264.A8 C687 2006

Discusses the estate as a museum.

Messer, Pamela Lynn. Biltmore Estate: Frederick Law Olmsted’s Landscape Masterpiece. Asheville, N.C.: WorldComm, 1993. Call Number: SB466.U7 B456 1993

Discusses the landscape of the estate.

Compiled by: Elizabeth Terry Rose, Program Assistant. Last updated 2013 February.

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