New Orleans Public Library
Date range: ca. 1832-1851
Size of collection: 184 drawings; 35 lithographs
Terms of Access: Available to registered researchers by appointment. The archivists reserve the right to limit or prohibit handling of certain very fragile drawings.
James Harrison Dakin (1806-1852) was one of America's leading antebellum architects. A native of New York, Dakin designed important buildings in both the North and the South from 1832 to 1852 and contributed significantly to the Greek, Gothic, and Egyptian revival movements. His work in Louisiana includes St. Patrick's Church, the State Arsenal, the Medical College of Louisiana, the University of Louisiana in New Orleans, and the Old State Capitol in Baton Rouge. He also designed numerous buildings in other American cities.
Dakin was born in New York on August 24, 1806. In 1829, he joined the architectural firm of Town & Davis and, in 1832-1833, was a partner in the firm. In 1833, he established his own practice in New York, with his brother Charles and James Gallier, Sr. In 1834, Charles Dakin and James Gallier moved their practice to New Orleans, where James Dakin joined them in 1835. Gallier soon left the new firm, and the brothers continued to operate as Dakin and Dakin. In 1835, Charles removed to Mobile, to coordinate Dakin and Dakin's work in that city, while James remained in New Orleans. Following Charles Dakin's death in 1839, James Dakin continued to work in New Orleans until his own death in 1852.
The drawings and lithographs are arranged by numbers assigned arbitrarily by their original cataloger and listed in the inventory below. Numbers 140 - 199 and 202 - 299 were not assigned.
The 184 drawings in the Dakin Collection comprise the only substantial body of original Dakin works extant. The drawings are ink and wash or pencil on heavy paper, some linen backed. Several are framed.
The collection also includes 35 lithographs of various buildings in the United States and Europe. These lithographs were originally discovered with the Dakin drawings and were presumably in his possession.
One drawing listed on the original inventory is currently missing. One is on loan to another institution.
Detailed Description of the Records
The inventory below was transcribed from the original catalog records of the drawings created by an unidentified cataloger many years ago. This cataloger supplied the identifications of the buildings included in the inventory. Specifics about the size, composition and condition of each drawing are detailed in the inventory. The description of the drawings' "vulnerability to handling" was taken from a preservation assessment of 168 of the original Dakin drawings written for the Louisiana Division in 1992 by James Stroud, Chief Conservator of the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center, University of Texas at Austin. (Mr. Stroud did not examine the lithographs and, thus, the inventory includes no description of their vulnerability to handling.)
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PLEASE NOTE: The images accompanying the inventory were taken with a digital camera and do NOT pretend to be accurate representations of the original drawings in terms of color, clarity, or shape. These low resolution images are included here only to allow a preliminary view of the drawings in order to minimize actual handling of the fragile originals. Click on the small image to view a larger image; use your browser's back button to return to the inventory. Page One
Drawings 101-113, 200-201
Drawings 21-24, 26, 28-40
Drawings 41-57, 59-60
Drawings 61-62, 64-71, 75-80
Drawings 81-87, 92-100