Alexander Jackson Davis

Alexander Jackson Davis

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Alexander Jackson Davis

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Alexander Jackson Davis, or A. J. Davis (July 24, 1803 – January 14, 1892), was one of the most successful and influential American architects of his generation, in particular his association with the Gothic Revival style.

Davis was born in New York City to Cornelius Davis, a bookseller and editor of theological works, and Julia Jackson. He spent his early years in New Jersey and attended elementary school in upstate New York. In 1818 Davis went to Alexandria, Virginia, to learn the printing trade from a half-brother. Living mostly in New York City from 1823 onward, he studied at the American Academy of Fine Arts, the New-York Drawing Association, and from the Antique casts of the National Academy of Design. Dropping out of school, he became a respectable lithographer and from 1826 worked as a draftsman for Josiah R. Brady, a New York architect who was an early exponent of the Gothic revival style: Brady's Gothic 1824 St Luke's Episcopal Church is the oldest surviving structure in Rochester, New York .


Davis made a first independent career as an architectural illustrator in the 1820s, but his friends, especially painter John Trumbull, convinced him to turn his hand to designing buildings. Picturesque siting, massing and contrasts remained essential to his work, even when he was building in a Classical style. In 1826, Davis went to work in the office of Ithiel Town and Martin E. Thompson, the most prestigious architectural firm of the Greek Revival; in the office...
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