Alexander Parris

Alexander Parris

Architect
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Alexander Parris

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Alexander Parris (November 24, 1780 - June 16, 1852) was a prominent American architect-engineer. Beginning as a housewright, he evolved into an architect whose work transitioned from Federal style architecture to the later Greek Revival. Parris taught Ammi B. Young, and was among the group of architects influential in founding what would become the American Institute of Architects. He is also responsible for the designs of many lighthouses along the coastal Northeastern United States.

Early life and work

Parris was born in Halifax, Massachusetts. When aged 16, he apprenticed to a housewright in Pembroke, but talent led him towards architecture. Married to Silvina Bonney Stetson in 1800, he moved to Portland, Maine, then experiencing a building boom. The city had been bombarded during the Revolution by the Royal Navy, reducing three-quarters to ashes in 1775. But following the war, its trade recovered, almost challenging Boston as the busiest port in New England. Parris received numerous residential and commercial commissions, working in the fashionable style of architect Charles Bulfinch. Like most housewrights of the era, he often used elements derived directly from English architectural books, or those published in the United States by Asher Benjamin. Unfortunately, some of his designs were lost in the Great Fire of 1866, but early photographs and Parris' surviving drawings bespeak works of neoclassical artistry and taste.

The boom would end, however, with Jefferson's......
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