Six Famous American Buildings With Irish Roots
The Irish have had a hand in developing some of America’s greatest architecture for more than a century. In honor of St. Patrick’s Day, we are pouring a Guinness and taking a peek at buildings across the country with ties to the Emerald Isle. From the "Gateway to the West" to a certain presidential abode, here are six properties with the luck of the Irish.
The White House, Washington, DC
County Kilkenny native James Hoban became the mastermind behind the White House after winning a design competition for the project in 1792. After collaborating with President George Washington, he presented a vision for a stone structure modeled after Leinster House in Dublin. Although Washington never lived in the building he heavily influenced, the White House has been home to every president since John Adams, despite it being burned down on James Madison's watch in the War of 1812.
Lake Point Tower, Chicago
This waterfront gateway to the Windy City is reminiscent of a clover with its three-leaf design. Apparently, a four-leaf clover is just as hard to find in a building as it is in the wild. Designed by John Heinrich and the late George Schipporeit, the 70-story residential tower has the distinction of being the only skyscraper in downtown Chicago east of Lake Shore Drive. Dolly Parton’s character lived in Lake Point Tower in “Straight Talk.” In real life, the building has counted Sammy Sosa and Oprah Winfrey among its famous residents over the years.
The Empire State Building, New York City
The Empire State Building is an American icon, rising 1,454 feet (antenna included) over Fifth Avenue in Manhattan. Al Smith, the first Irish-Catholic presidential candidate, led the planning for the building and is responsible for construction starting on St. Patrick’s Day in 1930. Many of the project’s workers were Irish immigrants who helped in constructing the then-world's tallest tower in only 14 months. It is still among the five tallest buildings in the U.S. and the third-tallest tower in Manhattan for now.
The Gateway Arch, Saint Louis
Since 1965, the Gateway Arch has lorded over Saint Louis as the “Gateway to the West” and a monument to Thomas Jefferson’s vision for America’s westward expansion, famously coined Manifest Destiny. Designed by Finnish-American Eero Saarinen, the Arch was completed by Irish architect Kevin Roche after Saarinen died of a brain tumor in 1961. The 630-foot structure has an observation center at its peak with 30-mile visibility on a clear day.
Gasson Hall, Boston
Boston College’s Gasson Hall was designed by Irish architect Charles Donagh Maginnis and is said to have influenced collegiate Gothic architecture across the country. The building opened in 1913 when the university moved to suburban Chestnut Hill, Mass., from its original South End campus in Boston. After undergoing a lengthy restoration, completed in 2011, Gasson Hall continues to remind students of Maginnis’ vision that BC’s campus was to be “Oxford in America.”
The One That Wasn't: The Chicago Spire
Irish developer Garrett Kelleher set out to build the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere with his Chicago Spire in 2007. Donald Trump, who was building the nearby Trump International Hotel and Tower, said the 150-story proposal would be a target for terrrorists. It also would have replaced Trump’s tower as the tallest residential building in the United States. Despite city approval and robust initial sales, the building’s financing was crippled by the 2008 recession, and construction was halted. Kelleher walked away from the development in 2014 after a lengthy legal battle. Crain’s Chicago Business reported last year Related Midwest has hired architect Michael Pfeffer to design a development at the abandoned Spire site.