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Henry (Harry) Bacon Private Papers

Identifier: SC-MS-003

Scope and Contents

This collection contains correspondence from Henry (Harry) Bacon to his family. Most of the letters are addressed to his mother, but some are to his older sister Katherine and his younger brother Carl. Many are illustrated with humorous sketches portraying various predicaments of daily life. The post-college letters in this group came from scattered times of his life and contain frequent though modest allusions to his professional achievements. These letters are photocopies of letters lent to the William Madison Randall Library for an exhibit of Bacon materials.


  • Creation: 1881-1921 (photocopies), 1969, 1994
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1885

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research use.

Copyright Statement

Copyright retained by the authors of items in these papers, or their descendants, as stipulated by United StatesĀ  copyright law.

Biographical Note

Henry (Harry) Bacon, the author of these letters, was born in Watseka, Illinois, on November 28, 1866, of Henry and Elizabeth (Kelton) Bacon, both of Massachusetts. The family moved to Wilmington after Harry's father, a U.S. Government engineer, was placed in charge of Cape Fear River and Harbor improvements in 1875. In this capacity, Captain Bacon directed the closing of New Inlet with a dam between Federal Point and Smith Island. An engineering feat of its time, this dam is now called The Rocks.

Harry spent one year at Illinois State University at Champaign, Illinois, before starting his architectural career at Chamberlin & Whidden's in Boston, MA, as a draftsman. After three years there, he joined the noted New York firm of McKim, Mead & White. In 1889 Bacon won the Rotch Traveling Scholarship which provided him with two years of study and travel in Europe. Afterwards he rejoined McKim, Mead & White until 1897, when he formed a partnership with James Brite. Brite and Bacon dissolved in 1902. Thereafter Harry Bacon worked alone. On April 27, 1893, Bacon married Laura Florence Calvert, daughter of the British consul at Dardanelles, Turkey. They had no children.

Bacon collaborated with various sculptors, notably August Saint-Gaudens and Daniel Chester French, designing the pedestals and accompanying architectural settings for statues. He also designed numerous public buildings and private homes. His crowning achievement was his design for the Lincoln Memorial, chosen in 1912 by the Fine Arts and Lincoln Memorial Commissions for erection by the U.S. Government in Washington, D.C., at the cost of $2,000,000, and dedicated in 1922.

In May 1923, Bacon stood on its steps and received from President Harding the Gold Medal of the American Institute of Architects, the highest distinction his fellow craftsmen could confer. Less than a year later, Harry Bacon died on February 17, 1924, in New York City. He came home to rest, however, and his gravesite can be found in Oakdale Cemetery, here in Wilmington, NC.


Dictionary of American Biography. Johnson, Allen, editor. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1964. vol. 1, pp.477-8. Howell, Andrew J. The Book of Wilmington. Wilmington, NC: Wilmington Printing Company, 1930. pp.169, 218. McKoy, Henry Bacon. The McKoy Family of North Carolina and other Ancestors Including Ancrum, Berry, Halling, Hasell, Usher. Greenville, SC: Keys Printing Company, 1955. p.58. The National Cyclopedia of American Biography. New York: James T. White & Co., 1929. University Microfilms Reprint, 1967. vol. 20, p.339. New York Times. February 17, 1924, p.23, col. 1. February 20, 1924, p.19, col. 5. February 28, 1924, p.5, col. 2.

Note written by Judith H. Davis


1 Container (Contains 1 document box)

Language of Materials


Acquisition Information

This collection was donated by Miss Elizabeth F. McKoy in 1969.

Processing Information

Originally processed by Judith H. Davis in 1976. In 2014, this manuscript collection was re-foldered and re-housed with current archival standard materials by Kate Edwards.

Henry (Harry) Bacon Private Papers
Judith H. Davis
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Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
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Repository Details

Part of the Randall Library Special Collections Repository