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Home > Publications > Historic New England Magazine > Spring 2001 > The Architect Henry Austin

The Architect Henry Austin

Above: Advertisement for architect Henry Austin of New Haven, Connecticut. Wood engraving by John william Orr, New York, c.1860. Gift of Geo.Gregory Smart.


Recently, the Library and Archives acquired this engraved advertisement for the architect Henry Austin (1804-1891). Practicing in New Haven for more than fifty years, Austin was one of Connecticut's most distinguished and prolific architects, producing numerous public, commercial, and domestic works. Among his important buildings in New Haven are the City Hall and the Egyptian Revival gate at the Grove Street Cemetery. Austin also designed buildings in other parts of New England and the mid-Atlantic states. The Morse-Libby House, now called the Victoria Mansion, in Portland, Maine, is one of his most significant works.


Like the Victoria Mansion, the imposing residence depicted in this advertisement is designed in the Italian villa style, of which Austin was a master. The central section was built originally by Ithiel Town, another well-known Connecticut architect, to house his extensive architectural library. Later, Austin, who early in his career worked for Town as a builder, enlarged the house for Joseph E. Sheffield, a financier and benefactor of Yale University. Austin was obviously proud of the work he did for this distinguished client to feature it so prominently on an advertisement. Sheffield bequeathed the house to Yale, where it remained part of Yale's science complex until its demolition in 1957.

-Lorna Condon
Director of Library & Archives

The Architect Henry Austin