Podcast: James Hoban – Irish architect of the White House

A stamp commemorating Hoban, from 1981.

Cathal Brennan and John Dorney interview Stewart McLauren of the White House Historical Association about James Hoban the Irishman who designed the residency of the American President. First broadcast on the Irish History Show.

James Hoban was born in County Kilkenny and studied architecture in Dublin before emigrating to America in the 1780s.

We discuss:

  • How America, newly independent and free of Penal Laws against Catholicism, allowed a man like Hoban to use his talents.
  • How Hoban benefited from a close relationship with George Washington.
  • How the White House was partly inspired by buildings in Dublin including Leinster House, now seat of the Houses of the Oireachtas.
  • Hoban’s ownership of slaves and the role of enslaved people in building the White House.
  • How the White House was destroyed in 1814 by a British Army led by by an Irishman and subsequently rebuilt again by Hoban and others.


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