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Male, born 1859-11-24, died 1934-05-17

Associated with the firm network

Gilbert, Cass, Architect

Professional History


Apprentice, Abraham Radcliffe, Architect, Saint Paul, MN, 1876-1878.

Draftsman, McKim, Mead and White, Architects, New York, NY, 09/1880-1882; at the firm, he worked as an assistant to the brilliant but unlucky Stanford White (1853-1906). He worked in New York until 1882 when he went back to Saint Paul to serve as a local collaborator for McKim, Mead and White and also to open his own practice.

Partner, Gilbert and [James Knox] Taylor, Architects, Saint Paul, MN, 1885-1891; Taylor would later become the Supervising Architect of the US Treasury Department, 1897-1912.

Principal, Cass Gilbert, Architect, Saint Paul, MN, 1892-c. 1899; Gilbert obtained the commission for the State Capitol Building in Saint Paul in 1895, thus assuring his fame.

Principal, Cass Gilbert, Architect, New York, NY, 1899-1934. Gilbert won a commission for the US Custom House in New York and decided to relocate to New York permanently in 1899.

Professional Service

Member, American Institute of Architects (AIA).

President, AIA, National Organization, Washington, DC, 1908-1909. Gilbert was elected in 1907. (See "American Institute of Architects Officers for 1908," Western Architect, vol. 13, no. 2, p. 13.)

Member, Architectural League of New York, New York, NY.

President, National Academy of Design.

Professional Awards

Member, American Academy of Arts and Letters, New York, NY.

Recipient, French Legion of Honor.



Coursework, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Cambridge, MA, 1878. Gilbert did not finish the two-year curriculum. He worked as a surveyor (like his father) to raise money for a "Grand Tour" of Europe. He ended up saving about $420 and, with it, traveled to Liverpool, UK, from New York on 01/03/1880. He sketched buildings throughout England, France, and Italy for about nine months, creating sketches of motifs that could be recycled in his later work. Returning to New York, he found employment in the city's most prestigious architectural firm, McKim, Mead and White.



Born in Zanesville, OH, Gilbert moved to Minneapolis, MN, in 1868, where his father was working as a surveyor. His father died in 1868, leaving his mother to raise her three children. Gilbert moved to Cambridge, MA, in 1878 to attend the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), where he remained for a year. He worked for a year as a surveyor to raise money for a European trip, which he took for nine months in 1880. Upon his return, he worked in New York for two years and then resettled in Saint Paul, MN. He opened his own practice c. 1883 and later took on a partner, James Knox Taylor (1857-1929), between 1885-1891. Once his partnership ended, he continued working solo in Saint Paul and its environs from 1891-1899. In the latter year, with his reputation growing, he transferred his office to New York and built a practice that attracted projects nationally. His career became increasingly successful after 1899, and he lived in an apartment on Central Park West, then he moved across the park to more posh quarters at 1 East 94th Street in 1921. By 1907, he also had the disposable income to buy a country house in Ridgefield, CT. By 1900, he and his wife took frequent European vacations; he died during one of these in Brockenhurst, UK, at the age of 74. He was buried in the Fairlawn Cemetery, Ridgefield, CT.


His father was Samuel Augustus Gilbert (1825-1868), a surveyor for the US Coast Survey, his mother, Elizabeth Fulton Wheeler Gilbert (1832-1897), who worked at home; his parents named him for a renowned uncle, Lewis Cass (1782-1866), who had a distinguished military and political career as a Brigadier General in the War of 1812 (1813-1814), Governor of the Michigan Territory (1813-1831), US Secretary of War (1831-1836), US Ambassador to France (1836-1842), US Senator from MI (1845-1857) and US Secretary of State (1857-1860). His father, whose health declined while serving as a Civil War Union Brevet Brigadier General, died young working as a surveyor in MN, leaving Elizabeth to raise three young sons.


He married Julia T. Finch (1862-1952) on 11/29/1887.


Cass and Julia had four children, Emily Finch, Elizabeth Wheeler (d. 1904), Julia Swift, and Cass, Jr.; only Elizabeth died during adolescence. Cass, Jr., became an architect and worked with his father later in his career.

Biographical Notes

In 1900, Gilbert produced a project for a new depot for the Northern Pacific Railway Company; this was not realized. He gained great acclaim for his design of the 55-story Woolworth Building, New York, NY, the tallest building in the world between 1913-1930. The birthdate for Cass Gilbert was originally published in PCAD as 1858-01-28 and his death location as New York. He actually expired in Brockenhurst, England. These errant facts were derived from Richard Ellison Ritz, Architects of Oregon, (Portland, OR: Lair Hill Press, 2002), p. 147.

Associated Locations

  • Brockenhurst, Hampshire UK (Architect's Death)
    Brockenhurst, Hampshire UK

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  • Zanesville, OH (Architect's Birth)
    Zanesville, OH

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PCAD id: 4336