Image: CopyrightHorseHints.org

Image: CopyrightHorseHints.org
Edward H. Everett House
Now the Turkish Ambassador's residence.

Edward H. Everett House
Now the Turkish Ambassador's residence.
Image: CopyrightHorseHints.org

"George Oakley Totten, Jr. (December 5, 1866-1939), was one of Washington D.C.'s most prolific and skilled architects in the Gilded Age. His international training and interest in architectural decoration led to a career of continuous experimentation and stylistic eclecticism which is clearly evident in many of his works. The mansions he designed were located primarily on or near Dupont, Sheridan (including Embassy Row), and Kalorama circles and along 16th Street, N.W., near Meridian Hill. Most now serve as embassies, chanceries, or offices for national or international organizations, their important public or semi-public functions, combined with their urbanistically integrated close-in locations, make them particularly visible exemplars of Washington's peculiar mixture of turn-of-the-century political and social life.

Biography

Image: Public Domain
Totten saved H. H. Richardson's Warder Mansion from demolition.

Totten was born in New York City on December 5, 1866, a son of George Oakley and Mary Elizabeth (Styles) Totten. After receiving his early education at public schools in Newark, New Jersey and the Newark Technical School, he graduated from Columbia University with a Ph.B in 1891 and an A.M. in 1892. He was awarded Columbia's McKim travelling fellowship in 1893, and for the next two years studied at the Ecole des Beaux Arts and Atelier Daumet-Esquie. He returned to the United States and in 1896, was appointed chief designer in the Office of the Supervising Architect, Department of the Treasury. He continued in that position until 1898, when he established an independent architectural practice in Washington D.C., which he continued until his demise.

He was the architect for many public buildings in that city and drew plans for ten legations and embassy buildings, including the Turkish, Polish, Belgian, Norwegian, Spanish, Swedish, and Danish legations, and the former French embassy. He was an advisor when the U.S. Capitol Building was remodelled. He also designed many private city and country dwellings in Washington, including a group of houses in the 2600 block of 16th Street, N.W., representing several styles of architecture. He also moved H. H. Richardson's 1885-88 Warder Mansion stone by stone from downtown Washington, DC to a site about 1.5 miles north, where it still stands. ...

...He was active in professional architecture related associations. From 1897 to 1939, he served as secretary and vice president of the American section of the permanent committee of the International Congress of Architects. During World War I, he served as a major with the Army Corps of Engineers. In 1926, he authored Maya Architecture.

On August 22, 1921, he married noted sculptor and artist Vicken von Post-Börjesson of Sweden. They had two sons: George Oakley Totten III, Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Political Science from the University of Southern California, and Gilbert von Post Totten. He died at Washington, D.C., on February 1, 1939...."

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Hollywood on the Potomac
First posted: Jan 10, 2016
Last update: Jan 20, 2020