Asher Benjamin (1773-1845)

November 4, 2011

Asher Benjamin, born June 15, 1773, was a successful Boston-based architect, publishing several landmark pattern books that revolutionized rural building.

Benjamin began his architectural career in the Connecticut River Valley. In 1795, he constructed a spiral staircase in the Connecticut State Capital Building in Hartford, designed by Charles Bulfinch. In 1797 he designed and built the William Coleman house, inspired by an English carpenter’s guide, and featuring the first elliptical staircase in New England. That same year he published The Country Builder’s Assistant, a pattern book for housewrights, as an American counterpart to the English publications upon which he relied. It featured patterns inspired by the work of Charles Bulfinch, as well as regional features that met the distinct needs of New England homes.

In 1802, Benjamin moved to Boston to establish his architecture practice, where Bulfinch’s influence became more prominent on his work. Benjamin went on to print seven pattern books total, the evidence of which can be seen from coast to coast; examples of Benjamin’s patterns can be seen as far as the temples of the Mormon Church in Utah.

Asher Benjamin is buried at Mount Auburn in Lot 258 on Cedar Avenue.

Adapted from the research of Judy Jackson and Cathy Breitkreutz, as published in Mount Auburn Cemetery’s Person of the Week: Asher Benjamin, 1999.

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