Architect James H. Dakin

James H. Dakin (1808-5/10/1852)

Formerly of New York, he began his career in the office of Town & Davis, in 1829 as apprentice draftsman, and during the next four years was unofficially a member of the firm. Skilled in the art of design, he was identified with a number of residences and also may have prepared plans for the Dutch Reformed Church in Washington Square, NY, the latter an advanced example of the Greek Revival.

In 1835, Dakin left New York for New Orleans to join his brother Charles, and practiced there two years under the firm name of Dakin, Gallier & Dakin. During that period of partnership, his best known works were the Merchants Exchange on Royal Street (1836-1838); St. Charles Hotel (1836), destroyed by fire in 1850 and rebuilt afterward by Isaiah Rogers; and Christ hutch on Canal Street. The Dakin brothers designed the Arsenal in New Orleans on St. Peter Street, now the State Museum, and James independently, was the architect of the Methodist Church built at the corner of Poydras and Carondolet St., burned in the fire that destroyed the St. Charles Hotel; Union Terrace Buildings on Canal Street and the Julia Buildings. To him is also ascribed the design of the richly Gothic Church of St. Patrick (erroneously claimed by James Gallier as his work). The latter's connection with the building appears to have been only when he was called in consultation when difficulties in construction occurred. There is also record that at one time James and his brother worked in partnership under the name of Dakin, Bell & Dakin on a proposed plan for the City Hall. The project, however, was abandoned, and the building later erected from Gallier's plans.

During the US War with Mexico (1846-1848), Mr. Dakin was commissioned an officer of the Second Regiment of the Louisiana Volunteers, and afterwards made his home in Baton Rouge, where later his death occurred.

He won the competition for the first State House at the Louisiana Capital in 1848, and about the same period was engaged in preparing plans for the Custom House in New Orleans. After an attempt to supervise the erection of both buildings, he resigned as architect of the New Orleans Custom House, and devoted his full attention to work on the Capitol at Baton Rouge. That structure, described by a contemporary author as "piled-up picturesque castellated building with corner turrets" was renovated after a fire in 1887 and later occupied as the State Museum.