Happy birthday Pierre Charles L'Enfant!



Pierre Charles L'Enfant (August 2, 1754—June 14, 1825) was a French-born American architect. He is best known for his contributions to the planning behind the city of Washington, D.C. He was also closely linked to George Washington and served in the American Revolution.

ENFAN_Per_Le2L'Enfant was born in Anet, Eure-et-Loir, France to Pierre and Marie Charlotte L'Enfant. The son of a painter, he studied at the Royal Academy in the Louvre and at the Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture under his father's tutelage.

Later, he enlisted to fight in the American Revolution. He arrived in the United States at the age of 23 in 1777. He took up the post of military engineer under the Continental Army's Major General Lafayette. L'Enfant came to identify closely with the Americans, even changing his name to Peter. He served in George Washington's staff. While on staff, he was commissioned to paint Washington's portrait and was then promoted to Major of Engineers. (Image source)

After the war, L'Enfant designed the Society of the Cincinnati badge. Soon after, he founded a successful civil engineering firm in New York City. He redesigned City Hall in New York and went on to design many homes for the wealthy.

President Washington appointed L'Enfant to design the capital city in 1791 under the supervision of three commissioners. During a period in 1792, there was some controversy about L'Enfant's role in the project. After some confusion, L'Enfant's plan was revised and subsequently much of the city was built according to the revised plan. This resulted in L'Enfant not being paid for all of the work he had contributed and was only compensated much later and beneath what he was owed.


Other projects L'Enfant worked on included Robert Morris' mansion in Philadelphia and the city of Perrysburg Ohio. He worked on a variety of other projects, but with discharged midway through several.



The Government of the District of Columbia has commissioned a statue of L'Enfant with the intention of placing it at the U.S. capitol.


L'Enfant's tomb at Arlington

Additional Info

  • Birthday Date: Saturday, 02 August 2014
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