George Keller (architect) - Biography


He was born on December 15, 1842 in Cork in Ireland to Thomas Keller (1804-1880) and Susan Pratt (1805-1888). Keller emigrated with his family to New York City as a child. Irish immigrants were at the time considered inferior, and during his early years Keller endured a considerable measure of hardship and discrimination. Lacking connections and unable to obtain schooling in Europe like many of his professional peers, an ambitious nature and a school of hard knocks education gave Keller an adequate base of knowledge. As a young man, he accepted employment with an Irish architect in Washington, D.C., but returned to New York to join the firm of architect Peter B. Wight. This was the beginning of a lifelong friendship between the two. Keller’s association with Wight introduced him to the aesthetic philosophy of John Ruskin and to serious architectural study, which was cut short by the outbreak of the Civil War. Though Keller planned to join the Union Army, a dry inkwell prevented him from signing the enlistment papers. Choosing to see this as an ill omen, he gladly accepted an engineering position with the Brooklyn Navy Yard instead. Moving to Hartford at the war's end, he took a job designing monuments.

In 1903 Keller became the 3rd architect to work on the Christ Church Cathedral in Hartford. He based his contribution to the design on the York Cathedral, from which Ithiel Town, the original architect, had drawn inspiration.

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