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James W. McLaughlin (1834-1923)

Landing of Gen. Pope's Army on the Kentucky Shore

James W. McLaughlin was born November 4, 1834 in Cincinnati, Ohio. At age fifteen, he began studying architecture with Cincinnati-prominent architect James K. Wilson. By the mid 1850s, McLaughlin’s architectural career was firmly established through his designs for civic buildings including the Cincinnati Art Museum, the Moorish Revival Plum Street Temple, the Art Academy of Cincinnati, Machinery Hall, the Cincinnati Gas Light and Coke Co. building, and the first Cincinnati Reds baseball stadium. He also designed the buildings of the Cincinnati Zoological Gardens, the first structures created expressly for that purpose in the United States. When the Civil War began in 1861, McLaughlin put his architect’s career in Cincinnati on hold and volunteered as a lieutenant in the Infantry Body Guard of General John C. Fremont. Soon after while serving in the Army of the Southwest, McLaughlin also became a Special Artist for Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper. James W. McLaughlin survived the Civil War and continued to practice art and architecture until his death on March 4, 1923. The Becker Collection contains two drawings known to be by James McLaughlin. See works by this artist. [biographical entry by Kevin T. Johnston]