Architect David Paton Hired, Dismissed at State Capitol

An 1861 image of the Capitol, now held by the State Archives

An 1861 image of the Capitol, now held by the State Archives

On May 23, 1840, David Paton, supervising architect of the State Capitol, was dismissed just as the structure was nearing completion. While the exterior was designed by New York architects Ithiel Town and Alexander Jackson Davis, Paton, from Scotland, took over the project in September 1834 and played a critical role in refining and shaping the final design of the building and its impressive interior.

A portrait of Paton held by the N.C. Museum of History

A portrait of Paton held by the N.C. Museum of History

Paton’s interior changes made the building more functional while also making its appearance more ornate. His work was appreciated by the commissioners tasked with overseeing the building’s construction and by Raleigh citizens for most of his nearly six years of work on the Capitol. Paton claimed that his services as architect were performed under his private contract with Town and Davis, over and above his work for the state as construction superintendent. The commissioners increased his salary from $3 to $5 per day, but eventually tensions drove the commissioners to let Paton go.

During his tenure, Paton kept meticulous records and extensive correspondence related to the construction of the Capitol.  Those records are in the State Archives.

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