Peter Harrison

Peter Harrison (1716-1775) was one of the first architects in America. An emigré from England, Harrison spent his early years in Newport as a sea captain for John Banister, a wealthy merchant. Harrison married Banister's niece, Elizabeth Pelham.

Harrison became a successful Newport businessman, selling rum, molasses, and wines. He was also an investor and farmer.

Harrison was a self-taught architect, combining elements of designs from British architectural books. His work was influenced by the Palladian Revival style, which drew from classical sources. Shirley Place in Roxbury, Massachusetts, built in 1746 for Governor William Shirley, was one of Harrison's first architectural designs.

In Newport, Harrison rose to prominence as an architect. He designed several public buildings, including Redwood Library (1748), built on land donated by Abraham Redwood, a wealthy Newport merchant. Harrison also designed the Brick Market (1762) and Touro Synagogue (1763).

The Brick Market today houses the Museum of Newport History.

Kay Davis, University of Virginia, ©2001-2003