Biography and History

Robert Smith was considered by many to be the foremost master-builder, or carpenter-architect, of the Colonial period, and has been called "America's most important eighteenth-century architect.". Nassau Hall at the College of New Jersey was the third building he designed in the American colonies. Smith was also responsible for the college president's house, built concurrently with Nassau Hall (1753-1756). Other important works by Smith include St. Peter's Church, Benjamin Franklin's house, Carpenter's Hall, and the Walnut Street Prison, all in Philadelphia, and University Hall at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island. Smith was also involved in the struggle for American independence. He produced designs for military architecture to protect Philadelphia from British attack, such as the elaborate system of underwater fortifications in the Delaware River that stymied British communications off the coast, and the Continental Army barracks (1777) at Billingsport, New Jersey.

Source: From the finding aid for C1209

  • Robert Smith Collection. 1755-1758 (bulk), 1755-1790 (inclusive).

    Call Number: C1209

    Consists of correspondence and documents of carpenter-architect Robert Smith, the leading building professional in Philadelphia in the eighteenth century, chiefly concerning the building of Nassau Hall at The College of New Jersey (now Princeton University) and the house of the college president.