Charles Follen McKim

Personal Data

Charles Follen McKim was born on August 24, 1847, in Isabella Furnace, Pennsylvania, the son of anti-slavery leader James Miller McKim and his wife, Sarah Allibone Speakman.

He married first on October 1, 1874, in Newport, Rhode Island, to Annie Bigelow (b. 20Jan1855 in Medford), daughter of John William Bigelow and his wife, Anna Maria Barton.  They divorced in 1878 and she married again on June 6, 1887, to Rev. John W. Day of Newport.

He married second on June 25, 1885, in Lenox, Massachusetts, to Julia Amory Appleton of Boston (b. 29May1859 in Boston; d. 3Jan1887 in New York City), daughter of Charles Hook Appleton and his wife, Isabella Mason.

Charles McKim died on September 14, 1909, in St. James (Long Island) New York.


Charles McKim attended Harvard’s Lawrence Scientific School  in 1866, and the next year entered the Atelier Daumet at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris.  He returned in 1870, joining H. H. Richardson’s New York offices (Gambrill and Richardson).  In 1878, he joined a partnership with William Rutherford Mead and William B. Bigelow (his brother-in-law).  In 1880, Stanford White replaced Bigelow and the firm — McKim, Mead, and White — grew into one of New York’s leading firms.

McKim led his firm’s work in Boston, the most significant of which was the Italian Renaissance-style Boston Public Library, commissioned in 1887 and completed in 1895.  Other major designs included the Algonquin Club (1887), Johnston Gate at Harvard (1889),; the Shaw Memorial opposite the State House (1897), Harvard Union (1900), Symphony Hall (1900), the New England Trust Company Building (1905), and Harvard Stadium (1903-1910).  The firm also undertook a number of residential commissions in Boston, including several houses in the Back Bay and bachelor flats at 66 Beacon Street, at the corner of Charles and Beacon.

The firm’s work in New York — much of it designed by White — included the Villard Houses on Madison (between 50th and 51st), Pennsylvania Station, Madison Square Garden (where White maintained an apartment and was murdered by Harry Thaw), Madison Square Presbyterian Church, and the Library and other buildings at Columbia University. They also designed a number of private clubs in New York, including the University Club, the Century Club, the Players Club, and the Metropolitan Club.  The firm also designed the Newport Casino and Rhode Island State Capitol in Providence, and oversaw restoration of the White House in 1902-1903.  And the firm designed a number of homes in New York, Newport, and the Berkshires.

For further information, see:

A Monograph of the Works of McKim, Mead & White: 1879-1915 (The Architectural Book Publishing Company, Paul Wenzel & Maurice Krakow, New York, 1915-20).  Originally published in four volumes. Reprinted and supplemented with introductory material by the Arno Press, New York; 1977.  Reprinted and supplemented with introductory material by Dover Publications, Inc., New York; 1990.

McKim, Mead & White, Architects, by Leland M. Roth (Harper & Rowe, New York; 1983).

The Houses of McKim, Mead & White. by Samuel G. White, photographs by Jonathan Wallen (Rizzoli International Publications, Inc., New York; 1998).

Back Bay Work

1881 270 Beacon (Demolished) [McKim, Mead, and White]
1884 32 Hereford [McKim, Mead, and White]
1886 257 Commonwealth [McKim, Mead, and White]
1887 217 Commonwealth [McKim, Mead, and White]
1890 199 Commonwealth [McKim, Mead, and White]
1890 413 Commonwealth [McKim, Mead, and White]
1890 415 Commonwealth [McKim, Mead, and White]
1895 303 Commonwealth [McKim, Mead, and White]
1899 428 Beacon (Not Built) [McKim, Mead, and White]