The James Hoban Story
The Hoban Hotel is named for James Hoban (1755-1831), a pioneering Kilkenny-born architect, entrepreneur and civic leader in early Washington DC. Hoban designed, built and rebuilt the mansion that would become America’s White House, as well as providing initial quarters for the U.S. Congress and the principal offices of state in the new Federal Republic. Trained as a craftsman on the Desart estate near Cuffesgrange, he completed his professional education in Dublin, and worked on notable architectural projects there for a period before emigrating to Philadelphia in 1785 at the age of thirty. He moved shortly thereafter to Charleston, South Carolina, where he made his reputation and came to the attention of George Washington during the U.S. President’s Southern Tour in 1791.
With Washington’s support, he won the commission to design the Executive Mansion in 1792, using references that included Dublin’s Leinster House, now the seat of Dáil Éireann, the Irish Parliament. Hoban completed his work on the original structure in 1800, but rebuilt it after its burning in War of 1814 and continued to work on the project almost until his death in 1831, adding the famous North and South porticoes. A member of the Washington City Council for many years, as well as operating a tavern and building of a number of hotels, he was a major figure in the history of America’s capital city. His large family survived him and continued that tradition.
A Hoban Memorial installation at Desart was completed in 2008 by a ‘Spirit of Place’ architectural team from Washington DC and is located ten minutes’ drive from the hotel on regional road R691 off the main route to Callan/Clonmel road (N76). A Hoban heritage marker was installed in Green Street, Callan in 2017.