Historic Structures

Architect Alfred B Mullett United States Mint - Nevada State Musuem Carson City Nevada

Alfred Eult Mullett (l834-l890) served as Supervising Architect of the Treasury Department from 1866 until 1874. His tenure of office coincided with an accelerated government building program following the Civil War, and Mullett was responsible for the design of many public buildings in cities and towns throughout the country. The buildings erected by the Treasury Department while Mullett held the office of Supervising Architect are unexcelled by any American structures of their time in scale and solidity of construction.

Mullett was born in Taunton, England on April 7, 1834. In l843 his family emigrated to the United States, settling in Glendale, Ohio, a suburb of Cincinnati. Mullett received his academic training in Ohio and Europe, and in i860 was employed in the office of the noted Greek Revival architect, Isaiah Rogers, who had moved to Cincinnati in 18U8. Rogers became Supervising Architect of the Treasury Department in 1862 and brought Mullett to Washington as a member of his staff, Mullett*s rise in rank was rapid, and in 1866 Secretary of the Treasury Hugh McCulloch appointed him to the post of Supervising Architect.

Mullett inherited the classical tradition of Federal building from his predecessor and mentor, Rogers. In Washington he completed Robert Mill's Treasury Building by adding a north wing, adhering closely to the style in which Ammi B. Young and Rogers had built the south and west wings. Mullett's Post Office and Courthouse in Portland, Maine and his Custom House in Portland, Oregon also reflect the style which had become so identified with government buildings of the young nation.

The Old San Francisco Mint has been adjudged Mullett's most important work in the Classic Revival style. In fineness of detail and quality of construction, it carried on the principles which had influenced public building for over 30 years. As the last major example of Classic Revival architecture,the Mint signaled the end of an era in American monumental architecture.

Mullett also worked in the more elaborate and decorative style of the Second French Empire. As Supervising Architect of the Treasury Department, he was responsible for many Federal buildings executed in this lavish style including post offices in New York City, Philadelphia, Boston, and St. Louis and buildings elsewhere including assay offices, custom houses, and hospitals.

The former State, War, and Navy Building was the grandest edifice erected in Washington, D.C. in the Second French Empire style and was rivalled elsewhere in the nation only by John McArthur, Jr.'s Philadelphia City Hall. The State, War, and Navy, now the Executive office building, was the capstone of Mullett's career. However, personal conflicts during the building's long period of construction eventually led to Mullett's resignation and the end of his career of public service. He continued in private architectural practice in Washington, D.C. until October 20, 1890, when he took his life in a fit of despondency over the failure to receive compensation claimed for his work, done many years earlier, on the State, War, and Navy Building.