The Man Who Built Washington

The Man Who Built Washington

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Philadelphian John McShain was one of the largest builders in the United States. From the 1920s until his retirement in 1976, his general contracting firm worked throughout the Mid-Atlantic states. McShain's greatest impact was on the nation's capital, where he constructed many of the monuments and public buildings that symbolized both our history and the growth of the modern federal government. The Jefferson Memorial, the Pentagon, the rebuilding of the White House, the Kennedy Center, and many more were McShain projects.

This biography traces McShain's remarkable life from his origins in Philadelphia's Irish-American community, to his career in one of our most important but least-studied industries, his philanthropic activities, and his accomplishments in the world of horse racing. McShain's personal and business papers are housed at Hagley Museum and Library.