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Guide to the John B. Snook Architectural Record Collection
1843-1948
 PR 64

New-York Historical Society
170 Central Park West
New York, NY 10024
Phone: (212) 873-3400


© 2011 New-York Historical Society

Collection processed by Kelema Moses

This finding aid was produced using the Archivists' Toolkit on October 21, 2016
Description is in English.

Biographical Note

John Butler Snook (1815-1901) was born in England, and came to the United States as a child. His career as a practicing architect in New York City spanned nearly 60 years. He was educated as a carpenter, serving as an apprentice in his father's carpentry business, and was largely self-taught as an architect. In 1842 he joined the firm of Joseph Trench, and in less than five years he became the junior partner in the firm.

While associated with Trench, Snook designed the A. T. Stewart department store on lower Broadway, the first luxury dry-goods store in America, and the Metropolitan and St. Nicholas Hotels. After Trench moved west to San Francisco, Snook continued to work in New York City until the end of the century, focusing mainly on projects in the city, but also designing and constructing buildings in Brooklyn, the Bronx, Westchester County, and New Jersey.

Snook designed churches, hotels, residences, train depots, warehouses, tenements, and hospitals. While he did not specialize in one type of building, the majority of his work was in warehouses, commercial buildings, and tenements. In 1869, Cornelius Vanderbilt employed Snook to design the first Grand Central Depot, which was intended to serve as the main passenger terminal for the New York and Harlem Railroad and the New York Central and Hudson Railroad.

In 1836 Snook married Maria A. Weekes, with whom he had nine children that lived to adulthood. Three of these, James H., Samuel B., and Edward T., eventually joined his practice, which was renamed John B. Snook & Sons. One of Snook's sons-in-law, John W. Boylston, also worked in the firm. Snook died at his home in Brooklyn in 1901.

Chronology of Snook's Firms
1836-1840 Snook worked as a carpenter in partnership with William Beer, 328 Washington Street
1842-[1846] Snook worked for Joseph Trench and Company at 12 Chambers Street
[1846]-1857 Trench and Snook at 12 Chambers Street
1857-1887 John B. Snook at 12 Chambers Street
1887-1896 John B. Snook & Sons at 12 Chambers Street
1897-1901 John B. Snook & Sons at 261 Broadway
1901-[1969] John B. Snook Sons