John Latrobe

labrobe pass John H.B. Latrobe (1803-1891), Pass of the James River two miles below Balcony Falls, no date. Watercolor. Inscribed in pencil, l.r.: “Pass of James River 2 miles below Balcony Falls- looking West.” Inscribed, verso: “30 Facing [?] pp. 17 m s Chap.XI.” Graphic Arts Collection Gift of Leonard L. Milberg, Class of 1953.

The architect John Latrobe (son of the architect of the United States capitol), visited White Sulphur Springs in 1832 and made a number of watercolor sketches. He described his visit in a letter to a colleague:

“Truly, this is a lovely spot, in the heart of the mountains,” he wrote, “but the owner is not as energetic as he might be, so the place is susceptible of ten-fold improvement. In the hands of the Yankees it might and would become a veritable paradise. The same money that is being used now could be expended in furnishing accommodations for everyone who desired to stay here, and a little management would soon introduce order, where all now is confusion.”

latrobe baltimore cottages“Crowds collect around the dining room when the bell rings, and when they are opened there is a rush, like that at the booth at a contested election. Every man, woman and child rush to any seat which they may happen to find and in a very short time the food upon the tables disappear consumed by the hungry mob.”

“If you have a servant of your own, he must bribe the cook. If you have no servant, you must bribe one of those attached to the place, or you run the risk of getting nothing. Bribery furnishes you with the best of what is to be gotten in the place, and avoids the rushes at meal time.”

“The day after I arrived two waiters quarreled over an apple pie; one floored the other and neither got the pie, which was floored in the scuffle and this scene took place while the guests were seated at table. Bribe high and you live high; fail to bribe and you starve; look sharp and eat fast, you forget good manners. This is the motto of the dining room of the White Sulphur.”

[above] John H. B. Latrobe (1803-1891), Baltimore Cottages, White Sulphur, no date [after 1830]. Watercolor. Inscribed in pencil, lower margin “Baltimore Cottages White Sulphur S. Latrobe”.  Graphic Arts Collection Gift of Leonard L. Milberg, Class of 1953.
latrobe landscapeJohn H.B. Latrobe (1803-1891), Near the White Sulphur [Springs], no date. Watercolor. “Near the White Sulphur.” Inscribed in pencil. Graphic Arts Collection. Gift of Leonard L. Milberg, Class of 1953.

See also: John Edward Semmes, John H. B. Latrobe and his times, 1803-1891 (Baltimore, Md.: Norman, Remington Co. [c1917]) Firestone Library (F) CT275.L277 S4 1917