John B. Snook architectural records collection
Language of Materials
The collection is comprised of ca. 2500 architectural drawings by John Butler Snook and his various firms.
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
Architectural drawings were arranged by size and then given project numbers. Most drawings are rolled and stored in boxes but a few have been flattened and are stored in folders. Projects are listed by client name, if known, and then by project name and address.
Scope and Content Note
The John B. Snook Architectural Records Collection spans the period from 1762 to 1948 and contains architectural drawings, record books, and reference books from John Butler Snook and his descendents' careers as architects in New York City. The collection is divided into three series: Architectural Drawings, Record Books, and Printed Material from Snook's Library.
Materials in this collection may be stored offsite. For more information on making arrangements to consult them, please visit www.nyhistory.org/library/visit.
Taking images of documents from the library collections for reference purposes by using hand-held cameras and in accordance with the library's photography guidelines is encouraged. As an alternative, patrons may request up to 20 images per day from staff.
Application to use images from this collection for publication should be made in writing to: Department of Rights and Reproductions, The New-York Historical Society, 170 Central Park West, New York, NY 10024-5194, email@example.com. Phone: (212) 873-3400 ext. 282.
Copyrights and other proprietary rights may subsist in individuals and entities other than the New-York Historical Society, in which case the patron is responsible for securing permission from those parties. For fuller information about rights and reproductions from N-YHS visit: https://www.nyhistory.org/about/rights-reproductions
This collection should be cited as: John B. Snook Architectural Record Collection, PR 064, Department of Prints, Photographs, and Architectural Collections, The New-York Historical Society.
Location of Materials
Gift of the estate of Thomas E. Snook, Jr., 1953.
Additional volumes from John B. Snook's library can be found in the New-York Historical Society's Library. Snook's trade sign from 1847 is held by the N-YHS Museum.