James Hoban was raised on the estate of the Earl of Desart in Callan. He worked there as a wheelwright and carpenter until his early 20s, when he was given a place in the Dublin Society’s Drawing School. He excelled in his studies and received the prestigious Duke of Leinster’s medal.
Following the American Revolutionary War, Hoban emigrated to the United States, and established himself as an architect. President Washington admired Hoban’s work.
In July 1792, Hoban was named winner of the design competition for the White House. Hoban was also one of the supervising architects for the Capitol building.
Hoban served on the Washington DC city council. He was also involved in the development of Catholic institutions in the city, including Georgetown University.