Thomas F. Houghton

Thomas F. Houghton

Thomas F. Houghton was born in Wexford, Ireland in 18411, and practiced architecture in Brooklyn for almost 50 years. Houghton emigrated from Ireland in 18532. According to his obituary in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, he received his early education at P.S. 6 on Degraw Street, near Hicks. Before going into architecture, Houghton taught at St. Paul's parochial school. In the late 1850s, Houghton entered into an apprenticeship in the office of renowned church architect Patrick C. Keely. At the outbreak of the Civil War, Houghton enlisted in the 13th Regiment of the Union army.3 Shortly thereafter, he entered the U. S. Navy, where he served on the U.S.S. Sabine and eventually rose the rank of paymaster4. Houghton served on the Sabine with his younger brother William, who was a clerk on the ship.5 (According to Wikipedia, many of the volunteers who served on the U.S.S. Monitor were from the Sabine crew.6)

Upon his return to Brooklyn after the war, he went back into architectural practice.7 It is not clear if Houghton went back to work for Keely immediately after the Civil War or if he was practicing on his own. According to Wikipedia, Houghton served as Keely's chief draftsman; by the 1890s they had formed the partnership of Keely & Houghton. Following Keely's death in 1896, Houghton continued the practice under his name.8 However, Houghton is given sole credit for many buildings before 1896. An 1870 article on the dedication of St. Rose of Lima seems to confirm this, stating that the church was "designed and finished under the superintendence of Thomas Houghton, Esq., a pupil of the great Keegy [sic, Keely], and a young architect of much promise".9

Houghton is credited with designing many large churches in New England as well as Brooklyn. His Brooklyn Daily Eagle obituary lists among his notable work St. Francis Xavier R.C. Church, Our Lady of Victory, Transfiguration, Sacred Heart and St. Agnes (all in Brooklyn), as well as St. Peter's (Lowell, Mass.), and the chapel of St. Elizabeth's  College (Convent Station, N.J.).10

Houghton was married to Patrick Keely's daughter, Mary11, and his sister (also Mary) was in turn married to Patrick Keely's son (and Mary's brother) William A. Keely12. In 1880, the couple was living as boarders at 278 Carroll Street13; by 1900, the couple had moved to their own home at 311 President Street14. It does not appear that the couple had any children. Houghton was a member of the 13th Regiment Veterans Association, the Roman Catholic Orphan Asylum Society, the Emerald Society and the Catholic Benevolent Legion. He served on the Board of Education for the City of Brooklyn from 1882 to 1886.15

Thomas Houghton died at his house at 311 President Street on March 5, 1913, aged 72 years.16

  • 1. date of birth from 1900 United States Census, New York State, Enumeration District 142, Brooklyn (10th Ward), page 14.
  • 2. date of birth from 1900 United States Census, New York State, Enumeration District 142, Brooklyn (10th Ward), page 14.
  • 3. "Thomas H. [sic] Houghton", Brooklyn Daily Eagle, March 7, 1913, 3.
  • 4. New York Register of Officers and Enlisted Men Mustered into Federal Service, 1861-1865, page 39.
  • 5. New York Register of Officers and Enlisted Men Mustered into Federal Service, 1861-1865, page 39.
  • 6. U.S.S. "Sabine", Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USS_Sabine_(1855)), accessed 2 February 2016.
  • 7. "Thomas H. [sic] Houghton", Brooklyn Daily Eagle, March 7, 1913, 3.
  • 8. "Thomas Houghton (architect)", Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Houghton_(architect); accessed 20 Jan 2016.
  • 9. "Church Dedication", Brooklyn Daily Eagle, 28 November 1870, page 2.
  • 10. "Thomas H. [sic] Houghton", Brooklyn Daily Eagle, March 7, 1913, 3.
  • 11. "Thomas H. [sic] Houghton", Brooklyn Daily Eagle, March 7, 1913, 3.
  • 12. "Thomas F. Houghton Dead", Brooklyn Daily Eagle, March 6, 1913, 2.
  • 13. 1880 United States Census, New York, Enumeration District 83, page 9.
  • 14. 1900 United States Census, New York State, Enumeration District 142, Brooklyn (10th Ward), page 14
  • 15. "Thomas H. [sic] Houghton", Brooklyn Daily Eagle, March 7, 1913, 3.
  • 16. "Thomas H. [sic] Houghton", Brooklyn Daily Eagle, March 7, 1913, 3.

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