John Lenthall was born in Washington, DC, in 1807. He learned the trade of ship carpenter at the Washington Navy Yard where his father, also named John Lenthall, was superintendent of shipwrights. Sometime thereafter (approximately 1827), Lenthall began working as an as sistant and draftsman to Samuel Humphreys. In this position, he was also exposed to the work of William Doughty who assumed the responsibilities of Chief Naval Constructor from 1813 to 1826, though he never formally held that title. Both Samuel Humphreys and William Doughty had been associated with the establishment of the Philadelphia Navy Yard in 1800-1801. Lenthall continued to perfect his drafting skills between 1826 and 1835. He entered the naval service on May 1, 1835, and was stationed at the Philadelphia Navy Yard. He was appointed Constructor at the Philadelphia Navy Yard in 1838 and held that post until 1849. From 1849 to 1853 he served as Chief Naval Constructor in Washington, D.C., and from 1853 until his retirement in 1871, he was Chief of the Bureau of Construction for the Navy Department. Lenthall died in 1882.
This collection is on permanent loan to the Independence Seaport Museum from the Franklin Institute. This collection consists of 518 ships’ plans and drawings, 1780-1874. The bulk of the items are John Lenthall’s plans, dating from 1823 to 1874; there are also plans by Lenthall’s mentors, Samuel Humphreys, Josiah Fox, and William Doughty, dating from 1790 to 1853. Included are plans for frigates, brits, ships of the line, sloops of war, schooners, steamboats, packet ships, monitors, and a number of other types of vessels. The collection also includes specification books for various ships, dating from 1798 to 1855. For a detailed biography of John Lenthall and an inventory of the collection, see the collection guide. [link to collection guide on ISM website]
- Ships plans
- ISM: John Lenthall papers
- Lenthall, John