In 1833, Davis and his partner Ithiel Town won the competition for the U.S.
Custom House to be built on the site of Washington's inauguration, down the
street from Trinity Church. The architects lost control of the construction,
that being given to Samuel Thomson, and the finished building lacks the majesty
of this drawing particularly in the reduction of the dome. A magnificent
section, this drawing shows Davis in full command of his artistic and
architectural powers. The proportion and harmony of the design are wedded to a
direct and rich exposition of the architectural structure and detail.
It is hard to overestimate Davis's position in American architecture of the
nineteenth century before the Civil War. Davis designed civic and urban
buildings for the burgeoning city of New York, and with his friend, the
landscape designer Andrew Jackson Downing, brought to life the romantic vision
of Gothic cottage in the Hudson Valley. Fortunately his work survives in large
numbers in three major repositories: the Avery Library, the Metropolitan Museum
of Art, and the New-York Historical Society.