Born in Navesink, NJ, to John and Elizabeth Strickland, William Strickland was the son of a master carpenter father. From 1798 to 1801, John Strickland worked on the Bank of Pennsylvania; this employment allowed young William to encounter Benjamin Henry Latrobe, who accepted him as an apprentice in 1803.
It was this crucial contact which launched the young Strickland on his career path. After splitting with Latrobe in 1805, Strickland appears to have supported himself as an artist and draftsman until he was awarded his first major architectural commission -- the Masonic Hall in Philadelphia (1808).
In 1818 Strickland won the competition for the Second Bank of the United States with a design based on the Parthenon in Athens. The Second Bank was a seminal work in the history of neoclassicism, and specifically the Greek Revival, in the United States.
With this important commission Strickland was established in Philadelphia as a professional architect, and he was elected to the American Philosophical Society, the Franklin Institute and he became a stockholder of The Athenaeum of Philadelphia.
During a career spanning over 45 years, William Strickland proved himself to be versatile and talented as an architect, engineer and surveyor. He worked in nine different architectural styles but his major contribution to 19th century architecture was his inauguration of the Greek Revival based on the pure temple form, a movement that was to dominate American building from 1820-1850.