Architectural Archives

Frank Furness (1839-1912)

Among the major architects who helped give shape to Victorian Philadelphia was Frank Furness. In the years following the Civil War, Furness and his associates dotted the Philadelphia landscape with a remarkable group of buildings ranging from factories and warehouses to schools, hospitals, banks, railroad stations, and private residences. If the Guilded Age was noted for its aggressive architecture, Furness's buildings were certainly among the most boisterous and challenging.

Furness's architectural apprenticeship began in 1859 under Richard Morris Hunt, one of New York's most prominent architects. In Hunt's atelier English medievalism, inspired by the writings of John Ruskin, and French classicism merged. For Ruskin it was ornamentation that distinguished "architecture" from mere building. When Furness returned to Philadelphia to work, these influences came with him. However, his designs were an eclectic blend of these and other schools alloyed into a style that was uniquely his own.
[adapted from an exhibition publication of the Philadelphia Museum of Art; 1973]

Furness was a co-founder of the Philadelphia Chapter of the A.I.A. and a recipient of the Congressional Medal of Honor and Centennial Award of Honor.

About the Collection

The Collection includes slides, photos and drawings. Projects include the Library for the U. of P. (1888), Tabor, Perkiomen and Gravers Lane R.R. Stations and a pamphlet design for the Bryn Mawr Hotel.

The drawings are largely a gift of G. Holmes Perkins.

A large photographic collection was donated by George E. Thomas following the publications of his book Frank Furness - Complete Works.

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