Architectural Archives

John A. Bower, Sr., Collection (001)

The Collection comprises architectural drawings, blueprints, photographic prints and slides documenting fifty-six buildings and projects spanning the years 1928-1979.

Biographical / Historical Sketch

John Arnold Bower was born in Chicago and graduated from Parker Technical High School there.  He began his architectural education at the Armour Institute of Technology, where he attended night classes, in addition to working as a draftsman in several Chicago firms.  He came to Philadelphia in 1922 to study at the University of Pennsylvania, completing his B.Arch. in 1926.  He taught rendering part-time at Penn while still a student and won the Arthur Spayd Brooke Memorial Prize gold medal in his senior year.  He was offered a fellowship for a master's degree but chose instead to begin working immediately after graduation.  Between 1926 and 1928 he worked for Thomas, Martin & Kirkpatrick and George Lovatt, Sr.  Between roughly 1928 and 1942 Bower worked in partnership first with both Harold Carswell (another veteran of Lovatt's practice), and Dominique Berninger (Carswell, Berninger and Bower), and then with Berninger alone (Berninger and Bower).  Bower served in the U.S. Air Force during World War II, and returned to independent practice in 1946.  He headed his own firm until his retirement in 1982. 

The main body of Bower's work was residential, although his practice included a range of building types. Bower also completed several restoration projects for Independence National Historical Park in Philadelphia.
 

Scope and Content Note

The John A. Bower Collection comprises architectural drawings, blueprints, photographic prints and slides documenting fifty-six buildings and projects spanning the years 1928-1979.  Holdings for the Collection include 223 architectural drawings, 162 photographs, and 128 slides.  The collection does not include office or project files, specifications or clippings.  Over forty of the projects represented in the collection are for houses built in the Philadelphia region.  Additional works include church and commercial projects, as well as Bower's 1953 design for the Montgomery County Historical Society.  A complete list of Bower’s projects, completed in February 1970 by the architect, is found at call # 001.60.

The collection is arranged in four series, according to the type and storage requirements of materials.  The first three series are arranged in chronological order by project.  Each project is associated with a job number assigned by Bower’s office, if available.  A project for which the job number is unknown is indicated by “xxx.” 

Gift of the architect, 1985