Architectural Archives

John Lane Evans Collection (067)

This is the primary archive of the architectural work of John Lane Evans. The largest part of the collection documents Evans's practice, including domestic, ecclesiastical and commercial projects as well as projects Evans supervised as City Architect of Philadelphia.  The collection also contains 3 drawings made by Evans for projects of Paul Cret and numerous student drawings.

Biographical / Historical Sketch

John Lane Evans was born in Philadelphia and graduated from West Philadelphia High School.  He was trained at the University of Pennsylvania, earning a B.Arch. in 1924 and completing his M.Arch. the following year.  He distinguished himself as a student, and was awarded a number of honors, including the AIA’s student medal and the Arthur Spayd Brooke gold medal in 1924, and the John Stewardson traveling scholarship in 1925.  Evans was made a teaching assistant in design while still an undergraduate. 

Like many talented Penn architecture students, Evans began his professional career working in the office of Paul Cret before completing his degree, and continued there after his graduation.  He established his own office in 1934, working as the principal architect for developer Dr. George Woodward in Chestnut Hill in exchange for rent during the lean years of the Depression.  He joined the national AIA in 1939, and suspended his practice in 1942 for active duty in World War II, serving as an intelligence officer in the Naval Air Force in Pearl Harbor.

After the war, Evans returned to Philadelphia.  In 1946 and 1947 he was associated with Sydney E. Martin, and then worked for Harbeson, Hough, Livingston & Larson for two years.  In 1949, Evans resumed an independent practice.  Several large projects for the City of Philadelphia in the 1950s presumably led to his appointment as city architect in April 1961.  Evans succeeded George I. Lovatt who had resigned the previous year in the wake of controversy.  Evans remained in that position until 1975, supervising the design of municipal buildings throughout this period.

Evans was made a fellow of the AIA in 1967.  He was active in the profession, serving on several committees of the Philadelphia Chapter, as its vice president in 1965, and as a director in 1966 and 1967.  He was also a director of the Pennsylvania Society of Architects between 1947 and 1950.  Evans's wife Margaret (née Stimpson) was among the first women to graduate from the University of Pennsylvania's School of Fine Arts, earning her B.F.A. in 1925.

Scope & Content Note

This collection is the primary archive of the architectural work of John Lane Evans.  The largest part of the collection comprises architectural records of Evans's practice, including domestic, ecclesiastical, civic and commercial projects in the Philadelphia region.  In addition, the collection is rich in Evans's student drawings, which provide insight into the teaching of architectural design at the University of Pennsylvania during the period Louis I. Kahn and Norman Rice were students.

In addition to projects of Evans's own firm and his collaborations, projects of other architects are also found in the collection.  Evans worked in Paul Cret's office as a young man, and his records preserve 3 drawings he made for Cret's projects.  As City Architect of Philadelphia, Evans supervised projects of other architects and engineers, and his project files contain materials related to projects of the following:  Vincent G. Kling; Harbeson, Hough, Livingston and Larson; Wright, Andrade, Amenta and Gane; Supowitz and Demchick; George M. Ewing Co.; Stonorov and Haws; Hugh A. Stubbins, Jr.

Gift of John Lane Evans, 1989 and 1992, with additional drawings gift of J. Pennington Straus, 1990.