Wilson Eyre, c. 1900
Wilson Eyre (1858-1944)
Born in Florence to a Philadelphia family, Wilson Eyre, Jr., enjoyed a prolific practice in the Philadelphia area and beyond over the course of five decades. After briefly attending M.I.T. and working in the office of James Peacock Sims for several years, Eyre took over the latter's practice following Sims's premature death in 1882. He soon achieved national repute for his Shingle-style houses and his engagingly free renderings. The heart of his work was domestic, with several very notable exceptions such as the University Museum. He was one of several founders of the T Square Club of Philadelphia in 1883. Through it and the widespread exhibition and publication of his drawings, his influence was felt widely, both locally and nationally.
About the Collection
The Archives acquired the bulk of its Eyre drawings in the 1950s through the generosity of Eyre's younger sister, sculptor Louisa Eyre, who also gave smaller collections to repositiories in New York City, Detroit, and Princeton, sites of some of his work. Our holdings have since grown through the addition of drawings for University of Pennsylvania buildings and other gifts. They now consist of some seven hundred and fifty drawings, primarily large-scale renderings and sketches in watercolor, charcoal, and pastel, including those for country residences, townhouses, apartment houses, gardens, commercial buildings, institutional buildings, architectural details, posters, and miscellaneous sketches.
From March to May 1994 an exhibit of Eyre's work, "Graced Places: The Architecture of Wilson Eyre," was held at Penn's Arthur Ross Gallery. The exhibition included a multimedia component employing HyperCard on Macintosh computers to provide additional information, images, and walkthroughs to complement the drawings on display.