Frank Miles Day was one of a popular group of Philadelphia architects working at the turn of the century. Along with such men as Walter Cope
, Wilson Eyre
, William L. Price
, and John Stewardson
, he rejected the idiosyncratic architecture which slightly older architects of the day such as Frank Furness
and Willis G. Hale
had epitomized. Although he and his partners often used historical design, theirs was not a purely archaeological approach, nor did they tend toward the extensive use of ornament occasionally seen in work of their peers.
Day was born in Philadelphia, the son of Englishman Charles Day and Anna Rebecca (Miles) Day. Although he attended the Rittenhouse Academy at 18th and Chestnut streets in Philadelphia, he was primarily educated at home by his father. He graduated from the Towne School of the University of Pennsylvania in 1883, having distinguished himself as valedictorian and president of the class. There followed some three years of education, travel, and work abroad, including attendance at both the South Kensington School of Art and the Royal Academy in London. He became part of the atelier of Walter Millard in London and worked in the office of Basil Champneys as well. Returning to Philadelphia in 1886, Day entered the office of George T. Pearson and worked another year with Addison Hutton before establishing his own office in 1887. There he was joined in 1893 by his brother Henry Kent Day and the firm name revised to Frank Miles Day & Bro. The firm was again enlarged in 1911, when Charles Z. Klauder entered, and the name was revised to Day Bros. & Klauder. Following H. Kent Day's retirement in 1912, the firm became simply Day & Klauder, remaining so until Day's death in 1918. After his death Klauder continued to use the entire firm name until 1927.
In addition to the residential commissions common to most successful Philadelphia architects of the time, Day's career was marked by several large and well-publicized projects, including the Philadelphia Art Club (1888), the American Baptist Publication Society Building in Philadelphia (1896), and, in association with Wilson Eyre and Cope & Stewardson, the Free Museum of Science and Art of the University of Pennsylvania (1895-99). Beginning with his designs for Weightman Hall and Franklin Field for the University of Pennsylvania in 1902, Day produced considerable collegiate work. Buildings by his firm can be found on the campuses of the University of Delaware, Pennsylvania State College, the University of Colorado, Cornell University, Princeton University, and Yale University, among others.
Day was also active in his profession, serving as president of the national AlA on two occasions as well as on the Board of Directors. Other professional memberships included those in the Imperial Society of Russian Architects, the National Academy of Design, the National Institute of Arts and Letters, the Royal Institute of British Architects, and the American Academy in Rome, for whom he served as a trustee. At various times he served on the faculties of the University of Pennsylvania, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, and the Pennsylvania Museum and School of Industrial Art. In addition, he was a visiting lecturer at Harvard University.
Day received many honors during his lifetime. In 1916 he was awarded an honorary Master of Arts degree by Yale University, followed by an honorary doctorate by the University of Pennsylvania in 1918. He received the prize of the Architectural Association of London in 1885, and his firm gained a gold medal in 1918 from the Philadelphia Chapter of the AlA for the dining halls which they designed for Princeton University.
Beloved by the profession, Frank Miles Day received a "Remembrance" published in the American Institute of Architects Journal after his death. The long quotation which follows not only praises Day and his colleagues but also, without naming him, indicts Frank Furness and his followers:
When Mr. Day began practiace in the late eighties, architecture was in process of being discovered by the American people as a vital, creative art. The public was awakening to an interest in its possibilities through the work of men inspired by foreign travel and study, or their pupils. These pioneers of the new age were men of vigor and originality, but the work of many of them was unhappily marred by an unrestrained individualism. . . . In no city was this more evident than in Philadelphia, whose character of staid repression had been swept aside in the movement of revolt which, starting in healthy reaction against tradition, steadily descended, in a striving for originality, toward chaos through ignorance of the real meaning of architecture: a declaration of independence followed by anarchy rather than an ordered freedom.
At this moment, as though dramatically timed by fate, there appeared exactly the force needed to turn this vigorous and fundamentally wholesome impulse into the right channels; a force which gave to Philadelphia an architecture so fine and true that it was destined to have national influence. Frank Miles Day and a little group of contemporaries of similar tastes and training here entered upon active practice -- Walter Cope, John Stewardson, and Wilson Eyre. Each had the genuine sense of architecture and was possessed of rare artistic gifts and all had traveled abroad and gained that knowledge of the principles and masterpieces of their art which through its discipline and inspiration guides and stimulates the creative impulse of the true architect. . . . To this result Mr. Day's contribution was vital. The consistently high level maintained by the work of his office shows always the influence of his qualities: a fine enthusiasm and love of study, grasp of the essentials of a problem and insight into the essence of style and character; erudition combined with a facility for finding fresh and novel modes of treatment and, perhaps above all, the critical faculty guided by a supremely true taste. (p.385)