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Athenaeum of Philadelphia.
Local ID #: P-820
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Frank R. Watson was one of the most important of the several architects specializing in church design in Philadelphia during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. He was born in the Frankford section of Philadelphia, the son of Samuel and Anna B. Watson. After graduating from Central High School in 1877, Watson entered the office of Edwin F. Durang, an eminent architect concentrating on Catholic church projects during the last quarter of the nineteenth century. Watson spent five years with Durang before establishing his own independent firm in 1882/3. While not limiting his practice to Catholic projects, Watson still became well known for his church designs. So successful was he that he opened a branch office in Atlantic City, NJ in 1898. In 1901/02, when Samuel Huckel returned to Philadelphia, a partnership between the two was established under the name Watson & Huckel. Huckel's experience with Benjamin D. Price, another architect known for his church designs, as well as his experience with Edward Hazelhurst in the firm of Hazelhurst & Huckel stood the new partnership in good stead; and the office prospered until Huckel's death in 1917. Watson then continued practicing independently until 1922, when he was joined by the younger architects, George E. Edkins, and William Heyl Thompson. At the outset this firm was one of association, but soon the name became Watson, Edkins & Thompson. When Edkins moved to Oaklyn, NJ in 1936, Watson & Thompson continued in practice until Watson's death in 1940.
Watson joined the American Institute of Architects (AIA) in 1901, served as president of the Philadelphia Chapter in 1927, and was made a Fellow in 1930. He also held memberships in the Historical Society of Frankford, the Medieval Academy of America, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and the Union League. He was given an honorary doctor of Fine Arts degree from Muhlenberg College. He also served as a delegate to the Pan American Congress of Architects meetings in South America in 1923 and 1927 and as technical advisor to the Philadelphia Housing Association from 1929 to 1932. In 1929 he was made an honorary member in the Mexican Society of Architects. When the Architects Building Corporation was established to oversee the design and construction of that dedicated highrise, Watson was elected president of the corporation.
Sandra L. Tatman.
Clubs and Membership Organizations
- Historical Society of Pennsylvania (HSP)
- Pennsylvania Society of Architects
- American Institute of Architects (AIA)
- Philadelphia Chapter, AIA
- Union League of Philadelphia
- Historical Society of Frankford
- Medieval Academy of America
- Philadelphia Museum of Art
- Central High School of Philadelphia
- Muhlenburg College
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