Born in Philadelphia to James Rorke, builder and master carpenter, and Rachel (Kitchen) Rorke, formerly of Wilmington, DE, Allen B. Rorke became one of the best-known contractors in Philadelphia, responsible for the Pennsylvania State Capitol. According to a biographical treatment which appeared in the Philadelphia Real Estate Record and Builders Guide (5 March 1888), Rorke left school at age 14 and joined his father in business. By the time he was 21, he was prepared to work independently; and after a few years on his own, he moved to Easton, PA, remained for approximately a year and a half, returned to Philadelphia, and launched what would become a very distinguished contracting business. By 1884 he is advertising in the Philadelphia city directories that he is a contractor and builder with offices at 213 Lodge Street, with "Estimates and Plan furnished upon application, for Banks, Warehouses, Mills, Churches, Dwellings and Buildings of every description" (Philadelphia city directory, 1884, p. 1369). Soon he will move to more prosperous quarters, with an office at 423 Walnut Street, according to the 1886 city directory. By the 1890s Rorke, along with a number of other builder/cotractors, has moved to the Bourse in Philadelphia. Even after his death in 1899, Rorke's name continued to appear in the Philadelphia city directory with "estate of" appended to the listing. His older son Franklin continued the business after his death, changing the name to Franklin M. Rorke & Co., and including his younger brother, Allen B. Rorke, Jr. in the company.
Sandra L. Tatman.
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