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[Cope and Stewardson's Office]
Group photo of Cope & Stewardson Firm
(c. 1899)
AIA/T-Square Yearbook, p. 213 (1923)
> View more images [2 total]

Born: 8/4/1872, Died: 4/19/1928

John Molitor, chiefly known as the City Architect who supervised the design of the Sesqui-Centennial Exposition, was born in Philadelphia, the son of Charles M. and Hermina Sophie (deLefio) Molitor. After graduating from Central High School, he entered the Franklin Institute Drawing School, attending for the school year 1887-1888, before entering the Pennsylvania Museum and School of Industrial Art, where he studied from 1889 to 1893, at the same time participating in classes at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts during the school year 1891-1892. He also engaged in an apprenticeship spent with several of the most prominent offices in Philadelphia: Wilson Eyre and James H. Windrim. In 1902, while he was working for Cope & Stewardson, Molitor won the Stewardson Traveling Scholarship ($1000) for his design for "A Boys' School in the Country." This enabled him to travel to Europe and to visit England as well. During his time abroad Molitor spent three months in the ateliers supervised by Laloux and Lemaresquier. By 1908 the city directories record that Molitor was sharing an office at 1402 North American Building with Thomas & Churchman, but by 1907 the name of the firm had officially changed to Thomas, Churchman & Molitor, at least in citations from the Philadelphia Real Estate Record and Builders Guide. In 1919, when Thomas moved to the new firm of Thomas, Martin & Kirkpatrick, Molitor followed; but by then he had other occupations which engaged his time and energy.

In 1914 (according to his American Art Annual obituary) Molitor was appointed chief of the Philadelphia City Division of Housing and Sanitation; and in 1923, upon the resignation of John P. B. Sinkler, Molitor assumed the beleaguered post of City Architect. In this position Molitor effected changes in the operation of the City's Department of Architecture which Sinkler had advocated. Instead of attempting to design and plan most of the City buildings, Molitor turned work over to practicing architects in the city, thus ending the overload and delays which had characterized Sinkler's administration. Molitor remained with the City Architect's office until his death. William S. Covell was appointed to succeed Molitor on April 28, 1928.

He joined the T-Square Club in 1893 and later served on several committees and as treasurer, vice-president and president for the Club. He joined the AIA in 1905. In addition, Molitor was a Shriner and held membership in the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia Art Club, and the City Club.

Written by Sandra L. Tatman.

Clubs and Membership Organizations

  • Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts
  • Philadelphia Art Club
  • American Institute of Architects (AIA)
  • Philadelphia Chapter, AIA
  • T-Square Club
  • Franklin Institute
  • City Club
  • Shriners

School Affiliations

  • Ecole des Beaux-Arts
  • Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts
  • Pennsylvania Museum and School of Industrial Art
  • Central High School
  • Franklin Institute Drawing School

 

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