Although Paul Beck's path to a career in architecture was interrupted by the Civil War, he nonetheless achieved the distinction of working for one of the most prominent New York firms of the turn of the century, McKim, Mead & White, before launching his own successful firm. The son of Henry Paul Beck and Emily Dwight Beck, Paul Beck attended the Faires Classical Institute in Philadelphia from 1858 to 1861, entering the University of Pennsylvania at the end of that year. He only remained at the University for one year, however, before changing to the Philadelphia Polytechnic College. Again he would not finish his degree because he left the College in 1863 in order to join the 32nd Regiment of the Pennsylvania Militia. After his return from Civil War action, Beck took several courses at the Sheffield Scientific School at Yale University, then returned to Philadelphia, and by 1874 was established as an architect in Philadelphia. According to the biography provided in Charles J. Cohen's history of the Faires Institute, Beck was associated with Frank Furness while in Philadelphia.
In 1876 Beck married Frances de Navarre Tracy of New York and subsequently moved to New York City. By 1880 he appears on the payroll lists of McKim, Mead & White, but by 1882 he has launched his own firm, with offices on Broadway in New York. Office addresses continue for Beck in New York City directories through 1892.
Eventually Beck returned to Pennsylvania. At the time of his death he was residing at his home, Galen Hall, in Wernersville, PA. He was buried in Laurel Hill Cemetery in Philadelphia.
Sandra L. Tatman.
Clubs and Membership Organizations
- American Institute of Architects (AIA)
- University of Pennsylvania
- Faires Institute
- Philadelphia Polytechnic College
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