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[Portrait of John McArthur Jr., Thomas Ustick Walter, and James Sims]
Thomas Ustick Walter Collection, Athenaeum of Philadelphia.
Local ID #: 122-P-028

Born: 11/15/1849, Died: 5/20/1882

James P. Sims, the youngest son of John Clarke Sims, enjoyed a short but successful career in Philadelphia, most notably in the area of church design. Sims studied at Dr. Faires's Classical Academy in Philadelphia and received his A.B. followed by his A.M. in 1871 from the University of Pennsylvania. Immediately after graduation he gained experience in the office of his architect brother Henry A. Sims, but this was succeeded by a period of European travel after which Sims returned to Philadelphia and his brother's firm. By 1872 he was established in an office at 426 Walnut Street, under the name H. A. & J. P. Sims. This relationship lasted until Henry Sims's death in 1875. The younger Sims then launched a successful independent firm responsible for the design of a number of churches in the Philadelphia area. Shortly before his sudden death, Sims and Wilson Eyre had established a partnership, and after Sims's death Eyre continued the church work begun by the partners. Writing in Charles Cohen's memoir of the Faires Institute, Eyre remembered, "His death was very sudden. He was drawing in the office and fell from his stool, dying very soon afterward of a stroke. I succeeded to his practice."

An immensely talented musician, Sims was a member of the Orpheus Club and of the Cecilian. He was an associate member of the AIA.

Written by Sandra L. Tatman.

Clubs and Membership Organizations

  • Orpheus Club
  • American Institute of Architects (AIA)
  • Philadelphia Sketch Club
  • Cecilian Club

School Affiliations

  • University of Pennsylvania
  • Faires Institute


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