Arthur Truscott was born in St. Austell, Cornwall, England. He was the son of Samuel and Susan Truscott and received his education at Weston House School in St. Austell. He arrived in the United States in May, 1874, and by 1875 was established in the Philadelphia city directories as a clerk in offices at 150 South 4th Street, the same address as that given for Samuel Sloan. During this early period Truscott's home was in Camden, NJ, and he maintained a residence in New Jersey for the rest of his life although his office was always in Philadelphia.
Like many young architects, Truscott moved from office to office, gaining experience and design training. In the case of Truscott, the firms providing his training are among the best in late nineteenth-century Philadelphia. By 1877 he had begun work for Theophilus Parsons Chandler, with whom he remained until 1883. In 1883 he moved to the office of Wilson Bros. & Co., lasting there for four years before transferring to another well-known Philadelphia firm, Cope & Stewardson. These early years were fruitful ones for Truscott: he published his own residential designs in Godey's Lady's Book during 1885-86 and also won, with Walter Cope, the year's record for prizes in the T-Square Club competitions in l886.
In 1890 Truscott established his own firm and soon went to Columbia, TN, where he was engaged in the construction of an arsenal. Upon his return, he entered practice with William Lloyd Baily under the name Baily & Truscott, with offices at 138 South 4th Street. This firm continued until 1904, with Truscott disappearing from the Philadelphia city directories from 1904 until 1911. From 1911 until 1930 he is listed intermittently in the directories as an instructor at Drexel Institute, where he headed the program in the School of Architecture from 1895 to 1914. He moved to the Department of Engineering in 1913 when the day program in architecture at Drexel was dropped from the curriculum. He continued with the Engineering department until 1915.
Described by E. D. McDonald as "a modest and kindly gentleman, an able and sensitive designer," Truscott conveyed his influence to a number of younger architects who indicate in their Philadelphia Chapter, AIA, applications that they have studied either with him or in the atelier which John Dull administered at Drexel. Although many young architects in Philadelphia would pass through the University of Pennsylvania and the hands of Paul P. Cret, others would choose either the day or evening program at Drexel. Still others would select the T-Square Club atelier or that atelier in combination with the Drexel program. Truscott's involvement with both Drexel and the T-Square Club proves both his own commitment to architectural education and Philadelphia's variety of educational paths for the would-be architect.
The years following Truscott's Drexel stint continue to be unexplained; however, his last citation in the Philadelphia city directories is in 1930, when he is noted as a draftsman in the office of Charles W. Bolton & Son, specialists in church architecture.
As well as his importance in the field of architectural education, Truscott's commitment to the professional organizations of architecture deserves mention. He was one of the founding members of Philadelphia's T-Square Club in 1883 and served as vice-president for that organization in 1887. He was elected a junior member of the Philadelphia Chapter of the AIA in 1880 and became a professional member in 1889.
Sandra L. Tatman.
Clubs and Membership Organizations
- Philadelphia Chapter, AIA
- T-Square Club
- Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts
- Drexel Institute
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