William E. Groben was born in Philadelphia, the son of Edward A. and Sarah Greaves (Ellis) Groben. He graduated from the Northeast Manual Training School in 1900 and received his B.S. in Architecture from the University of Pennsylvania in 1904. During the following year he supplemented his education with courses at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, but then went to Paris on the Cresson Scholarship and was admitted to the Atelier Chifflot in 1906 as part of the curriculum offered by the Ecole des Beaux-Arts. His office experience would involve several architects, most interested in Beaux-Arts-influenced design, including two years with Walter Price and more time spent with Charles Barton Keen, the firm of Allen & Collins in New York, and Paul A. Davis back in Philadelphia. By 1908 he was employed by the Philadelphia Department of Public Works and in 1913 was made Acting City Architect. In 1914, however, he returned to the private sector with the firm of Ballinger & Perrot, with whom he remained through the transition to the Ballinger Co. in 1922 and at least until 1930. There followed a period of employment by the U.S. government which included work in 1943 for the U.S. Emergency Rubber Project, followed by a term of service with the U.S. Forest Service, where in 1950 he was named architect-in-charge. It was during his employment with the Forest Service that he and Clyde P. Fickes published Building With Logs (1945).
Occasionally, on Philadelphia-area projects, Groben associated with other architects. These liaisons included Groben & Clark in 1914 and an association with J. Howard Geissel in 1924.
Groben joined the AlA in 1917. In addition to the Cresson Scholarship, which was awarded to him by the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, he was the recipient of the Stewardson Scholarship from the University of Pennsylvania. He also worked as an assistant in architectural design at the University of Pennsylvania following his return from Paris, from 1908 to 1911.
Sandra L. Tatman.
Clubs and Membership Organizations
- American Institute of Architects (AIA)
- T-Square Club
- University of Pennsylvania
- Ecole des Beaux-Arts
- Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts
- Northeast Manual Training School
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