Thomas followed his father Walter into the architectural profession, although the younger Cope was only five when his better-known father died of a stroke at the age of 42 in 1902. Thomas Cope struggled in school - he attended Chestnut Hill Academy and Germantown Friends School in Philadelphia before studying at the Middlesex School in Concord, Massachusetts and the Northeast Manual Training School in Philadelphia, where he presumably first studied architecture. He entered the University of Pennsylvania's architecture program in 1915, but left after one year of courses, apparently dissatisfied with instruction there. Cope traveled to St. Paul, Minnesota, where he worked in the office of Thomas G. Holyoke as a designer in 1916 and 1917. Like his father, Cope was a Quaker, and in 1918 joined the Society of Friends' Reconstruction Unit in France. He returned to Philadelphia when he left Europe, and worked in the office of Stewardson & Page (successors to his father's firm) between 1923 and 1928. Cope returned to study at Penn in 1927, but never completed his degree. In 1929 and 1930, he worked in New York in the office of prominent architect Charles A. Platt.
Cope returned to Philadelphia in 1931 and practiced independently until he, Harry Gordon Stewart (who had been the chief draftsman at Stewardson & Page from 1923 to 1927) and Edmund Purves formed a partnership in 1937. Between the late 1920s and World War II, Cope was active in the restoration of historic buildings in Philadelphia: he chaired the Philadelphia AIA Chapter's Committee on the Preservation of Historic Monuments and was supervising architect for WPA restoration projects in Philadelphia for several years. He also served as Vice President of the Philadelphia Chapter and Recorder in the late 1930s. He joined the national AIA in 1933.
Purves, Cope & Stewart continued until 1943, when Cope again left Philadelphia to aid war victims. He served with the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Association in Europe, north Africa and Asia until 1947, when he returned to independent practice in Philadelphia. Between 1954 and 1956, he was a designer in the office of Childs & Smith in Chicago, and then joined Shepley, Bulfinch, Richardson & Abbott in Boston, where he remained until the early 1960s. He resided in the Boston area for the rest of his life, practicing independently with an office in Lincoln, Massachusetts in the 1960s and 1970s.
Emily T. Cooperman.
Clubs and Membership Organizations
- Philadelphia Art Alliance
- Library Co.
- American Institute of Architects (AIA)
- City Parks Association
- University Barge
- Le Coin d'Or
- University of Pennsylvania
- Northeast Manual Training School
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