Although Harrison Albright was born in the Philadelphia area and began his career here, he transferred his practice to both Charleston, WV and to Los Angeles, CA successfully and achieved more fame for his contributions at those locations than for this early work while still in Philadelphia. Albright was born in Shoemakertown (now Ogontz), PA, the son of Joseph and Louise Adele (Jeannot) Albright. He was educated in the public schools, Pierce College of Business, and Spring Garden Institute in Philadelphia, where he won second prize in the drawings competition of 1883 judged by T. P. Chandler and John J. Deery. Albright spent six years in apprenticeship, four years with George T. Pearson and two with Cabot, Chandler & Boyden.
By April, 1886 Albright had established an independent office at 508 Walnut Street; and there his career flourished, with many residences in the Oak Lane area of the city, where he also lived, as well as the police, fire, and patrol houses for the City at 20th Street and Long Lane (now Point Breeze Avenue). By 1887 Albright's practice extended into New Jersey; and by 1890, when he married Susie J. Bemus of Ripley Crossing, NY, Albright had established a branch office at 485 Main Street in Buffalo, NY, so that he could oversee the pavilion and boat-landing which he had designed for a site near Wilson Harbor on Lake Ontario.
1890, unfortunately, was not significant only for his successes outside of Philadelphia. In December of that year the Philadelphia Real Estate Record and Builders Guide reported that Albright had been exonerated in a trial for conspiracy to defraud a client, one E. N. Manning of Elm Station. Perhaps this adverse publicity persuaded Albright that it was time to move on from Philadelphia, for by 1891 he had established an office in Charleston, WV, where he remained until 1905, when he moved to Los Angeles. Albright's designs in West Virginia included civic, institutional, residential, and collegiate work; but for the last several years of his career in West Virginia, he concentrated on the design and construction of fireproof hotels, including the Richmond Hotel in Richmond, VA, and the West Baden Springs Hotel in West Baden, IN (now Northwood Institute of Indiana), which until the construction of the New Orleans Superdome, boasted the largest dome of its type in the world.
Albright's office in Los Angeles opened on 28 March 1905; and his career in California, where he resided until his death, built upon his experience with fireproof hotels, most notably the General Grant Hotel in San Diego, and included work for the Santa Fe Railroad. He experimented early with reinforced concrete and held the distinction of employing John Lloyd Wright, son of Frank Lloyd Wright, in his firm at the time of the design of the Golden West Hotel, 720 South 4th Street, San Diego. Further connections to Frank Lloyd Wright included the use of Alfonzo Ianelli for the cast concrete sculpture at the Golden West Hotel; in 1914 Wright used Ianelli to create sculpture for the Midway Gardens in Chicago.
While in California Albright maintained membership in the Southern California chapter of the AIA.
Sandra L. Tatman.
Clubs and Membership Organizations
- American Institute of Architects (AIA)
- Southern California Chapter ( AIA)
- Los Angeles Athletic Club
- Jonathan Club
- Pierce College of Business
- Spring Garden Institute
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