John J. Deery was born in Philadelphia to James F. and Jane (or Ann) O'Brien Deery. By 1863, the year his father died,he has entered Girard College and then first appears in the Philadelphia city directories from 1870 to 1874 as a stairbuilder. From 1875-77 he is listed as a draftsman, with an office at 5l N. 6th Street, the same address as that of Edwin F. Durang
, the highly successful architect of Catholic church projects who had succeeded John Carver
in those same offices. By 1879 Deery is listed as an architect in his own office at 1028 Chestnut Street. He then continues to be listed as an architect in the city directories through 1909, with his only collaborative efforts conducted under the name of Deery & Keerl
, with engineer James S. Keerl
, during the years 1885 to 1886. Following the lead of his mentor, Edwin F. Durang, Deery's practice concentrated on ecclesiastical projects, and by 1888 was so successful in New York City that he opened an office in that city and proceeded to divide his time between there and Philadelphia from 1888 through 1894. As part of his connection to that city, Deery participated in the St. John the Divine Cathedral competition.
In addition to Catholic commissions, Deery participated in the design of several baseball fields, including those for Philadelphia (1887, the Baker Bowl), Chicago (unbuilt due to the players' strike), New York (1889, the Polo Grounds first grandstand) and Boston (1888, the South End grounds.
In 1894 it appears that Deery closed his New York office because he was a candidate for the post of Architect of Public Buildings. Certainly by the 1890s Deery had become involved in public issues such as rapid transit, water purification, and sewage, judging by the reports and lectures which he began to present at that time.
Deery joined the national AlA in 1884 and was elected a fellow in 1889. He was active in the Philadelphia Chapter of the AlA as well, serving as vice-president in 1888. His interest in the education of young architects led him to participate as a critic, at least from 1882 to 1883, along with T.P. Chandler in the architectural drawing classes offered at the Spring Garden Institute.
VITAL INFORMATION FOR THIS BIOGRAPHY WAS CONTRIBUTED BY RICHARD TOURANGEAU, A MEMBER OF THE SOCIETY FOR AMERICAN BASEBALL RESEARCH.