Will Decker was born in Covington, KY and educated in the public schools of Evansville, IN. His early training in architecture came in the office of English architect Joseph Curzon in Indianapolis, where he worked until 1876. Attracted by the Centennial Exposition, Decker moved to Philadelphia and later accepted a position with millwrights Haas & Parsons (Edward Haas and J.D. Parsons) as a draftsman, making plans for brewery and malt-house machinery. By 1879 Decker was prepared to leave Haas & Parsons in order to pursue an architectural career on his own, and in the 1880 Philadelphia city directory he is listed as an architect, 618 Callowhill Street. The earliest projects noted for Decker in the Philadelphia Real Estate Record and Builders Guide reflect the experience that he had gained with Haas & Parsons and include a number of industrial structures, but equally well represented are commercial and institutional projects, such as the Hebrew Educational Society Building at the Southwest corner of 10th and Carpenter Streets and the Betz Building at the corner of Broad Street and South Penn Square. According to an account in Philadelphia and Popular Philadelphians, "Mr. Decker makes it a rule to give his personal attention to all the details in his profession, by which he attributes his success in buildng up a lucrative and increasing business of which he feels justly proud."
According to family-related information, Decker was injured in a fall from one of his buildings around 1900, became paralyzed and was forced to retire from his practice.
Sandra L. Tatman.
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