Horace W. Castor was born in the Frankford neighborhood of Philadelphia. His father, Thomas Elwood Castor, carried on the carriage works which had been begun by grandfather Thomas Castor. His mother was Mary Jane (Rymond) Castor. He received his early education in the Philadelphia public schools, graduating with the first class of Central Manual Training School in June, 1888. Immediately after graduation he entered the office of Frank C. Miller, where he remained through 1891. In that year he established his own firm with a Frankford office and continued to practice alone through 1895, when he joined George R. Stearns in the center city Philadelphia office under the name Stearns & Castor. This firm remained in operation through 1916, when Castor became involved in a controversial entry in the competition for the Masonic Home to be erected in Elizabethtown, PA. As a result, Castor resigned from the AlA, and the firm was dissolved. Castor, however, continued to practice independently on his own and was reinstated in the AlA in 1919.
The work of Stearns & Castor was characterized by a strong interest in structural engineering on the part of George R. Stearns, leading to several successful industrial, commercial, and hospital designs. Castor's membership in the Masonic Order led to their receiving a number of Masonic projects as well, including the Philadelphia Consistory at Broad and Race streets. It is not surprising, therefore, to find Castor himself replacing that building in 1925 with the new Scottish Rite Temple. Other projects from his long period of independent work include the Maternity Building for the Jewish Hospital at York and Tabor Roads in Philadelphia and a group of buildings for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania at Pennhurst State School.
Castor held a number of memberships beyond those in the Philadelphia Chapter of the AlA and the national AlA. These included the Illuminating Engineers Society, the Union League, the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, the Pennsylvania Society of the Sons of the Revolution, and the Historical Society of Frankford. Extremely interested in local history, Castor wrote several articles on Frankford in general and on the history of his family in Frankford in particular.
Sandra L. Tatman.
Clubs and Membership Organizations
- Historical Society of Pennsylvania (HSP)
- Sons of the Revolution
- American Institute of Architects (AIA)
- Philadelphia Chapter, AIA
- Union League of Philadelphia
- Illuminating Engineers Society
- Historical Society of Frankford
- Central Manual Training School
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