James Hatfield was born in Vienna, Austria, the son of Dr. Charles J. Hatfield of Chestnut Hill in Philadelphia. The younger Hatfield remained a life-long resident of that neighborhood. He attended Chestnut Hill Academy and the Hill School in Pottstown, PA (probably at the same time as his future partner, Briton Martin) before completing an undergraduate degree in 1924 at Princeton. Hatfield entered the University of Pennsylvania's architecture program the following fall, and remained there through 1926, joining the Delta Psi fraternity. He took a leave of absence to study at the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris in 1927-1928, and returned to Penn to complete his B.Arch. in 1929. After graduating he worked as a draftsman with Paul Cret (1929-30) and then with John T. Windrim (1930-34). In 1934 he joined the national AIA and the architecture department of the Philadelphia Savings Fund Society, two years after the completion of the landmark new building at 12th and Market Streets. He remained with PSFS until World War II.
During World War II, Hatfield was a lieutenant commander on the USS Tisdale in the Pacific and was awarded the Bronze Star for his service. After the war, he practiced independently, although he frequently worked in association with other architects, including Lloyd Malkus, John Lane Evans, and Edmund Krimmel, for several large projects through the 1950s. In 1956, Hatfield became a partner of Briton Martin and Theo B. White, and remained with Hatfield, Martin & White until his death.
Hatfield lived at 8007 Lincoln Drive in Chestnut Hill (designed by Edmund B. Gilchrist for developer George Woodward in 1921-2) for over 37 years. He was a consulting architect for his alma mater, Chestnut Hill Academy, and a vice-president of the school's board. He was also a consulting architect for the Colonial Club of Princeton between 1934 and 1949. Hatfield chaired the board of Philadelphia Prisons for a period, and was a member of the executive committee of the Philadelphia Chapter of the AIA (1937-8).
Emily T. Cooperman.
Clubs and Membership Organizations
- Pennsylvania Society of Architects
- American Institute of Architects (AIA)
- Philadelphia Chapter, AIA
- Philadelphia Cricket Club
- Philadelphia Club
- Military Order of Foreign Wars
- Sunnybrook Golf Club
- University of Pennsylvania
- Ecole des Beaux-Arts
- Princeton University
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