The versatile William M. Campbell was born in Germantown, the son of Dr. William J. Campbell. He graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 1912 with his B.S. in Architecture, immediately beginning a four-year apprenticeship which he would serve with two of Philadelphia's best-known firms: Beaux-Arts advocate John T. Windrim (three and one-half years); colonial revivalists Bissell & Sinkler (six months). After this training, he launched his own firm, working independently for most of the duration of his career and only sharing an office on an informal basis with Frederick A. Muhlenberg in 1921.
In 1922 Campbell began a long association with the University of Pennsylvania faculty, and from 1937 to 1966, he also taught several classes at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. In addition, his friendship with architect and calligrapher Edwin H. Fetterolf, who provided the designs for a number of memorial tablets and certificates for the University, led to his own pursuit of book, tablet, and map design. Richard Webster has described one important outcome of Campbell's map work, the "Map of Old Philadelphia" (1932) which Campbell produced from measured drawings and photographs as part of a Philadelphia Chapter, AIA, committee effort chaired by D. K. Boyd.
Campbell's "Old Philadelphia" map is an indication of another, equally important, phase of his career. His interest in the history of Philadelphia architecture led him to an active role in both early HABS efforts and architectural publication. He launched the re-examination of Frank Furness by publishing an article in the Architectural Review (November, 1951) which spurred the Furness revival still much in effect. Still other publications by Campbell focused on historic preservation and lettering. Like other members of his architectural generation, such as John F. Harbeson, Campbell advocated exploring, publishing and preserving Philadelphia's historic architecture at a time when that heritage was under siege from many proponents of a new modernism.
Campbell became a member of the AlA in 1920, and he was also a member of the Philadelphia Art Alliance and the T-Square Club, serving on its house committee in 1916/17 and the education committee 1921/22.
Sandra L. Tatman.
Clubs and Membership Organizations
- American Institute of Architects (AIA)
- Philadelphia Chapter, AIA
- T-Square Club
- Philadelphia Art Alliance
- University of Pennsylvania
- Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts
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