William S. Covell was born in New York City. He studied at Columbia University, graduating in 1893 and furthered his studies at the American Academy in Rome from 1896 to 1898. In 1922 he appears in the Philadelphia city directories as an architect, and by 1925 at least he has become Acting City Architect for the City of Philadelphia. He then succeeded John Molitor as City Architect in 1928. His reign as City Architect actually returned the city's assignation of architectural work to a previous system which Molitor had discarded as inefficient and burdensome. Under Molitor's tenure city commissions had not been the sole responsibility of the City Architect and his team. Instead Molitor, following the suggestion of his predecessor, John P. B. Sinkler, had acted as an assignment agent, commissioning private sector architects to undertake the many projects for fire and police stations, city parks, and park structures which the City Architect's office heretofore had been forced to design and construct. Following Molitor, however, Covell returned to the old policy, with the result that by 1932 the City established a Bureau of Architecture, replacing the old City Architect position. Covell's last appearance in the Philadelphia city directories is in 1930, when he is still listed as City Architect..
Coveil joined the AlA in 1925, with an endorsement by both John F. Harbeson and Walter Karcher.
Sandra L. Tatman.
Clubs and Membership Organizations
- American Institute of Architects (AIA)
- Philadelphia Chapter, AIA
- American Academy in Rome
- Columbia University
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