[Two Sketches in England]
While scattered bits of information exist for the early education and training of John J. Bissegger, his life and career following a move to Washington, DC, remain unclear. Bissegger was educated in the Philadelphia public schools, attending Central High School-- which he left in September, 1885. He also attended the Pennsylvania Museum and School of Industrial Art from 1887 to 1889 and the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in 1890. He is listed as a member of the T-Square Club as early as 1889, but does not appear in the Philadelphia city directories until 1892, when he is cited as an architect. In that year he also joined the Philadelphia Chapter of the AIA as a junior member, sharing an address with the firm of Cope & Stewardson; therefore, it is assumed that he began his architectural career with training in that office.
According to the "Circular of the Committee on Instruction" for the Pennsylvania Museum and School of Industrial Art, Bissegger was employed as a draftsman in the office of F. L. and W. L. Price during 1893/94 and with E. V. Seeler during 1898/99. Since none of Bissegger's directory listings indicate an office address, this cannot be confirmed; and his last directory note occurs in 1900. By 1903-1904 Bissegger was employed in Washington, DC, but had returned to Philadelphia by 1905, again according to the "Circular" issued by the Pennsylvania Museum and School of Industrial Art, where it is noted that he is a draftsman in the office of Price and McLanahan. Information discovered by George Thomas would prove that Bissegger played an important role in the Price firms; but unfortunately, Bissegger does not appear in the Philadelphia city directories for that time, nor was a later reference found for him in the city directories.
Bissegger distinguished himself among T-Square Club members by winning the year's record for most prizes in the local competitions in both 1891 and 1892. In 1899 the Philadelphia Real Estate Record and Builders Guide announced that Bissegger had won both first and second prizes in a T-Square Club competition for the best sketch suggested by a quotation from a poem, and his drawings are published in the T-Square Club/Philadelphia Chapter, AIA annual catalogs for 1898 ("Workingmen's Houses" and "A Suburban Church"), 1899/1900 ("A Sketch for a Country House") and for 1900/1901 ("A Hunting Lodge"). While in Washington, DC, his drawings for an "Entrance to a Tomb/A Sepulchral Order" were illustrated in the 1904 Washington Architectural Club catalog. In this catalog the drawings are noted as part of the Beaux Arts Society Competition, and Bissegger lists himself as member of the Atelier Pietsch (presumably Theodore Wells Pietsch).
Sandra L. Tatman.
Clubs and Membership Organizations
- Philadelphia Chapter, AIA
- T-Square Club
- Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts
- Pennsylvania Museum and School of Industrial Art
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