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Partners Elliston Perot Bissell and John P. B. Sinkler established this partnership on 1 November 1906. As with many Philadelphia firms working at the time, Bissell & Sinkler specialized in residential building, a skill which served them well during World War I, when they were commissioned by the Emergency Fleet Housing Corporation to design villages in Gloucester, NJ (Noreg/Brooklawn Village) and Chester, PA (Sun Hill Village). Peppered among the residences which were Bissell & Sinkler's specialty were other types of construction, such as the Phi Kappa Sigma fraternity houses on both the University of Pennsylvania and University of Virginia campuses.

From 1913 to 1916 Marmaduke Tilden associated with the firm, and the name changed to Bissell, Sinkler & Tilden.

By 1920 Sinkler was combining his partnership with Bissell & Sinkler with his duties as City Architect, a position fraught with political stress since during these years the City Architect and a small band of draftsmen were responsible for most of the municipal buildings in the City (excepting libraries and hospitals). Sinkler and his team provided designs for firehouses, bandstands, park structures, even for traffic control towers. After four years Sinkler resigned and turned his attentions back to the partnership.

As early as 1926 the partners had become particularly interested in historic architecture and had participated (with R. Brognard Okie) in the reconstruction of High Street which formed the centerpiece of the Sesqui-Centennial Exposition. By the 1930s Bissell & Sinkler began to concentrate on both historic restoration and reconstruction, resulting in increased individual activities in that direction: Bissell served on several committees intended to survey and maintain historic buildings; Sinkler became the Architect for the City of Philadelphia and designed the Germantown municipal building, a replica of William Strickland's Merchants Exchange.

In a letter in The Athenaeum's biographical files (to Sandra Tatman, dated 28 December 1982), E. Perot Bissell, Jr., presents a poignant image of the firm before its dissolution in the 1930s: "In 1933 Bissell & Sinkler found little demand for residential construction and after much deliberation decided to dissolve the partnership. Great concern was felt for the welfare of the draftsmen and office staff many of whom had years of service. By great good fortune it was found that Miss Georgina Yeatman was anxious to secure an office for her practice and she took over the business and the staff in toto. This was a great relief to my father and Mr. Sinkler."

Written by Sandra L. Tatman.

 

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