Born in Philadelphia, George H. Bickley was the son of Frederick Klett and Gertrude (Haffelfinger) Bickley. His early years were spent in Newark, NJ, where he attended grammar and high school, graduating in 1899. He then came to Philadelphia to study architecture at the University. Recognition of his abilities in design began during his undergraduate career when he won first prize in the University's third year design competition. Upon graduation in 1903 he won the Arthur Spayd Brooke Memorial Prize, which enabled him to travel to Paris and attend the Ecole des Beaux Arts. He spent his time in Paris in the Atelier Redon, and graduated with his diploma from the Ecole in June, 1907. After his return to the United States, Bickley entered the firm of Horace Trumbauer as designer, remaining there for the years 1907 to 1910. In 1911 he entered a firm founded by his classmate from the University, Clarence DeArmond. DeArmond, Ashmead & Bickley lasted as a firm until Bickley's death in 1938 following a two-month illness.
By 1910 Bickley had become one of the growing number of American Beaux-Arts graduates who would influence the next generation of architects through education. In 1910 he became instructor of design at the University of Pennsylvania's School of Fine Arts, progressing to assistant professor of design in 1914, full professor in 1922, and in 1930, vice-dean of fine arts, a post he held for three years. In the school year 1932/33, he resumed his post of professor of design, and held that until the end of the 1937/38 term.
At the University in 1902, Bickley had become a member of the Architectural Society. In 1908 he joined the T-Square Club, in 1915 the Philadelphia Chapter of the AIA, and in 1916 the national AIA. He was also a member of the Societe des Architects Diplomes par le Gouvernment, an honor accorded to Ecole des Beaux-Arts graduates.
Sandra L. Tatman.
Clubs and Membership Organizations
- American Institute of Architects (AIA)
- Philadelphia Chapter, AIA
- T-Square Club
- Societe des Architects Diplome part le Gouvernment
- University of Pennsylvania
- Ecole des Beaux-Arts
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