Franklin D. Edmunds combined his architectural career with equally successful ventures as politician and clubman. His father, Henry Reeves Edmunds, was president of the Philadelphia Board of Public Education from 1902 until 1917, and this relationship affected Edmunds's prospects as a young architect. F. D. Edmunds graduated from Central High School in 1893 and from the University of Pennsylvania with his degree in architecture in 1897. In 1898 he returned to the University following a summer in Europe in order to take post-graduate courses and in that same year became a draftsman with D. K. Boyd, a position which lasted until 1901. During the years with Boyd, Edmunds continued his studies by taking life drawing and costume classes at the Pennsylvania Museum and School of Industrial Art.
In 1901 Edmunds switched to Guy King's office and then from 1902 to 1906 worked for G. W. and W. D. Hewitt, combining that position with work in the Architectural Department of Central High School's evening program. His involvement with Central High School continued through 1912, but he left the Hewitts in 1906 in order to accept a position as assistant draftsman for the Philadelphia Board of Public Education, not a surprising move in the light of his father's position with the Board. In 1911 Edmunds was promoted to assistant to the Superintendant of the Department, a position in which he would remain until 1924.
Upon his retirement from the Architectural Department, Edmunds could devote more time to his independent office, which he had established in the Real Estate Trust Building in 1914. As an independent architect, Edmunds specialized in residences and, of course, schools. He worked in association with the Hewitts on the Lehigh branch of the Free Library and with Benjamin Rush Stevens on the Manayunk branch. He also associated with Charles Barton Keen on the Aronimink Golf Club in Newtown Square, PA.
Concurrent with his pursuit of the architectural profession, Edmunds also was extremely activie in political, business, and club functions. In 1908, along with Virgil Johnson, another architect from the Board of Public Education, he established the Architectural Post Card Company, a venture which he combined with his favorite hobby, photography, and his love of travel. During his lifetime he made several trips abroad and within the continental United States, traveling to Europe (1897 and 1909), the Pacific coast (1899), Canada (1900 and 1910), Mexico (1902), the Mediterranean (1903), Yellowstone National Park and Alaska (1905), the West Indies (1906), England (1907), and Bermuda (1913). In addition to providing material for post cards, these trips also supplied him with information and images for his many lectures and for his writing.
After Edmunds married Sue Price Paxton of Millbourne, PA, in 1909, he became active in the political structure of the Borough of Millbourne, serving as Chief of the Bureau of Building Inspectors (1915-1917), member of the borough council (1918-1921), member of the Millbourne Fire Association (1911 to 1930), justice of the peace (1925-1931), and burgess (1930 until his death).
All of these activities did not prevent the industrious Edmunds from publishing a multi-volume history of the public school buildings of Philadelphia, an invaluable and amply illustrated aid for architectural historians; nor did it prevent him from joining and serving a great number of clubs and boards in the Philadelphia area, such as the T-Square Club, the Philadelphia Chapter of the AIA and the national AIA, the Union League, the City History Society, and the Cape May Historical and Genealogical Society, to name only a few. For many years he was also a member of the board of directors of the elementary schools of the Society of Friends and the board of trustees for Friends Central School.
Sandra L. Tatman.
Clubs and Membership Organizations
- Historical Society of Pennsylvania (HSP)
- Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts
- American Institute of Architects (AIA)
- Philadelphia Chapter, AIA
- T-Square Club
- Union League of Philadelphia
- Cape May Historical and Genealogical Society
- National Geographic Society
- Colonial Society
- Sons of the Revolution
- Penn Athletic Club
- University of Pennsylvania
- Pennsylvania Museum and School of Industrial Art
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