Only scattered information is available regarding the early career and training of architect Rowland W. Boyle, but it is apparent from the projects documented by the Philadelphia Real Estate Record and Builders Guide and Philadelphia building permits that he pursued an active practice, concentrating on Catholic institutional buildings, including schools, convents, hospitals, and churches. Boyle's first appearance in Philadelphia city directories as an architect occurs in 1885, when he resides at 1607 Bainbridge Street, an address shared by several others of the Boyle family, all engaged in the trade of plasterer. The only record of his education is a note in the roll books for the Franklin Institute Drawing School, where he is cited as attending the Free Hand Drawing class for 1888 and 1889. Another clue to his training can be found in a letter which he submitted for the competition for the design of the First Baptist Church in Philadelphia. Written in 1898, the letter states that Boyle has been "engaged in making drawings for churches for the past 15 years" and that he has "made the drawings for Mr. Durang . . ." There follows a list of several churches designed by E. F. Durang on which Boyle had worked while in the Durang office, including Our Lady of Mercy (2141 North Broad Street, 1895) and Nativity Church (Allegheny Avenue and Belgrade Street, 1894). 1898 also marks the first year that Boyle's city directory listing includes an independent office address at 1208 Chestnut Street, close to E. F. Durang, whose office was at 1200 Chestnut in 1898.
Presumably by 1898, Boyle had launched his own firm; but he retained some ties to his family of plasterers for from 1900 to 1907 he shares office space with C. Dixon Boyle, probably a relative, who was listed as a plasterer for all of those years, except 1903, when he also becomes an architect.
From the sparse evidence available it would appear that Boyle obtained some formal training in architecture at the Franklin Institute, but that his apprenticeship with E. F. During, who was then one of the most prolific of Catholic church architects working in Philadelphia, helped establish him as a competing Catholic church architect. Boyle's son, James F. Boyle, continued his father's tradition with his own firm, Henon & Boyle, which also built upon ties to the Catholic church.
Sandra L. Tatman.
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