[Cope and Stewardson's Office]
Group photo of Cope & Stewardson Firm
Restoration architect Elliston P. Bissell was born in Philadelphia, the son of Frederick Meade and Sarah (Corbit) Bissell. He attended Germantown Academy, 1881-1883, and the Episcopal Academy, 1883-1889, then studied at the Pennsylvania Museum and School of Industrial Art (1892/93) and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with his B.S. in Architecture in 1893. He went immediately into the office of Cope & Stewardson, one of Philadelphia's foremost late nineteenth-century firms, where he remained until 1900. In 1900 he and his cousin Robeson Lea Perot set up their own office under the name Perot & Bissell. This lasted until 1904, when Bissell began working independently. On 1 November 1906, he and John P. B. Sinkler established Bissell & Sinkler. From 1914-1916, Marmaduke Tilden was also associated with them, so that the name changed to Bissell, Sinkler & Tilden. This relationship with Sinkler continued until Bissell's retirement from the firm in 1936.
During World War I, Bissell & Sinkler had been part of the Emergency Fleet Housing Corporation efforts, hired to design and construct villages for industrial workers required for the war effort. As part of this effort, the partnership designed Brooklawn and the Noreg Village in Gloucester, NJ, and Sun Hill Village in Chester, PA. During the 1930s, Bissell and Sinkler both became interested in the restoration of historic buildings, with Bissell serving as a member of the National Committee for the Preservation of Historic Monuments. From 1932-1936 he also chaired the Pennsylvania State survey of historic buildings; and following his retirement from the firm, he was actively involved in the restoration of Elfreth's Alley in Philadelphia and in the restoration of Independence Square. As Richard Webster has pointed out in his history of the HABS effort, in December, 1933 Bissell became District Officer for Eastern Pennsylvania and was given a team of 42 in order to launch efforts in Philadelphia. Under his aegis, efforts were directed to Germantown, and Grumblethorp, Wyck, and other properties along Germantown Avenue were recorded.
Bissell was a member of the AIA and was elected to fellowship status in 1919.
Sandra L. Tatman.
Clubs and Membership Organizations
- Historical Society of Pennsylvania (HSP)
- American Institute of Architects (AIA)
- Philadelphia Chapter, AIA
- T-Square Club
- University of Pennsylvania
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