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Born: 4/4/1892, Died: 4/18/1974

William Heyl Thompson was born in Birdsboro, PA. He graduated from the Pennsylvania Museum and School of Industrial Art in 1913, but he had begun working for Frank R. Watson, church architect, in 1910. By 1911 he was associated with Wilson Eyre, and he remained there through 1917. From 1918 to 1921 Thompson disappeared from Philadelphia city directories, presumably due to World War I activity; but the Clyde Shuler Collection at The Athenaeum of Philadelphia preserves a project signed by both Thompson and Shuler for alterations to houses on Cypress Street in Philadelphia. By 1922, however, he had returned to Frank R. Watson, this time in the firm of Watson, Edkins & Thompson, with George Edkins. This relationship lasted until 1936 when Edkins moved to New Jersey. Then in 1940 Watson died, but Thompson retained the office name of Watson & Thompson through 1948. In 1948 Thompson continued independent practice, but under his name alone. Most of Thompson's independent work continued in the frame set by his association with Watson, i.e., the design of churches. On his own he designed St. James Episcopal Church in Newport, DE (1949) as well as the Calvary Episcopal Church in Wilmington, DE (1946).

Thompson joined the AIA in 1923.

Written by Sandra L. Tatman.

Clubs and Membership Organizations

  • Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts
  • American Institute of Architects (AIA)
  • Philadelphia Chapter, AIA
  • T-Square Club
  • Athenaeum of Philadelphia
  • National Cathedral Association
  • Church Architectural Guild of America

School Affiliations

  • Pennsylvania Museum and School of Industrial Art


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