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[Cornell University]
An Auditorium for Cornell University, John Stewardson Scholarship
(W. W. Sharpley, c. 1906)
AIA/T-Square Yearbook, p. 45-46 (1906)
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Born: 10/3/1879, Died: 8/11/1935

Well-trained in the Beaux Arts method, but still an architect who did not lead his own office, Walter W. Sharpley, son of Albert F. and Margaret E. Sharpley, was born in Philadelphia. He attended Mt. Vernon Grammar School and graduated from Central High School before obtaining his Certificate of Proficiency in Architecture from the University of Pennsylvania in 1901 and supplementing that study with classes at both Drexel Institute and the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. In these formative years Sharpley also gained Beaux-Arts style training through his contacts with Paul A. Davis and Paul P. Cret, probably in the T-Square Club Atelier. Sharpley's practical office experience had begun in May, 1897 when he was emplyed by Louis C. Hickman, with whom he remained until 1899. During his University career Sharpley worked during summers (1900 and 1901) for Cope & Stewardson, but after graduation he moved to New York, where he worked from 1901 through February, 1902 for Carrere & Hastings, attending the Atelier Masqueray at the same time.

In February, 1902 Sharpley found employment with the Louisiana Purchase Exposition Company and remained with them through May, 1903. Returning to Philadelphia in 1904, he was employed successively by Henry L. Reinhold and Walter Smedley. In 1906 he won the John Stewardson Traveling Scholarship for his design for "An Auditorium Building for a University" and subsequently traveled to Paris, studying for three months in the Atelier Duquesne and later attending the American Academy in Rome. Upon his return to Philadelphia in 1907, he was again employed by Walter Smedley, but by 1915 the Philadelphia Real Estate Record and Builders Guide could cite independent projects for Sharpley. However, according to the Rankin & Kellogg payroll records, that office employed him in summer, 1917 on the U. S. Marine Barracks design. Sharpley retired in 1933 due to ill health and continued to reside in Haddonfield, NJ, where he had made his home since 1913.

Although it is somewhat difficult to pin down Sharpley's independent work, on his membership record for the Philadelphia Chapter, AIA, he cites the fireproof wing for the Hotel Dennis in Atlantic City, NJ; a six-storey warehouse for H. O. Wilbur & Sons, North Third Street, Philadelphia; Abbotts Alderney Dairies, 31st and Chestnut Street; Woolman Dairies, 4705 Lancaster Avenue; the hydrotherapeutics Building for the Friends Asylum for the Insane at Frankford in Philadelphia; a loft building for Charles E. Morris at Seventh and Arch streets; and the out-patient building for Cooper Hospital in Camden, NJ. Most of these buildings are actually part of the output of the Smedley firm. Sharpley's New York Times obituary records other building for him, including the Haddonfield Borough Hall and the Camden Club. Documentation for the Camden Club has been discovered in 1920 issues of the Philadelphia Real Estate Record and Builders Guide, where other projects in New Jersey are also noted.

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

School Affiliations

  • University of Pennsylvania
  • Ecole des Beaux-Arts
  • Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts
  • Drexel Institute
  • American Academy in Rome


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