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Born: 6/10/1868, Died: 10/5/1942

Virgil L. Johnson spent most of his professional career as an architect and structural engineer for the Philadelphia Board of Public Education. He was born in Mannsville, NY, the son of Levi and Harriet C. (Baker) Johnson and attended Adams Collegiate Institute in Adams, NY. He then spent nearly thre years as a draftsman in New York before coming to Philadelphia and entering the University of Pennsylvania, where he received a Certificate of Proficiency in Architecture in 1898. He then spent two and one-half years as a draftsman for Cope & Stewardson before moving to Washington, DC, where he worked as a draftsman for the U.S. Treasury Department for 18 months. At least by 1907 he was employed by the Philadelphia Board of Public Education as an architectural draftsman. He remained with the Board until his retirement in 1937, serving as the chief structural engineer for over 150 public school buildings. By 1910/11 Johnson and Franklin D. Edmunds, another University of Pennsylvania graduate employed by the Board, had also established the Architectural Post Card Co., which published some 11 series of postcards.

Johnson was an active member of the T-Square Club and joined the AIA in 1920. In addition, he held membership in the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, the Sons of the American Revolution, the Engineers Club, and the Society of Municipal Engineers, which awarded him a medal in 1933. For many years Johnson taught architectural drawing at both Central High School and the Central Branch of the YMCA in Philadelphia.

Written by Sandra L. Tatman.

Clubs and Membership Organizations

  • Engineers Club
  • Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts
  • American Institute of Architects (AIA)
  • Philadelphia Chapter, AIA
  • T-Square Club
  • Society of Municipal Engineers
  • Sons of the Revolution

School Affiliations

  • University of Pennsylvania
  • Central High School


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