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Joseph M. Huston
Local ID #: HUSTON
King, Moses. Philadelphia and Notable Philadelphians. New York: Blanchard Press, Isaac H. Blanchard Co., 1901., p. 87

Born: 2/23/1866, Died: 1940

Controversial Pennsylvania State Capitol architect Joseph M. Huston was born in Philadelphia, the son of Robert Huston. He graduated from Princeton University in 1892; and following a period with Frank Furness, Huston launched his own firm in 1894, experiencing moderate early success, chiefly in the design of residences. From this early period also dates the Witherspoon Building for the Presbyterian Board of Publication (Walnut and Juniper streets, Philadelphia, 1895). Then, in 1901, Huston entered and won the Pennsylvania State Capitol competition, which had already sparked some controversy among the members of the T-Square Club, who called for his resignation, and the Philadelphia Chapter of the AIA, which had forbidden its members to participate. Unfortunately for Huston, this was only the beginning of the scandal which surrounded both the competition and its product, his design. Huston eventually was charged with conspiracy to defraud the State of Pennsylvania by accepting bribes for the work on the Capitol and by charging the State more than was proper for the contracts required to complete the structure. Convicted on 29 April 1910, and after an unsuccessful attempt to mount a new trial, Huston was forced to pay a fine of $500 and costs, and he entered Eastern Penitentiary on 1 June 1911 "for not less than six months and not more than two years" (Evening Bulletin 1 June 1911). He served six months and 20 days in prison but was paroled on 20 December 1911 and returned to an architectural practice which was significantly affected by his legal difficulties.

In 1920 Stanford Lewis, his longtime silent partner and the manager of his firm, became an active partner in Huston & Lewis; and a few projects can be identified for the period from 1920 to 1929. When Lewis moved to Lansdowne, PA, in 1930, this firm appears to have dissolved; and Huston retired.

Written by Sandra L. Tatman.

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