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As successors to Fraser, Furness & Hewitt, partners Frank Furness and George W. Hewitt have been studied more as part of the Furness legacy than as a celebration of Hewitt's role in the firm. Part of this is due to the account left by Chicago architect Louis Sullivan, whose Autobiography of an Idea (reprinted 1956) described Furness as the creative motivator of the firm while allowing Hewitt to assume a role as a more typical Victorian architect influenced by English precedent. However, as George E. Thomas has pointed out, Sullivan "accorded both men roles as designers."

During these years many of the office's commissions reflect the influence of Richard Morris Hunt on the young Furness. Chief among the works of the firm which follow this influence is the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts Building, Broad and Cherry streets, Philadelphia (1871-76). Already present in the firm was Allen Evans and to him is attributed the Alexander J. Cassatt house ("Cheswold," c. 1872), on Cheswold Lane, Haverford, PA (demolished, except for gatehouse). Specifically attributed to Hewitt's work in the firm is the Memorial church of the Holy Comforter, 19th and Titan streets, Philadelphia (1874).

From the building list compiled by recent biographers, it is apparent that members of the firm operated somewhat independently, accounting for the disparity of styles that issue from Furness & Hewitt during these years. In 1875 the partners went their separate ways. Hewitt would establish a firm with his brother, G. W. and W. D. Hewitt; Furness would labor on independently. In 1881 he would acknowledge the role of Allen Evans by revising the name of the office to Furness & Evans.

Written by Sandra L. Tatman.

School Affiliations

  • Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts

 

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