Sydney E. Martin enjoyed a long and fruitful career in Philadelphia's architectural community, lasting from the early days of Beaux-Arts influenced designs into more modern times. He was born in Philadelphia and raised in the Fox Chase neighborhood. After graduating from Central Manual Training School in 1902, he studied architecture at the University of Pennsylvania and received his B.S. in 1908. After graduation he worked for two years for Thomas, Churchman & Molitor and then spent a year traveling in Europe, chiefly to Italy, Germany, France, and England. On his return to Philadelphia Martin entered Day & Klauder, where he remained until June, 1912, when he opened an office at 1001 Chestnut Street with a friend from his days with Thomas, Churchman & Molitor, Donald M. Kirkpatrick. Kirkpatrick soon went off to Europe himself, however, after winning the Paris Prize of 1912; but when he returned in 1914, the two architects resumed their working relationship, using the name Martin & Kirkpatrick. By 1919 the young architects had been joined by their old mentor Walter H. Thomas, and the firm continued under the name Thomas, Martin, & Kirkpatrick until 1931 when Kirkpatrick returned to Europe to study etching. Thereafter, Thomas & Martin continued until 1941, when Thomas retired. Martin then worked independently from 1941 until 1954. In 1954 he was joined by two younger architects: Harry Gordon Stewart and Robert Warren Noble. The new firm was dubbed Martin, Stewart & Noble. In 1962 this firm added another partner, Robert Allan Class. Martin continued as senior partner of the firm until his retirement in 1965.
Martin became a Fellow of the AIA in 1936 and served as the President of the Philadelphia Chapter in 1940-1942. He was a trustee of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, president of the Fairmount Park Art Association (1943-1954), and held numerous memberships in local organizations. Many honors also came to Martin during his lifetime, including the University of Pennsylvania Alumni Award of Merit in 1941 and an Honorary degree of Doctor of Fine Arts awarded by the University in 1957.
Sandra L. Tatman.
Clubs and Membership Organizations
- Historical Society of Pennsylvania (HSP)
- American Institute of Architects (AIA)
- American Philosophical Society
- Carpenters' Company of Philadelphia
- Independence National Park Commission
- Architects Advisory Committee for the Restoration of Independence Hall
- Philadelphia Museum of Art
- University of Pennsylvania
- Central Manual Training School
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