Arthur I. Meigs was born in Philadelphia, the son of Dr. Arthur Vincent Meigs and Mary Roberts (Browning) Meigs. He graduated from William Penn Charter School in 1899 and from Princeton University in 1903. At the end of the summer of 1903 he entered the firm of T. P. Chandler, where he remained until September, 1905, changing then to the office of E. V. Seeler in October,1905, and remaining there until June, 1906, when he and another alumnus of the Chandler firm, Walter Mellor, established the partnership of Mellor & Meigs. The partners were almost immediately successful in a practice which strongly emphasized the country residences designed in styles which were popular at the time, i.e., the Pennsylvania farmhouse,the Cotswold, and the Norman farmhouse styles. Meigs's family and social connections aided in their gaining clients both in the residential field and for clubs, such as the Princeton Charter Club and the Radnor Hunt Club. In 1916/17 George Howe joined the partners, revising the name to Mellor, Meigs & Howe and continuing the tradition which had begun with Mellor & Meigs -- the production of country residences in the eclectic styles of the 1920s.
Howe remained with the firm until 1928, when he separated from it, taking the lucrative Philadelphia Saving Fund Society account with him and later designing the landmark PSFS Building which stands at 12th & Market Streets in Philadelphia. Following Howe's defection to the cause of modern architecture, Mellor & Meigs continued quite successfully to design country houses. After Mellor's death in 1940, Meigs associated with younger architects such as Edward F. Hoffman, but he actually went into semi-retirement, chiefly finishing the works begun before Mellor's death.
When asked by the Princeton Architectural Association in 1935 to contribute "constructive suggestions for the the betterment of architectural training," Meigs responded, "Get as near as you can to the apprentice system -- for which there is no substitute." Formed in the offices of Chandler and Seeler, the career of Arthur Meigs represented American architecture moving toward a turning point, and the death of Walter Mellor in 1940 really sounded the death knell of the kind of architecture for which they were praised.
Sandra L. Tatman.
Clubs and Membership Organizations
- American Institute of Architects (AIA)
- Philadelphia Chapter, AIA
- Athenaeum of Philadelphia
- Radnor Hunt Club
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