Prolific and versatile, Walter T. Karcher was born in Philadelphia, the son of James D. and Marion (Bullen) Karcher. After graduating from Northeast High School in 1897, Karched received his B.S. in Architecture with honors from the University of Pennsylvania in 1901. He first went to New York City, where, at age 20, he was employed by Carrere & Hastings; however, his design and rendering abilities had already brought him some recognition; and he received an invitation from Emmanuel L. Masqueray, on the recommendation of W. Welles Bosworth, to join the design staff for the Louisiana Purchase Exposition. Returning to office work after that exposition, Karcher also returned to Philadelphia, where he worked in various offices, but chiefly for Price & McLanahan and John T. Windrim. In 1905 he won the University of Pennsylvania Alumni Traveling Scholarship and consequently enrolled at the American Academy in Rome and also undertook some study in the Atelier Duquesne at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris.
When he returned to Philadelphia in 1906, Karcher again worked for Price & McLanahan but also spend some time in the office of Horace Trumbauer, who, no doubt, would have been attracted by the young man's Ecole training. In 1910 Karcher and classmate Livingston Smith, who had also worked for Carrere & Hastings in New York, as well as Horace Trumbauer in Philadelphia, and who had also attended the Atelier Duquesne, established Karcher & Smith, an office which would survive until Karcher's death in 1953.
Karcher was a member of the AIA and of its Philadelphia Chapter. In addition, he held membership in the T-Square Club and studied in its atelier for three years.
Sandra L. Tatman.
Clubs and Membership Organizations
- American Institute of Architects (AIA)
- Philadelphia Chapter, AIA
- T-Square Club
- University of Pennsylvania
- Ecole des Beaux-Arts
- Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts
- American Academy in Rome
- Northeast High School
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