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[Appreciation of Donald Morris Kirkpatrick From Philadelphia Chapter, AIA]
AIA Collection, Athenaeum of Philadelphia.
Local ID #: 004-M-003
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Born: 3/17/1887, Died: 4/1966

Donald M. Kirkpatrick was born in Easton, PA, the son of Pennsylvania Attorney General William S. Kirkpatrick and Elizabeth H. (Jones) Kirkpatrick. After graduating from Easton High School in 1904, Kirkpatrick matriculated at Lafayette College in Easton, gaining his A.B. degree in 1908. Hen then studied architecture at the University of Pennsylvania, graduating with his B.S. in Architecture in 1911, a time when the influence of Paul P. Cret was perhaps at its strongest at the University. Kirkpatrick's talents in rendering and design were recognized while he was still at the University, and he was the recipient of the Arthur Spayd Brooke medal. More important, however, in 1912 he was awarded the Paris Prize, making him only the ninth recipient of this prestigious award. (Kirkpatrick's winning design was for "A Governmental Printing, Lithographing and Engineering Establishment.") The Paris Prize enabled Kirkpatrick to travel to France, enroll at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, and study in the Atelier Bernier. He remained in Paris for two years, and upon his return became patron of the T-Square Club atelier (1914-1915).

Kirkpatrick's practical apprenticeship with Thomas, Churchman & Molitor had been served during the brief time between his graduation from the University and the award of the Paris Prize. By June, 1912, Kirkpatrick had established his own firm with Sydney E. Martin, calling the office Martin & Kirkpatrick. Obviously, his sojourn in Paris interrupted his efforts with this partnership; but when he returned, he resumed his association with Martin. By 1919 the senior Walter H. Thomas's name had been added to the office, making it Thomas, Martin & Kirkpatrick and thus reaping several of the projects which Thomas had begun under the aegis of Thomas, Churchman & Molitor. According to Kirkpatrick's application for membership in the Philadelphia Chapter of the AIA, his chief interest lay in residential design; and the firm was responsible for a number of residences in the Philadelphia area.

In 1931, however, Kirkpatrick returned to Paris to pursue study of his other interests, etching and watercolor painting. While in Paris this time, he concentrated on etching with Edouard Leon and achieved a measure of success with this endeavor. On he returned to the States this time, Kirkpatrick became assistant professor of design at the University of Pennsylvania, a position which he held from 1931 to 1934. In 1958 Kirkpatrick retired to Bermuda, where he was living at the time of his death.

Written by Sandra L. Tatman.

Clubs and Membership Organizations

  • Philadelphia Art Alliance
  • American Institute of Architects (AIA)
  • Philadelphia Chapter, AIA
  • T-Square Club
  • St. Andrew's Society
  • Society of Beaux Arts Architects
  • Print Club

School Affiliations

  • University of Pennsylvania
  • Ecole des Beaux-Arts
  • Lafayette College


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