The importance of T.P. Chandler to the architectural profession in late nineteenth-century Philadelphia cannot be overestimated. Not only as a conveyor of high-style design, often based on European models, but also as the founder of the University of Pennsylvania's Department of Architecture, Chandler substantially affected the architectural climate in Philadelphia and raised the role of architect to new heights of professionalism. Born in Boston, MA, and educated first in the Brookline schools, Chandler spent his freshman year at Harvard University and later studied at the Atelier Vaudremer
in Paris. After returning to the United States, Chandler worked in several Boston offices. In 1872, with the persuasion of landscape architect Robert Copeland
, then involved in the development of Ridley Park, Chandler came to Philadelphia and opened an office at 705 Sansom Street. While moving to Philadelphia enabled Chandler to capitalize on Copeland's activities in Ridley Park, it also reinforced Chandler's ties to his mother's family, the Schlatters, with grandfather William Schlatter, one of the founders of the Church of the New Jerusalem in Philadelphia, and to the DuPont family in Wilmington, DE, with whom the Schlatters had strong financial ties. Thus, with the Chandlers of New England behind him, and strong professional and familial ties in the Philadelphia and Delaware region, Chandler was successfully launched on an active architectural career. His first commissions reflect his ties to the development of Ridley Park (the Philadelphia, Wilmington & Baltimore Railroad Station on Sellers Ave., the William Smythe residence, and the Ridley Park store on Hinckley Ave.), but by 1874 he was already engaged on commissions for the DuPont family in Delaware. In addition, by 1878, Chandler had been installed as Godey's in house architect and was publishing cottage designs in Godey's Lady's Book
. Throughout his career Chandler designed a number of residences, but he became chiefly known as an ecclesiastical architect, with such major churches as the Church of the New Jerusalem at 22nd & Chestnut streets in Philadelphia, Calvary Presbyterian Church in Washington, D.C., and the First Presbyterian Church in Pittsburgh, PA, to his credit.
Chandler served as president of the Philadelphia Chapter of the AlA; he was also an early member of the national organization and received fellowship status in 1886. During the 1880s Chandler served on the Board of Trustees of the Spring Garden Institute, and, along with John Deery, judged their student exhibits of architectural drawings. His commitment to architectural education was to have even greater impact on Philadelphia's professional community in the 1890s, however, since during this time he successfully worked for the organization of the University of Pennsylvania's Department of Architecture, then part of the Towne Scientific School. He served as the Department's executive head for the school year 1890/91, but then he persuaded Warren P. Laird to move to Philadelphia in order to assume the headship. Chandler was extremely active in the general Philadelphia community as well, holding memberships in the Union League, the Philadelphia Club, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, and the Radnor Hunt Club. In addition he was a member of the Society of Mayflower Descendants and the Sons of the Revolution.