(Broad and Cherry Streets, circa 1876; Frank Furness, architect)
Frank Furness is best remembered outside of his native city because of a brilliant, rebellious, romantic draftsman employed for a time in his architectural offices -- Louis Sullivan. He wrote of Furness in his "Autobiography of an Idea" and it is from Furness that Sullivan honed his skill as a delineator and acquired his affection for detail. In his own city, Frank Furness designed "controversial," structures but was tolerated because he had distinguished family connections; his father was a well-known Unitarian Minister and his brother a famous Shakespearean scholar. Many of his commissions must be credited to his social position -- he had also distinguished himself as a cavalry officer as well as holding the Medal of Honor for action in the Civil War -- the only American architect to have been so honored.
His career included training with Richard Morris Hunt in his atelier in New York, the first school for training professional architects in Americirca Furness also derived elements for his highly personal style from English Victorian Gothic (Rushkin and Butterfield) as well as Second Empire French styles (Labrouste and Viollet-le-Duc).
... The Pennsylvania Academy itself had occupied earlier structures. It was the first art school in the United States; the list of graduates included distinguished painters and sculptors. Thomas Eakins was a member of an outstanding faculty that has always been one of the finest professional teaching staffs. The museum collection is one of the best collections of American Art in the United States.
The Academy is one of the few surviving examples of the work of Frank Furness -- most of his great buildings have been mutilated or destroyed.
Source: copy of original National Register nomination document, 1975.
Broad Street • Market Street