Biography

  • Frank Furness, off to Hunt's Atelier, New York, c. 1857
  • Frank Furness, c. 1859
  • Frank Furness, back from New York c. 1860
  • Frank Furness, Portrait by William Henry Furness, Jr., c. 1861
  • Frank Furness, young cavalry officer, c. 1861
  • Captain Frank Furness, c. 1862
  • Frank Furness, back from war, young professional c. 1870
  • Frank Furness, mature architect, c. 1890
  • Frank Furness, in the saddle, c. 1900
  • Frank Furness and family, c. 1900
  • Frank Furness, c. 1905
  • Frank Furness, self-caricature c. 1890

Frank Furness (1839-1912) was the son of a leading abolitionist and Unitarian minister who connected his son to the ideas and culture of New England. He received his architectural training in the New York atelier of Richard Morris Hunt. During the Civil War he served as an officer in the 6th Pennsylvania Cavalry and was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for conspicuous heroism. He opened his office in Philadelphia in 1866 and over the next forty years received nearly 1000 commissions including such masterpieces as The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (1871) and the University of Pennsylvania Library (1887). Working for a clientele of engineers, industrialists, doctors and scientists, he turned architecture away from historical sources to find new forms that served modern life. Louis Sullivan studied in his office in 1873 and was followed by other ground-breaking architects including William L. Price and George Howe. American modern design started in his practice. © George E. Thomas