Julian Francis Abele //
Pennsylvania Museum School of Industrial Art, Class of 1898
Julian F. Abele, 1881-1950
Portrait courtesy of Duke University Archives
Pennsylvania Museum School of Industrial Art Certificate in Architectural Drawing, 18981.
Frederick Graff Prize of $25.00 for work in architectural design, evening class students, 1898.
Abele completed the two-year course in architectural drawing and received his certificate from the Pennsylvania Museum School of Industrial Art (PMSIA) on June 9, 1898, during a commencement ceremony held in Horticultural Hall in Philadelphia's Fairmount Park. That fall he started the architecture program at the University of Pennsylvania, from which he received his bachelor of science degree in 1902. He was the first African-American to graduate from Penn's program.
The PMSIA architectural drawing program was begun as an evening course in the fall of 1892 and was taught by Julian Millard, listed in the catalog as "From Mass. Institue of Technology and University of Pennsylvania." [Source: PMSIA catalog, 1893-94, p. 10] In the PMSIA 1897-98 course catalog, Millard's name does not appear and instead James P. Jamieson is the "Instructor in Architectural Design" [Source: PMSIA catalog, 1897-98, pp. 7 and 31], thus it appears that Abele studied under Millard and Jamieson in the course of his two years.
Image at left is from the 1897-98 Circular of the School of Industrial Art of the Pennsylvania Museum showing the coursework Abele studied.
Although not publicly credited at the time, Abele is now known to have been the chief designer of the Philadelphia Museum of Art and of the Free Library of Philadelphia, among other buildings.
For more information about Abele see:
Free Library of Philadelphia: Digital Collections
Abele worked most of his career for Horace Trumbauer's firm, which designed the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Free Library of Philadelphia's main building at 19th and Vine Streets on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. The Free Library has some nice materials on Abele in their collection.
The Friends of Julian Abele Park at 22nd and Montrose Streets is currently under development. Abele grew up in the neighborhood and lived at 1515 Christian Street for many years.
Sources used to compile this information:
1. Pennsylvania Museum and School of Industrial Art. Commencement Exercises, Horticultural Hall, Thursday Evening, June 9, 1898. Page 5 lists Graff Prize (Abele's first name is incorrectly listed as Julius), page 10 lists recipients of Architectural Drawing Certificates.
2. Biographical Dictionary of Philadelphia Architects, 1700-1930 / Sandra L. Tatman, Roger W. Moss. Boston, MA: G.K. Hall, 1985. Greenfield Library REFERENCE NA 735 .P5 T28 1985
3. Philadelphia Architects and Buildings: Julian Francis Abele
The Philadelphia Architects and Buildings Project (PAB) is an excellent resource put together by The Athenæum of Philadelphia, the University of Pennsylvania Architectural Archives, the Philadelphia Historical Commission, the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, and many other local cultural institutions.
Questions? Please read the paragraph on requests for archival information.
Send questions or remarks about this page to Sara MacDonald, Public Services Librarian.
Last updated 24 January 2018 sjm