G. W. & W. D. Hewitt

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Bellevue-Stratford Hotel, Philadelphia (1902-04), in 1976

G. W. & W. D. Hewitt was a prominent architectural firm in the eastern United States at the turn of the twentieth century. It was founded in Philadelphia in 1878, by brothers George Wattson Hewitt (1841–1916) and William Dempster Hewitt (1847–1924), both members of the American Institute of Architects. The firm specialized in churches, hotels and palatial residences, especially crenelated mansions such as Maybrook (1881), Druim Moir (1885–86) and Boldt Castle (1900–04). The last was built for George C. Boldt, owner of Philadelphia's Bellevue-Stratford Hotel (1902–04), G.W. & W.D. Hewitt's most well-known building.[1]


George Hewitt worked in the office of John Notman, and became an expert on English ecclesiastical architecture. In 1867, he formed a partnership with John Fraser and Frank Furness, which lasted until 1871. The younger men formed their own firm, Furness & Hewitt, whose most notable building was the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (1871–76). Louis Sullivan worked briefly as a draftsman for Furness & Hewitt (June – November 1873), and left descriptions of the Hewitt brothers:

George Hewitt [was] a slender, moustached person, pale and reserved, who seldom relaxed from pose. It was he who did the Victorian Gothic in its pantalettes, when a church building or something of the sort was on the board. With precision, as though he held his elements by pincers, he worked out the decorous sublimities of inanity, as per the English current magazines and other English sources. He was a clean draftsman, and believed implicitly that all that was good was English. Louis regarded him with admiration as a draftsman, and with mild contempt as a man who kept his nose in books.

But George Hewitt had a younger brother named John [sic], and John was foreman of the shop. He was a husky, smooth-faced fellow under thirty. Every feature in his clean cut, rather elongated face, bespoke intelligence and kindness, in fact a big heart. He had taken a fancy to Louis from the start. He was the 'practical man' and Louis ran to him for advice whenever he found himself in a tight place. John was patience itself and made everything clear with dainty sketches and explanatory notes. These drawings were beautiful and Louis frankly told him so. He begged John to teach him 'touch' and how to make such sketches, and especially how to 'indicate' so crisply. This John did. In fact, it was not long before he made of Louis a draftsman of the Upper crust, and Louis's heart went out to lovable John in sheer gratitude.[2]

St. Peter's Episcopal Church of Germantown, 1873

Writing a half century after the fact, Sullivan misremembered William Hewitt's name (there was no John Hewitt). Furness & Hewitt continued until 1875, and George opened his own firm, making his brother William a partner in 1878.

In the early 1880s, Henry H. Houston, a director of the Pennsylvania Railroad, began developing 3,000 acres (12 km2) in the western Chestnut Hill section of Philadelphia. The Hewitt brothers did the planning for the upper-class suburb and designed the principal buildings, including a resort hotel, the Wissahickon Inn (1883–84) (now Chestnut Hill Academy); the first clubhouse for the Philadelphia Cricket Club (1883–84, burned 1909); Houston's own mansion, Druim Moir (1886); and St. Martin-in-the-Fields Episcopal Church (1888). More than 100 Chestnut Hill houses were designed by the Hewitts.[3]

Horace Trumbauer did his apprenticeship with the firm. Phineas Paist worked for the firm, and became a partner in it. Following George's 1907 retirement, the firm continued as Hewitt, Stevens & Paist.

Houston-Sauveur House, Chestnut Hill, Philadelphia, PA (1885). Prior to its 1887 sale to Sauveur, this probably served as a sample house for Henry H. Houston's suburban development
The Philadelphia Bourse Building (1893-95) housed a commodities exchange until the 1960s, and is now used for retail and offices

Selected buildings[edit]



Hotels, businesses and institutional buildings[edit]


See also[edit]



  1. ^ David R. Contosta, Suburb in the City: Chestnut Hill, Philadelphia, 1850-1990 (Ohio State University Press, 1992)
  2. ^ Louis Sullivan, Autobiography of an Idea (1924; reprint, New York: Dover, 1956), pp. 190-96.
  3. ^ James B. Garrison, Houses of Philadelphia: Chestnut Hill and the Wissahickon Valley (New York: Acanthus Press, 2008) p. 295.
  4. ^ Providence Presbyterian Church
  5. ^ St John's Church
  6. ^ St. Martin in the Fields
  7. ^ St. Martin in the Fields from Bryn Mawr College
  8. ^ St. Mary's Church
  9. ^ St. Andrew's Church
  10. ^ Maybrook photo from Lower Merion Historical Society
  11. ^ Maybrook ballroom photo from Lower Merion Historical Society
  12. ^ Maybrook history from Rich Men and Their Castles, Lower Merion Historical Society
  13. ^ "National Historic Landmarks & National Register of Historic Places in Pennsylvania" (Searchable database). CRGIS: Cultural Resources Geographic Information System. Note: This includes Carl E. Doebley (February 1981). "National Register of Historic Places Inventory Nomination Form: Drexel Development Historic District" (PDF). Retrieved 2012-07-18.
  14. ^ Coxe mansion at Bryn Mawr College
  15. ^ Houston-Sauveur House at Historic American Buildings Survey
  16. ^ Druim Moir from Bryn Mawr College
  17. ^ Druim Moir from Bryn Mawr College
  18. ^ Brinkwood from Philadelphia Architects and Buildings
  19. ^ Harris mansion at Bryn Mawr College
  20. ^ Spruce Hill from University City Historical Society
  21. ^ Sharpless House from National Register of Historic Places
  22. ^ Townsend house from Bryn Mawr College.
  23. ^ Briar Crest from Philadelphia Architects and Buildings
  24. ^ Boldt Castle — A "Gilded Age" estate built for a tragic love
  25. ^ AVA Theater Frank Furness made earlier alterations to this house.
  26. ^ Wissahickon Inn from Bryn Mawr College
  27. ^ Wissahickon Inn at Historic American Buildings Survey
  28. ^ Philadelphia Cricket Club from ExplorePAhistory.com
  29. ^ Cornwall & Lebanon Station from Don Dorflinger
  30. ^ Hahnemann Hospital from Philadelphia Architects and Buildings
  31. ^ Kensington YWCA from National Register of Historic Places
  32. ^ Stadium High School Archived January 2, 2015, at the Wayback Machine.
  33. ^ Episcopal Hospital from Historic American Buildings Survey.
  34. ^ Philadelphia Bourse
  35. ^ Gibson Building from Philadelphia Architects and Buildings
  36. ^ The Castle
  37. ^ Hahnemann Medical College from Philadelphia Architects and Buildings
  38. ^ Pitcairn Building from Philadelphia Architects and Buildings
  39. ^ Bellevue-Stratford Hotel
  40. ^ Bellevue-Stratford Hotel at Historic American Buildings Survey

External links[edit]