William F. B. Koelle was born in Philadelphia, the son of Wiliam and Magdalenna Lydia (Bixenstein) Koelle. After an early education at both Friends Central School and Northeast High School, he received his Certificate in House Construction in Drexel Institute's Evening School in 1910. He also attended the T-Square Club atelier and took further classes at the University of Pennsylvania. During the days he was employed in the firm of Zantzinger, Borie & Medary as a draftsman from 1908 to 1912 and as head draftsman from 1912 to 1917. Thus Koelle's early career and training describes that of many young architects of the time who did not simply enter the University of Pennsylvania's program in architecture, but who instead worked during the day and studied their profession in the evenings.
Active in the first World War, Koelle was in charge of designs and projects for the Air Service Division in Tours and Paris, France, and served as a courier for the American Commission to Negotiate Peace. For his service, he was awarded the Victory Medal. On his return to Philadelphia he again associated with Zantzinger, Borie & Medary, but by 1920 he had launched an independent practice, chiefly known for residential designs and the village type of development found in Philadelphia in Sansom Gardens, Grant Village, Poplar Gardens and Panama Street.
Parallel to Koelle's architectural activities, however, were his interests in the automobile business, with which he worked from 1912 to 1915 under the office name Koelle, Martin & Co., Ford dealers, and the real estate development business, with which he became associated in 1919.
Koelle died in Hillsborough County, Florida in 1979.
Sandra L. Tatman.
Clubs and Membership Organizations
- Engineers Club
- Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts
- American Institute of Architects (AIA)
- Philadelphia Chapter, AIA
- T-Square Club
- Penn Athletic Club
- Military Order of Foreign Wars
- Knights Templar
- American Legion
- University of Pennsylvania
- Drexel Institute
- Northeast High School
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