John H. Rankin was senior partner in one of the most successful Beaux-Arts firms in Philadelphia, rivaling and pre-dating Paul P. Cret in their participation in the great architectural competitions of the early twentieth century. Rankin was born in Lock Haven, PA, the son of Judge William Washington Rankin and Maria Amelia (Jefferies) Rankin. After attending the St. James Parish School in Lancaster, PA, he graduated from Lock Haven High School in 1885 and from Massachusetts Institute of Technology's two-year course in architecture in 1889. Following graduation, Rankin returned to Philadelphia, where he was employed successively by James H. Windrim and Wilson Bros. & Co. In 1891 he moved to New York to work for Boring & Tilton, but soon returned to Philadelphia and worked at least part of that year for Frank Miles Day. In December, 1891, he and another MIT student, Thomas Kellogg, late of the office of McKim, Mead & White, established the firm of Rankin & Kellogg. In 1903 the partners were joined by yet another MIT graduate, Edward A. Crane, whose recent work had been under the aegis of the Supervising Architect for the U.S. Treasury; and the office name changed to Rankin, Kellogg & Crane.
After Crane left the firm in 1925, Rankin & Kellogg continued successfully, with the design for the Provident Trust Co. (1927) at 17th and Chestnut in Philadelphia and their collaborative effort with Tilden, Register & Pepper on the U.S. Post Office at 30th and Market Streets in Philadelphia. After Kellogg's death in 1935, his name was retained in the firm title; and it was not until 1943 that the work of younger member Adrian Doe was formally recognized and the firm name revised to Rankin, Kellogg & Doe. John Hall Rankin retired from practice in 1947.
Long recognized as a leader in the architectural profession, Rankin joined the T-Square Club in 1889 and the AIA in 1900 achieving fellowship status in 1911. His long list of national AIA activities includes participation in the committees on competitions, institute publications, government architecture, town planning, and architectural practice. He also served the Philadelphia Chapter of the AIA as director and was president in 1912; he was the first president and a 20-year member of the Pennsylvania State Board of Examiners. Other organizations with which he was associated included the Rittenhouse Club in Philadelphia, the Cosmos Club in Washington, D.C., the Sons of the Revolution, the Society of the War of 1812, the Colonial Society of Pennsylvania, and the Naval and Military Order of the Spanish-American War. In 1935 he was chosen to organize the Philadelphia District of the WPA, and construction of the Philadelphia Airport was begun under his leadership.
Sandra L. Tatman.
Clubs and Membership Organizations
- American Institute of Architects (AIA)
- Philadelphia Chapter, AIA
- Rittenhouse Club
- T-Square Club
- Sons of the Revolution
- Colonial Society of PA
- Cosmos Club
- Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
- Central High School
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