Information regarding the mysterious Calvin C. Phillips continues to be discovered in areas as faraway as Tallahasee, FL, but a complete description of his life and work remains elusive. The first indication that Phillips is connected to Philadelphia occurs at the time of the Centennial Exposition of 1876. In the listing of exhibitors created by the Pennsylvania Board of Centennial Managers (Pennsylvania and the Centennial Exposiition., 1878, p. 201), Phillips's name appears with a notation of a Philadelphia office and a listing that indicates that on the Centennial grounds he designed the "Liberty Stove Works Building." Immediately following this notation on the list of exhibitors is another for the C.C. Phillips & Co., also Philadelphia, which has exhibited a set of "varnish and japans," paints, in other words.
By 1889 Philips's projects have begun to appear in the Philadelphia Real Estate Record and Builders Guide. However, again the information is ambiguous because because he has completed plans for a residence for Clarkes Phillips, Esq., in Gilbert's Mills, Oswego Co., NY, and has also completed plans for the Hoopes residence in Media, PA. In January, 1890 the PRERBG states that Phillips has completed plans for a Presbyterian chapel to be erected on Elm Street, south of Paschal Street. Phillips appears in the Philadelphia city directories as an architect from 1890 to 1891, with an office at 20 South Broad Street, and in 1892 with an office at 1329 Race Street. Thereafter he disappears from Philadelphia records.
However, the story does not end there. According to newspaper accounts published in the Tallahassee Democrat Calvin C. Phillips came to Talahassee around the turn of the century. Although he maintained a reclusive lifestyle, he did build a tomb and an eccentric home, known locally as the "clock house." Following his death, his daughter traveled to Tallahassee from Oswego, NY, bringing two medals which testified to her father's importance in architecture. The first medal of 1879 was awarded by the Pennsylvania State Agricultural Society for Phillips's design for a portable grist mill. The second medal came from the Paris Exposition of 1889 and was awarded by the Republic of France.
Sandra L. Tatman.
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