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Buildings Department Records

Identifier: ADB

Scope and Contents

Because the work of the Superintendent and the Engineer was closely related, records of the two offices are sometimes interfiled. The Superintendent and Engineer files are subject files arranged alphabetically. Subjects are the names of architects and contractors, manufacturers, names of Museum sections or galleries, museum functions (e.g. lighting, plumbing, heating and ventilating) and names of exhibitions. Engineer Cheatham's files, however, are labelled by job number and have no apparent order. Edmiston's files pertain to special events in the building and personnel records.

For later related documentation, see Facilities and Operations Department Records.


  • 1929-1978


Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for research. Some materials may be partially restricted for security reasons at the discretion of the Archivist. These materials are stored offsite, so please request them in advance.

Conditions Governing Use

The Buildings Department Records are the physical property of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Archives. The Museum holds literary rights only for material created by Museum personnel or given to the Museum with such rights specifically assigned. For all other material, literary rights, including copyright, belong to the authors or their legal heirs and assigns. Researchers are responsible for obtaining permission from rights holders for publication and for other purposes where stated.

Biographical / Historical

George C. A. Barbour, a construction engineer for the Fairmount Museum project, was appointed Superintendent of the new building at its opening in 1928. With Memorial Hall's continued operation, Barbour's office was designated as "Buildings" to reflect both facilities. He served as General Superintendent until his retirement in 1961, at which time Alan Corson, Jr. assumed the position. Robert Lipsey succeeded Corson, serving from 1969 to 1978.

During these tenures, the office designation changed. From 1949 to 1952, the General Superintendent position was simply considered part of the administrative staff. In 1953, Barbour headed "Construction and Operation," with Jane Edmiston as Personnel and Budget Officer. In 1971, at the time of Lipsey's tenure, the General Superintendent became a City appointment, along with the newly-created position of Engineer Technician, held by Walter Cheatham. Edmiston also became a City employee, with her appointment as Clerical Supervisor. The following year, both positions were eliminated. Lipsey's position ended with his retirement in 1978.


35 linear feet

Language of Materials



The Buildings Department Records comprise of museum Superintendent and Engineer files.


The Buildings Department Records consist of four series: records of the Building Superintendents, records of the Building Engineers, records of the Administrative Services Officer, and records of drawings under the jurisdiction of the current Manager of Engineering Services. The first two series are divided into subseries, the largest of which apparently served as a main file for three superintendents from 1929-1978. Others are records of individual superintendents and engineers.

Processing Information

These materials were arranged and described by Merle Chamberlain in circa 1982. Revised 2007. Funded by a grant from The Gladys Kriebel Delmas Foundation. A folder level inventory was created in January 2018 by Rose Chiango.

Guide to the Buildings Department Records
Finding aid prepared by Merle Chamberlain (circa 1982). Revised 2007.
1982, 2007
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Funded by a grant from The Gladys Kriebel Delmas Foundation

Repository Details

Part of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Library and Archives Repository

Philadelphia Museum of Art
PO Box 7646
Philadelphia PA 19101-7646 United States