James Betelle, Where Are You?

The Search for a Lost Architect

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The architects who constructed Columbia High School gave us a building that will serve us well for many, many years to come. It is solid, it is comfortable, it is clean and warm and it maintains an educational outlook that is both modern and classic. I don’t think we can ask for much more from our buildings. — American School & University, 1978

The Spectre of Typos

April 18th, 2007 · 3 Comments · Architecture, Miscellaneous

Isaac Young High SchoolWhile doing a little bit of research into Guilbert & Betelle’s New Rochelle High School, I came upon this postcard of Isaac E. Young High School, also in New Rochelle.

Isaac E. Young Middle School, as it is called now, is quintessential Collegiate Gothic, featuring red brick, a central tower with octagonal corners in the classic Princeton mode, and a sprawling, asymmetrical profile. Needless to say I wanted to find out it’s architect. I was pretty sure it wasn’t Betelle, but my records of his buildings is far from complete, so you never know.

It took a bit of searching, but I found who it was, via an obituary in the New York Times digital archive. His name was Herbert M. Hathaway, of Montclair, New Jersey.

What jumped out immediately in the obit was this sentence:

Born in Herndon, Va., Mr. Hathaway was graduated from Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1902. He then became associated with the architectural firm of Gilbert & Bettle [sic] in Newark. In 1914 he joined Starrett & Van Vleck.

Gilbert & Bettle. Aside from the satisfying coincidence, it was a bit frustrating seeing that typo. How many other potentially important articles am I missing due to misspellings?

Hathaway was born in 1878–a year before Betelle–and died at 66 in 1944. G&B formed in 1910, so he worked for the firm only a brief time in its early, struggling days. With works such as the New Rochelle school, most all of Montclair’s schools, halls at Columbia University and others, his time under Betelle clearly held influence.

Now to start searching for “Bettle” everywhere…

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3 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Catherine // Jul 27, 2013 at 7:14 am

    Thanks for the correct spelling! I had just added his grave site to Findagrave (I’m an architectural historian so I’ve added architects when I can find them) ad found your post. Appreciate the corrected name. He must have been a busy man!

  • 2 Catherine // Jul 27, 2013 at 7:19 am

    Amazingly enough if you search the internet for him or for schools designed by him you come up with nothing.

  • 3 Catherine // Jul 27, 2013 at 7:30 am

    One last thing, I did find some small snippets for him under Starrett and van Vleck (who did a lot of department stores, and Hathaway became partner in 1924. The funny thing is, a couple of the architecture magazines of the day had his name spelled “Hubert”! Add another typo to your list!

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