If James Betelle was a mystery when this project began, than Ernest F. Guilbert, his partner, was a mystery wrapped in an enigma encased in a block of lucite. There was–and is–very little information regarding this architect who clearly had a strong influence on Betelle.
Today the mystery is lessened. I found his obituary in the Newark Evening News of Friday, December 1, 1916, the same day of his death. It provides as good a biography of Guilbert as we’re likely to get.
These are the two obituaries I found for Betelle at the Newark Public Library. The first is from The Newark Evening News from June 5th, 1954. This was a Sunday, which establishes Betelle’s death as Thursday, June 3rd (whether that is the local or Italian date is unknown). The second obit (source unclear) is almost identical to the first, but does give one new bit of information: it confirms that Betelle was buried in Florence.
JAMES O. BETELLE, 75
Retired Newark Architect, Specialist in School Buildings,
Dies in Florence, Italy
The Newark Evening News, June 5, 1954
James O. Betelle, retired Newark architect who rose from a $2-a-week clerk in an architect’s office to become one of the country’s outstanding designers of educational buildings, died Thursday in Florence, Italy. Mr. Betelle, who was 75, had been suffering from a heart ailment.
Mr. Betelle, who formerly lived in Short Hills, had spent much of his time traveling in recent years. He went to Italy earlier this Spring.
John emailed me a few days ago with new information he dug up; Marie Betelle’s obituary from the New York Times:
August 30, 1959
Mrs. Marie Ann Louise Betelle, widow of James O. Betelle, an architect, died of a brain hemorrhage early yesterday at University Hospital. She was 52 years old.
Mrs. Betelle lived at 450 East 61st Street. She had a collection of objects d’ art, fine linens, engraved stemware, and religious articles.
There are no known survivors.
So, Mrs. Betelle was 47 when JOB died in 1954, at 75. That made her quite a few years younger than him, on the order of twenty-eight years. It’s good to be an architect!
That address, 450 East 61st Street, is in the area of a collection of hi-rise apartments and small old industrial buildings, right next to the 59th Street Bridge, so it’s not likely her residence is still standing (though I will go by there to make sure).