In 1907, Edward Livingston Palmer, Jr., a native Baltimorean and graduate of Johns Hopkins University, and the architectural school of the University of Pennsylvania, returned to Baltimore after four years as a draftsman in the Washington, DC office of Hornblower & Marshall. For the next ten years, he served as architect for the Roland Park Company of Baltimore, for which he designed a number of houses and had, in addition, a small residential private practice.
In 1917, Palmer opened his own office for the practice of architecture, continuing his residential work, and in 1917-1918, designing the residential buildings for two large housing developments: one for the Bethlehem Steel Company in Dundalk, Maryland and the other for the DuPont Company at Wawaset, in Wilmington, Delaware.
Thus established, he augmented his staff with excellent drafting, design and other personnel. Mr. Willis, a University of Pennsylvania graduate, came to the firm for the construction phase activities, and Mr. Lamdin joined in 1920, providing for the next 25 years, the excellence in design for which the firm became widely known.
For the next eight-to-ten years, the firm was extremely active, designing not only scores of fine houses, but schools, apartment buildings, two distinguished churches, and buildings for the Johns Hopkins University.
Under Mr. Palmer’s guidance, the controlled development of Roland Park, Guilford and Homeland became a reality. He served on the Baltimore Arts Commission, the Advisory Board of Architects for the Johns Hopkins University, for Goucher College and similarly for Gibson Island, Kernwood, Pinehurst, Original Northwood and more.
Upon the advent of the depression at the start of the 1930’s, the office was left with practically no commissions, except the very important one of converting the old City of Baltimore “asylum” into a large modern general hospital with all adjunct facilities. His report resulted in modern and free medical care for the people of Baltimore at the then-updated City Hospitals.
Faced with the major expense of producing the necessary documents, Mr. Palmer conceived the idea of bringing four younger men into the office as associates, on a share of profit basis. Though the sharing was painfully thin initially, conditions improved, and the younger group brought in and designed work of their own.
Upon this country’s entry into World War II, the younger men left for military service. Again, work was scarce, but the office survived.
On May 31, 1945, Mr. Lamdin died suddenly. Mr. Palmer immediately advised three of the associates, L. McLane Fisher, Charles M. Nes, Jr. and Carroll R. Williams, that he was forming a new partnership with them. The activity in design and building grew for the firm and again, the need for talented personnel was filled with younger architects.
After Mr. Palmer’s death in 1952, James I. Campbell became a partner, as did Messrs. Richter, Cornbrooks, Hopkins, and Matthai, somewhat later. In 1971, the partnership converted to a corporate form, as FNC, Inc., with the same principals, and operated as this for over a year. At that point, due to divergent views, the group became two separate firms: Nes, Campbell & Partners, and Richter Cornbrooks, Matthai Hopkins, Inc. Mr. Fisher retired.
The practice which Mr. Palmer commenced has continued through successor firms. Their names have undergone many changes, as the original partners retired or died, and as new principals were added. However, the continuity was retained as each new partner was trained in the previous firm.
Mr. Palmer’s reputation for integrity, attention to detail, and service to his profession and to the public, continues to this day.
From "The Architectural Firm of Edward L. Palmer and Its Successors."
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