Museum of Art, Philadelphia, PA. Credit: Min LeePhiladelphia, PA. Credit: Brian SiewiorekNassau Hall, Princeeton, NJ. Credit: Srevatsan MuralidharanVan Buren Street Bridge, Wilmington, DE. Credit: Lou Angelli Digital Imaging


Henry Jonas Magaziner, FAIA and a member of the APT College of Fellows 1911-2011

December 2011

Robert HotesIt is with great sadness that APT-DVC informs you of the death of Henry Jonas Magaziner, FAIA on December 25th 2011. Henry was widely recognized as a leader in historic preservation in our region and at the age of 100, remained very interested in his field. A memorial Service will be held at 11 AM on Friday December 30th at The Congregation Rodeph Shalom, 615 North Broad Street, Philadelphia PA 19123.

Henry’s many accomplishments included the following:

  • Being a founding member of the APT Delaware Valley Chapter in 1985,
  • Contributing significantly to the preservation of historic sites while serving as Regional Historical Architect for the National Parks Service Mid-Atlantic Region,
  • Drafting the historic preservation clauses in the standard national building codes,
  • Representing the preservation community at Congressional hearings on the effects of acid rain on architectural structures,
  • Advocating preservation and adaptive use over demolition,
  • Educating and mentoring young architects in historic preservation,
  • Writing extensively on the history of architecture with the intent of creating public awareness of the value of our rich architectural heritage, both locally and nationally.

His 80 year career spans three major phases: a practicing architect prior to joining the NPS in 1972, the NPS Regional Historical Architect for 16 years, and a writer, advocate, and mentor in the field of historic preservation over the past 22 years. Throughout his career he has been involved in APT at both the local and national level.

In 2009 the Board of APT-DVC nominated Mr. Magaziner to the APT College of Fellows and he was inducted in September 2011; the extracts below are from his nomination.

A passion for historic preservation prior to becoming an NPS Regional Historical Architect:
Henry practiced as principal of his own firm, Magaziner Architects, from 1956-1962 and as a partner of Magaziner, DiGiorgio Kirkbride 1962-1972. With the disbanding of the firm in 1972, Henry was able to focus on historic preservation, a passion not shared by his former partners. Even before joining the NPS, however, Henry worked avidly for historic preservation. For example, a journal article in 1971 describes Henry’s innovative thinking and solutions for the restoration of Atlantic City’s Traymore Hotel, which had been threatened by demolition. Similarly, Henry prepared the planning study for Germantown in Philadelphia and then co-authored the Germantown Revitalization Plan, which helped preserve the neighborhood as a National Register Historic District. As a practicing architect, he also restored the British Consulate Building in Philadelphia and worked on the Phase I Philadelphia City Hall Restoration and Modernization Program. He was chairman of the Philadelphia Committee on Conservation and Historic Preservation. Earlier, as a WPA project, he co-authored a Philadelphia guide, and he was active in the AIA Philadelphia Chapter and served as chairman of its Speakers’ Committee.

Henry’s extensive contributions while on the staff of the National Park Service, 1972-1988:
In 1972, Henry was appointed the Regional Historical Architect and Architectural Historian for the NPS’s Mid-Atlantic Region (currently referred to as the Northeast Region). He focused with a passion on the preservation of publicly owned historic sites with a strong commitment to fostering comprehensive preservation planning as well as advising historic preservation boards and institutions. At the National Park Service he played important roles in numerous significant historic preservation projects, including the rehabilitation of Independence Hall, where he secured funds for the photogrammetric recording of the structure in 1984. The conservation of Roebling Aqueduct, the oldest surviving cable suspension bridge in the United States, is considered by Henry to be one of his finest preservation projects. The aqueduct, which had been converted to a bridge, was suffering from structural stress due to the uneven load distribution produced by moving vehicles—an effect fundamentally different from the relatively constant weight of the water for which the aqueduct had been designed. His innovative solution was to use concrete to replace the weight of the water no longer being carried. This relieved the cable bridge of the uneven stresses created by cars and trucks and thereby allowed the aqueduct to remain in use for vehicular traffic. Other projects with the National Park Service included the Kennedy-Supplee Mansion in Valley Forge National Historical Park, the Petersburg National Battlefield in Virginia, and the relocation of Ulysses S. Grant’s cabin from Philadelphia’s Fairmount Park to its original site at City Point, Virginia, the stabilization of the Gallatin House at the Friendship Hill National Historic Site in Pennsylvania, the leasing of the Kennedy-Supplee Mansion at the Valley Forge National Historical Park, and the restoration of Fort McHenry in Baltimore.

Post National Park Service, 1988 to Present:
Since his retirement, Henry has continued to work for many organizations related to historic preservation and has written and published two books: The Golden Age of Iron Work and Our Liberty Bell. Henry was an active member at the Philadelphia Athenaeum and remained in touch with many members of the preservation community. The 2000 publication of The Golden Age of Iron Work was the fruit of many years of research and thinking. While designed as a handsomely illustrated book with broad appeal, its underlying purpose was to see the ironwork of Philadelphia recognized by the public for its beauty and historic significance, and thereby encourage the appropriate maintenance and restoration of this material. It has achieved this purpose. His most recent book, intended for young people, is the delightful history, Our Liberty Bell. Here, as elsewhere, Henry continues to encourage young people to take an interest in regional and national history through the architecture that surrounds them. Most recently Henry has been working on another book for young adult readers, a book that tells the remarkable story of the architect Julian Abele. Henry’s father, Louis Magaziner, was the first Jewish student to be admitted to the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Architecture in ca 1894, and the following year Julian Abele became the first African-American student to be admitted. The two men studied architecture together and became and remained close friends; thus, Henry grew up knowing Julian Abele, who made important contributions as chief designer in the firm of Horace Trumbauer, and recognizing his exceptional talents as both an architect and artist.

Helped found the APT Delaware Valley Chapter in 1985:
Henry was one of the co-founders of the Delaware Valley Chapter in 1985. He was committee chair of programs for many years and worked to encourage collaboration between the AIA and the APT-DVC. Henry’s research work for The Golden Age of Ironwork was one of the inspirations for the chapter’s symposia on iron in historic buildings. At the Local Chapter level, he worked on numerous programs created to encourage young people to become involved in historic preservation. On the National Level, his membership extends past the existing records of APT. He has worked on many education committees and been an advocate for APT and APT-DVC, primarily by serving on numerous committees and panels. Henry had an enduring interest in mentoring and encouraging young architects, especially in the field of preservation, and always encouraged membership and participation in APT. He wrote extensively for the APT bulletin. Articles included “Working for a Genius: My Time with Albert Kahn, 2001” and “The Rebirth of an Engineering Landmark, 1986.”

Public Advocate for Historic Preservation:
Henry’s advocacy work for preservation is exemplary. He represented the American Institute of Architects before Congress in hearings on the destructive effects of acid rain on historic buildings. He was on the editorial board of the 58-volume series Buildings of the United States (Oxford University Press). He drafted the preservation clauses in the standard building codes and co-authored the Public Buildings’ Cooperative Use Act of 1976. Henry’s volunteer commitment to Philadelphia preservation work is exceptional. He is a member of the Athenaeum of Philadelphia and the Carpenter’s Company of the City and County of Philadelphia, a co-founder and past president of Ebenezer Maxwell Mansion, a former vice president of both the Germantown Community Council and the Germantown Historical Society, and a former architectural advisor to the Philadelphia Historical (Landmark) Commission. He is also a past president of the T-Square Atelier, and during his time at the University of Pennsylvania he was president of the Student Architectural Association. In that role, he was instrumental in inviting numerous eminent architects to lecture at Penn, including Frank Lloyd Wright and Louis Kahn.

Citations and other formal recognition:
Over the years, Henry has received formal recognition for his work in historic preservation. He has earned the Presidential Award for Good Design for the Government, the Biddle Award for Distinguished Work in Historic Preservation, and the John Harbeson Award for contributions to the architectural profession. In addition, he was a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects and a Member of the College of Fellows at Association Preservation Technology. The Henry J. Magaziner FAIA Award was created in his honor and is presented annually by the Historic Preservation Committee of AIA Philadelphia to recognize an individual organization outside the normal circuit of preservation and design that has made a significant contribution to the preservation of the built environment.

The APT Delaware Valley Chapter has been fortunate to have Henry as a member since its inception. His ability to craft ingenious, yet workable solutions—solutions that meet the standards for excellence in historic preservation within the constraints imposed by the need to adapt and reuse historic buildings—has contributed significantly to historic preservation on both the regional and national levels. Henry brought an extraordinary range of talents and skills—for practicality, for technology, and for innovation—in his enduring commitment to historic preservation. He will be greatly missed by the preservation community.