Abele, Julian Francis

Julian Francis Abele (1881-1950)


Born on April 29, 1881, in South Philadelphia, Julian Abele was educated at the Institute for Colored Youth. In 1902, he was the first African American to graduate from the University of Pennsylvania School of Architecture. He was also the first black to have an impact on the design of large buildings in the United States.
Much of Abele's professional career was spent with the architectural firm of Horace Trumbauer. He became an assistant to Trumbauer's chief designer, Frank Seeburger, whom he replaced when Seeburger left the firm in 1906. When Trumbauer died in 1938, Abele and William O. Frank continued the firm as "The Office of Horace Trumbauer." Although many clients never knew that Abele was the chief designer for Trumbauer, he was responsible for designing several buildings at Duke University, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and the Free Library of Philadelphia on Logan Circle. He was also a pianist and spoke French fluently.

(From: Blockson, Charles L. Philadelphia's Guide: African-American State Historical Markers. Philadelphia: Charles L. Blockson Afro-American Collection / William Penn Foundation, 1992.)