Carl de Moll

Sketch by Mary
Hitchner de Moll

Carl de Moll (1871 – 1958) was an architect, engineer and illustrator and was part of the group of architects and artists who became involved with William L, Price in the Rose Valley arts and crafts community. Born in Philadelphia, de Moll was the son of Gustav de Moll (1843 – 1883) and Josephine Bower de Moll (1843 – 1934). Just 12 years old at the time of his father’s death, Carl left school to begin working at a number of jobs in order to support his mother and younger brother. He worked at a number of trades, including at one time the illustration of department store catalogs.

At the age of 17 Carl de Moll began his career in architecture working as a draftsman in the office of Frank L. and William L. Price. He served in the Price office until 1893 when he moved for two years to the office of Cope & Stewardson. From 1895 to 1897 he was a draftsman and assistant engineer with Frank Miles Day. At that firm, at the age of 24 Carl was assisting the chief engineer in calculating foundations, columns and beams and girders of a ten-story office building to be built at 1420 Chestnut Street in Philadelphia. Shortly after this period Carl experimented with a different career. Moving to New York, he tried his hand again at illustration, as well as working as a newspaperman. Returning then to Philadelphia he took a position with Price and McLanahan and remained there from 1897 to 1902. Among other projects with that firm he worked on the design of the Traymore Hotel in Atlantic City. In addition to handling the engineering on that project he was also in charge of the general engineering for the office.

Whether he met Will’s sister, Mary, while he was with Price and Price or with Price and McLanahan, is unclear, but they were married by 1901, and came with the earliest group to Rose Valley. For their home the young couple remodeled one of the three double mill houses on Rose Valley Road, turning the two houses into a single residence. Carl took up the trade of bookbinding, and produced a large and handsome notebook for the minutes of the Rose Valley Folk. However, the happy time in Rose Valley did not last. In the spring of 1902 Mary died with the birth of their son, Carl, Jr. and Carl returned with his little son and his mother to live again in Germantown. He would not remarry for another 14 years. Although he had left Rose Valley, Carl evidently kept in touch with the community and even as late as 1916 he is mentioned in a report of the Plastic Club on the occasion of an outing in Rose Valley. The event included a visit to Alice Barber Stephens’ studio, followed by a supper at another home and afterwards the guests, “enjoyed an Arabian play written by Mrs. Lewis Moor and read by Carl de Moll.”

From1902 to 1908 Carl de Moll worked as a draftsman, Assistant Engineer and Superintendent in the office of Horace Trumbauer in Philadelphia. For a brief period he attempted to establish his own office, presumably on the side, doing mostly engineering work. Finally in 1908 Carl went with the firm of Ballinger & Perrot, later to become The Ballinger Company. With that large architectural and engineering firm he finished out his career, working there for some 43 years to the age of 80, retiring as a partner in 1951. During World War I he even headed the firm’s staff of 125 in a New York office. Due to his particular interest in industrial processes and engineering, he was primarily responsible for the design of plants for American Viscose in Marcus Hook, Pennsylvania, and Virginia, as well as for plants for Atwater Kent in Philadelphia. Additional responsibilities included the design of many hospitals, including those at York, Chambersburg, Hanover and Chester, Pennsylvania.

In 1916 Carl married Mary Hitchner and in 1921 the couple relocated from Germantown to Swarthmore. They went on to have three children including Louis de Moll, who moved to Rose Valley with his wife and a daughter in 1950. Carl, Jr., the son born to Carl Senior’s first wife, Mary Price de Moll, as he grew up, spent a great deal of time visiting in Rose Valley. He was later married in the home of the Kites in Rose Valley, but died in an automobile accident in the mid-thirties.

Carl de Moll, in spite of having formal schooling only through sixth grade, supplemented by enrollment in night courses at the Pennsylvania Museum School of Industrial Design, was both a registered architect and registered engineer. He was a member of the American Society of Civil Engineers, the Philadelphia Sketch Club and the Art Club of Philadelphia. For many years he was a member and participated regularly in the Economics Group at Swarthmore College.

Source: Louis deMoll, 2003