Philip Hubert Frohman was born November 16, 1887, in the Hotel Chelsea in New York City. He became a widely known architect for his work on the Washington National Cathedral aka the Cathedral Church of St. Peter and St. Paul. From 1921 until his death, October 30, 1972, he worked on the English Gothic style cathedral. Frohman was stuck by an automobile on August 7 near the cathedral grounds.

"Frohman had a notable lineage in the related worlds of architecture and engineering. In 1849, his grandfather Philip Gengembre Hubert and his great-grandfather Charles Antoine Colomb Gengembre moved to America. While practicing architecture in New York, Hubert designed the Hotel Chelsea, later to become a well-known residence for actors, writers, musicians and other artists. Built in 1883, it had the distinction of being the tallest building in New York until 1899. Initially constructed as an apartment building, it still remains in operation today, as a hotel. His great-grandfather, Charles Antoine Colomb Gengembre, both an architect and civil engineer, supervised the building of the first railway from Liverpool to Manchester. His great-great-grandfather was Philippe Joachim Joseph Gengembre, who served as Director of Works for King Louis Philippe of France in the early 19th century. Gengembre designed France's first steam warship and the first home in Paris to feature gas lighting." From an early age Frohman had an interest in architecture. He enrolled in the Throop Institute in Pasadena, California and designed a house at the age of 14. He graduated from the California Institute of Technology and passed the state architectural examination. He was the youngest person ever to pass that exam. At 21 he opened his own office in Pasadena focusing on the designing of churches and houses. Over the course of his long career Frohman would be credited with the design of some fifty churches in the United States. Philip Frohman designed Baptismal font in the Resurrection Chapel under the south transept on the crypt level of the Washington National Cathedral in Washington, DC.

It is interesting to note that during World War I Frohman served in the ordnance construction section of the Army and was stationed in the Washington, DC area. Placed in charge of the architectural division at Aberdeen Proving Ground, he designed buildings there and at Rock Island Arsenal. It was at this time that he made the acquaintance of dean of the National Cathedral and, later, the Episcopal bishop of Washington.

"The great majority of Frohman's life and work, however, would be dedicated to the construction of the Washington National Cathedral. He worked on the National Cathedral for more than fifty years. In 1919 Frohman began making preliminary sketches for revisions of Bodley's designs at the invitation of the Bishop of Washington, The Right Reverend Alfred Harding. During the next two years he formed a partnership with E. Donald Robb and Harry B. Little and in November 1921, the firm of Frohman, Robb and Little was officially designated Cathedral Architects. Robb died in 1942 and Little followed in 1944, after which Frohman served as the sole architect of the cathedral. Although adhering to Bodley and Vaughan's original plan in its essence, Frohman made substantial refinements to the initial blueprint....In particular, Frohman revised and augmented the original design for the crypt, adding ambulatories and an additional chapel. Over the years he was intimately involved in virtually every aspect of the cathedral's furnishing and embellishment. The most notable and visible of his revisions is his redesign of the west facade, the principal entrance to the cathedral.... At the age of 83 Frohman retired. In an unusual move for an architect, he was awarded a retirement stipend by the cathedral. ...A Roman Catholic, Frohman's ashes were interred in the columbarium in the Chapel of St. Joseph of Arimathea on the crypt level of the National Cathedral by special dispensation of the Archdiocese of Washington. He is also memorialized by a bay on the north aisle of the cathedral nave dedicated to him. The inscription on the bay wall reads, in part: "From the deep well of faith sprang devotion to perfection; A graceful witness in this Cathedral Church; To his steadfast spirit and; The prayer his genius sought to record in all his work." Philip H. Frohman

For More Information:

The National Cathedral aka The Cathedral Church of St. Peter and St. Paul
George Frederick Bodley, Architect
Henry Vaughan, Architect
First posted: Jan 29, 2015
Last update: Jan 31, 2015