October 31, 2010 at 10:07 pm | Posted in El Paso | Leave a comment

As the junior partner of architect John J. Stewart Wm. J. Carpenter played an important role in the design of the Myar (Myer) Opera House in El Paso, Texas in 1888.  Designed in the Renaissance Style with Romanesque features the opera house was the cultural center of El Paso until it burned in 1905.  During the theater’s short  heyday such famous entertainers as Edwin Booth, Sarah Bernhardt, Lily Langtrree and John L. Sullivan appeared there.  It is also reported that  towards the end a portion of this historical building was put to use as the brothel of a prominent madam.

The Volunteer Fire Department bravely fought the blaze in 1905, but it raged out of control until an entire block on El Paso’s main street was demolished by the blaze.  By this time Mr. Carpenter was practicing as an architect in Pittsburgh so he may not have known of the disaster..

Most of the history of this building has been lost because of its short life before  the fire, but for  the results of my Google search go to the  Myar Opera House El Paso page. One of the links given there has the only picture of the building I have been able to locate.  I tried several ways to reproduce it here, but it is apparently coded to prevent reproduction. and I have been unable to obtain a reproducible from the original source, the El Paso Historical Preservation Department.  You can take a quick look at it by clicking here;  it is an impressive building for El Paso in the early pioneer years.  If I receive a better photograph from anyone I will be glad to print it here, with full accreditation.


Merrick Building-El Paso

October 17, 2010 at 10:29 pm | Posted in About William J. Carpenter, El Paso | Leave a comment

Merrick Building  

The slogan “go west, young man” must have sounded appealing to twenty one year old Wm. J. Carpenter in 1885.  He may also have felt the family home in Baltimore was a little crowded with father William Carpenter, mother Annie Gillette Carpenter, two brothers, Edward and Lewis, and three sisters, Anne, Alice and Minnie all living upstairs in the same row house on Central Avenue. The first floor was father William’s Print Shop.

Already having served an architectural apprenticeship in London, England and 3-4 years of work with E. G. Lind he left the family fold, last appearing in the Baltimore City Directory in 1885.  His next recorded appearance was in El Paso, Texas in 1887 as a partner of John J. Stewart when they designed the Merrick Building.

This three-story brick and sandstone building at 301-303 South El Paso Street was one of El Paso’s earliest permanent buildings and is now considered one of the city’s landmark structures.  For more details and links to the historic building survey click here.


October 1, 2010 at 10:00 pm | Posted in Architecture, Pittsburgh | Leave a comment

Another classic church design by Carpenter & Crocker (Wm. J. Carpenter, Senior Partner) was completed in Pittsburgh in 1904 for the St. James Episcopal congregation.  Now occupied by The Church of The Holy Cross, the 100th Anniversary of this Gothic/Norman style church was recently recognized by the award of a bronze plaque by the Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Fouindatiion.  For more on this well-preserved building click here.

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