Penelope Hartshorne Batcheler (1928-2007)

Penelope Batcheler
Penelope Batcheler

Born in East Orange, New Jersey, and trained as an architect at the Illinois Institute of Technology, Penelope Hartshorne Batcheler became one of the Park Service’s leading historical architects. In 1955 she joined the NPS at Independence Hall in Philadelphia where she analyzed the building’s 18th century woodwork. She devoted much of her career to the analysis and architectural interpretation of Independence Hall and at one point served as the only woman on team of a half dozen architects and preservationists in the five-year program to restore that building. Her pioneering efforts were documented in her Technical Leaflet for the American Association for State and Local History, which became the basis for today’s scientific approach to analyzing and matching historic paint colors for historic structures.

Batcheler also performed architectural research and prepared historic structure reports for other historic buildings in Philadephia, Massachusetts, Maryland, and Virginia. During her career with NPS she documented architectural history, prepared historic-structure reports, and supervised the restorations and recreations of Assembly Hall, Congress Hall, Old City Hall, Franklin Court, City Tavern, Edgar Allen Poe House, Old Swedes Church and other significant buildings. In mid 1990s she participated in a $12.5 million ten-year technological upgrade of Independence Hall, Congress Hall, and Old City Hall. This included extensive plans for the mechanical systems for heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and fire safety and security.

This gifted architect, who retired in 1993, devoted many hours of her own time to committees and boards of historic preservation groups, graciously sharing her expertise. She received the Preservationist of the Year award from the Pennsylvania Museum and Historical Commission in 1991 followed by the James Biddle Award for Lifetime Achievement in Historic Preservation in 2000.

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