George Batcheler Jr., 82, Phila. architect

Posted: August 31, 2009

George D. Batcheler Jr., 82, of Society Hill, a retired architect, died of complications from dementia July 13 at Harston Hall, a nursing home in Flourtown.

For 30 years, Mr. Batcheler was a partner with the architectural firm Mirick, Pearson & Batcheler in Philadelphia. Its projects included Haddonfield Commons condominium; several local hospital buildings; the learning center library at Episcopal Academy in Merion; and Hillside House, a mental-health facility in Northeast Philadelphia.

In 1984, Mr. Batcheler and his partners moved to offices on South 23d Street in Center City. They gutted and renovated space that had been the site of a lumberyard in the 1800s and that was later an ice cream plant and bakery. Mr. Batcheler retired in the early 1990s.

A native of Philipsburg, Pa., Mr. Batcheler earned a bachelor's degree in architecture from the University of Pennsylvania.

In the 1960s, he was living in an 18th-century rowhouse on Elfreth's Alley in Old City when he met Penelope Hartshorne, a historic preservationist who was restoring another house on the street. "She caught my eye because she even washed windows with enthusiasm," Mr. Batcheler later told a reporter. At the time, she was on the team of National Park Service professionals who were restoring Independence Hall.

They married in 1968 and bought a run-down house in Society Hill for $15,000, which they restored. "Ours was a marriage made in heaven. I learned that my wife could move mountains," Mr. Batcheler told a reporter when his wife died in 2007.

He and his wife enjoyed hiking, sailing, skiing, and socializing with their many friends. About nine years ago they built a vacation house in Center Sandwich, N.H., that he designed. "It was their dream home," his sister-in-law Beverly Batcheler said.

Mr. Batcheler was a member of the Carpenter's Company of Philadelphia, the Athenaeum of Philadelphia, the American Swedish Historical Museum, the American Institute of Architects, and the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

"George was a kind and gentle soul as well as a generous supporter of peace and an example of it," Beverly Batcheler said.

Mr. Batcheler is survived by brothers John and William; and three nieces.

A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. Sept. 19 at Race Street Friends Meeting, 1515 Cherry St., Philadelphia, where Mr. Batcheler had been a faithful member for 50 years.

Contact staff writer Sally A. Downey at 215-854-2913 or sdowney@phillynews.com.

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