Parke Edwards was born Park Emerson Edwards in 1892 into a farming family in Smithville, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. His grade school education took him as far as the 8th grade. Edwards then enrolled in a mail-order course in show-card writing and sign painting with the International Correspondence School. He went on to attend the Pennsylvania Museum and School of Industrial Art, now the Philadelphia College of Art. As a sophomore, Edwards was awarded the Mrs. Joseph F. Sinnott Scholarship to travel in Italy, where he made drawings of architectural details and decorative arts, which would inspire him for the rest of his life. He studied metalwork under the renowned blacksmith Samuel Yellin and became a proficient potter, woodworker, glass blower, and draughtsman. A number of his works were prominently featured in an industrial arts exhibit mounted by the Smithsonian Institution.
At the outbreak of World War I, Edwards was drafted into the Army, where he designed aviation maintenance forms for the signal corps. He also prepared watercolor renditions of human anatomy for the Army medical museum. After leaving the Army, Edwards finished his studies at the School of Industrial Art, where he eventually became an instructor.
While still a student, Edwards formed a relationship with Raymond Pitcairn, who financed the construction of the Swedenborgian Cathedral at Bryn Athyn, Pa. Edwards was responsible for making and installing much of the decorative Monel metalwork. He worked at Glencairn, Pitcairn’s huge Bryn Athyn residence making designs for its stone decorations as well as making enameled copper furnishings and hardware. Pitcairn’s fortune came from Pittsburgh Plate Glass and Edwards provided designs for PPG stationery. A number of experimental glass products were tested in the decoration of Glencairn, but we do not yet know if any of Edwards’ ideas were put into production at PPG.
Parke Edwards died in 1975.
PARKE EDWARDS CANDLESTICKS, ca. 1914