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Albert Kruse

Albert Kruse, Architect [1897-1974]

Albert Kruse [†] was a highly respected regional practitioner who was generally recognized by his peers as an authority on early American architecture. Kruse, an architect and artist, was born and raised in Wilmington, Delaware and received his education at the local Friends School. In 1916 he attended the Massachusetts Institute of Technology where he studied architecture and engineering as both an undergraduate and post-graduate. Kruse found employment after graduation as a draftsman with Maginnis and Walsh in 1922. This Boston firm specialized in ecclesiastical and collegiate architecture at this time. Maginnis was a highly talented draftsman who taught pen-and-ink drawing at the Cowles Art School. Kruse may have developed his rendering skills while with the firm. After two years he moved to Philadelphia to work with Day and Klauder and was closely associated with designs for collegiate Gothic style buildings at Princeton University, the University of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania State College, and Wellesley College.

Kruse worked for Day and Klauder for nine years, but with the severe downturn in the building industry during the Great Depression lost his position. Like other jobless architects of his generation, Kruse found employment with a New Deal relief program for architects known as the Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS). In 1933 the National Park Service, the American Institute of Architects, and the Library of Congress joined together to create HABS. Launched as a public works agency for architects by architects, HABS was similar to other creative New Deal initiatives, such as the Federal Writer's Program and the Federal Theatre Project. However, unlike those sister programs, HABS survives and its mission of the preservation of our built heritage continues today.

Kruse was one of a number of talented young architects recruited by HABS to conduct surveys throughout the country. The money and personnel for the HABS program originally was set out by quotas for the states. In 1933-1934 Kruse directed the survey of historic buildings in Delaware and the Eastern Shore. He had become an ardent student of eighteenth century American buildings and a noted authority on the Georgian architecture of Delaware. In 1932 Kruse published New Castle Sketches, a handsome compendium of lithographs of "colonial survivals," with historical information written by his sister Gertrude Kruse. The original lithographs of these New Castle buildings would eventually be acquired for the permanent collection of the Delaware Art Museum. Kruse also exhibited water colors and illustrated Thomas Canby's Age of Confidence, a best-selling novel in the 1930s. His commemorative plates and medals for the 1938 Delaware Tercentenary, "Brandywine Academy," and "Old Brandywine Village, 1776" are treasured by collectors today.

Kruse was greatly respected by his peers for his pioneering work as a preservation architect and scholarly interpretations of Colonial Revival designs. He became active in the profession after he joined the Delaware Chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) in 1934 later serving as the chapter's secretary in 1938-39 and president in 1940-41. Kruse had a deep influence on the profession in Delaware as a local AIA officer and a prominent member of the Delaware State Board of Architectural Examiners from 1940 to 1949. However, his colleagues elected him a member of the AIA College of Fellows in 1951 based on his contributions to American design. Kruse's nomination noted that his architecture was "grounded in native realism" and "reflects good taste, elegance, and suitability for its locality."

Kruse partnered with architect John Russel Pope establishing the firm of Pope and Kruse in Wilmington in 1935. They practiced primarily in Delaware, Maryland and Pennsylvania. They brought John McCune III into the firm as a partner. Pope and Kruse both retired in 1974 at which time McCune established a successor firm, McCune Associates.

† William Bushong and Clare Lise Cavicchi, Historic Preservation Planners, M-NCPPC, Edward Beale House, Montgomery County, MD, nomination document, 1996, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.