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Born in Dublin, Bucks County, A. Oscar Martin moved to Doylestown at a young age where he then attended high school.
He apprenticed as a carpenter under his father, Jonas Martin, and soon became interested in architectural drawing. In 1892, Martin enrolled at Drexel Institute of Technology in Philadelphia, where he studied architecture and engineering.
After graduating, Martin spent a few years working at architectural firms in New York City, Buffalo, and Philadelphia before opening his own firm in Doylestown in 1896. Not long after this move, he married Minerva Fretz and built his own house on Shewell Avenue.
As a registered architect and engineer in Bucks County, Martin designed numerous buildings in the Doylestown area. While he is better known for his domestic designs, his catalogue also includes designs for schools, factories, churches, bridges, and garages.
Martin was heralded for his style and sensibility, particularly during a time when construction began using more modern materials. The various styles which Martin used range from Queen Anne to shingle to Tudor, from Colonial Revival to Craftsman bungalows. His projects ranged from original designs to commercial work to alterations and additions.
Despite the diversity of styles which Martin employed, most of his designs reflect a mixture of detailed design and strength (largely the result of his background in architecture and engineering). His buildings are almost always identified by their blocky, square shape and use of masonry. Martin's attention to detail is evidenced by his buildings' structural features, such as patterning in the wall material, shape of the roofline, and overall symmetry.
His most popular work includes the Mary Beckman Memorial Methodist Episcopal Church on Main Street in Doylestown and the addition to the Mercer Museum, which houses the Spruance Library of the Bucks County Historical Society.
When World War I began, Oscar Martin was appointed director of construction and materials of Bucks County. He stayed in the position of County Engineer for twenty-five years, during which time he was responsible for erecting over 100 bridges, some of which were the largest in the county. He was also involved in the construction and maintenance of school buildings within the county.
Martin's son, Fred F. Martin, also pursued a career in architecture and took over his father's firm after Martin's death in 1942.
Education and Training
Drexel Institute of Technology, Philadelphia, PA, 1892, Architecture, BA, Engineering, BS
Connection to Bucks County
Oscar Martin was raised in Doylestown and attended Doylestown High School.
He opened an architectural practice in the Hart Building in Doylestown in 1896, and designed numerous domestic and commercial buildings in the area.
Martin also served as County Engineer for Bucks County for twenty-five years.
Martin's son, Fred F. Martin (1903-1971), also pursued a career in architecture. In 1928, Fred Martin joined his father's practice in Doylestown. After the death of his father he practiced independently and later formed a partnership with Douglad Gilmore (Martin & Gilmour).
Swartzlander House, Colonial Revival style, Main Street, Doylestown PA, 1896
Henry Kiser House, Colonial Revival style, Ashland at Pine, Doylestown, PA, 1905
Ausin Barndt House, Four-square brick, Ashland Ave, Doylestown, PA, 1908
William Edgear Geil House, Spanish Mission style, Easton Road, Doylestown, PA, 1912
Gargas House, Bungalow style, E. State Street, Doylestown, PA, 1915
Alfred Fretz House, Four-square stucco, Sellersville, PA, 1922
Joseph Baker House, Bungalow style, Doylestown, PA, 1925
J. Harry Hoffman House, Colonial Revival style, Doylestown, PA, 1926
Mark Thatcher, Esq. House, Tudor style, Perkasie, PA, 1927
Albert R. Haldeman, Tudor style, Doylestown, PA, 1928
Industrial, Commercial Buildings
W.G. Benner Horse Hospital, Oakland Ave, Doylestown, PA, 1894
T. Walter Wolf Cigar Factory, Doylestown, PA, 1905
Cornwells State Bank, Bensalem, PA, 1920
Chalfont Bank, Main Street, Chalfont, PA, 1924
Municipal, Service Buildings
Doylestown Firehouse, Doylestown, PA, 1902
Spruance Library (BCHS), Doylestown, PA, 1931-1934
Doylestown Public School, Doylestown, PA, 1904
Wycombe School, Wycombe, PA, 1912
Cornwells School, addition/alteration, Bensalem, PA, 1920
Salem Reformed, E. Court Street, Doylestown, PA, 1896
Mary Beckman Memorial Methodist Episcopal Church, S. Main Street, Doylestown, PA, 1902