Edward L. Tilton
(born 1861, New York; died 1933, Scarsdale, New York)
1890 - 1915 Boring & Tilton
c. 1916 - c.1920 sole practice
1920 - 1933 Tilton & Githens
At the age of eighteen, Edward L. Tilton started working in a bank with the intent of making banking his life’s work. However, he changed career paths and entered the office of McKim, Mead & White, where he received architectural training. Starting in 1887, he spent three years at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris. In 1890 he went into practice with William A. Boring. The firm won the competition for the Immigration Station on Ellis Island and in 1900 they were awarded two gold medals at the Paris Exposition. After Boring's retirement in 1916, Tilton practiced alone. About 1920 he formed a partnership with Alfred Morton Githens.1
Tilton was a noted designer of library and educational buildings.2 In 1911, he delivered an address to a joint session of the Michigan and Ohio library associations. In his talk, “The Architecture of the Small Library,” he stated:
The function of the library, small as well as great, is limitless, in fact a small library may be greater proportionately in its influence, when controlled by a broad minded librarian, since the inhabitants of a small town have fewer opportunities to bring themselves within the influences which instruct eye, ear and mind, and therefore need to have these influences brought within the radii of their daily lives. The library as an educational factor is greater than the schools.3
He stressed that foremost a library was place for books and people. “[T]he essence of architectural art consists in good planning; elevations depend on individual taste and may be developed in many different styles. But of course the taste needs training.” He favored looking to the Renaissance and Gothic styles for inspiration.4
Beyond his work in architecture, he was recognized for his interest and work in classical archaeolog, an interest that had led, early in his career, to his participation in restoration work in Argos, Greece.5
Additions to Hoyt Library
Bay City Branch Library, 1922 6
McGregor Library, 12244 Woodward Avenue, 1926 7
1"Edward L. Tilton, Architect, Dead.” New York Times. 8 January 1933. 19.
2Henry Withey, and Elsie Rathburn Withey. Biographical Dictionary of American Architects (Deceased). Los Angeles, CA.: New Age Publishing Company. 601.
3Edward Lippincott Tilton. 1911. Vol, no.3 “The Architecture of the Small Library.” Michigan State Board of Library Commissioners. [Lansing, Michigan]: Michigan Library Commissioners. 29.
4Tilton “The Architecture of the Small Library”. 29.
5New York Times. 8 January 1933. 19.
6Dale Patrick Wolicki. The Historic Architecture of Bay City, Michigan. Bay City, Michigan: Bay County Historical Society. 1998. 180.
7 Kathryn Bishop Eckert. Buildings of Michigan. New York: Oxford UP. 1993. 114.