b. 12/11/1839 Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. d. 27/06/1912 Upper Providence, Pennsylvania.
DATE OF MOH ACTION: 12/06/1864 Trevillian Station, Virginia.
Furness was born in Philadelphia on November 12, 1839. His father, William Henry Furness, was a prominent Unitarian minister and abolitionist, and his brother, Horace Howard Furness, became America's outstanding Shakespeare scholar. Frank, however, did not attend a university and apparently did not travel to Europe. He began his architectural training in the office of John Fraser, Philadelphia, in the 1850s. He attended the École des Beaux-Arts-inspired atelier of Richard Morris Hunt in New York from 1859 to 1861, and again in 1865, following his military service. Furness considered himself Hunt's apprentice and was influenced by Hunt's dynamic personality and accomplished, elegant buildings. He was also influenced by the architectural concepts of the French engineer Viollet-le-Duc and the British critic John Ruskin.
Furness's first commission, Germantown Unitarian Church (1866–67, demolished ca. 1928), was a solo effort, but in 1867, he formed a partnership with Fraser, his former teacher, and George Hewitt, who had worked in the office of John Notman. The trio lasted less than five years, and its major commissions were Rodef Shalom Synagogue (1868–69, demolished) and the Lutheran Church of the Holy Communion (1870–75, demolished). Following Fraser's move to Washington, D.C., to become supervising architect for the U.S. Treasury Department, the two younger men formed a partnership in 1871, and soon won the design competition for the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (1871–76). Louis Sullivan worked briefly as a draftsman for Furness & Hewitt (June - November 1873), and his later use of organic decorative motifs can be traced, at least in part, to Furness. By the beginning of 1876, Furness had broken with Hewitt, and the firm carried only his name. Hewitt and his brother William formed their own firm, G.W. & W.D. Hewitt, and became Furness's biggest competitor. In 1881, Furness promoted his chief draftsman, Allen Evans, to partner (Furness & Evans), and, in 1886, did the same for four other long-time employees. The firm continued under the name Furness, Evans & Company as late as 1932, two decades after its founder's death.
During the Civil War, Furness served as Captain and commander of Company F, 6th Pennsylvania Volunteer Cavalry ("Rush's Lancers"). He received the Medal of Honor for his gallantry at the Battle of Trevilian Station.
Voluntarily carried a box of ammunition across an open space swept by the enemy's fire to the relief of an outpost whose ammunition had become almost exhausted, but which was thus enabled to hold its important position.
BURIAL LOCATION: LAUREL HILL CEMETERY, PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA.
Plot: Section S, Lot 94