Community Member Feature: WCH Architect George M. D. Lewis

Today’s issue of the Scranton Times features a segment on George M.D. Lewis; this article was written as a component of their series titled: 150 People who made Scranton Great, which focuses on those who have left an everlasting impact on the city. To follow suit, we thought now would be a good time to introduce the innovative architect & emphasize his contribution not only to the city of Scranton, but to the community of Waverly ,particularly with his role in constructing the Waverly Community House.

G Lewis

When the Belin family began discussing their plans for the proposed memorial to their recently deceased patriarch,they were initially unsure of how to actualize their vision. Discussions of a memorial park were suggested, however, son Paul Beck Belin thought that simply offering a space for outdoor recreation was limiting to the community. One night, the Belins met with George M. D. Lewis, who had just returned from fighting in WWI with Margaretta Belin’s grandson, Nathaniel Robertson. When the conversation turned to the memorial conception, Lewis, an architectural school graduate, had much to offer on the subject. A frequent reader of professional publications, George M.D. Lewis brought forth the idea of building a community house; this suggestion resonated with both Paul and his mother because it would allow the community to enjoy both indoor & outdoor recreational space. Consequently, the Waverly Community House was conceptualized, and plans were drafted by Lewis, who was more than eager to get his career started. The architect’s inspiration for the renowned design reflects heavy influence from Philadelphia’s Independence Hall & other federal buildings in the US.

WCH First Floor JH

WCH First Floor Plan

In the months following the initial dinner discussion between the Belin family & George Lewis, the Waverly Community House was constructed. Residents marveled at the building’s unique design & the amount of facilities that it offered such as: a post office, auditorium, bowling alley, and much more.

Shortly after Lewis started working on the WCH’s design, he began his career working with fellow designer Edward Davis. As discussed in the Scranton Times piece, he later went on to become one of the most innovative & distinguished architects in Scranton. He is particularly remembered for his contribution to the area’s architectural landscape transformation. Some individual buildings he is credited with designing are: the Scranton Times building, Hahnemann Hospital (now the Community Medical Center), & the Scranton State School for the Deaf, among many others. The Waverly Community House however, was Lewis’ first commissioned piece of work, which undoubtedly makes him an integral component of our history.

For more on Lewis, you can view the Scranton Times article here: http://thetimes-tribune.com/news/150-people-who-made-scranton-great-george-lewis-1.2014726

Sources: Classical Scranton: Davis and Lewis 1920-1943 (Josephine Dunn & Edward D. Lewis).

 

 

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