Contractor and Builder
131 S. 18th Street, 8th Ward
1899-12-27; Paper: Philadelphia Inquirer
"PROMINENT BUILDER ALLEN B. RORKE IS DEAD BUT HIS WORK WILL LIVE
Prominent Contractor Responds in the Night to the Inexorable and Entirely Unexpected Summons.
Sketch of His Long and Busy Career
Allen B. Rorke, the leading builder in this city during two decades of more, died of apoplexy at his residence, 131 South Eighteenth street yesterday morning at 2 o'clock. He was at his office in the Bourse on Saturdeay, attending to business and looking as well as usual; spent Sunday with his son, Allen B. Jr., in West Philadelphia; returned to his own home early in the evening, and after an hour's chat with Mrs. Rorke and his son, Frank, retired, feeling 'only a little tired.' A few minutes after retiring he complained of feeling ill, made an attempt to go to the bathroom, and fell to the floor. Christmas morning, at 9 A. M., the second stroke came and caused a total loss of consciousness, and so he remained until 2 o'clock yesterday morning, when he passed away. Drs. Bennett, Willard, Mills and DaCosta had been summoned in consultation, but the case seemed to them hopeless from the first. Paralysis rapidly extended on one side from the moment of the attack until the end.
Mrs. Rorke, the sons, Allen B. Jr., and Franklin M., were present, ministering to the sufferer and hearing his hopeful words until the moment when the second stroke rendered him, wholly unconscious. The only complaint that had given any warning of approaching trouble was that he frequently said he felt a little tired. He had suffered formerly from neuralgia, and when the partial stroke of Sunday evening came, he attributed it to that trouble. His physicians quickly informed the family of the serious nature of the case.
The funeral will be held on Friday from his late residence on South Eighteenth street. The interment will be at West Laurel Hill.
SKETCH OF A BUSY CAREER
Allen B. Rorke was the fourth in line of his family to be builders. He was born in Philadelphia, March 21, 1846. His great-grandfather emigrated frpm Dublin, Ireland, and located near Reading, Pa., where he, and his son James after him, became widely known as builders. The latter moved to Philadelphia at 18 and married the daughter of James Kitchen, also a builder. Their son, Allen B. attended the common schools till the age of 14, then apprenticed himself to a carpenter and afterwards engaged with his father. At 21 he had charge of important operations, such as the Pardee Scientific School, at Easton and Horticulture Hall, of the Centennial buildings. He started in business for himself in 1879, and soon won a place in the front rank. His contracts were always carried out with a disposition to do more rather than less than his specifications called for, and since that time he erected some of the greatest business structures in the city. His varied talents seem to have been inherited from both lines of his ancestors, and to have been remarkably developed by his own experience. The bold outlines and the finish of the structures erected by him seem to speak of his daring, sagacity and cultivation. Among the more conspicuous of these memorials are the Betz Building, the Philadelphia Bourse, the Spreckles sugar refinery, the National Export Exposition buildings, new Capitol buildings at Harrisbsurg, the new United States Mint at Seventeenth and Spring Garden streets, the new wing of the Aldine Hotel and many others. Among the unfinished undertakings of the great builder is a big hotel at Atlantic City. A vast amount of work on City Hall has been in recent years awarded to him. The following business places mark his work: The residence of Thomas Dolan on Walnut street about Eighteenth: the extensive cordage works of Edward Fitler & Company, at Bridesburg; the group of Buildings of McCallum, Crease & Sloan; the beautiful armory of the State Fencibles, on North Broad street; Thomas Dolan & Company's mills, the smokehouse, packing house, and stables of John H. Michener & Company, the Second and Third Streets Passenger Railwaay Company's depot and stables. John T. Bailey & Company's large cordage works, Hensel, Colladay & Company's large building on Seventh street. John T. Bailey's residence at Fifteenth and Master streets, Justice, Bateman & Company's warehouse, on Gothic street; the elaborate building of the Brush Electric Light Company, on Johnson street, above Twentieth; the office building of the Traction Company, at 423 Walnut street; the large spice warehouse of O. S. Janney & Company, on Letitia street; the store of Sichel & Meyer, on Arch street, below Eighth; the granite annex of the Bank pf Northern Liberties, the six dwelling houses at Thirty-eight and Locust streets, for Messrs. Henry B. Bunting and Joseph Sinnott; the store building for Jacob Reed's Sons, at second and Spruce streets; the Park Theater, at Broad street and Fairmount avenue; the retort and purifying houses of the gas works of the Twenty-fifth ward; Trinity Methodist Church, at Fifteenth and Mount Vernon streets; Marks Brother's store at Eighth and Arch streets; the large factory of the Hope Manufacturing Company, at Woodbury, N. J.; the office building of the Poth Brewing Company; the old and new Times Annex, on Samson street, west of Eighth, for the Times Publishing Company; the stables on Carpenter street, above Fourth, for the Item; the Philadelphia College of Pharmacy, on Tenth street, below Race; the immense building and plant of the Philadelphia Warehousing and Cold Storage Company, extending over a square, between Delaware avenue, Noble and Beach streets: the store building for James S. Wilson & Son, at 44 North Seventh street; the seven-story factory, at the corner of Cherry and Carmen streets, for J. R. Jones; the six-story office building for William Cramp & sons Ship and Engine Building Company; the ornamental manufactory building at Twelfth and Thompson streets, for Louis Schutte; the Lenox Mills, at Bridesburg; Boman Brothers & Company's Monitor Mills; Leedom's Mills, at Bristol; the gigantic storage warehouse of the Fidelity Company, on Market street, above Eighteenth; Merchant & Company's warehouse; Building No. 8, at Girard College, the dining hall of which will accommodate 1000 boys, and also buildings Nos. 9 and 10, on the same grounds; the attractive building occupied by the Manufacturers' Club, on Walnut street, west of Broad; the artistically designed and massively built edifice of the Western Savings Fund, at Tenth and Walnuts; the immense store on the Girard estate, at Eleventh and Market streets, occupied by Hood, Foulkrod & Company, and the six roomy stores which cover the rest of the black to Twelfth street, and which are so constructed as to give the appearance of but one store.
WAS ACTIVE IN POLITICS
For years, Mr. Rorke took a live interest in public affairs. He had long been a friend of Edwin H. Fitler, and when the latter was elected Mayor in 1887, Mr. Rorke was prominently mentioned in connection with the position of Director of Public Works. He withdrew his name, however. The following year, when there was a reorganization of the Republican City Committee and it was desired to place a business man at the head of the organization, he was the choice of James McManes and ex-Mayor Fitler for the position of chairman. The late William R. Leeds was the candidate of the opposition, but Mr. Rorke was elected. He remained the head of the committee until the fall of 1889, when he resigned. Since that time, however, he has continued to take an active part in Republican politics. He was several times urged as a candidate for the Mayorality, and in 1851 the labor men wanted him to run as an independent candidate, but he declined to oppose Edwin S. Stuart, the regular Republican nominee. For the past ten years, he has been closely associated with the United States Senators Quay and Penrose and Insurance Commissioner Durham. His advice was frequently sought by these men when any important political movement was being considered.
Mr. Rorke was a member of the Masonic Order, of the Odd Fellows, of the Legion of Honor, the Clover Club and a great many political clubs and organizations.