Henry V. Murphy

Henry V. Murphy (ca. 1888 - 17 May 1960) was a graduate of the Pratt Institute. He was most active as an architect for the Diocese of Brooklyn, for which he designed over 50 buildings. Murphy designed other institutional and public works, including schools, public housing and public health facilities. Murphy served as president of the New York State Association of Architects and of the Brooklyn chapter of the American Institute of Architects, and was a member of AIA's religious building committee.1

Murphy was a prolific mid 20th-century architect, much of whose work was carried out for the Diocese of Brooklyn and other ecclesiastical clients.  His work from at least the late 1920s on was characterized by an exuberant use of Deco and Modern details and massing in conjunction with more clearly historicist forms.  

Between 1936 and 1940, the Diocesan Building Commission published three yearbooks documenting ongoing construction with the Diocese of Brooklyn.  Over two dozen churches and related building designed by Murphy are represented in these volumes.  Based on these and other projects, it is clear that Murphy did not utilize a single style, but was instead comfortable in many styles.  Most of his work used modernist elements freely, but it did not represent a clean break with historical styles.  

His work was not characteristic of the Diocese’s overall projects from this period; in fact Murphy and another architect, A. F. Meissner, seem to be the only architects working for the Diocese during this period whose work could be classified as modern. Meissner also used modern details in his buildings, which at the same time clearly referenced the shingle and gothic styles.  The remaining architects represented in the “Building” series worked in very clearly historicist styles, with little or no reference to contemporary architecture.

In working for the Catholic Church, Murphy was working for a conservative client.  By bridging contemporary and historicist styles, Murphy was able to create buildings his client could be comfortable with, but at the same, reflected contemporary ideas in architectural practice.  His church buildings had to conform to very rigorous programmatic requirements, but the architect was able to move beyond simply decorating his work with contemporary designs toward actually integrating modern architecture with traditional forms and programs.  In his non-ecclesiastic buildings for the Diocese, Murphy was able to experiment even further with both form and decoration.
 

Buildings

  • St. Sebastian’s Convent, Woodside (no date)
  • Church of the Holy Child, Richmond Hill (1931?)
  • Immaculate Heart of Mary Church, Brooklyn (1932)
  • Convent of Our Lady of Lourdes, Aberdeen Street near Bushwick Avenue, Brooklyn (1934)
  • Our Lady of Refuge, 2020 Foster Avenue, Brooklyn (1934-1936)
  • Convent of the Little Sisters of the Poor, 797 - 819 Bushwick Avenue (DeKalb), Brooklyn (1935)
  • St. Josephus Hospital, Far Rockaway
  • Service Building (1935)
  • Hospital Building (1937)
  • St. Mary, Mother of Jesus Church, Brooklyn (alterations and additions, 1936)
  • Catholic Charities building, 239 - 251 Atlantic Avenue (Boerum Place), Brooklyn (alterations, 1936)
  • The Mary Louis Academy, Jamaica (1936 or 1937)
  • St. Anthony’s Rectory, Oceanside (1936 or 1937)
  • St. Joan of Arc School, Jackson Heights (1936 or 1937)
  • St. Raymond’s Convent, Lynbrook, L.I. (1937?)
  • National Shrine of St. Bernadette, 13th Ave, Bay Ridge (1937)
  • Provincial house, Redemptorist Fathers, 502 59th Street, Brooklyn (alterations, 1937)
  • Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal Church, Wyandanch, L.I. (1937?)
  • St. Athanasius School and Community Center, Brooklyn (1937)
  • Our Lady of the Isle Rectory, Shelter Island Heights, L.I. (proposal, 1937)
  • St. Patrick’s School and Convent, Bay Shore, L.I. (1937)
  • Ansonian Hall, 105 - 107 Greene Avenue, Brooklyn (alterations and additions, 1938)
  • St. Andrew of Avallino R.C. Church, Northern Blvd., Flushing (1940)
  • St. Anslem’s Convent, Brooklyn (proposal, 1940)
  • St. Joan of Arc Convent, Jackson Heights (proposal, 1940)
  • St. William the Abbot Rectory, Seaford, L.I. (proposal, 1940
  • Catholic Seaman's Institute, Hicks & Rapalye Streets, Carroll Gardens (1943)
  • St. Rose of Lima R. C. Church, Layton, Utah (1948)
  • Church of the Immaculate Conception, 29-01 Ditmars Blvd., Astoria (1950)
  • Our Lady of Grace Church, Greensboro, NC (1952)
  • Brooklyn Family Courthouse, 283 Adams Street (1955)
  • Archbishop Molloy High School, Briarwood (Jamaica?), Queens (1956)
  • Campus Master Pland, St. John’s University, Hillcrest, Queens (1954?)
  • Liberal Arts Building, St. John’s University, Hillcrest, Queens
  • St. John’s University, Hillcrest, Queens (three other buildings)
  • St. Francis of Assisi Church, Norristown, PA
  • Xaverian High School, Brooklyn
  • Holy Cross High School, Flushing, Queens
  • St. Mary Mother of Jesus School, Brooklyn
  • St. Bernadette’s School, Brooklyn
  • School of Nursing and Residence, Benedictine Hospital, Kingston, NY
  • P.S. 120, Brooklyn
  • P.S. 287, Brooklyn
  • South Beach Houses, South Beach, Staten Island (NYCHA)
  • Bushwick Health Center, Bushwick, Brooklyn
  • Holy Family School and Convent, Hicksville, L. I.
  • St. Raphael School, Auditorium, Convent and Rectory, East Meadow, L. I.
  • St. James School and Convent, Seaford, L. I.
  • Resurrection School, Rye, NY
  • Livingston Street, Brooklyn, NY (block alterations)

Awards

  • Livingston Street - Gold Medal, Downtown Brooklyn Association
  • Resurrection School - national award from Common Brick Manfacturer’s Association
  • St. Peter Claver Community Center - first prize, Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce
  • Holy Child Church - first prize, Queensboro Chamber of Commerce (1932)
  • Archbishop Molloy High School - first prize, Queensboro Chamber of Commerce
  • Liberal Arts Building, SJU - first prize, Queensboro Chamber of Commerce
  •  

Other

  • Member, Board of Design for new Civic Center, Brooklyn, NY
  • Member, AIA Committee on Religious Buildings
  • President, State Association of Architects
  • President, AIA Brooklyn Chapter
  • Graduated from Pratt Institute
  • 1. "Henry V. Murphy, Architect, Dead," New York Times, May 19, 1960.

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