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Phillip Powell papers


Held at: James A. Michener Art Museum Archives [Contact Us]138 South Pine Street, Doylestown, PA, 18901

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the James A. Michener Art Museum Archives. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.

Overview and metadata sections

Phillip Lloyd Powell (1919-2008) was a woodworker and furniture craftsman in New Hope, Bucks County, Pennsylvania.

Born in the Germantown neighborhood of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1919, Phillip Lloyd Powell began crafting furniture during his teen years. After studying mechanical engineering at the Drexel Institute of Technology (now Drexel University) from 1939 to 1940 and then meteorology at Chanute Air Force Base in Rantoul, Illinois in 1942, he began working as a meteorologist in Great Britain with the Army Air Corps.

In 1947 Powell moved to New Hope, Bucks County, Pennsylvania where he purchased an acre of land and built a home. Inspired by furniture craftsmen George Nakashima and Wharton Esherick, Powell began developing his own designs in the early 1950s and selling them in his New Hope shop. By 1953 he had moved his showroom to Mechanic Street and was selling lamps as well as slate-topped tables and chairs. He opened his shop by appointment only, except on Saturdays when he opened it from 8PM to midnight to take advantage of the crowds going to the Buck County Playhouse. His business would do so well on Saturday nights that he did not need to be open the rest of the week.

When designer-craftsman and metal artisan Paul Evans moved to New Hope in 1955, Powell and Evans opened a joint showroom and began collaborating on screens, tables, and cabinets. Powell began incorporating metal into some of his designs.

In 1957 a Powell and Evans' metal sculptured-front chest was included in the Museum of Contemporary Crafts' seminal exhibition Furniture by Craftsmen, which showcased objects by such key participants in the Studio Furniture movement as Wharton Esherick, Sam Maloof, and George Nakashima. In 1961 Powell and Evans exhibited their work in a two-man exhibition at America House in New York.

Shortly after Powell and Evans ended their collaboration in New Hope in 1966, Powell began to travel extensively. He drew inspiration from his travels including places such as Sicily, England, Morocco, Portugal, Japan, and Spain, where he lived from 1976 to 1979, before returning once more to New Hope. Powell also frequently visited the Nataraj Grukul School in West Bengal, India and helped fund some much needed improvements to the school. Powell passed away in 2008.


James A. Michener Art Museum. "Phillip Lloyd Powell." Accessed September 15, 2016.

Phillip Powell papers, circa 1919-2008, consist of personal correspondence and documents, business records, exhibition and publicity materials documenting the artist's career, photographic and audiovisual materials, and other materials. There is a small amount of materials from Powell's friends, including other artists.

Personal documents from Powell include correspondence, a birth certificate, a passport, driver's license, immunization records, diplomas and certificates, military papers, fraternity documents, address book, a handwritten memoir, travel journals, notebooks with sketches and self-portraits, and other materials.

Business records include correspondence about Powell's work and career, invoices and receipts, notes, sales records, business cards and stationery, and other materials. There are also several catalogs, newspaper and magazine clippings, and magazines that document Powell's career and exhibitions.

Visual and audiovisual materials include photographs, photograph albums, negatives, slides, and a VHS cassette and DVD. There are photographs of Powell and others, several images from Powell's travels, and a number of images and slides of his artwork. The audiovisual materials are from Powell's participation in the Senior Artists Initiative project, 2006.

There is a small amount of materials from Powell's friend Arthur Williams, including correspondence, sketches, prints, and drawings. There are objects and textiles in the collection.

A more detailed finding aid, biographical note, or inventory for this collection may be available on-site or on the Archives' finding aid page:

Gift of Jane Bean, 2007

Summary descriptive information on this collection was compiled in 2014-2016 as part of a project conducted by the Historical Society of Pennsylvania to make better known and more accessible the largely hidden collections of small, primarily volunteer run repositories in the Philadelphia area. The Hidden Collections Initiative for Pennsylvania Small Archival Repositories (HCI-PSAR) was funded by a grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

This is a preliminary finding aid. No physical processing, rehousing, reorganizing, or folder listing was accomplished during the HCI-PSAR project.

In some cases, more detailed inventories or finding aids may be available on-site at the repository where this collection is held; please contact James A. Michener Art Museum Archives directly for more information.

James A. Michener Art Museum Archives
Finding Aid Author
Finding aid prepared by Sarah Leu and Anastasia Matijkiw through the Historical Society of Pennsylvania's Hidden Collections Initiative for Pennsylvania Small Archival Repositories using information provided by the James A. Michener Art Museum Archives
This preliminary finding aid was created as part of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania's Hidden Collections Initiative for Pennsylvania Small Archival Repositories. The HCI-PSAR project was made possible by a grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
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