Little documentation is available regarding the life or career of Philadelphia architect James C. Fernald (fl.1884–1929). His name is found in the Philadelphia city directory, where he is listed from 1884–1886 as a carpenter, and after 1887 as an architect. As represented in this collection, most of his projects were relatively small-scale, such as designs for stores or residential structures for individuals. However, other of his works were of public buildings, such as the Congregational Church on Sansom & 61st St., and the Hestonville Ice Manufacturing Plant & skating rink, in Hestonville, PA.
Gopsill's Philadelphia City Directory. Philadelphia: James Gospill, 1873, 1903.
Tatman, Sandra L. and Roger W. Moss, eds. Biographical Dictionary of Philadelphia Architects: 1700–1930. Boston: G.K. Hall & Co., 1985.
The collection consists of only seven items, all blueprints of designs for row houses in Philadelphia, including floor plans, elevations, and details. Only one of the plans is dated, to 1906, though the remainder are likely to have been created around the same time. In addition, James Fernald may have had some professional contact with another Philadelphia architect, Charles Edward Rahn (fl.1885–1933). Several of the plans in the collection are for Thomas G. Birmingham and John C. Knox, who were both clients of Rahn, and both architects created designs that were very similar in style.