James Edwin Ruthven Carpenter Jr. was the leading architect of luxury residential high-rise buildings in New York City in the early 1900s. He studied at the University of Tennessee and at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, from which he graduated in 1884. He then studied at the École des Beaux Arts in Paris.
Carpenter worked in Nashville, Tennessee in 1888, in Norfolk, Virginia in 1890, and later in New York City; he published an architecture book, Artistic Homes for City and Suburb, in 1892. He designed the Epworth Methodist Episcopal Church at Norfolk. Carpenter’s first commission, in 1909, was for 116 East 58th Street, a nine-story apartment house, since demolished. His designs in Tennessee include the Columbia military arsenal, the Maury County Courthouse, the Kirkland Tower at Vanderbilt University, the Hermitage Hotel, Lynmeade Mansion and the Stahlman Building in Nashville, the Hurt Building in Atlanta, the American National Bank Building, and several noteworthy buildings in New York City, including 907 Fifth Avenue, 620 Park Avenue, 625 Park Avenue, 825 Fifth Avenue, 819 Park Avenue, 550 Park Avenue, completed in 1917, and the Lincoln Building, completed in 1930.
One distinctive aspect of Mr. Carpenter’s work is his pairing of buildings — sibling structures facing each other across a side street, like 1115 and 1120 Fifth, at 93rd Street; 1148 and 1150 Fifth, at 96th Street; and 1165 and 1170 Fifth, at 98th Street.