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1948-49 Theatre Catalog, 7th Edition, Page 13 (3)

1948-49 Theatre Catalog, 7th Edition
1948-49 Theatre Catalog
1948-49 Theatre Catalog, 7th Edition, Page 13
Page 13

1948-49 Theatre Catalog, 7th Edition, Page 13

John Eberson

From an inconspicuous beginning in a small Austrian village to the dean of American theatre architects may seem like a tale from the annals of Horatio Alger, but it is the true story of John Eberson, senior member

of the architectural firm of John and Drew Eberson.

Born on January 2, 1875, son of a democratic thinking man who was a timber cruiser and shipper of White pine to England and the Americas, John Eberson inherited his fathers love and admiration for American democracy, and eventually found in America, the fulfillment of his early dreams, creative architecture.

As a youngster, he spent his early youth among the Rumanian peasants, obtaining his first schooling in the village of his birth. Eventually, through the hard work and persistence of his parents, he attended high school in Dresden, Saxony, and later was graduated from the University of Vienna. He then enlisted in the 14th Hussaren Regiment of the Austrian Army for one year, a privilege extended only to college graduates.

Today, in his unique position as a specializing designer, he has a record of having constructed more than 500 theatres throughout the United States and in many foreign lands. He is generally credited with the creation of the once famous thtmospheric Theatre", a design highly popular during the middle and late 1920s.

It was in the spring of 1901 when Eberson, with a passport and 100 fiorins in his pocket, boarded a ship in Bremerhaven Harbor enroute to the United States. He landed in New York, with a limited knowledge of English, and headed for St. Louis, which he knew had a large German-speaking population. Shortly after he was settled, he discovered that only 400 English words were needed to carry on an every-day conversation. Continued study at home, coupled with frequent attendance at church, where ministers spoke slowly and plainly, soon gave Eberson almost complete command of the English language.

Some time later, while engaged in operating an electrical supply and contracting shop, which eventually flopped, Eberson designed and installed electrical equipment, which included stage apparatus, for a theatre being built in Vicksburg, Miss. Through this, he met a St. Louis contractor, who was also an architect, scenic designer, and theatre promoter. A friendly business relationship was formed, and Eberson, for more than six years, acted as an architect, designer, and superintendent, specializing in theatre construction.

The responsibility of preparing plans and specifications for these theatres was given to Eberson. He then undertook the actual supervision of construction from test borings to excavation, from foundation work to the laying of brick, the detailing of millwork, and the framing of wood trusses as well as the electrical and heating layouts and installations. He worked in the field as carpenter, decorator, and scenic painter. He built flats, mixed glue paint, and sewed and stretched canvas. These years Of active work as jack-of-all-trades in theatre construction have given Eberson what it takes to be a practical theatre architect and builder whose works stand as architectural monuments.


His past experiences form a strong and telling background for his present activities, which, in conjunction with his son whose education and experiences in the military engineering field, lends a world of talent, good taste, and necessary economic character to all of their designs and specifications.

Eberson, at present, as in the past, is a very active man. He is a devoted husband, father, and grandfather. His wife, Mrs. Beatrice Eberson, collaborates with father and son in the decorative branch of theatre architecture. Mr. and Mrs. Eberson make their home at 14 Sutton Place South, New York City, until the completion of their new American farmhouse in Connecticut, nTwin Brooks".

In addition, Eberson is a member of the American Institute of Architects, the Architectural League, Society of Architects,

and the Building Congress, all of New York. He is also a member of the Society of Motion Picture Engineers and the Variety Club of Washington, D. C., but he does not belong to any social or golf clubs for, as he puts it, UI just havenit got the time to hit a ball and then go and look for it? Quite a warrior!
1948-49 Theatre Catalog, 7th Edition, Page 13