Who is Fred Wesley Wentworth

Fred Wesley Wentworth, 1920

Fred Wesley Wentworth was a highly accomplished and respected architect based in Paterson, NJ in the years between 1888 and 1943. His work and significant accomplishments are largely unrecognized and undocumented until now.

Wentworth’s practice included institutional, commercial and religious buildings and prototype buildings for emerging property types — moving picture theatres, aeronautics manufacturing, downtown hotels, parking garages  and others. His work developed standards for several of these building types. In the course of his career, he was widely recognized. Wentworth was President of the New Jersey Chapter of the American Institute of Architects, a Fellow in the AIA and member of the State Board of Architects. Wentworth’s designs were always functional and often the buildings are beautifully designed.

Because of the specialized nature of many of his most significant buildings, many of Wentworth’s buildings are abandoned or underutilized today. His reputation has also suffered because the City of Paterson has struggled over the past few decades and many buildings in Paterson – including many of Wentworth’s – have fallen on hard times. Given all these factors, Wentworth is not especially well known, making the story of his life his many accomplishments and the times he lived in even more compelling.

Wentworth in 1900. Paterson’s leading architect.

The setting for Wentworth’s story is the City of Paterson, New Jersey. Paterson was a dynamic and vital city when Wentworth first arrived and boomed during the years of his lifetime. During the period Wentworth lived in Paterson, the city’s population nearly tripled. For a period during Wentworth’s lifetime, was the fastest growing city in America. Over time, and often in fits and starts, the city transformed itself from a “closely held”, relatively small manufacturing city to a complex mix of manufacturing, retailing, entertainment and commerce with a vibrant downtown and a wide variety of neighborhoods.  Wentworth witnessed it all and contributed to most of it. Many of the most innovative of those activities took place in Wentworth designed buildings.