PAUL RITTER MACALISTER was the son of Dr. Alexander Macalister and his wife, the former Sarah Holland Ritter. he was the youngest of five children, coming after Charles P., Elizabeth., Alexander G., and Robert S. Macalister. With home and offices on Federal Street, Dr. Macalister was a leading doctor in Camden for many years and was the personal physician to poet Walt Whitman.

Paul Macalister was born October 15, 1901. After attending art schools, the Yale University School of Fine Arts, and the Ecole-des Beaux Arts, and after years of practical work, he was widely known as a leading interior designer, with a studio in Manhattan. 

Paul Macalister served in the U.S. Navy during WW II in its Department of Training Devices, along with designer Henry Glass, under the head of its design program, Cleveland designer Viktor Schreckengost. MacAlister came to Chicago in 1946 to reorganize design at Montgomery Ward, and to conduct a color survey for them. He was one of the first designers to venture into television. He later served as a consultant and appeared frequently on the NBC Home Show. He developed and mass-produced a "Plan-a-Room" kit with scale furniture and room layouts that could be used to plan and organize home spaces for consumers.

MacAlister was president of the Industrial Designers Institute (IDI) in 1953. He founded, and for many years chaired, IDI's pioneer national design awards program, which began in 1951 and continued until 1965. He was awarded IDI Fellowship, which was honored by IDSA when it was formed in 1965 by IDI and other organizations. He lived in Lake Bluff, IL.

In 1974 he designed a cardboard kit to recreate an astrolabe, an astronomical instrument with a history going back to ancient times. The kit was published as part of a book by Roderick S. Webster titled “The Astrolabe. Some notes on its history, construction and use”.

Paul Macalister passed away on November 2, 1990.

Camden Courier-Post * February 9, 1938

Son of Camden Doctor

Paul R. Macalister Wins Praise
For Interior Decorating Art

Praised in Two National Magazines

Original ideas in beautifying home through interior decorating has brought praise to Paul R. Macalister from owners of mansions in New York and elsewhere,

Macalister is the son of Dr. Alexander Macalister, 626 Federal Street.

The London Studio, a national magazine on fine arts, home decoration and design, praises Macalister for his unusual methods.

"As he conceives it," the magazine says, ,"the interior design begins naturally with the walls; he considers absolutely essential that unity between architectural setting and furnishings which is the basis of the best contemporary work.

"For example in a recently completed interior which he calls a modern living and play room, two walls are recessed to provide for book shelves and concealed lighting; a curved bay along; one side 


offers opportunity for a wide plate-glass window, and this curve has suggested the semi-circular sofa, made in four sections so that it can be rearranged when new needs are imposed on the room.

"Providing for flexibility of arrangement is one of his favorite ideas.

"His work illustrates a background of technical knowledge, culture and the interest of life around him as did the great interior designers of the eighteenth century.

Studied Extensively

"Back of his admirable work is an extensive training at art schools, the Yale University School of Fine Arts, and the Ecole-des Beaux Arts, followed by years of practical work.

"In his studio in Rockefeller Center Macalister conceived and directed a display of furnishings for decorators' use known as the Permanent Exhibition of Decorative Arts and Crafts which occupied an entire floor in the main office building at Rockefeller Centre.

"He was the recipient of two scholarships from the Bozarts' Society in New York which permitted his study of the art in France. He stayed in that country for two years with his living quarters only three doors away from the former residence of Madame Pompadour.

"In his list of accomplishments is the entire interior decoration of the expensive home of George Vanderbilt, noted big game hunter, at Long Island, N. Y."

Town and Country, another magazine in this field, describes his work in the Vanderbilt home with high praise,

Blue Background Used

"The entrance was designed in Pacific blue, Lucille Vanderbilt's favorite color," the article says. "The floors of the vestibule, the hall and the stairs are in bright blue rubber, the walls a little less blue. The small circular library opens from the vestibule and has a blue carpet. A huge ceiling circles the indirect lighting. He designed all the furniture for the home with a white hornbeam wood, round desk with a rawhide top, bleached white, and lines recessed in the wood to eliminate metal handles.

"Off the library and stair hall is J the 30-foot long living room, with a big part of one wall cut out to take a great window of plate glass. The walls are the tone of a medium sun-tan powder, the carpet is brown, the fabric homespun. The wood used for game tables and, other furniture is bleached Cuban mahogany. From the divan, half-mooning around, a glass cigarette table, is a view of the sound.

"In the dining room the chair tapestries introduce brown jungle animals on yellow background. These and many other features of the home has caused wide-spread acclaim for the son of a Camden doctor.

"The use of rounded corners is a favorable device in his furniture, softening corners which otherwise might be too severe. The low table by the curved sofa which repeats the curve of the walls is circular, and the end stands are rounded."

Macalister was married shortly after finishing school here and has a daughter, Verner Peterson Macalister, named after her mother.