George Franklin Barber (1854-1915) was a remarkably successful practitioner of American domestic architecture in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Much of his success was due to his early and enthusiastic adoption of national promotion of sales catalogues for his own architectural plans for houses and cottages, with a complete willingness to customize the plans for any customer.
Barber was born in De Kalb, Illinois, in 1854. He lived in rural Illinois and later near Marmaton, Kansas. His rural upbringing prevented him from receiving anything more than a nominal education. Barber had an early interest in horticulture and farming, but his work as a carpenter and builder, in partnership with his brother Manley DeWitt Barber, seems to have led him to a career in carpentry, building, and finally architecture. In 1888 Barber moved to Knoxville for health reasons. He flourished as an architect in the rapidly growing postwar southern city. Barber published over a dozen mail order catalogs for residential architectural plans between 1888 and 1908. A sudden illness led to his untimely death in 1915.