Edwin Carpenter, nationally renowned architect of high-rise apartments in New York City, was born in Mt. Pleasant in 1867. His undergraduate training came at the University of Tennessee in 1885 and then the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he received a degree in architecture in 1887. After graduation, Carpenter worked at the Boston office of McKim, Mead, and White, a nationally significant firm, but he had returned to Tennessee to establish his own practice by 1890. From 1900 to 1901 Carpenter studied at the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris, France, where he was a classmate of the American architect John Russell Pope.
Carpenter's first Tennessee commissions came in his native Maury County, where he designed the Columbia military arsenal, later the Columbia Military Academy, in 1890-91. In the next decade Carpenter moved his office to New York City, but maintained an active Tennessee practice. He designed the Maury County Courthouse (1904-6) in Columbia, and his major Nashville commissions included the Stahlman Building (1903), the city's first skyscraper; rebuilding Kirkland Tower at Vanderbilt University (1905-6); and the Hermitage Hotel (1908-10). Carpenter also designed Lynmeade, a Nashville mansion, for his brother James Carpenter in 1913. The Hermitage Hotel and Lynmeade were exceptional Nashville examples of Beaux Arts Classicism.
Carpenter's national successes came in New York City. With offices on Madison Avenue, Carpenter became a popular architect of Renaissance Revival-style apartment complexes and was called the father of modern apartment design in the city. He successfully fought a city regulation that limited the height of residences on Park Avenue and Fifth Avenue to seventy-five feet in height. Soon an apartment and office complex boom was underway in this part of New York City. His most important designs included the apartment houses at 116 East Fifty-eighth Street, 960 Park Avenue, 630 Park Avenue, East Seventy-fifth Street, and the Lincoln Building (1930), a fifty-three-story high-rise on East Forty-second Street. His practice was not exclusively limited to New York. In 1925, for example, he joined Howard Major in the design of the apartments of the El Patio Marino resort at Palm Beach, Florida.
Carpenter received gold medals from the New York City chapter of the American Institute of Architects in 1916 and 1928. He died in New York City in 1932.