As a young man, Artis Thomas Ore worked in construction for others, but it wasn't too long before he started his general contracting company, Artis T. Ore Inc. Building Enterprises.

"He wanted to be in control of his own destiny and forge his own path," son Gregory said. "He wanted to be his own boss."

Mr. Ore's company was part of a joint venture with L.F. Driscoll that built the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts, which opened in 2001.

Mr. Ore, 74, of East Oak Lane, died in his sleep Monday, Dec. 19. The death was from natural causes, his son said.

Mr. Ore was one of the first African Americans to become a member of the Carpenters' Company, a spokeswoman for his business said.

The Carpenters' Company was organized in 1724 and is the oldest craft guild in North America. Its members in 1770 built Carpenters' Hall, now in Independence National Historical Park, which was the site of the First Continental Congress in 1774.

"You have to be invited to become a member of the company," said Cynthia Malachi White, controller for Artis T. Ore Inc.

Mr. Ore's name and company are listed on the Carpentershall.org website as a member since 1991.

Born on Oct. 28, 1942, in Spring Hope, N.C. to Richard Vernon Ore and Annie Morgan, Mr. Ore was the younger of two sons.

The following year, the family moved to Philadelphia, where Mr. Ore grew up in West Philadelphia, graduating from West Philadelphia High School. He earned a degree in construction technology from Spring Garden Institute, now Philadelphia University.

In 1966, he met and married Verlette Alene Young, Gregory Ore said. They were married for 40 years until her death in 2006. They had a daughter, Kia Verl Ore, in addition to their son. Mr. Ore later married Barbara Jean Price in 2010.

Gregory Ore was 10 in 1978 when Mr. Ore decided to launch his general contractor business.

"I was very proud of that," Gregory Ore said. "It took a lot of courage during that time for him as an African American in the construction industry to start his own company."

In addition to the Kimmel Center, Mr. Ore's company, which is based in Germantown, built the United House of Prayer for All People at 16th and Fitzwater Streets, North Philadelphia Seventh-day Adventist Church at 16th and Oxford Street, and Kappa Alpha Psi International Headquarters on Broad Street near York Street.

He also was a joint builder of several buildings on Temple University's campus, several Rite Aid stores, and other buildings around Philadelphia, said Cynthia Malachi White, a spokeswoman for the company.

In his spare time, Mr. Ore played tennis and golf, and practiced martial arts, Gregory Ore said.

In addition to his wife, son, and daughter, Mr. Ore is survived by son John Price III, a brother, two granddaughters, and a grandson.

Funeral services will be at 10 a.m. Wednesday, Dec. 28, at Enon Tabernacle Baptist Church, 230 W. Coulter St. Friends may call starting at 9 a.m.

Interment will be at Ivy Hill Cemetery.

Donations may be made to Legacy Youth Tennis and Education, 4842 Ridge Ave., Philadelphia 19129.

russv@phillynews.com 215-854-5987 @ValerieRussDN