Alden B. Dow

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Alden B. Dow (April 10, 1904 – August 20, 1983) was an American architect. The son of Herbert Henry Dow (founder of the Dow Chemical Company) and Grace A. Dow, Dow is known for his prolific architectural design. During a career that spanned from the 1930s to the 1960s, he designed more than 70 residences and dozens of churches, schools, civic and art centers, and commercial buildings. His personal house in Midland, the Midland Center for the Arts, as well as the current building for the Grace A. Dow Library (named in honor of his mother) are examples of his work based in his hometown.

Biography[edit]

Education[edit]

Alden B. Dow attended the Midland Public Schools district, and following the custom of the day was sent to the University of Michigan to study engineering in preparation to enter his father's company. After three years, Dow became a student of architecture at Columbia University, and graduated in 1931.

Dow married Vada Bennett in 1931. Bennett, a daughter of Earl Bennett (an employee at the Dow Chemical Company), had three children with Dow: Michael Lloyd Dow, Mary Lloyd Dow, and Barbara Alden Dow.

After a year and a half of working with the architectural firm of Frantz and Spence in nearby Saginaw, Michigan, Alden and Vada studied with Frank Lloyd Wright at Taliesin in Spring Green, Wisconsin for the summer in 1933.

Early career[edit]

Following his brief ("a few months" [1]) apprenticeship with Frank Lloyd Wright, Dow opened his own studio in 1934.

Dow's sister was married to a Dr. Towsley in Ann Arbor and they designed an addition to the house that displayed Goodall's mastery of Descriptive Geometry, of which Wright was also a deft master. In addition to a very clever and beautiful skylight the roof at both places was set to be copper with alternating standing and batten seams. This gave the buildings a special texture in keeping with the blocks and was very handsome.

Dow described his own philosophy of design as "Architecture is more than the front face of the building. It is the location of the building. It is the plan of the building. It is the construction of the building. It is the heating and cooling of the building. It is the furnishing of the building. It is the landscaping of the building. It is, in its entirety, the manifestation of wholesome living."[2] While that may seem unique it was, in essence, Frank Lloyd Wright's philosophy.

He received the Diplome de Grand Prix at that 1937 Paris International Exposition for best residential design in the world, partly for his own home and design studio and also for his work on the John Whitman residence.[3]

In 1941, Dow officially incorporated his business as Alden B. Dow, Inc. The following year, Dow was tasked with designing a town in Texas to house those who worked at his father's Dow Chemical Company's site near Freeport, Texas. With his brother Willard and Dow Chemical Company executive A.P. Beutel, he chose a site west of Freeport that was formerly the site of the Abner Jackson Plantation. Dow designed the town, which they named Lake Jackson to hold 5,000 people. The layout was notable for its lack of straight streets; Dow felt that the winding roads would provide "something of a surprise around each turn."[4] The streets were given whimsical names, including the intersecting "This Way" and "That Way" as well as "Circle Way," "Winding Way," and "Any Way." Dow also provided the six designs used to build houses within the newly created town. The first residents arrived at the end of 1943.[4]

Growth[edit]

The name was changed again in 1963 to Alden B. Dow Associates Inc. as the business grew and more people joined the firm. Dow designed the Fleming Administration Building at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, completed in 1968. The building houses the offices of the University's president, and its narrow windows (all located above the first floor) and fortress-like exterior led to a campus rumor that it was designed in the wake of the student activism of the 1960s to be riot-proof. Dow was purportly offended by those rumors, insisting that the small windows were designed to be energy efficient.[5]

As time passed, Dow began to delve into other areas of architecture, designing many commercial and community buildings, especially in and around his hometown of Midland, Michigan.[3] Dow relinquished the chairmanship of his company in 1974 to Jim Howell.

As the crowning achievement of his 50-year career, Dow was named the architect laureate of Michigan in 1983. He died shortly after receiving that honor, on August 20, 1983.[3] That title has not been bestowed on anyone since Dow. The company name changed one final time after Dow's death. Alden Dow's company survived over six decades and is now known as Dow, Howell & Gilmore Associates Inc.[3] and is owned by its employees.

Six years later, in 1989, Dow's home, with its internationally recognized design, was designated a National Historic Landmark.[6]

Selected works[edit]

Midland Center for the Arts

Midland[edit]

  • Midland Country Club (1930), Midland, Michigan (demolished 2010)[7][8]
  • Residential Architecture of Alden B. Dow in Midland, Michigan Multiple Property Submission, a National Register of Historic Places Multiple Property Submission consisting of the following 13 houses built in Midland, Michigan, from 1933 to 1938:
    • Earl Stein House (1933), 209 Revere, Midland, Michigan[9]
    • F. W. Lewis House (1934), 2913 Manor, Midland, Michigan
    • Joseph A. Cavanagh House (1934), 415 W. Main, Midland, Michigan[10]
    • Sheldon Heath House (1934), 1505 W. St. Andrews, Midland, Michigan[11]
    • Alden Hanson House (1935), 1605 W. St. Andrews, Midland, Michigan
    • John S. Whitman House (1935), 2407 Manor, Midland, Michigan
    • Alden Dow House and Studio (1936), 315 Post St., Midland, Midland, Michigan, a National Historic Landmark
    • Charles MacCallum House (1936), 1227 W. Sugnet, Midland, Michigan
    • Howard Ball House, 1411 W. St. Andrews, Midland, Michigan
    • Oscar C. Diehl House, 919 E. Park, Midland, Michigan
    • George Greene House (1936), 115 W. Sugnet, Midland, Michigan
    • Donald L. Connor House (1936), 2705 Manor, Midland, Michigan
    • James T. Pardee House (1936), 812 W. Main St., Midland, Michigan
  • Dow Chemical Company Administrative Building (1937), also known as Dow Chemical Main Office, Midland, Michigan
  • Midland Central Park Bandshell (1938), Midland, Michigan
  • Midland Central Park Pool and Bathouse (1938), Midland, Michigan
  • Parents' and Children's Schoolhouse (1938), 1505 Crane Ct., Midland, Michigan, NRHP-listed[12][13]
  • Calvin A. and Alta Koch Campbell House (1939), 1210 W. Park Dr., Midland, Michigan, NRHP-listed[12][14]
  • Mr. and Mrs. Robert C. Reinke House (1941), 33 Lexington Court, Midland, Michigan, NRHP-listed[12][15]
  • Mr. and Mrs Frank Boonstra House (1941), 1401 Helen St., Midland, Michigan, NRHP-listed[12][16]
  • Donald and Louise Clark Irish House (1941), 1801 W. Sugnet Rd., Midland, Michigan, NRHP-listed[12][17]
  • Mr. and Mrs. Louis P. Butenschoen House (1941), 1212 Helen St., Midland, Michigan, NRHP-listed[12][18]
  • Charles and Mary Kempf Penhaligen House (1941), 1203 W. Sugnet Rd., Midland, Michigan, NRHP-listed[12][19]
  • Midland Hospital (1943), later known as MidMichigan Medical Center-Midland, built around a courtyard garden, Midland, Michigan
  • Grace A. Dow Memorial Library (1953), Midland, Michigan
  • Midland Community Center (1953), Midland, Michigan
  • Midland Skating Rink (1954), Midland, Michigan
  • Fire Station No. 1 (1955), Midland, Michigan
  • Midland County Courthouse Jail and Office addition (1955), 301 West Main Street, Midland, Michigan
  • King's Daughters Home (1956), Midland, Michigan
  • Midland Center for the Arts (1968), Midland, Michigan[20]
  • Dow Gardens Master Plan (1974), Midland, Michigan
  • Lower Pond Bridge and Upper Pond Bridge (1975), Midland, Michigan
  • Farmers Market (1973), Midland, Michigan
  • Visitor Center (1976), Midland, Michigan
  • Sun Bridge (1979), Midland, Michigan
  • Chemical Bank and Trust Company, Midland, Michigan
  • Dow Center Complex, Midland, Michigan

Ann Arbor[edit]

Ann Arbor City Hall
Fleming Administration Building
  • Harry and Margaret Towsley House (1932), Ann Arbor, Michigan, built for Dow's sister and her husband. It was the "first residence in the country designed with an attached garage facing the street." [21]
  • University of Michigan Women's Swimming Pool, Margaret Bell Building (1950), Ann Arbor, Michigan
  • Ann Arbor Public Library (1955 or 1956), Ann Arbor, Michigan
  • University of Michigan Botanical Gardens (1958), Ann Arbor, Michigan
  • Ann Arbor Community Center (1958), Ann Arbor, Michigan
  • Dunbar Community Center (1958), Ann Arbor, Michigan
  • Leonard Service Station (1960), Ann Arbor, Michigan
  • Institute for Social Research (1960), University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan
  • Ann Arbor City Hall (1960), also known as Guy C. Larcom, Jr. Municipal Building, 301 East Huron Street, Ann Arbor, Michigan
  • Conductron Corporation Offices (1961), Ann Arbor, Michigan
  • University Microfilms Building (1963), Ann Arbor, Michigan
  • Fleming Administration Building (1964), Ann Arbor, Michigan
  • University of Michigan Continuing Education Center (1965), Ann Arbor, Michigan
  • Greenhills School (1967), 850 Greenhills Dr., Ann Arbor, Michigan

Kalamazoo[edit]

  • Paul & Josephine C. Rood House (1937), Kalamazoo, Michigan
  • Kalamazoo Christian Church (1957), Kalamazoo, Michigan
  • Kalamazoo Nature Center (1961), Kalamazoo, Michigan
  • Kalamazoo Valley Community College (1966), Kalamazoo, Michigan[22]

Bloomfield Hills[edit]

  • Gordon Saunders House (1936), Bloomfield Hills, Michigan
  • Hellenic Orthodox Community Church of St. George (1962), also known as Sant George Greek Orthodox Church, 45816 Woodward Avenue, Bloomfield Hills, Michigan
  • Lynn A. & Ruth M. Townsend House (1963), 1485 Kirkway, Bloomfield Hills, Michigan

Elsewhere[edit]

Awards[edit]

Further reading[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Robinson, Sidney K., The Architecture of Alden B. Dow, Wayne State University Press, Detroit, Michigan 1983 p. 9
  2. ^ Brandt, Sheena. "A Student's Visit to the House". Delta College. Retrieved 2007-04-05. [dead link]
  3. ^ a b c d "History". Dow Howell Gilmore Associates Inc. Archived from the original on 13 March 2007. Retrieved 2007-04-05. 
  4. ^ a b "History of Texas Operations". The Dow Chemical Company. Archived from the original on 20 February 2007. Retrieved 2007-04-05. 
  5. ^ Holmes, Jake (2007-04-06). "Explained: Coleman's Castle". The Michigan Daily. Retrieved 2007-04-05. 
  6. ^ "Alden B. Dow House and Studio". State of Michigan History, Arts and Libraries. Archived from the original on 2007-03-09. Retrieved 2007-04-05. 
  7. ^ "'Architectural gem' demolished as renovations continue". Midland Daily News. April 20, 2010. 
  8. ^ "Midland Country Club". Central Michigan Night Out. 
  9. ^ "Earl R. & Mae Stein House". Michigan Modern, Michigan State Historic Preservation Office. 
  10. ^ "Joseph A. & Aimee Cavanagh House". Michigan Modern, Michigan State Historic Preservation Office. 
  11. ^ "Sheldon & Mary H. Heath House". Michigan Modern, Michigan State Historic Preservation Office. 
  12. ^ a b c d e f g h i "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2010-07-09. 
  13. ^ "Parents' & Childrens Schoolhouse". Michigan Modern, Michigan State Historic Preservation Office. 
  14. ^ "Calvin A. & Alta Koch Campbell House". Michigan Modern, Michigan State Historic Preservation Office. 
  15. ^ "Mr. & Mrs. Robert C. Reinke House". Michigan Modern, Michigan State Historic Preservation Office. 
  16. ^ "Mr. & Mrs. Frank Boonstra House". Michigan Modern, Michigan State Historic Preservation Office. 
  17. ^ "Donald & Louise Clark Irish House". Michigan Modern, Michigan State Historic Preservation Office. 
  18. ^ "Mr. & Mrs. Louis P. Butenschoen House". Michigan Modern, Michigan State Historic Preservation Office. 
  19. ^ "Charles & Mary Kempf Penhaligen House". Michigan Modern, Michigan State Historic Preservation Office. 
  20. ^ "Midland Center for the Arts". Michigan Modern, Michigan State Historic Preservation Office. 
  21. ^ Reade & Wineberg, ‘’Historic Buildings; Ann Arbor, Michigan’’, Ann Arbor Historical Foundation and the Ann Arbor Historic District Commission, Ann Arbor, MI 1992, p. 156
  22. ^ "Kalamazoo Valley Community College". Michigan Modern, Michigan State Historic Preservation Office. 
  23. ^ "LeRoy Smith House". Michigan Modern, Michigan State Historic Preservation Office. 
  24. ^ "Henry McMorran Memorial Sports Arena & Auditorium". Michigan Modern, Michigan State Historic Preservation Office. 
  25. ^ "Wayne State University Center Building". Michigan Modern, Michigan State Historic Preservation Office. 
  26. ^ "First Presbyterian Church". Michigan Modern, Michigan State Historic Preservation Office. 

External links[edit]