John and Donald Parkinson

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"The Parkinsons" redirects here. For the punk rock band, see The Parkinsons (band). For other uses, see Parkinson.
John B. Parkinson
Born (1861-12-12)December 12, 1861
Scorton, Lancashire, England
Died December 9, 1935(1935-12-09) (aged 73)
United States
Nationality English
Buildings Paradox Iron Brewery
Metropolitan Building
Holmby Hall
Donald D. Parkinson
Born (1895-08-10)August 10, 1895
United States
Died November 17, 1945(1945-11-17) (aged 50)
United States
Nationality American
Buildings Metropolitan Building
Holmby Hall

John B. and Donald D. Parkinson were a father-and-son architectural team operating in Los Angeles in the early 20th century.

John B. Parkinson[edit]

John B. Parkinson

Early years[edit]

John B. Parkinson (12 December 1861 - 9 December 1935) was born in the small village of Scorton, in Lancashire, England in 1861. At the age of sixteen, he was apprenticed for six years to Jonas J. Bradshaw, an architect and engineer in nearby Bolton, where he learned the meaning of craftsmanship and gained a strong knowledge of practical construction. Simultaneously, he attended night school at Bolton's Mechanics Institute, where he developed architectural drafting and engineering skills. Upon completion of his apprenticeship at age 21, he immigrated to North America as an adventure, where he built fences in Winnipeg and learned stair building in Minneapolis. Seeking to pursue his career back home, he returned to England only to discover that the English construction trades demanded more time and service for advancement. He decided that his then capabilities would be more appropriate to the less-structured opportunities in America. This time, Parkinson went to California, settling in Napa where he again worked as a stair-builder, but took on architectural commissions in his spare time.

Seattle practice[edit]

The Interurban Building, 2007

In January 1889, John Parkinson moved to Seattle, where he opened his first architectural practice after failing to secure a position as a draftsman. In March he entered a partnership with Cecil Evers, but this ended little more than a year later. Parkinson's early projects included the Olympia Hotel, Olympia (1889; destroyed), the Calkins Hotel, Mercer Island (1889; destroyed), and several residences. After the Great Seattle Fire of 6 June 1889, he secured several important business blocks, the Butler Block (1889–90; altered), and the Seattle First National Bank Building, later called the Interurban Building (1890–92), an exemplary work of Romanesque Revival architecture.

In 1891, Parkinson won the design competition for the B.F. Day School (1891–92; altered), located in the Fremont neighborhood of Seattle. Thereafter the Seattle School Board appointed Parkinson as the Seattle Schools Architect and Superintendent. Parkinson was responsible for all Seattle Schools projects over the next several years, including the Pacific School (1892–93; destroyed) and the Cascade School (1893–94; destroyed). He also designed the Seattle Seminary (1891–93)--the first building at Seattle Pacific University (now known as Alexander Hall); and the Jesuit College and Church (1893–94; altered)--the first building at Seattle University (now known as the Garrand Building).

Parkinson frequently published renderings of his buildings in the professional architectural press. He was an early member of the Washington State Chapter of the American Institute of Architects (predecessor to today's AIA Seattle chapter).

Parkinson invested in real estate and he was both architect and developer of the Seattle Athletic Club Building (1893–94; destroyed). His investments left him financially vulnerable when the Panic of 1893, the severe national depression, curtailed construction after June 1893. Parkinson's schools position was terminated by the Seattle School Board early in 1894. In 1893 and 1894, he entered several competitions, but failed to win any commissions.

Parkinson firm in Los Angeles[edit]

Faced with no projects, nor prospects for work in Seattle, John Parkinson moved to Los Angeles in 1894 and opened his architecture office on Spring Street between Second and Third Streets. By 1896, Parkinson had designed the city's first Class "A" fireproof steel-frame structure: the Homer Laughlin Building at Third Street and Broadway. His 1901 Susana Machado Bernard House and Barn has been designated as a Historic Cultural Monument and listed in the National Register of Historic Places. His design for the 1904 Braly Block at Fourth Street and Spring became the first "skyscraper" built in Los Angeles. It held the distinction of being the tallest structure in town until the completion of City Hall in 1928.

In 1905, Parkinson formed a partnership with G. Edwin Bergstrom which lasted for ten years. Parkinson and Bergstrom became the dominant architectural firm for major structures in Los Angeles. Bergstrom left to establish his own successful practice in 1915.

Parkinson & Parkinson[edit]

John Parkinson was joined in 1920 by his son, Donald B. Parkinson (1895—1945).

Parkinson & Parkinson designed many of Los Angeles' finest buildings, which became some of the city's most enduring landmarks. Found on the impressive roster are: the Campus Master Plan and several noted buildings of the University of Southern California (1919–39)[1], the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum (1923 and 1930–31), Los Angeles City Hall (1928, with Albert C. Martin/structural and John C. Austin/working drawings), Bullocks Wilshire (1929) and Union Station (1939). John Parkinson completed an important early renovation of Pershing Square in downtown Los Angeles.

Parkinson firm evolution[edit]

  • 1888–1889 John Parkinson, Architect (Napa, California and Seattle, Washington)
  • 1889–1890 John Parkinson and Cecil Evers, Architects (Seattle, Washington)
  • 1890–1894 John Parkinson, Architect (Seattle, Washington)
  • 1894–1895 Burton and Parkinson, Architects (Los Angeles, California)
  • 1895–1905 John Parkinson, Architect (Los Angeles, California)
  • 1905–1915 John Parkinson and G. Edwin Bergstrom, Architects (Los Angeles, California)
  • 1915–1920 John Parkinson, Architect (Los Angeles, California)
  • 1920–1945 John Parkinson and Donald B. Parkinson, Architects (Los Angeles, California)
  • 1945–1955 Parkinson, Powelson, Briney, Bernard & Woodford, Architects (Los Angeles, California)
  • 1955–1984 Woodford & Bernard, Architects (Los Angeles, California)
  • 1984–1990 Woodford, Parkinson, Wynn & Partners, Architects (Los Angeles and San Diego, California)
  • 1990–1992 DWL Parkinson Architects (Los Angeles and San Diego, California)
  • 1992–2008 Parkinson Field Associates (Los Angeles, California and Austin, Texas)

Selected works[edit]

References[edit]

  • Ochsner, Jeffrey Karl, "John Parkinson" in Shaping Seattle Architecture: A Historical Guide to the Architects (ed. Jeffrey Karl Ochsner), University of Washington Press, Seattle and London 1994, pages 28–32, 303, ISBN 0-295-97365-X
  • Ochsner, Jeffrey Karl, and Andersen, Dennis Alan, Distant Corner: Seattle Architects and the Legacy of H. H. Richardson, University of Washington Press, Seattle and London 2003, pages 49–52, 175-79, 225-28, 249-54, 283-85, 310-14, ISBN 0-295-98238-1.

External links[edit]