William Channing Whitney

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William H. Hinkle-Murphy House, Minneapolis, 1886-87

William Ellery Channing Whitney[1] (11 April 1851 – 23 August 1945) was an American architect who practiced in Minneapolis, Minnesota.[2]

Born in Harvard, Massachusetts, the son of Benjamin F. Whitney, he was educated at Lawrence Academy at Groton, Massachusetts, and Massachusetts Institute of Technology and received his B.S. from the Massachusetts Agricultural College in 1872. After working in the Boston architectural office of William Ralph Emerson and Carl Fehmer for several years, he moved to Minneapolis in 1877-78, where he formed an architectural partnership with James C. Plant, 1879-85. He married Alma C. Walker on 6 October 1881[3] In 1885 he began to practice on his own and soon gained a reputation among the manufacturing and milling elite for his residential designs; he built residences for Frank Peavey, J.F. Bell, William Dunwoody and others. The house he built in St. Paul for Horace Hills Irvine, 1911–12, is now the Minnesota Governor's Residence.

He is credited with introducing neo-Georgian architecture to Minneapolis, in his design for the William J. Hinkle House (1886–87). Within the tasteful exteriors that appealed to his upper-class patrons, Whitney's houses were full of modern innovations, such as central vacuum-cleaning plants, electrical refrigeration, and intercom systems. With the reduced household staffing of the post-World War era, his efficient houses retained their value.

During the height of his career he served on the Board of Trustees of the Minneapolis Society of Fine Arts from 1888 to 1896. As a prominent architect of Minneapolis, he was selected to design the Minnesota Building at the World's Columbian Exposition, Chicago, 1893, in a Belgravia manner very like his residential structure,[4] under the impetus of the City Beautiful movement whose esthetic was expressed at the Exposition's "White City." He was a strong proponent of city parks and ennobling urbanistic schemes. Whitney was a member of the American Institute of Architects.

He trained a younger generation of architects in his office[5] and retired from active practice in 1925.

Selected houses, all in the Minneapolis-St Paul area[edit]

Other commissions[edit]


  1. ^ Frederick Clifton Pierce, The Descendants of John Whitney, Who Came from London, England, to Watertown, Massachusetts, in 1635. (Chicago) 1895:541-45
  2. ^ He was named for the Unitarian minister Dr. William Ellery Channing (1780-1842).
  3. ^ They had two daughters, Marion (b. 19 August 1882) and Katherine (b. 16 March 1888). (Pierce 1895)
  4. ^ The Dream City: Minnesota's Building
  5. ^ C.B. Chapman, Adam L. Dorr, and Serenus Colburn, his head draftsman until 1895, are mentioned at Northwest Architectural Archives, University of Minnesota: William Channing Whitney archives website.

External links[edit]