John C. Austin

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John C. Austin
John C. Austin.jpg
Austin in 1930
John Corneby Wilson Austin

(1870-02-13)February 13, 1870
DiedSeptember 3, 1963(1963-09-03) (aged 93)
Resting placeMountain View Cemetery, Altadena, California

John Corneby Wilson Austin (February 13, 1870 – September 3, 1963) was an architect and civic leader who participated in the design of several landmark buildings in Southern California, including the Griffith Observatory, Los Angeles City Hall, and the Shrine Auditorium.


Born in Bodicote, Oxfordshire, England, Austin was an apprentice to architect Williams S. Barwick in the late 1880s.[1] He moved to the United States and worked as a draftsman for architect Benjamin Linfoot of Philadelphia from 1891–1892, before relocating to San Francisco where he was a draftsman at Mooser and Devlin from 1892-1895.[1] He moved to Los Angeles in 1895,[2] and became one of the city's leading architects.

Austin was also active in civic affairs in Los Angeles. He was elected President of the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce in January 1930.[3] As head of the Chamber of Commerce, Austin initiated a public-art campaign to beautify the city through the erection of statuary and monuments.[4] One of the issues on which Austin became a leader was the need to develop a larger water system for Los Angeles.[3] He spoke publicly and was an advocate in the business community in favor of a 1930 bond issue to raise $38.8 million to develop the city's water supply.[5]

As the Great Depression deepened in Los Angeles, Austin also advocated federal spending as a means to stimulate the economy. In April 1930, a letter from Austin to President Herbert Hoover was published in the Los Angeles Times. In it, Austin proposed the creation of an emergency fund, raised by taxation or appropriation, which could be used to develop public improvements and to provide needed employment.[6] Austin argued that such programs were needed so that otherwise good citizens not fall "prey to the propaganda of Communists and agitators against our institutions."[6] In January 1931, after expressing concern that "we are just drifting along in this matter," Austin traveled to Washington, D.C. to press for federal construction projects in Los Angeles.[7] Austin announced that he was going east "with a crowbar to try and pry something loose," vowing to stay as long as he felt he could help get things started.[7] Later that year, President Hoover appointed Austin to coordinate the federal government's unemployment relief efforts in ten Southern California counties.[8][9] Shortly after his appointment to the relief effort, however, Austin's wife of 29 years, Hilda Violet Austin, the mother of nine children with Austin, died at their home in Pasadena.[10]

Austin also served as the President of the State Board of Architectural Examiners,[10] a member of the National Labor Board responsible for labor disputes in Southern California,[11] President of the Southern California Historical Society, President of the Jonathan Club, and a 32nd degree Mason.[2] In 1949, the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce presented Austin with its first ever Achievement Award.[12] In 1963, Los Angeles Mayor Samuel Yorty presented Austin with a scroll commending him "for serving in an outstanding manner as a distinguished architect."[2]

Austin died in 1963 at his home in Pasadena, California.[2]


Griffith Observatory
Hollywood Masonic Temple
LA City Hall

Austin's work as an architect includes:

With Frederic Morse Ashley (1870-1960)[edit]

Other works[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "Architect DB - architect record on John C. Austin". University of Washington Libraries.[permanent dead link]
  2. ^ a b c d e f g "John C. Austin, Dean of Architects, Dies: Distinguished Works Included Many of Southland's Famous Landmark Buildings". Los Angeles Times. September 5, 1963. p. II-3 – via
  3. ^ a b "Austin Chosen Chamber Head". Los Angeles Times. 1930-01-09.
  4. ^ "Public-Art Drive Planned: Chamber Will Encourage Citizens to Give Statues and Monuments for City's Beautification". Los Angeles Times. 1930-03-10.
  5. ^ "Water Aids City Growth: Voters to be Warned Los Angeles' Future Hangs on Bond Issue at Meeting Tomorrow". Los Angeles Times. 1930-04-15.
  6. ^ a b "Business Aid Plan: Chamber Head Sends Letter to President Hoover Asking National Fund for Emergencies". Los Angeles Times. 1930-04-21.
  7. ^ a b "Uncle Sam To Be Urged: John C. Austin Will Go to Washington to Speed Up Federal Building Projects Here". Los Angeles Times. 1931-01-08.
  8. ^ "Relief Work To Be Unified: John C. Austin Undertakes Task for Southland; Efforts for Unemployed Will Be Co-ordinated; Well-Rounded Program to Be Worked Out at Once". Los Angeles Times. 1931-10-20.
  9. ^ "Organization Plans Made: John C. Austin Explains Relief Policies; Southland to Follow Ten County Division Idea". Los Angeles Times. 1931-10-21.
  10. ^ a b "Mrs. Austin Rites To Be Tomorrow: Final Tributes Arranged for Church Worker Who Was Wife of Architect". Los Angeles Times. 1931-11-27.
  11. ^ "Two Appointed to Labor Board: Austin and Stevens to Help End Industrial Rifts; Both Wire Their Acceptance to National Official". Los Angeles Times. 1933-11-25.
  12. ^ Charles C. Cohan (1949-03-18). "Building Honors Given to Architect: John Austin Gets Honor at Construction Industries Dinner for Outstanding Service". Los Angeles Times.
  13. ^ Heumann, Leslie; Doehne, Anne (March 2002). "Historic Schools of the Los Angeles Unified School District" (PDF). Los Angeles Unified School District.
  14. ^ Los Angeles Times, April 26, 1936, page D2
  15. ^ Los Angeles Times, April 21, 1937, page A5
  16. ^ Bernard, Diana (March 24, 1989). "Glitzy Gala Attracts Sellout Audience" (PDF). The Federalist. Vol. 104, no. 6. Alexander Hamilton High School. p. 1.
  17. ^ "Park's New Unit Ready: Decorating Bid Approved; Grounds Landscaped; Opening Later". Los Angeles Times. 1934-10-03. ("The Griffith Observatory, erected in Griffith Park ..., has been completed by the contractor, ... the Park Commission was notified through John C. Austin, architect.")
  18. ^ "California State Building demolition".
  19. ^ "Carnegie Library home of Anaheim Museum". City of Los Angeles. Archived from the original on 2008-05-15.
  20. ^ "Shrine Building Triumph of Art". Los Angeles Times. 1926-01-20.
  21. ^ "Deadlock on Architects: Public Works Board Selects Own City Hall Firm; Parley With Council Fails of Compromise". Los Angeles Times. 1925-03-03.
  22. ^ "High City Hall Need Explained: Architect Says Plan Means Saving to Taxpayer; Realty Board Members Told of High-Tower Value". Los Angeles Times. 1926-04-18.
  23. ^ "Hall Architects Praised: Works Board Commends Trio for Design and Speed in Erecting New City Offices". Los Angeles Times. 1928-03-27.
  24. ^ "Hall of Justice". Emporis. Archived from the original on September 17, 2004.
  25. ^ Architect and Engineer Volume 48-51. 1917. pp. 70–71. ISBN 978-1231199312.
  26. ^ "The Demolition of Los Angeles High School, 1971". August 6, 2007.