Spokane architect Charles Irving Carpenter was born in Chicago in 1888. His formal training, if any is unknown. He arrived in Spokane via Chicago in 1912 and initially was an instructor at North Central High School. Shortly thereafter he reportedly served as superintendent of buildings and grounds for Spokane public School system. During WWI he served in the Army Air Service, production branch.
After the war, in 1919, he joined the older and more experienced Karl G. Malmgren (former partner of well-known architect Kirtland K. Cutter), in a new architectural partnership. Both men received their architectural licenses that year; the year the state first began to award such licenses. After Malmgren died of throat cancer on May 21, 1921 at the age of 58, Carpenter continued an independent practice.
Over the course of his career, he reportedly designed a variety of building types including courthouses, schools, dwellings, lodge buildings, and city halls and his projects were touted good, timeless designs by the local newspaper.
Carpenter’s work found favor on the Central Washington University Campus in Ellensburg, where he designed numerous projects on campus over a ten-year time span. Projects included an addition and interior renovations to Kamola Hall (1919, 1922); Sue Lombard (1927) and Munson dormitory halls (1927); the library / Smyser Hall (1926); the Samuelson Student Union Building (1929); and an addition to the main administration building (1935).
Other educational projects included a 16-room schoolhouse in Wrangel, Alaska (1931); Martin Hall at Eastern Washington University (1938, with George Rasque); an addition to West Valley High School in Millwood (1937); and his last project before his death, Moscow High School (1938) in Moscow, Idaho.
Other known projects include the Elks Lodge in Wallace, ID (1924); Portfors Motor Co. Garage (1928) in Spokane; the Clearwater Co. Courthouse (1929) in Orofino, Idaho; the Sigma Alpha Epsilon Fraternity House (1932) in Moscow, Idaho; and the G.O. Rogers House (1936) in Spokane.
Carpenter lived in the Breslin Apartments for most of his career and did not get married until late in life at the age of 41 in 1926. His wife, Carrie D. Hitchock was a school teacher.
He was active in fraternal circles and was a member of the Masons and Elks and American Legion Post No. 9. Respected by his peers he also served as secretary and treasurer of the Spokane Society of Architects (1936), an alternative organizations to the AIA.
Carpenter died suddenly at the height of his career after a short illness on December 25, 1938 and is buried at Riverside Park Cemetery in Spokane. While his known projects are limited, his death was reported in the Spokane as well as Seattle, each of which noted that he was an important pioneer architect in Eastern Washington and Northern Idaho.
By Michael Houser, State Architectural Historian - January 2017
The American Architect – Oct 26, 1921. pg 332.
“Passing of Mr. K.G. Malmgren” Architect & Engineer – Oct. 1921 pg 107.
“New Dormitory Planned at Ellensburg Normal School” Seattle Times – Feb. 4, 1923.
“Handsome New Normal School Library Building is About Ready for Use” Ellensburg Daily Record – Dec. 19, 1925.
Marriage Certificate – No. 38420, Sept. 7, 1926.
“New Dormitory Named Sue Lombard Hall” Seattle Times – Sept. 28, 1926.
“New Dormitories Occupied Shortly” Ellensburg Daily Record – Dec. 2, 1926.
“Two New Dorms Are Ready When Students Arrive” Ellensburg Daily Record – Dec. 30, 1926.
“New Dormitory at Normal School is Completed” Seattle Times – Jan. 16, 1927.
“Hope To Invite Bids Next May on New Building” Ellensburg Daily Record – Mar. 12, 1928.
“Geologists Will Conduct Survey” The Spokesman Review – Apr. 29, 1928.
“Build School in Alaska” The Spokesman Review – Nov. 21, 1931.
“Building to go Up” The Spokesman Review – Mar. 26, 1932.
“Medical Lake Plans Approved” Spokane Daily Chronicle – Oct. 12, 1935.
“New High School For Moscow” The Spokesman Review – Nov. 22, 1935.
“Architects’ Head” Spokane Daily Chronicle – Jan. 21, 1936.
“Rogers Home on West Twenty-Fourth” Spokane Daily Chronicle – Oct. 13, 1936.
“West Valley H.S. To Be Enlarged” Spokane Daily Chronicle – Nov. 24, 1936.
“Consider Future When Building” The Spokesman Review – Jul. 12, 1937.
“Plan Work Soon On Moscow High” Spokane Daily Chronicle – Oct. 9, 1937.
“Admission Made By Hildebrandt” Spokane Daily Chronicle – Jan. 31, 1938.
“C.I. Carpenter, Architect, Dies” The Spokesman Review – Dec. 26, 1938.
“Charles I. Carpenter, Architect, Passes” Seattle Daily Times – Dec. 26, 1938.