Born in Oakwood, Ohio on January 15, 1891, Vancouver architect Blaine Ackley grew up in Ridgefield, Washington; specifically, in the Whipple Creek area. He attended boarding school in Portland, Oregon and graduated from Washington High School in 1910. As a student he was nicknamed the “Prof”, a fitting name since he later became a teacher. His first job out of high school was serving as the assistant director of the YMCA in Portland, however by the time he was drafted into the Army in 1918, his profession was listed as a school teacher at Union High School in Vancouver.
He was sent to School of Military Aeronautics in Berkley, California and then served briefly in the Aviation Corp at Camp Dix in Texas where he reached the rank of Private First Class before being honorably discharged November of 1918.
After the war he and his wife, Myrtle, briefly lived in San Diego but returned to Clark County by 1920. At that time Ackley continued teaching, and worked at Franklin School. Reportedly he began to study architecture and design independently, but received no formal degree or certification. While still a teacher, he received his first architectural commission in 1923; a school for the Riverview District in Yacolt. Other projects followed and by 1928 City Directories note Ackley was a full-time architect (one of only two in the city at the time). Known projects are limited to Lambert School (1926, 21814 NW 11th Ave, Richfield); a Boy Scout Lodge at Lake Merrill (1927, Cowlitz County); a two-room brick school in Ridgefield (1929); the Wisteria Court Apartments in Vancouver (1929); and the Normandy Apartments (1928, with Idaho architects Tourtellote & Hummel).
For reasons unknown, Ackley left Vancouver around 1929 and began working as an inspector for government contacts in DuPont, Washington. Reportedly it was a civil service position where Ackley mainly oversaw the construction of housing.
Ackley died unexpectedly at the age of 41 on January 13, 1932. He had been rushed to the hospital at Fort Lewis with a case of septicemia (blood poisoning) and never recovered. While his architectural career in Vancouver was brief, his son Coburn also became an architect and had a thriving practice in Vancouver during the 1950s and 60s.
Michael Houser, State Architectural Historian – Sept 2021