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Charles E. Finkenbinder

1879
1954
Bibliography: 

“Nomination of Socialist Party” Evening Statesman, Oct 26, 1906.

“Accept School at Prescott” Spokesman Review, August 24, 1912.

“In Westlake District: La Court Apartments” LA Times, Oct 11, 1914.

“Leased for Ten Years” LA Times, Oct 11, 1914.

“8 Bungalow Homes on Roof Varied Types of Dwellings” LA Evening News, Jan 9, 1915.

“Building Permits” LA Evening Express, July 21, 1915.

 “Bungalow Court” LA Times, Oct 19, 1917.

“Riley Hogue will superintend the…” New Pilot, September 7, 1918.

“Architectural Designers, Bldrs” LA Times, August 3, 1919.

“Improvements for the West End” LA Times, May 30, 1920.

“Home for Foothill District” LA Times, January 22, 1922.

“Warehouse Planned” LA Times, July 21, 1925.

“Clubhouse Contract Awarded” LA Times, May 25, 1930.

“Victor Scouts Hear Veteran” San Bernardino County Sun, April 25, 1934.

“Dam Pictures to be Shown Class” Monrovia News Post, April 8, 1935.

“Water Conservation Subject of Address” San Bernardino County Sun, January 5, 1939.

“Ex-Monrovia Resident Dies” Daily News Post, March 1, 1954.

NR Nomination Sycamore Bungalow Court, Los Angeles, CA

NR Nomination Central School, Milton-Freewater, OR

Polk Directory – 1908, 1909, 1910-11, 1912-13.

US Census: 1880, 1900, 1910, 1920, 1930, 1940

WWI Draft Registration Card - #5150

WWII Draft Registration Card - #LB 196

Born in May 27, 1879 in West Pennsboro Township, Pennsylvania, Charles Edward Finkenbinder grew up on a family farm and as a young man slowly moved west looking for work.  His formal architectural education is unknown, however based on his design work, he clearly had acquired some level of technical training in engineering and/or drafting at some point in his life.  By age 17 he was living in Battle Creek, Iowa and then moved to Jamestown, Kansas where he is listed as a salesman.  While there he met and married Neva E. Wake on September 27, 1902. Together they had one child, Merle (1916-1994).

For reasons unknown by 1906 the couple had moved to Walla Walla, where Finkenbinder ran as the Socialist candidate for County Surveyor in 1906.  After losing the race he became Sec/Treas of the Walla Walla Outdoor Advertisement Company.

However by 1907 he began to list himself as an architect in the Walla Walla directory.  During this time the small city was booming and the community had six practicing architects in 1909. Finkenbinder was perhaps the most prominent, at least in terms of advertising prowess with his name in all caps and bold font.

Despite his directory listings, to date no verified work by Finkenbinder have been documented in Walla Walla to date.  Reportedly he designed numerous schools in the surrounding small communities including schools in Starbuck (1909), Dixie (1909), Attalia (1909) and Prescott (1912) in Washington.  Schools in Oregon include buildings in Ferndale (1909), Milton (1910), Freewater (1910), and Umapine (1911). His largest commission was most likely Columbia College (1910, now Milton-Freewater City Hall) in Milton, Oregon.

For reasons unknown, by 1914 Finkenbinder and his family decided to move to Los Angeles. It was there that his career flourished.  Many of his designs were featured in the local newspaper.  Reportedly he designed over 50 buildings in the Los Angeles area, predominantly consisting of single and multifamily residential projects.  After his thriving independent architecture practice he decided on a slight shift in career paths. From 1926 to 1942 Finkbinder served as Superintendent of Construction for the City of Los Angeles Bureau of Light & Power overseeing a large staff and the construction of numerous dams.

Finkenbinder died in Los Angeles on February 26, 1954 at the age of 74.

By Michael Houser, State Architectural Historian - June 2020