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Edward L. Merritt

1881 - 1950

Seattle architect Edward Lovering Merritt was one of Washington State’s most prolific architects, yet he is barley known today.  His influence reached beyond Seattle and the Pacific Northwest and spanned the globe during the construction boom of the teens and twenties.

The son of a successful building contractor, Merritt was born in Northfield, Minnesota on October 31, 1881.  After graduating in 1900 from the University of Minnesota with a degree in architecture, he moved to Seattle to be with his parents and sister. 

Advertisement - Craftsman Bungalow Co., Seattle Times: Nov. 28, 1911Upon his arrival, Edward initially took a job as a sign painter and then opened an automobile paint shop with his brother-in-law, Virgil Hall. Around 1908 they joined Merritt’s father, Charles, in the general contracting business operating under the name Merritt, Hall & Merritt (legally incorporated as the Merritt-Hall Building & Investment Co.). Charles was already a successful building contractor, and Edward had his architectural degree, but Hall had no prior building experience (he was formerly a noted bicycle and automobile racer).  Know projects by the firm are limited to the P.E. Wentworth House (918 E. Hamlin St., 1910); homes at 4410, 4414, 4418 and 4422 Latona Ave.

By 1911 Merritt’s father had retired and Edward and his brother-in-law decided to consolidate their business with Jud Yoho.  Together they became one of Seattle’s biggest promoters of the Arts & Crafts aesthetic and founded the Craftsman Bungalow Company.  Yoho initially served as President of the company, Merritt as Secretary and supervising architect, and Hall as Treasurer. 

A Texas transplant of formidable promotional skills, Yoho had arrived in Seattle in 1897. Like many builders of his day, he had previously played the role of developer, and designer as well as real estate agent, but he was not a trained architect.  Edward Merritt provided that cachet.  In 1912 they initiated an annual catalogue of perspective drawings and plans which sold for 50 cents.  Working drawings and specifications could be purchased for as low at $5.00 a set.

Coupled with Yoho’s marketing skills, Hall’s building expertise and Merrit’s design talents, they reportedly they designed, financed and constructed hundreds of dwellings across the city.  Many were built in the Wallingford, Green Lake, University District, and Northgate areas of the city of Seattle.  Their reach however went beyond the city.  Later design books noted that homes from their plans could be found in every state of the Union, Alaska, Canada and Mexico, as well as China, Australia, France and England. Many local newspapers featured the designs of the Craftsman Bungalow Co. in their weekly home sections.  Examples can be found in Iowa, Kansas and Ohio.

Separately, Yoho had also established Bungalow Magazine, a publication of national circulation which promoted the Arts & Crafts aesthetic and domestic culture. By 1914 circulation had reached 40,000.  While the publication featured many of Merritt’s designs, there is no indication that he participated in the magazine aspect of the business.

Some reports note that the Yoho, Merritt and Hall partnership dissolved in 1914, but advertisements show that at least Yoho and Merritt continued some type of partnership until at least 1922.  During that time Merritt continued to sporadically use the Craftsman Bungalow Co. name but increasingly he advertised just under his own name.

Merritt Homes Plan Book - c. 1923Afterwards Merritt continued an independent architectural practice and sustained a plan book service until at least 1925. He promoted his plan books widely with advertisements featured in a variety of national publications such as House & Garden and House Beautiful.

While many of the early plan books featured Craftsman style Bungalows, public tastes were changing by the early 1920s.  Later plan books featured English cottages and Colonial Revival designs, as well as some Spanish Colonial dwellings.  By 1920 Merritt had a “Colonial Homes” only catalogue. 

His reputation as an architect whom understood the construction industry gained him a high level of respect in the local building community.  In the mid 1920s Merritt and a select group of builders refused to go along when most of their colleagues in the Seattle Builders Association agreed to be absorbed by the Association of General Contractors of America.  Unwilling to bow to any national group, he and a few like-minded contractors started a new association to represent the interests of Seattle’s community of builders.  At the first meeting of the Seattle Master Builders Association on April 17, 1924, Edward Merritt was nominated as chairman.  He served two consecutive terms.

Over the course of his career Merritt was active in a variety of social organizations including the Elks and Masonic.  He was a Knight Templar Mason, a Noble Knight of Nile Temple, and a member of the Mystic Shrine.  He was active in architectural community in Seattle until the late 1930s. By 1942 he retired to the quite community of Allyn, Washington on the North Bay of Case Inlet.  He passed away there on August 10, 1950 at the age of 68.

 

By Michael Houser, State Architectural Historian - Jan 2018

Bibliography

Jones, L. Beth Yockey. One hundred years of building community: Master Builders Association of King and Snohomish County. Seattle, Wash. Abecedary Press, c.2009.

“Seattle and Environs, 1852-1924.” Vol 2. Hon. C.H. Hanford, Editor, Pioneer Pub. Co., 1924. pg 521.

Doherty, Erin. "Jud Yoho and the Craftsman Bungalow Company: Assessing the Value of the Common House." Unpublished Master's thesis, University of Washington, 1997.

WWII Registration Card: Serial No. 668, 1942.

Craftsman Bungalows: Edition de Luxe - 1916

Merritt Homes: Seventeenth Edition; The Puget Sound News, Seattle, WA., c, 1923.

“How Does Your Auto Look?” Seattle Times: Oct 6, 1907.

Classified Ad: “For Sale by owner…Merritt, Hall & Merritt” – Seattle Times: Dec 27, 1908.

“Permit for Four Houses” – Seattle Times: July 18, 1909.

“Merritt, Hall & Merritt, architects….” – Seattle Times: November 14, 1909.

Advertisement: Merritt, Hall & Merritt – Seattle Times: March 13, 1910.

“Important Building Firms Consolidate” – Seattle Times: November 26, 1911.

Advertisement: Craftsman Bungalow Co. – Seattle Times: March 10, 1912.

Advertisement: "This Colonial Bungalow for $3,800" – Seattle Times: December 14, 1919.

“Factory Building Planned” – Seattle Times: March 14, 1920.

Advertisement: “These Books Will Help You” – House Beautiful. April 1920.

“Washington: Seattle and Vicinity” – Domestic Engineering: April 3, 1920.

“Beautiful and Practical Bungalow” – Seattle Times: May 19, 1920.

Advertisement “Two New Books on Bungalows” – Seattle Times: May 19, 1920.

“An Unusually Attractive Colonial Home” – Seattle Times: June 7, 1920.

“Story and a Half Home of Six Rooms” – Seattle Times: June 14, 1920.

“Something Different in Bungalow” – Seattle Times: June 21, 1920.

“Five Large Rooms in This $4,850 Home” – Seattle Times: June 28, 1920.

“A Home to Delight Any Family” – Seattle Times: July 5, 1920.

“A Practical and Livable Home” – Seattle Times: July 12, 1920.

“Colonial Type Bungalow Costs $4,500” – Seattle Times: July 19, 1920.

“A Big Bungalow of Moderate Cost” – Seattle Times: July 26, 1920.

Advertisement: Two New Books of Bungalows - Edward L. Merritt – Seattle Times: August 2, 1920.

“Attractive “Homey” Type of Colonial Design” – Seattle Times: August 2, 1920.

“A Popular Suburban Type of Home” – Seattle Times: August 9, 1920.

“Bungalow Home Has Five Large Rooms” – Seattle Times: August 16, 1920.

Advertisement: Architects, Craftsman Bungalow Co. – Seattle Times: December 5, 1920.

Advertisement: “Two New Books: All About Bungalows” – House & Garden: January 1921.

Advertisement: Architects, Craftsman Bungalow Co. – Seattle Times: April 24, 1921.

“Attractive House for Narrow City Lot” – Seattle Times: June 13, 1921.

“Large Rooms Add to Comforts and Joys of Home” – Seattle Times: July 18, 1921.

“Pretty Five-Room Home is Inexpensive” – Seattle Times: March 13, 1922.

“Building Permits” – Seattle Times: April 6, 1922.

“Small Home Beautiful For Moderate Cost” – Seattle Times: April 24, 1922.

“Distinctly Different is This Five-Room Colonial” – Seattle Times: May 22, 1922.

“Convenient Five-Room Bungalow Costs $3,800” – Seattle Times: March 13, 1922.

“How to Finance Home” – Seattle Times: June 26, 1922.

Advertisement: “Homes that Stand the Test” – Seattle Times: January 22, 1923.

“Distinctive New Type is in Demand” – Seattle Times: January 22, 1923.

“Bungalow Adapts Itself to Colonial Motif” – Seattle Times: February 12, 1923.

“Reflects Moorish Influence” – Seattle Times: February 26, 1923.

Advertisement: “The Two Best Books on Home Building” – Seattle Times: February 19, 1923.

Advertisement: “Ask Your Wife” – Seattle Times: March 12, 1923.

Advertisement: “The Home of Your Dreams” – Seattle Times: March 26, 1923.

“Residences Recently Purchased Here” – Seattle Times: April 1, 1923.

Advertisement: “Homes Worth More Than $1,564,217” – Seattle Times: November 25, 1923.

Advertisement: “If You Intend to Build This Year Do It Now” – Seattle Times: January 21, 1924.

“Beauty and Utility Merged in This Modern Home” – Seattle Times: January 21, 1924.

Advertisement: “As a Specialist in Home Building” – Seattle Times: February 11, 1924.

Advertisement: “The Home I Build For You” – Seattle Times: February 18, 1924.

Advertisement: “I Want to Build a Home for You on Your Vacant Lot” – Seattle Times: March 31, 1924.

“Home Design Attracts” – Seattle Times: April 13, 1925.

“Stucco and Brick in Effective Combination” – Seattle Times: September 29, 1925.

Advertisement: “A Distinctive Home” – Seattle Times: September 29, 1925.

“Textured Face Brick for Exterior” – Seattle Times: February 22, 1928.

“Couple Celebrates Golden Wedding” – Seattle Times: January 11, 1929.

“Merritt Planning New Apartment To Cost $175,000” – Seattle Times: May 5, 1929.

“Dixonian Apartments” – WA State Architect: September, 1930.

“Dixonian Is Name for New Building” – Seattle Times: August 31, 1930.

 “First For Hire Auto “Shied” at Hills - Renton Trip an Adventure in 1904” – Seattle Times: August 5, 1937.

Articles of Incorporation – Merritt-Hall Building & Investment Co.: Certificate No. 26096, Aug. 15, 1914.