Little is know about formal training and background of architect Francis W. Grant. Born in 1868 in Ontario, Canada, Grant migrated with his parents to the U.S. at an early age and became a naturalized citizen in 1875. In 1897 he was hired as the “Superintendent of Construction” for the Wisconsin State Historical Society Building in Madison City, Wisconsin. After the project was completed in 1900, Grant began work for the U.S. Treasury Department residing in New York City. In 1903 his duties took him to Seattle, where he served as Superintendent of Construction for the post office and other federal projects.
In 1910 he began a two-year stint as the Superintendent of Building Department for the City of Seattle. Polk directories from 1912 to 1913 list Grant as a building contractor, however by 1914 he is listed as an architect. Regardless of his official occupation, Grant was active in promoting the newly recognized profession of architecture. He was within the first group of architects to be licensed by the State of Washington in 1919 (No. 64) when the State began this practice and he published numerous articles about the profession in a variety of architectural journals. His article in American Architect & Architecture (Vol. 115, 1919) on the need to write plan specifications is noteworthy. Grant also served for a short time as editor of Jud Yoho's Bungalow Magazine. He retained his own independent architectural practice until 1922. Projects include the Clallam County Courthouse in Port Angeles (1915); a Theater in Auburn (1916); and alterations to the Eagles Hall in Mount Vernon (1919). How he received such a large commission for the courthouse, with seemingly little experience as an architect is unknown.
In 1922 Grant went to work for the John Graham & Co. (1922-1936), one of the largest architectural firms in the city at the time, as a contracts and specifications expert. During his tenure there, he is credited with assisting in the design of the Exchange Building (1928), an Art Deco high rise building in the cities downtown core. Grant passed away at the Masonic Home in Des Moines on November 11, 1948 at the age of 81.
By Michael Houser, State Architectural Historian - May 2012