Jacque "Jack" deForest Griffin was born in Los Angeles, California on January 7, 1892. After graduating in 1912 from the University of Santa Clara, Griffin moved to Seattle where he reportedly formed a partnership with Irwyn H. Hill and later joined architectural firm of Hewitt-Lea-Funck. By 1917 Griffin and Hill formed a new partnership with Arnott Woodroofe in Tacoma.
When Woodroofe left the firm in 1918 and moved to Spokane, architect Ernest T. Mock joined the firm. Under the name Hill, Mock & Griffin the firm blossomed. Projects include the Mueller-Harkins Motor Co. (1918); the Tacoma Can Company (1919); Charles W. Rhodes Residence (1919); Roosevelt Elementary School (1921); Salvation Army (1922); Temple Beth Israel (1922); the Puyallup Elks Club No. 1450 (1924); and Fife Civic Auditorium (1924). Hill and Mock worked in Tacoma while Griffin relocated to Chehalis, to open a satellite office (date unknown).
In 1924 he formally left the partnership and opened his own independent firm, quickly becoming Lewis County's most prominent architect. He designed many of the area's most important buildings including the St. Helens Theatre (1924); the Moose Lodge (1926); Boone Mortuary (1928); Junior High School (1927); Cascade School (1927); all in Chehalis. Outside of Chehalis projects included the Fairhart Building (1924) in Morton; the Eagles Lodge (1926) in Centralia;Catholic Church (1924) in South Bend; a gymnasium for the Boisfort School District (1924); and St. Rose Catholic School (1927) in Longview. He gained notoriety throughout the Pacific Northwest with his design for the Lewis County Courthouse (1927) and was featured in the Pacific Builder and Engineer magazine in 1926.
In 1928 Griffin moved his practice to Hollywood, California after designing a home there for his cousin, actress Bebe Daniels. While working on the project he had gaining a large number of additional commissions. The local Chehalis newspaper reported that Griffin had around one million dollars of business on the boards by the end of 1929. Among his more notable projects in California was the Eiffel Tower Theater in Burbank. He sold his Chehalis office to Fred G. Rounds, a seasoned architect and former instructor at Washington State University in Pullman.
Many of Griffin’s designs show a strong influence of Spanish Colonial Revival and the Mission Revival Style, most likely as a result of his architectural education in Southern California. His designs also show influences of Beaux Arts and Italian Renaissance Revival architecture, all popular styles in the 1920s.
Griffin passed away in Los Angeles, California on April 2, 1951 at the age of 59.
By Michael Houser, State Architectural Historian - Nov. 2011