Born and raised in the Seattle area, James Mathias Klontz received his formal architectural training at the University of Washington, graduating in 1943. Upon graduation he enlisted in the Army, and rose to the rank of Corporal during WWII. Prior to WWII, Klontz had worked at Auburn Cabinet Works (1934-43) where he gained valuable experience in the shop’s drafting room. Other experience included a summer with architect George W. Stoddard, and at the firm of Bliss & Massar.
In 1951, Klontz opened his own practice and by 1956 he took on a partner, George E. Wrede. Klontz & Wrede focused primarily on religious facilities including churches, schools and convents. Known work includes an addition to the Bellevue Methodist Church (1956); Our Lady of Fatima Church (1968) in Seattle’s Magnolia neighborhood; a convent for St. Benedict’s Catholic Church in Seattle’s Wallingford neighborhood; St. Patrick’s Parish in Seattle (1960); a large scale facility for St. Monica’s Parish on Mercer Island (1960); and St. Bridget Roman Catholic Church (c.1970) in the Laurelhurst neighborhood.
Non-religious works by Klontz & Wrede included a variety of shopping centers, clinics and office buildings. Among their most notable projects is the Alcoa Building (1963); a large PX Market in Bellevue (1961); a Thriftway Shopping Center in Inglewood (1965); and a Nordstrom Store at Bellevue Square (1967).
Klontz continued to practice with various associates until his retirement in 2008. At the time he was the second oldest practicing architect in the State. Today, the firm that he started is known as Klontz & Associates. James M. Klontz passed away in Seattle on November 16, 2010 at the age of 90.
By Michael Houser, State Architectural Historian - June 2010