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James W Sussex

1878 - 1959

Architect/ engineer James Wolfe Sussex was born in Dunlap, Illinois on March 22, 1878 and grew up Galesburg, Illinois. He received his formal training from Hedding College and the University of Illinois where he graduated with a degree in civil engineering in 1903. Sussex’s obituary notes that he was employed at West Point under General MacArthur, however this claim cannot be verified by any formal documents and MacArthur’s timing at West Point does not line up with Sussex’s known career path. Interestingly military records do show that a James W. Sussex served as an Army clerk at Fort Vancouver in 1901, but this may be another individual since no other military connections has been found, and Sussex would have been in school at the time.

Upon graduation from the University of Illinois, Sussex gained a variety of experience, mainly by working as an surveyor/engineer. Records indicate that he worked as a draftsman for Delaware, Lackawanna & Western Railway (1903), as an assistant engineer for A. Potter (1904), and as a transitman for the Pittsburg, Akron & Western Railroad (1905).  He was then appointed assistant engineer for Reclamation Service and assigned to Casper, Wyoming (1905).  For reasons unknown, by 1907 he had moved to Wenatchee and decided to opened his own practice.  There he billed himself as a civil engineer and architect, specializing in irrigation, hydraulics, mining as well as architecture. His skills were quickly sought by the city and his was appointed as the first building inspector and street commissioner for the city in 1908.

Sussex had political ambitions and ran for office several times.  He first ran for County Engineer on the republican ticket in 1908, but decided to drop out of the race when his business starting to increase.  He also served on the Wenatchee city council for a year, but resigned after a year (1911).  In 1916 he ran for County Engineer again, but did not win the race. 

Wenatchee Daily World - Aug 3, 1907Sussex successful practice in Wenatchee produced a wide range of projects including a two-story, four-room schoolhouse in Peshastin (1909); the enlargement of Peshastin ditch (1907); the Weigand Building in Leavenworth (1908); the addition of fire escapes to a variety of school buildings in Wenatchee (1908); a mausoleum for Wenatchee Undertaking Co. in Wenatchee cemetery (1909); the Wenatchee Daily World Office (1910); the Russell-Plough Block in Wenatchee (1910); the Christian Church in Wenatchee (1910); the R.M. Lewis House (1910); the Eagle Transfer Co. Building (1910); the A.A. Bousquet House (1910); the Frank D. Case (1910); a community water system for Millerdale (1910); the Malaga Schoolhouse (1910); the Prowell House (1911); an addition to Lincoln School (1910); and the Standard Oil Warehouse (1911).

During that time he also became the consulting engineer for the Fairbanks, Morse & Co. of Seattle (1909). Reportedly he was also the designer of some of the best buildings in Leavenworth, however to date only one building has been attributed to him; after-mentioned Weigand Bldg (1908) and the Leavenworth Co-Operative Creamery (1915).

Sussex did become engaged in fruit raising in Peshastin (1915), but had moved to Newburgh, New York by 1920. Most likely still working as an engineer, by 1927 he moved to Albany, New York and later became the Chief Specification Writer for the New York Department of Public Works (1944) where he retired.

Sussex passed away in Lynden, Washington on April 13, 1959.

Michael Houser, State Architectural Historian - December 2021


Advertisement - “Civil Engineers” Wenatchee Daily World, Jun 20, 1907.

Advertisement - “Going to Build” Wenatchee Daily World, Aug 3, 1907.

 “Bids Wanted” Wenatchee Daily World, Sept 18, 1907.

“Enlarge the Ditch” Wenatchee Daily World, Nov 19, 1907.

 “Other Appointments” Wenatchee Daily World, Jan 15 1908.

“Sussex Marries” Wenatchee Daily World, Jan 23, 1908.

“City Officers” Wenatchee Daily World, Feb 6, 1908.

“For Engineer” Wenatchee Daily World, Mar 20, 1908.

Advertisement - “For County Engineer” Wenatchee Daily World, Mar 24, 1908.

“J.W. Sussex has moved into…” Wenatchee Daily World, Apr 3, 1908.

“Bids Wanted” Wenatchee Daily World, Apr 6, 1908.

“Bids Wanted” Wenatchee Daily World, May 22, 1908.

“Sussex Will Not Run” Wenatchee Daily World, Aug 6, 1908.

“Work on Russel-Plough Block” Wenatchee Daily World, Sep 13, 1909.

“Bids Wanted” Wenatchee Daily World, Oct 4, 1909.

“Architect J.W. Sussex, of Wenatchee, is drawing… ” Wenatchee Daily World, Oct 8, 1909.

“Bids Wanted” Wenatchee Daily World, Oct 15, 1909.

“World Building Plan is Complete” Wenatchee Daily World, Oct 16, 1909.

“The new four-room schoolhouse….” Wenatchee Daily World, Oct 18, 1909.

 “Will Build New Church” Wenatchee Daily World, Oct 4, 1909.

“Bids on the R.M. Lewis residence…” Wenatchee Daily World, Nov 26, 1909.

“Sussex a Consulting Engineer” Wenatchee Daily World, Nov 29, 1909.

“Eagle Transfer to Build” Wenatchee Daily World, Dec 14, 1909.

“New Schoolhouse at Peshastin” Wenatchee Daily World, Dec 22, 1909.

“A.A. Banquet will build a…” Wenatchee Daily World, Jan 5, 1910.

“Case Will Build” Wenatchee Daily World, Jan 20, 1910.

“Water System for Millerdale” Wenatchee Daily World, Jan 20, 1910.

“Columbia Street Improvements” Wenatchee Daily World, Mar 17, 1910.

“Malaga’s New School Building” Wenatchee Daily World, Mar 31, 1910.

“Will Build New Warehouse” Wenatchee Daily World, Apr 22, 1910.

“Election of Officers” Wenatchee Daily World, Jun 7, 1910.

“Prowell Will Build” Wenatchee Daily World, July 8, 1910.

“Enlarge School Building” Wenatchee Daily World, Jul 14, 1910.

“Bid Wanted” Wenatchee Daily World, Aug 10, 1910.

“Almost a Runaway” Wenatchee Daily World, Aug 27, 1910.

“Plans for New School” Wenatchee Daily World, Aug 27, 1910.

“To Reclaim 500 Acres” Wenatchee Daily World, Aug 29, 1910.

“Standard Oil Changes” Wenatchee Daily World, Sept 16, 1910.

“Bids Wanted” Wenatchee Daily World, Oct 14, 1910.

“Start New Church” Wenatchee Daily World, Oct 21, 1910.

“Councilmen for First Ward” Wenatchee Daily World, Nov 3, 1910.

“Wenatchee Councilman Quits” Spokesman Review, Mar 21, 1912.

“Deadlock on Council Seat” Spokesman Review, Apr 27, 1912.

“$12,500 School house at Peshastin” Leavenworth Echo, Sep 11, 1914.

“J.W. Sussex, at one time and architect…” Leavenworth Echo, Jan 29, 1915.

“Creamery will be in Operation April 1st” Leavenworth Echo, Feb 26, 1915.

“We see by the Daily World that our townsman, J.W. Sussex, is…” Leavenworth Echo, Feb 11, 1916.

“J.W. Sussex” Leavenworth Echo, July 21, 1916.

“Will instruct City Officers on Buildings” Star-Gazette, Nov 10, 1930.

“Thirty Years Ago in Casper” Casper Star Tribune, Sep 4, 1935.

“Five State Employees Injured in Crash” Dunkirk Evening Observer, Aug 31, 1944.

“News Received of Brother’s Death” Abingdon Argus, Apr 23, 1959.

Obit  - “James W. Sussex” – April 15, 1959