Born and raised in Seattle, Jerry Gropp began his working career during WWII. In 1944, hoping to become a pilot, he enlisted in the US Army Air Corps. After the war, Gropp enrolled at the University of Washington on the GI bill, and received his Bachelor’s degree in Architecture in 1949. While in school, Gropp gained valuable practical experience by working for a variety of architects and architectural firms including John Mattson, Paul Thiry, Chiarelli & Kirk, Victor Jones and his associate Ted Jacobson.
Well versed in the field, Gropp received his license upon graduation and began working for Benjamin McAdoo Jr. in 1949. In 1953, Gropp established his own practice, sharing office space with fellow architect, Ira Cummings.
Gropp’s business grew quickly with the publishing of several of his home designs in a variety of national shelter magazines such as New Homes Guide, Home Modernizing Guide and Better Homes & Gardens. His skills were soon recognized by the National Association of Homebuilders who asked him to provide his contemporary designs for a number of their builder publications. Over the next twenty plus years, Gropp designed over eighty unique “Plan Packages” for home owners to purchase through mail order.
His residential plans, which sold for $50 to $60, included complete drawings and specifications, and focused on the needs of “budget-conscious” families. Gropp’s designs were well received—he provided 1,000 of plans for clients all over the United States and abroad. In 1964 alone, he received over 6,000 queries. His most popular design was “The Rainier” NHG#2450, which was designed for sloping narrow lots. It featured contemporary lines with a shallow pitched roof and exposed beam framing, and a wall of floor-to-ceiling windows in the living and dining areas.
Gropp also designed custom homes for a variety of individual clients across the Pacific Northwest and abroad. Noteworthy projects include the Howse House on Mercer Island, the Cottingham House in Innis Arden (1966), the Lett House on Lopez Island, the Mottett House on Mercer Island (1965), and homes in Hawaii and Argentina. Many of his designs can be found in Bellevue, Redmond, Kirkland, Port Angeles, Woodinville, and in the suburban neighborhoods of Seattle. Gropp designed over forty homes on Mercer Island.
In 1969, Gropp moved his architectural practice to his home in Innis Arden. During this time, his children helped in the production of prints and plan requests and his wife, Patty, served as office manager.
Over the years, Gropp has been active in a variety of civic and professional organizations. For the American Institute of Architects, Gropp served on many committees and was AIA Ethic Chairman, and the Office Practice Chairman. He also served as Chairman of the Seattle Times “Home-of-the- Month” program in 1963 and 1966, and has been an National Council of Architectural Registration Board (NCARB) design examiner three times.
Currently, Gropp lives on Mercer Island and maintains an architectural practice from his home. Many of his current projects involve updating and/or remodeling some of his earlier homes for new owners.
By Michael Houser, State Architectural Historian - June 2010