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Max A. Van House

1887 - 1966

Born in Moscow, Minnesota on December 8, 1887, Seattle architect Max Allen  Van House moved to Vashon Island as a youth.  He received no formal architectural training but instead gained practical on-the-job experience by working for a variety of architectural firms.  This included a short stint in Tacoma with architect George Bullard (1908), and the firm of Heath & Gove, and two years in Supervising Architect office of the US.  Around 1914 he opened a architectural practice in Butte, Montana with Walter Arnold.  Together they designed several notable buildings in Butte and Deer Lodge, including schools, courthouses, theaters, and hospitals.

While in Montana, Van House designed at least two structures in Washington State, a dwelling for the Shawnee family (1916) and Burton High School (1916, demolished) both on Vashon Island. 

Max Van House Advertisement - Seattle Daily Times, Sept. 23, 1928After acquired his state architectural license in 1925 by reciprocity, Van House moved to Seattle and opened an independent architectural practice.  His designs include an electric array of buildings executed in a variety of styles.  Notable projects include the Mission style Mission Inn (1926); the Jacobethan style Ellenbert Apartments (1928); the Collegiate Gothic style Bering Apartments (1930); and a four-story Art Deco style apartment at 5th & W. Roy St. (1930).

He also proposed a golf course clubhouse (1931) in the Laurelhurst neighborhood for developer W.B. Maxwell. Other projects included the Argo Manufacturing Co. Building (1931); six cottages for Queen City Realty (1932); and the American Legion (1938) in west Seattle.

During the Depression era and war years, Van House took a job with the County  Assessor’s office, but resumed a practice after the war.  Post WWII projects include several homes in the Westover Addition for builder Hebb & Babcock (1947); the Breatheasy Distributors Warehouse (1950); the Hillcrest Manor Apartments (1957); a dwelling for builder Gaylord Pashley in the Marine Hills neighborhood (1958); the Ann Vista Apartments (1958); the McMillin Building (1959) in Federal Way; the Albatross Apartments (1959); and a home on Langston Lane (1960).  Among his last projects were a massive apartment/duplex complex, the San Juan Apartments (1963) near Renton which featured multiple buildings, swimming pools, tennis courts.

Van House died in Seattle on April 10, 1966.

By Michael Houser, State Architectural Historian - August 2012


WA State Architectural License - November 28, 1924.

“15 Architects Licensed” Seattle Daily Times  January 3, 1925.

“Hotel to Be Built At Boylston and East Howell” Seattle Daily Times  February 14, 1926.

“For Sale: A Decidedly Beautiful Modified Italian Design by Architect Max Van House” Seattle Daily Times  November 30, 1927.

“40 Apartments in New Building Open To Visitors” Seattle Daily Times  September 23, 1928.

“Ellenbert Is Open To Visitors Today” Seattle Daily Times  September 23, 1928.

“$65,000 Project Set For 14th N.” Seattle Daily Times  April 13, 1930.

“Building of Four Stories Planned At 5th, West Roy” Seattle Daily Times  November 23, 1930.

“Designing Small Homes” Architect & Engineer  May 1932.

“Legion Planning Community Hall” West Seattle Herald  March 31, 1938.

“Advertisement: These Homes in Beautiful Westover Addition Are Sound Investments” Seattle Daily Times  August 6, 1947.

“Apartment Development To Nearly Cost $2,000,000” Seattle Daily Times  August 11, 1957.

“Smart Design Features Dwelling at Marine Hills” Seattle Daily Times  January 5, 1958.

“Open House” Seattle Daily Times  April 13, 1958.

“Construction Of Apartment House Begins” Seattle Daily Times  June 7, 1959.

“Open Today” Seattle Daily Times  June 14, 1959.

“Open Today: Langston Lane” Seattle Daily Times  February 28, 1960.

“Open House: First Unit of Apartment Project Completed” Seattle Daily Times  January 13, 1963.

“Obituary: Max A. Van House” Seattle Daily Times  April 14, 1966.

“Obituary: Max Van House” Seattle Post Intelligencer  April 14, 1966.