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Newton C. Gauntt

1862 - 1938

Yakima architect Newton C. Gauntt made a profound impact on the built environment in central and western Washington, as well as the Portland area during the early part of the 20th century. Records indicate that Gauntt was born in 1862 in Indiana, however details about his training and early career are unknown.

Documentation shows that by the late 1890s Gauntt had developed an expertise in the development and construction of educational facilities. Among his earliest known projects is a design for a school in Ellsworth, Indiana (1898), which was featured in the School Board Journal, a national publication of school construction and development. Gauntt also provided stock plans to the State School Superintendents in both Indiana and Illinois, but it is unknown at this time how many schools were actually constructed using his model plans. One article notes that the State of Illinois constructed a model school based on Gauntt's plans for the 1904 St. Louis Exposition.

Other later school projects included a high school in La Grande, Oregon (1911); a 5-room frame school in Aurora, OR (1912); a high school in Hillsboro (1912); Plainview School (1912) outside of Portland; Hawthorne-Buckman School (1921) also outside of Portland; and Oakville High School (1921) in Oakville, WA.

Before he came to Washington state, Gauntt had already received fair amount of press at the national level. The National Builder magazine featured several Late Queen Anne and Classical Revival home designs by Gauntt. Called “The Rosalle” (Nov.1902); “The Johnson” (Feb.1903); “The McRoy” (Feb.1904); and “The Wentachee” (Feb.1905), the various articles featured a comprehensive list of materials and estimated costs for construction of the homes.

Gauntt had also developed an interest in Courthouse design. His projects include the Yakima County Courthouse (1906); the Douglas County Courthouse (1907) in Waterville; as well as the Fergus County Courthouse in Lewiston, Montana (1908); an addition to the Washington County Courthouse (1913) in Hillsboro, OR; and the Wahkiakum County Courthouse (1921) in Cathlamet. He provided plans for the Chehalis County Courthouse (1906) and the Franklin County Courthouse in Pasco (1910) but neither were constructed. His design for the Chehalis County Courthouse (to be located in Montesano before it became part of Grays Harbor County) became embroiled in a State Supreme Court Case when Gauntt took the County to court for the lack of what he thought was adequate payment for a set of plans he provided to the County Commissioners. The plan was an exact copy of the Yakima Courthouse, and the commissioners entered into a contract with Gauntt that stated should a courthouse be built, he was to receive a certain fee. He argued that the contract did not specify that his design had to be used. Gauntt lost his case and the eventual the design was awarded to Aberdeen architect, Watson Vernon.

Despite such high profile cases Gauntt continued to receive commissions around the state. Other notable projects included the stone North Yakima Baptist Church (1907-09); the YMCA in Yakima (1908); the Empire Bank & Trust (1907) in Lewiston, Montana; and an additional story to hotel owned by E.M. Ford in North Yakima (1905).

Gauntt also had a keen interest in the possibilities of the horseless carriage and he owned one of the first automobiles in the Yakima region, a 24 horse-power Cadillac touring car (1907). Seeing large profits to be made he made plans to start an automobile manufacturing plant and in 1907 he bought the Perfection Automobile Co. in South Bend, Indiana. He planned to move all the machinery to Spokane but these plans never came to fruition. Gauntt did design a car, which he called the “Flying Dutchman.” It was described as “a kind of convertible house car, having a sleeping room, and a kitchen.”

In 1906 Gauntt moved to Seattle, however at this time projects in the city are unkown and he continued to work primarily in the Yakima Valley. While reports indicate he moved his Seattle office from the Henry Building to the Chamber of Commerce Building in 1912, he moved to Hillsboro, Oregon in 1913 and then to Portland, shortly thereafter (1913-1915).

Besides the aforementioned schools, his known projects while in the Portland area are limited to the Dr. Tamisier House (1912) in Portland; and the Tillamook County Hotel & Bank (1912).

A renaissance man, Gauntt also owned 700 acre ranch near Othello which included 60 acre orchard run by the Green Briar Orchard Company. He also held a patent on a collapsible book holder (US Patent #1269925 A, June 18, 1918).

Gaunt passed away in Yakima on November 24, 1938 and is buried at the Tahoma Cemetery.

By Michael Houser, State Architectural Historian - March 2015

Bibliography

Reitz, Richard Architects of Oregon

“The North Yakima High School”  The Coast Vol. 16-19, January 1909. 

“The McRoy”  National Builder Magazine – February 1904, pg 30.

“The Wenatchee”  National Builder Magazine – February 1905, pg 40.

“The Johnson”  National Builder Magazine – November 1905, pg 30.

“The Rosalie”  National Builder Magazine – November 1902, pg 30.

“Oakville, Washington, High School”  Concrete – October 1922, pg 120.

“North Yakima, Washington”  The Improvement Bulletin – Vol. 32, May 19, 1905, pg 19.

“Newton C. Gaunt of North Yakima…”  Cycle and Automobile Trade Journal – Vol. 12, February 1, 1908, pg 148.

Sievert, Ellen  A Guide to Historic Lewiston

US Patent #1269925 A – Collapsible Book-holder, June 18, 1918 

Gauntt vs. Chehalis County – WA State Supreme Court Case, Feb 13, 1913. Case No. 10807 

“Hillsboro – Archt Newton C. Gauntt, Portland, has been…” School Board Journal, July 1912.

“For Grade Schools: Plans of Gaunt and Nash Accepted” The Yakima Herald, March 6, 1907.

“Supervise Public Buildings” The Yakima Herald, October 7, 1908. 

“North Yakima Man is Freely Praised: Newton C. Gauntt Referred to in Public Addresses at Dedication of Court House” The Yakima Herald, April 21, 1909. 

“Contact Awarded” The Yakima Herald, May 1, 1907.

“Architect Loses Suit Against the County” The Aberdeen Herald, December 25, 1911.

“Olive: N.C. Gauntt proved up on his homestead…”  The Spokesman Review – September 28,1906.

“Will Building Auto Factory”  The Wenatchee Daily World – December 23,1907. 

“Spokane 60 Years Ago”  Spokane Daily Chronicle – December 18, 1967. 

“Graft is Charged: Newton C. Gauntt, Architect, Subject of Attack”  Oregonian – February 5,1911, pg 14.

“Fireproof School Plan Submitted”  Oregonian – February 4,1911, pg 14.

“Larceny Charge Fails”  Oregonian – October 19, 1912, pg 16.

“Concrete May Be Used”  Oregonian – February 3, 1912, pg 12.

“Country Schoolhouse to Rise”  Oregonian – July 7, 1912, pg 9.

“New Plans for Auditorium Suggested”  Oregonian – September 21, 1913. 

“Selection of Site for School Waits”  Oregonian – January 19, 1921. 

“Newton C. Gauntt has proposed…”  Oregonian – April 22, 1911.

“Newton C. Gauntt to Lecture”  Oregonian – November 30, 1913. 

“Courthouse Notes”  Oregonian – February 26, 1911.

“Notice to Contractors”  Oregonian – May 6, 1910. 

“Notice to Contractors”  Oregonian – October 16, 1922.

“Bids for School to be Asked”  Oregonian – November 16, 1922.

 “Buys Big Ranch: Architect Gaunt Plans on Big Things in the Selah” The Yakima Herald, May 1, 1907.

 “Architect N.C. Gaunt left Tuesday afternoon for Lewiston, Idaho….” The Yakima Herald, July 3, 1907.

“Gaunt Chosen as Architect: Will Oversee Construction of Y.M.C.A. Building” The Yakima Herald, August 22, 1906. 

“Plans Now Ready to be Accepted” The Yakima Herald, September 5, 1906. 

“Y.M.C.A. Building Plans Ready” The Yakima Herald, October 6, 1906.

 “Buys Fast Auto” The Yakima Herald, June 12, 1907.

“See Courthouse: Franklin County Officials Spend Day in the City” The Yakima Herald, May 13, 1908.

“Newton Gauntt Resigns as Architect on High School Building” The Yakima Herald, April 8, 1908. 

“Calling For School Bids for High and Grade Schools” The Yakima Herald, April 10, 1907.

 “Impressive Ceremonies at Barge School” The Yakima Herald, October 25, 1905.

 “Kennewick’s New School” The Evening Statesman, April 2, 1906.

 “Baptists Are Ready To Build” The Yakima Herald, April 4, 1906.

“Lewiston, Mont. – N.C. Gauntt, architect, North Yakima….” The American Architect & Building News, December 28, 1907.

“Ellsworth, Ind. Architect N.C. Gaunt has prepared…” School Board Journal, Vol XVI No 5, May 1898.

 “Is Grade School Being Exploited Incidentally Observer Mentioned” La Grande Evening News. February 16, 1911. 

“Residence – Architect Newton C. Gauntt….”  Pacific Coast Architect, April 1912.

“School – Architect Newton C. Gauntt has been…”  Pacific Coast Architect, April 1912.

“Architect Newton C. Gauntt has moved his office…”  Pacific Coast Architect, April 1912.

 “Spokane Sees a factory Coming”  The Motor World, Vol. 17. December 26 1907.

 “The Factory that Gauntt Bought”  The Motor World Wholesale, Vol. 17. January 2 1908. pg 670.