Walter David Widmeyer was born in Edmonton, Canada on March 23, 1923. He grew up in Canada and attended the University of Saskatchewan majoring in engineering before he enlisted in the Royal Canadian Air Force in 1943. After receiving a medical discharge in 1944, he continued to study engineering at the University of British Columbia. His interest in the built environment however lead him to switch his major to architecture and he transferred to the University of Washington School of Architecture program in 1945.
Upon graduating in 1949, Widmeyer remained in Seattle and worked in the office of Donald Dwight Williams for the next four years. In 1953, he took a job as staff architect for the Douglas Fir Plywood Association (DFPA) and moved to the newly established community of Fircrest, south of Tacoma. While working for the DFPA, Widmeyer was heavily involved with the development and use of plywood as a structural component in roof, wall, and floor systems. He contributed designs for a variety of plywood furniture and plywood homes which were featured in a number of DFPA brochures, advertisements and plan books. The handsome Widmeyer even served as a model for several of the DFPA advertisements.
In 1958, Widmeyer established an independent practice designing a number of residences, schools, churches, banks, and medical clinics. His wife, Marian, served as office and business manager. While still supplying design support for DFPA, Widmeyer’s practice grew quickly in the burgeoning community of Fircrest. Custom homes for doctors and dentists as well as private offices for them were followed by a series of bank buildings around the south Puget Sound area for Puget Sound National Bank.
Among his more noted designs are the William Jonez House (1959) in Tacoma, the Fircrest Medical Arts Building (1960), the Charles Hogan House (1962) in Puyallup, and a summer cabin (1964) for Roger Bullock on the Raging River near Seattle. Widmeyer’s own home in Fircrest (1954) was widely publicized during and after its construction. The home featured many new and innovative uses for plywood. Widemeyer continued his independent practice into the 1990s. In 1961, Widmeyer became a naturalized U.S. Citizen. He passed away in Fircrest on September 9, 2004 at the age of 81.
By Michael Houser, State Architectural Historian - February 2007