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William Doty Van Siclen

1865 - 1951

William Doty Van Siclen born in Clearwater, Michigan, on April 29, 1865.  There is no known information regarding any formal architectural training Van Siclen may have undertaken.  He practiced architecture in San Jose, California, between 1895 to1900.  Van Siclen was a contributor, in 1893 and 1895, of architectural drawings and designs to California Architect and Building News.   His published designs show an early use of Spanish and Italian motifs and revival forms, and he probably was instrumental in the introduction of these styles to the Northwest.

Van Siclen’s 1901 arrival in Seattle was probably due to the prosperity associated with the Klondike Gold Rush of 1897. He initially worked as a draftsman for James Stephens who became the architect for the Seattle School Board in 1900, and Van Siclen most likely assisted him with his drawings.  Later in 1901, Van Siclen went to work for the Seattle architectural firm of Saunders & Lawton.  

In 1902, Van Siclen established an independent practice, and continued working in Seattle until 1912.  His extant buildings all show a fine degree of detailing.  The Eitel Building (1906) represents a sensitive mixture of classical and Mediterranean influences.  Many of his buildings demonstrate his appreciation of Mission Revival ornamentation. He became a member of the Washington State Chapter of the AIA in 1902, serving as second vice president of the Chapter in 1905.  Other project include the Northern Bank and Trust Building (1909), the San Remo Apartment House (1907), and the Caroll Apartments.

Elevations and renderings for his Van Siclen buildings frequently appeared in local newspapers and building trade journals, such as Pacific Builder and Engineer and the Seattle Daily Bulletin.  The AIA Washington State Chapter’s Exhibition of Architecture and the Allied Arts at the Alaska-Yukon Pacific Exposition featured six designs by Van Siclen.

In 1911,Van Siclen joined Louis Macomber in a partnership based in Vancouver, B.C.  He relocated to Edmonton, Alberta, in 1912, and then eventually moved to Brownsville, Texas, around 1925.   He was in active practice in Brownsville throughout the 1920s.  His work consisted mainly of small commercial stores, clubhouses, apartments, and residential work.  He died in Brownsville on July 14, 1951.

Adapted from the Northern Bank & Trust Building NR nomination - Larry Johnson

Bibliography

Fox, Stephen; “William D. Van Siclen;” unpublished biography and known Texas building projects.

"Architect W.D. Van Siclen, Downs Block has completed...." Seattle Times: June 5, 1910.

"New Apartments at Thomas and Federal" Seattle Times: June 5, 1910.

Ochsner, Jeffrey Karl, editor, Dennis A. Anderson, contributing; Shaping Seattle Architecture; “Van Siclen, William Doty,” citation under “Additional Significant Seattle Architects;” University of Washington Press, Seattle, 1994; p.353.

Pacific Builder & Engineer; January 13, 1906, March 10, 1906, April 21, 1906, October 1907.