Born c.1863 in New York, Seattle architect William P. White’s formal architectural training and background is unknown. Documentation show that he arrived in the west around 1892 via Montana, where he was commissioned to prepare plans for a grand new high school in Great Falls. For a short time he formed a partnership with Finish architect Anton Werner Lignell in Butte (1897 to 1902). Known projects in Montana include the F.F. Weirick House, a flat for George Dailey and St. Paul's Methodist Episcopal Church.
Polk directories indicate that White arrived in Seattle around 1902 and practiced in the city until about 1918. White specialized in the design of apartment buildings and was prolific in the early part of the 20th century. An article he wrote entitled “Apartment Buildings” featured in the March 1907 issue of Pacific Builder & Engineer most likely brought him many commissions. With business going well, around 1911 he formed a short lived partnership with Jesse M. Warren.
Known apartment projects include the Skinner Flats (1903); the Knickerbocker Apartments (c.1904); the Bovingdon Flats (1904); the Jefferson Apartments (c.1905); a 3-story apartment at the NW corner of Boren & Union (1905); the Imperial Apartments (1905); the Madkin Apartments (1905); the Villa Apartments (1906); Wellington Court (1907); the Kinnear Apartments (1907); Chapman’s Apartment (1907); the Manhattan Flats (c.1907); the Wrexhall (1909); C.B. Richardson Apartments (1909); the Olympian Apartments (1913); the Sagamore/Queen Anne View Apartments (c.1917) on Queen Anne; and the Alfaretta Apartments (c.1917) on First Hill.
White is also designed at least three apartment buildings in Vancouver, B.C., the Leonard/Wenonah Apartments (1912); the Del Mar Inn (1912); and the Sylvia Court Apartments (1912). The Sylvia Court Apartments, now a hotel were the first large scale development in Vancouver’s west end near Stanley Park and at eight stories tall, remained the tallest building in the neighborhood until 1958.
Residential projects by White include several homes for the Building Investment Co. in the Capitol Hill neighborhood (1902); the J.S. Klickner House (1903); the Ella Mann House (1903); the G. Maher House (1904); three rental homes for Edgar & Clara Synder (1905); the B.E. Gates House (1905); the M.B. Jackson House (1905); and several home in the Green Lake area (1910).
Other designs ranged from small scale commercial buildings, to large muti-story hotel buildings. Known projects include the Bigelow Building (1906); the Klodt Building (1906); the Bamberg Block (1906); the Smith Block (1906); The Richmond Hotel (1908); the Freedman Building (1909); the Astor Hotel (c.1909); the Kaufman Warehouse (1910); the Skinner Block (1910); the Hotel Nelson (1909); and the Calhoun Hotel (1910). Outside of Seattle White designed the Sumas Bank (1911); and a multi-story building in downtown Mount Vernon housing the Mount Vernon Hotel and a Bank (1909). White also designed the San Juan County Courthouse (1906) in Friday Harbor.
During WWI, White moved to Bremerton and began working as draftsman for the Navy Shipyards in Bremerton. Reportedly he was employed there until his death on April 5, 1932.
By Michael Houser, State Architectural Historian - November 2013