Biographies of Architects, Designers, and Builders

William H. Willcox (1832-1929)

William H. Willcox was born on May 26, 1832.Though often identified as having been born in New York, U.S. Census records suggest that Willcox emigrated from England as a youngster and was raised in New York. He practiced architecture in New York City, 1853-1860, and drew maps for the Union Army during the Civil War. Following the war he practiced architecture in various places, including Chicago (1872-1879), Nebraska (1879-1881), St. Paul, Minnesota (1882-1891), and Seattle (1891-1895). In 1895 he established a practice in Los Angeles, with offices at 345 Bradbury Block. In 1896 architect Henry F. Starbuck, who later practiced in Fresno, maintained his Los Angeles office at the same Bradbury Block address.

In 1896 Willcox, as well as William J. Cuthbertson of San Francisco, B. G. McDougall of Bakersfield, and S. J. A. Preston of Los Angeles, submitted plans for the Kings County Courthouse. The Board of Supervisors narrowed its consideration to the plans of Willcox and McDougall and, in the tenth and final ballot, selected Willcox's plans. A short time later the Board asked the architect to revise his plans to eliminate the dome and apply the cost savings to a ten-foot basement. Therefore, the courthouse as constructed did not incorporate the original dome design.

Willcox prepared plans in 1897 for a new church building for the First Baptist Church of Los Angeles. To recover his design fees, Willcox sued the church in 1898. The court ruled in favor of the church, and shortly thereafter Willcox relocated to Northern California. From 1899 to 1904 he maintained a practice in San Francisco. William H. Willcox died on February 1, 1929, in Yountville, California.

©2001 John Edward Powell. All rights reserved.

Information on Willcox's early career was drawn from Jeffrey Ochsner, Shaping Seattle Architecture: A Historical Guide to the Architects. (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1994), p. 354.