Biographies of Architects, Designers, and Builders

Edward W. Peterson (1886-1977)

Edward W. Peterson was born in Chicago on January 13, 1886. He studied architecture at Armour Institute in Chicago, now Illinois Institute of Technology. Coming to California in 1906, Peterson settled in Kingsburg to work on his uncle's ranch. After the San Francisco earthquake, he went to San Francisco to work on the reconstruction of government buildings. He then worked in Sacramento for the California Department of Engineering before moving to Fresno in 1920.

Peterson was a modest and quiet man who pursued his career without leaving much documentation to identify the breadth of his work. Among his known projects, however, were a number of small rural schools, including Bowles School (1922), Caruthers School (1922) and Raisin City School (ca. 1925). His largest and perhaps finest work was the Fowler Presbyterian Church (1922).

Fire Station No. 3For a short time he was associated with Glass & Butner Architects, and is said to have worked on the plans for the Physicians Building (1926), which is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. During the early 1930s he redesigned portions of the Lakeshore Resort at Huntington Lake after heavy snows destroyed its dining wing. During the mid-1930s Peterson was a member of Allied Architects of Fresno. In 1938 Peterson designed Fire Station No. 3 (shown on right), a striking PWA Moderne structure in Fresno's Chinatown.

Tower District post officeHaving trained at the turn of the century, Peterson was well versed in the visual vocabulary of the Beaux Arts tradition, yet he adapted well to modernist changes in architecture that came after World War II. His 1949 design for the U.S. Post Office in the Tower District (shown on left) is a clean little International style building that adds measurably to the character of that unique commercial neighborhood. Edward W. Peterson was the last surviving member of Allied Architects. He died on November 2, 1977.

©1996 John Edward Powell. All rights reserved.