Biographies of Architects, Designers, and Builders

Henry F. Starbuck (1850-1935)

Henry F. StarbuckHenry Fletcher Starbuck was born on March 1, 1850, in Nantucket, Massachusetts. He completed his education in Boston and fulfilled his apprenticeship there under Harvard-educated architect Abel C. Martin (1831-1879). Starbuck formed his first partnership in Boston with George A. Moore as Moore & Starbuck Architects in 1873, followed by a partnership with Arthur H. Vinal as Starbuck & Vinal in 1877. From Boston, Starbuck went to New Brunswick. He then worked for several years in Chicago and briefly in Milwaukee. By 1894 he had established a practice in San Diego, where he earned a reputation as a specialist in church architecture.

In 1896 Starbuck moved his practice to Los Angeles. Among his church projects during this period were the Knox Presbyterian Church in Los Angeles, the United Presbyterian Church in Long Beach, and the Methodist-Episcopal Church in Fresno in 1902. Shortly thereafter Starbuck moved to Oakland but continued pursuing work in the Central Valley, including a proposal for a Fresno County Almshouse in 1906.

With his Oakland partner, William Wilde, Starbuck designed a Masonic Lodge in Fresno in 1910. Later that year he moved to Fresno, where he took on Alfred W. Clark (1879-1914) as a partner. Starbuck & Clark designed numerous projects, including homes for Maud I. Pettus and Dr. George Hopkins in 1911 and an exotic Japanesque style bungalow for J. D. Stephens in 1912. In 1912 he also designed the wonderfully whimsical Woodman of the World Building and the characterful First Congregational Church with its witch's hat tower.

Cross ChurchBefore moving to Los Angeles in 1926, Starbuck created designs for a long list of Valley churches: the Madera Presbyterian Church (1914), the German Free Evangelical Lutheran Congregational Church (1914, on left), the Fowler Baptist Church (1916), the Danish Lutheran Church (1917), the Powis Memorial Baptist Church (1920), the Biola Lutheran Congregational Church (1922), the Bethal African Methodist Church (1923), and the Cumberland Church (1924). He also designed Wylie Giffen's Butler Avenue residence in 1917 and the U.S. Post Office in Selma in 1923.

Henry F. Starbuck died in Decoto, California, on August 21, 1935.

John Powell also has written a feature-length article about Starbuck. © 1996 John Edward Powell. All rights reserved.

Photograph of Henry F. Starbuck courtesy of the Lytton Family.