Biographies of Architects, Designers, and Builders

Leonard F. Starks (1891-1986)

Leonard F. Starks was born in Healdsburg, California, in 1891. He graduated from San Francisco's Lick Wilmerding Technical High School in 1908 and completed his architectural studies through the San Francisco Architectural Club, under the auspices of the Society of Beaux-Arts Architects. From 1908 to 1915 Starks worked in ateliers headed by Arthur Brown, Jr. and John Baur, under whom he produced fine student competition drawings.

Starks worked as a designer on the Panama-Pacific International Exposition at San Francisco between 1913 and 1915, before moving east to work for architect Waddy Butler Wood of Washington, D.C. Starks then accepted a position in New York with Thomas Lamb, a master theater designer. While in Lamb's office, Starks worked on designs for several New York theaters, including the Rivoli and the Capital.

In 1921 Lamb signed an exclusive contract with the Famous Players theater chain and sent Starks to California to supervise the design and construction of a chain of theaters on the West Coast. When an anti-trust suit blocked construction of these buildings, Starks gave up his position with Lamb and settled in Sacramento. The

Fresno Bee BuildingJames McClatchy Publishing Company gave Starks one of his first major projects when it commissioned him to design a building to house its new newspaper operation in Fresno. The Fresno Bee Building (shown on right) was completed in 1922. Starks joined E. C. Hemmings as a partner in the firm of Hemmings and Starks in 1923, but Hemmings died the next year. Edward Flanders then joined Starks and became a partner in the firm of Starks and Flanders in 1925. This partnership lasted until Flanders' death in 1941. Among notable Sacramento buildings designed by Starks were the Fox Senator (1924), the Elks Temple (1925), the Alhambra Theatre (1927), which has since been demolished, and the U.S. Post Office and Courthouse (1932).

Leonard Starks retired in 1965 to paint watercolors and oils, which he did until four years before his death in 1986 at age ninety-four.

©2001John Edward Powell. All rights reserved.