About Me

ABOUT ME

This blog is not about me.  It is about the life and works of my grandfather William James Carpenter, a talented architect and artist whose career has never been recognized and properly documented. It was with deep sentiment that I studied his painting which he had so aptly named THE FORGOTTEN  MAN  and I decided to try to assure that he would become The Unforgotten Man.

Fortunately, I am retired so that I have been able to devote several thousand hours over the last ten years to researching and recording his life and believe it worthy of sharing with students, architectural historians and researchers preparing articles or registration of his historic buildings as well as the owners of these buildings.

My personal odyssey began when I made  a trip to DeLand to find the association between the Putnam Hotel and a watercolor painting of a hotel signed “Putnam Inn, Deland, Florida, W. J. Carpenter, Architect”.  Although I had known him when I was a child the family had never talked of his past, so I knew little of his career.

It was in DeLand that I discovered that he had been recognized as a prominent architect during the 1920s and had designed many significant buildings in Volusia County.  As a result of that trip I began a fascinating quest to discover and to preserve a part of family and architectural history that I feared was in danger of being lost forever.

Since then, following the trail of his architectural career has led me to the four corners of the continental United States and even to the Mexican border.  In each of these areas I found he had produced and made significant lasting contributions. This was surprising because it had never been discussed within the family. After his catastrophic personal and financial losses due to the “Florida Bust” in the 1920s I think he considered himself a forgotten and unsuccessful man and he would never talk about himself.

As a result of my research I have found that during an active practice period of only about 18 years he produced over 150 projects. His designs ranged from small one-bedroom cottages in Daytona Beach, Florida during the Depression years to elegant mansions on Millionaires’ Row in Pittsburgh during the great days of the Steel City.  There was time along the way to design state-of-the-art fireproof hotels, commercial buildings, and even fair grounds.

I have found that most of his buildings are still standing and in use about 100 years later, and several appear on various listings of Historical Buildings and Places.  Some plans and drawings have been preserved, and a few renderings appear in my collection of over fifty watercolor paintings which he also found time to create.

I have often been asked if I have any of his original drawings.  Unfortunately, there are very few still in existence.  Perhaps this forum will result in the discovery of more of them and I will be more than happy to spread the word if anyone is willing to share them; and I will see that they are properly preserved if anyone will part with them.

I must make a disclaimer at this point–this treatise is not meant as an architectural critique of his work. What I have compiled is just a record of the work in order to show the breadth and magnitude of it-final analysis and evaluation will be left to the professionals on a building by building basis.  I am not a trained architect so my comments about architecture are not necessarily expressed in keeping with terms of the profession. Personal opinions and comments on questionable items are included in parentheses and should not be considered factual, pending further investigation.  If there are mistakes I will humbly correct them if you will bring them to my attention.

John W. (Jack) Carpenter

CONTACTS

I don’t yet know how the interaction is going to work out, but until further notice please make brief comments of general interest in COMMENTS.  For longer dialogues or to send pictures email to chrisnjack5@bellsouth.net or snail mail to address below.  Please include links to related internet recognitions of Wm. J. Carpenter’s career in your comments.

 Jack Carpenter, 290 Cubbedge Road, St. Augustine, Florida 32080

 

     

 

           

 

 

11 Comments »

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  1. Jack, This is great; it will be interesting to see what develops ! See you soon.

    • Hi Sandra, Welcome aboard. I’ll be talking about your watercolor paintings by WJC in a future posting. J

  2. My My My!!! Jack, what a wonderful gift you have given to so many peiople. Every one of us who has a treasure left due to your grandfather thanks you! You have done so very much research. Congratulations. Just two days ago a man brought by a picture of the Lowenberg/Roberts mansion. It is the oldest picture known of the structure. Shows workmen on the side yard. Will get it to you.
    One correction on address. it is on the corner of First and Cannon. Are you going to add pictures of the buildings you list?

    • Hi Mary, Thank you. You are one who has gone to extraordinary length to preserve one onf of WJC’s treasures in your preservation of the Robert’s Mansion. Staying with you was one of the highlights of my research. Yes, I will be adding as many pictures as I can with future postings.

  3. Hello Jack…. we are purchasing one of your grandfathers 1889 homes in Spokane, the ceilings in a few rooms are decoratively hand-painted and on the woodwork as well. Do you think maybe your grandfather painted these ceilings himself?
    Do you have any record of the home or blueprints for a home built for John Currie in 1889

    • Kris,
      Congratulatioins on your pending purchase of Architect Wm. J. Carpenters Currie House. It is a beautiful Victorian building and well built, so I know you will enjoy it. I have just been writing an article on it as my next posting to this blog in a few weeks, so stay tuned.
      We have some wildflower paintings done by Grandfather Carpenter in 1889, very similar to those in your building, and my personal feeling is that he painted all, or part of them in the house, but as yet it is undocumented. Maybe you’ll discover a signature somewhere on them.

    • jpg

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      Hi Kris,

      I’m trying to copy two paintings by WJC here that he did in 1889 that may be similar to those in your house. Let me know if they don’t show & I will try again.

      Jack

  4. Hi Jack,
    The WVHS is working on a project that is going to have mention of the Masonic Lodge building. It’s one of the stops in a walking tour that will be available on phones. I’m presently looking for early photos of the building and its interior. Do you by any chance have any? Let me know and I can see about proper acknowledgments and credit lines for their use.
    Larry
    ED, WVHS

    • Hi Larry,

      The tour sounds interesting. Please keep us posted. I’d like to cover it here in the Blog. Will it include any other of WJC’s buildings in DeLand?

      Larry, I’m sending you by direct email the section on the Masonic Temple from my book in process “Wm. J. Carpenter, The Unforgotten man, Volume II, The Deland Architect” There may be something there you can use. Sorry, but I don’t have any other pictures. You might find something more in the referenced newspaper files in the library. Jack

  5. Hi, I took a backpack trip to El Paso 13 years ago and came back again with my spouse to settle down in there. My spouse and I walked down the street downtown El Paso and ate at one cafe. (Actually my friend owns that cafe now) anyway, I fell in love with this city and started researching its history and accidently found your blog. After I read this forum, I figured out that we dined at the building your grandpa architectured. We will visit downtown again on this coming Monday and might be able to take a picture of the building. So glad to find your blog.

    • Welcome aboard. Please add your picture here when you get it. Jack


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