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Frederick Hutchinson Porter


Frederick Hutchinson Porter, Architect [1890-1976]

Frederick H. Porter [†] was born on July 9, 1890, in Salem, Massachusetts. Although his formal education did not continue past eighth grade, he did attend the Wentworth Institute, a technical institute in Boston. He also attended the Architectural Club Ateliers in Saint Louis and Boston. He practiced architecture from October 1906 to about 1965.

In 1906, "Bunk" Porter began an apprenticeship in the Denver Architect's Office. He came to Cheyenne in 1911 as an inspector for the construction of the Boyd Building (at that time the Citizen's National Bank). He returned to Massachusetts in 1914 to study at the Wentworth Institute in Boston. He won the American Traveling Scholarship in 1918 and traveled throughout Europe. He then returned to Cheyenne and established the architectural firm of Baerresen and Porter; within two years he had set up an independent practice. In 1944, he went into partnership with Walter Bradley, a collaboration that lasted until about 1954, when Bradley retired. In 1956, Porter went into partnership with his son, Fred Porter, Jr. and practiced as Porter and Porter. F.H. Porter retired in 1965. Porter was a strong believer in historic preservation and fought to preserve some of Cheyenne's best historic buildings.

For over forty years, Porter designed buildings that helped establish the tone of Cheyenne's architecture. His buildings included schools, churches, and public buildings. His first building in Cheyenne was the First Presbyterian Church (considered by him to be the "best job" he ever did), and the last was the O'Mahoney Federal Center. In between, he designed dozens of buildings throughout Wyoming and on the campus of the University of Wyoming in Laramie. He also designed several public schools around the state and in Cheyenne.

Porter's evolution of architectural styles is evident in his design of schools through the years. His first in Cheyenne was the Park Addition School, a simple one and one-half story side-gabled brick symmetrical building with a centered full-height advance pavilion. The style is unique among the remaining Cheyenne schools. Porter also designed the 1949 hipped-roofed addition to the building. His next school was a collaboration in 1929 with William Dubois in the design of McCormick Junior High School. In the 1940s, Porter's designs evolved to keep up with the "Modern" movement. In 1940 and 1945, Porter designed the Mable Fincher and Deming Elementary Schools, both of which featured Art Deco and International elements, with clean sweeping lines and simple detailing.

The Hebard School (1945) and Rossman School (1946), designed by the partnership of Porter and Bradley, also reflected the evolution of post-World War II architecture and featured Modern and International elements. The Storey Gymnasium built in 1950, although a much larger building than the above-mentioned schools, also featured many similar Modern and International design elements.

† Robert G. Rosenberg, Historian, Rosenberg Historical Consultants, Lulu McCormick Junior High School, Laramie County, Wyoming, nomination document, 2004, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.


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