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William C. Knighton


William C. Knighton, Architect [1867-1938]

William C. Knighton [†] was born in Indianapolis, Indiana. His parents were Mary Hill and Charles J. Knighton. His father, a native of Great Britain, had immigrated to New York. William C. Knighton came to Oregon in 1893 and apprenticed with C. S. McNally in Salem. While there he worked on the Capital National Bank Building. In 1896 he moved to Alabama.

When Knighton returned to Oregon in 1902 he settled in Portland. In 1912 he was appointed State Architect. During his five years in that position he was architect for the Supreme Court Building in Salem, the Eastern Oregon State Hospital in Pendleton and the State Boys' Training School in Woodburn. In 1917 he resumed his practice in Portland. He was joined by Leslie D. Howell as a partner in 1922 and their association continued until Knighton's death.

Knighton was a Mason and member of the Knights of Pythias. He served as the first chairman of the Oregon State Architectural Board and was president of the Oregon Chapter of the American Institute of Architects.

Knighton was architect for numerous commercial and residential buildings in Portland. The Portland Historic Resource Inventory includes ten structures definitely designed by him, five attributed to him and two on which he collaborated with Edward T. Root. Two buildings are listed in the National Register: his 1909 Seward Hotel and the 1910/1919 Whitney-Gray Building on which he collaborated with Root. Five unlisted buildings were given a Rank II (eligible for Landmark designation and National Register listing): Trinity Place Apartments (Knighton and Root, 1910), Garage at 121 NW 23rd (attributed to Knighton, c. 1920 (date probably in error)), Edward and Julia Holman House (Knighton, 1908), Dr. D. A. Grout House (Knighton and Root, 1910) and the Maud and Belle Ainsworth House.

With the exception of his own home—a modest Mediterranean style house built in 1923—all of the houses by Knighton included in the inventory are similar in appearance, having steeply pitched gabled roofs, large brackets, massive bargeboards, and brick and shingled exterior walls.

† Virginia Guest Ferriday, Architect, Maud and Belle Ainsworth House, Portland, Multnomah County, Oregon, nomination document, 1985, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.


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