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William Henry Weeks

William Henry Weeks, Architect [1864-1936]

William H. Weeks [†] began his California practice in Watsonville where he designed the First Christian Church (1892). The son of a skilled builder, he gained his education in design and construction working with his father in Wichita, Kansas. Shortly after marrying Maggie Haymaker, the sister of a neighbor, Weeks settled in Oakland, removing two years later to Watsonville where he opened his first architectural office. Weeks completed a number of commissions in Watsonville encompassing commercial and public buildings as well as private residences. In 1897 he opened a branch office in Salinas where Claus Spreckles had recently purchased a large amount of acreage to establish a sugar factory. Weeks became a principal designer for Spreckles' facilities including buildings for the factory workers and their families and a home for the factory superintendent. In 1905 he received a large commission to design the Paso Robles hotel and baths. Following the 1906 earthquake, Weeks opened an office in the Flood Building in San Francisco. In 1911 Weeks moved to the Bay Area, settling first in Palo Alto and then in Piedmont. During this time the firm expanded employing a number of designers and draftsmen including Weeks' brother, Hammond, and his own son, Harold. A number of well known California architects worked with the Weeks firm including Ralph Wyckoff, Robert Orr, and Harry Devine.

Prior to 1910, Weeks designed schools in Boulder Creek, Buena Vista, Chular, Gustine, Hollister, Newman, Salinas, San Juan Batista, San Leandro, San Luis Obispo, Soledad, and Susanville. Based on this experience, Weeks began to write about school design and construction. In 1906 he published a short article entitled "Rural School Buildings of California," in the Architect and Engineer? Although the article focused on the design of one and two-room school houses, Weeks used it to set forth his ideas on good school design in general. Drawing on studies in Germany, he developed standards for class room size based on ideal square footage per pupil and established visual and auditory criteria that ensured that every student could read the blackboard and hear the teacher. He also stressed proper heating and ventilation and discussed the role that fresh air and air circulation played in minimizing the spread of contagious disease. In this article he presented some of his own designs which incorporated these ideas. In addition to his concerns with health and safety, Weeks expressed his views on aesthetics in school design, stressing that a school building should indicate its "essential use" through its appearance and that it must have "beauty, grace and dignity."

† Carol Roland Nawi, Roland-Nawi Associates, Preservation Consultants, Walnut Street School, Yolo County, California, nomination document, 2005, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.

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