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William Marcy Whidden


William Marcy Whidden, Architect [1857-1929]

William M. Whidden [†] was trained at M. I. T., commonly known at the time as "Boston Tech." Following graduation from M. I. T., Whidden went to Paris where he spent four years at the Ecole des Beaux Arts. Upon his return in January 1882, he joined the New York office of McKim, Mead & White, where one of his earliest projects was Henry Villard's Portland Hotel. Later that year McKim and Whidden came to Portland to oversee the beginning of construction. Whidden stayed on to supervise the work until late 1883 when Villard's financial empire collapsed and work on the hotel stopped at the second story level. Whidden returned to the east where he formed a partnership with William E. Chamberlin. In 1888 the unfinished hotel was acquired by a local syndicate and Whidden returned to Portland as architect in charge of the project. A year later Whidden was visited by his friend and classmate Ion Lewis, who stayed on and joined Whidden in partnership.

The arrival of Whidden & Lewis also marked the arrival of current eastern styles, and architecturally speaking, Portland had, "come of age." In addition to their Colonial Revival residential work, the firm introduced the Second Renaissance Revival in public buildings (Portland City Hall, a National Register property, 1892-95) and the classical treatment of office buildings (Hamilton Building, 1893, and Failing Building, 1900, both listed on the National Register). While their practice waned somewhat after 1910, Whidden & Lewis continued to receive important commissions until 1920 when Whidden retired.

† George A. McMath, A.I.A., Allen McMath Hawkins, Architects, Trevett/Nunn House, Multnomah County, Portland, Oregon, nomination document, 1979, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.


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