view all images ( of 31 shown)

Male, US, born 1846-03-03, died 1914-01-21

Associated with the firms network

Curlett and Cuthbertson, Architects; Curlett and Eisen, Architects; Curlett and McCaw, Architects; Curlett, Eisen, and Cuthbertson, Architects; Curlett, William, and Son, Architects; Curlett, William, Architect; Laver and Curlett, Architects; Laver, Curlett and Lenzen, Architects

Professional History


Draftsman, several architectural offices in Belfast, Northern Ireland, c. 1867-1870.

Draftsman, Thomas J. Johnston, Architect, San Francisco, CA, c. 1872. Partner, Johnston and Curlett, Architects, San Francisco, CA, c. 1875. Principal, William F. Curlett, Architect, San Francisco, CA, 1876- 1877. In 1876, Curlett and Eisen appear to have maintained separate practices, although their offices were consecutively numbered in the same building, and they paid for ads in the 1876 San Francisco City Directorynext to each other.

Partner, Laver and Curlett, Architects, San Francisco, CA, 1877-1879. According to his entry in Los Angeles County Biographies (1913), "Almost immediately after his arrival [in the US], Mr. Curlett became associated with Augustus Laver, at that time one of the most celebrated architects of the Pacific Coast and the designer of the old city hall in San Francisco, which was destroyed in the disaster in 1906. Mr. Curlett was associated with Mr. Laver for some months and aided in the designing of numerous important buildings. Later he opened offices for himself but still retained friendly relations with Mr. Laver and was called in on several occasions by the City hall Commissioners to assist Mr. Laver on his design for the building." (See "William Curlett,"Los Angeles County Biographies, Press Reference Library, Western Edition, Notables of the West, Vol. I, Page 25, [Los Angeles: International News Service, 1913].) In 1878, Laver and Curlett had their office in the San Francisco Stock Exchange Building, at 330 Pine Street. (In 1879, they occupied Room #19. SeeSan Francisco, California, City Directory, 1879, p. 935.)

Partner, Curlett and Eisen, Architects, San Francisco, CA, 1880-c. 10/1882. In 1880, Curlett and Eisen maintained Offices #22 and 23 in the building at 330 Pine Street.

Principal, William Curlett, Architect, San Francisco, CA, 1883. In 1883, Curlett maintained a solo practice at 330 Pine Street in San Francisco. (See the San Francisco, California, City Directory, 1883, p. 1106.) Typically, city directories were in effect from about March of each new year.

Partner, Curlett and Cuthbertson, Architects, San Francisco, c. 06/1883-04/1890. By 06/1883, Curlett had partnered with Walter J. Cuthbertson with whom he worked for about seven years.

Principal, William Curlett, Architect, San Francisco, CA, 1903-1907.

Partner, William Curlett and Son, Architects, San Francisco, CA, 1913. In 1913, Curlett and Sons had their offices in the Phelan Building.

Professional Activities

Curlett looks to have been an active investor in the 1880s. A "W. Curlett" was listed among the Directors of the Leduces Tute Improvement Company, of San Francisco in 1883: "Articles of incorporation have been filed with the Secretary of State of the Leduces Tute Improvement Company, of San Francisco. The Directors are A. Buck, James Otis, Charles M. Chase, Louis F. Dunand and W. Curlett. The capital stock is $25,000, divided into 2,500 shares." (See "Local Dashes," Sacramento Daily Union, vol. 18, no. 96, 12/12/1883, p. 3.)

In 1886, a "W. Curlett" was listed as a member of the Board of Directors of the Marin Building and Loan Association. An article "Looking Backward," in the Marin Journal, vol. 55, no. 45, 11/08/1917, p. 6, stated: "July 15, 1886--A new organization has been perfected here with the incorporation of the Marin County Building and Loan Association. The shares are $200, and the payments are $1 per month per share. The directors are Dr. George H. Powers, C.P. Pomeroy, Esq., Major R.H. Pond, W. Curlett, H.P. Wood, W.N. Anderson, George M. Dodge, and S.F. Barstow."

Trustee, American Institute of Architects (AIA), San Francisco Chapter, 11/1907. President, AIA, California Chapter, 1910.

The book Los Angeles County Biographies (1913) said of his activities in the American Institute of Architects: "Mr. Curlett served as President of the California Chapter of the American Institute of Architects and in 1910 attended the meeting of the American Institute of Architects and was instrumental in having this organization hold an annual meeting in San Francisco instead of Washington, D.C., the customary meeting place." (See "William Curlett,"Los Angeles County Biographies, Press Reference Library, Western Edition, Notables of the West, Vol. I, Page 25, [Los Angeles: International News Service, 1913].)

The State of California appointed Curlett to be one of its original members of the new State Board of Architecture. President, California State Board of Architects, 1912.

Member, Panama-Pacific International Exposition (PPIE), Advisory Board of Architects, c. 1913.

Professional Awards

Fellow, American Institute of Architects (FAIA).



Coursework, Art Institute of Manchester, Manchester, UK. (See Michael R. Corbett, "Continuity and Change in California Courthouse Design 1850-2000," in Ray McDevitt, ed., Courthouses of California: An Illustrated History, [San Francisco: California Hisorical Society, 2001], p. 25.)

Curlett's biography in the book, Los Angeles County Biographies, said of this education: "Mr. Curlett, who has attained an eminent position among the architects of America, received his preliminary education in private and public schools of his native county up to the year 1862, and at that time, when about sixteen years of age, took up the study of architecture. He first became a student in the Art School at Manchester, England, and after two years there, returned to Belfast, Ireland, where he continued his studies in the Art School of Belfast. He remained there three years and for three years after leaving school, was employed in the offices of several different architects." (See "William Curlett," Los Angeles County Biographies, Press Reference Library, Western Edition, Notables of the West, Vol. I, Page 25, [Los Angeles: International News Service, 1913].)



Born in the County of Down, Ireland in 1846, William F. Curlett spent his youth up to age 16 in that country, when he resettled in Manchester, England, to attend art school. In 1864, he established himself at an art school in Belfast, Northern Ireland, spending three years in that institution. Upon leaving school, he logged three years working for architectural firms in Belfast. Curlett left Northern Ireland in 08/1871 and migrated to the US, arriving in 09/1871; a year later, he resided at 40 Everett Street in San Francisco, CA. (See the San Francisco California City Directory, 1872, p. 188.) Eight years later, the San Francisco City Directory, 1880, listed him living at 912 Pierce Street in San Francisco. (See, San Francisco City Directory, 1880, p. 249.)

Curlett resided in Alameda, CA, in 1897, at 2014 Central Avenue. (See Oakland, California, City Directory, 1897, p. 526.)

In 1900, Curlett, his wife and two children lived at 1461 Fulton Street in San Francisco. (See, Source Citation Year: 1900; Census Place: San Francisco, San Francisco, California; Roll: 104; Page: 7A; Enumeration District: 0179; FHL microfilm: 1240104, accessed 09/13/2016.)

From at least 1910 until 1913, a year before he died, Curlett lived at 2701 Pierce Street. (See, San Francisco City Directory, 1913, p. 523.)

After William died, his widow resided at 2 Vicente Road in Berkeley. (See, Oakland City Directory, 1917, p. 383.)


His parents were Daniel Curlett and Jane Robinson Curlett.


He married Cecilia A. Eisen (07/1855-11/1937) on 08/11/1873 in Oakland, CA. (Curlett's biography in the book Los Angeles County Biographies indicated he married on 08/12/1873.) She went by the shortened name of "Celia" and was the sister of architect Theodore Augustus Eisen (1852-1924). Theodore Eisen worked with William F. Curlett during the 1870s and early 1880s.


He and Cecilia had five children although only two remained alive in 1910. They were Alexander Curlett (1881-1942), who also became an architect, and Ethel W. Curlett (born c. 1885 in San Francisco, CA).

The Sausalito News newspaper carried a brief note that mentioned William, William Curlett's son: "William, son of W. Curlett, an architect of San Francisco, met with a painful though not serious accident last Sunday morning while out duck-hunting near Novato. He was ina skiff, and while in the act of drawing the gun out of the boat it was discharged, the contents of one barrel lodging in the fleshy part of the arm. He was brought here [San Rafael] where Dr. Wickman attended him." (See "San Rafael," Sausalito News, vol. 8, no.44, 12/09/1892, p. 3.)

Biographical Notes

On Thursday, 12/03/1885, William F. Curlett was made Secretary of Masonic Doric Lodge No. 216 in San Francisco. (See "Fraternal Fellowship," Daily Alta California, vol. 39, no. 13050, 12/06/1885, p. 2.)

Headquartered in San Francisco, Curlett traveled a great deal, for both business and pleasure, during the 1880s. The Los Angeles Herald indicated that a "W. Curlett" checked into the Sierra Madre Villa on 08/14/1882. (See "Hotel Arrivals Yesterday," Los Angeles Herald, vol. XVII, no. 149, 08/15/1882, p. 3.) He was in Merced heading to Los Angeles on 09/08/1884 as reported in the Los Angeles Herald, likely accompanied by "Miss A. Eisen." (See "Passengers South and East," Los Angeles Herald, vol. 22, no. 8, 09/09/1884, p. 1.) Some of these trips were made between San Francisco and Los Angeles in the mid-to-late 1880s during the period that the Los Angeles County Courthouse #3 was being designed and erected. A "W. Curlett" was reported being in New York in the Daily Alta California newspaper on 01/12/1885. (See "Personals," Daily Alta California, vol. 38, no. 12692, 01/12/1885, p. 4.) A "W. Curlett" of Los Angeles had passed Newhall, CA, and would arrive in San Francisco on 01/26/1885. (See "Personals," Daily Alta California, vol. 38, no. 12706, 01/26/1885, p. 8.) An item in the Los Angeles Herald, noted that a "W. Curlett" of San Francisco was a registered guest at the Saint Elmo Hotel in Los Angeles. (See Los Angeles Herald, Volume 27, Number 112, 26 July 1887, p. 12.) Another brief notice appeared in the Los Angeles Herald on Christmas Day 1889: "W. Curlett, the architect was a passenger on the 1:40 train for the north yesterday afternoon." (See "Personal," Los Angeles Herald, vol. 33, no. 75, 12/25/1889, p. 10.)

William Curlett attended a welcome home banquet staged on behalf of Judge J.F. Crank, an investor in the Los Angeles and San Gabriel Valley Railroad, on 06/15/1889 at the California Club. This event was attended by many of the city's leading businessmen, lawyers and politicians. (See "Hon. J.F. Crank: Banquet Tendered Him at the California Club," Los Angeles Times, 06/16/1889, p. 3.)

Curlett was a member of the elite Bohemian Club in San Francisco. He joined that organization on 02/02/1886. (SeeThe Bohemian Club San Francisco, Certificate of Incorporation, Constitution, By-Laws and Rules, Officers, Committees, and Members, [San Francisco: Bohemian Club, 1907], p. 93.)

Associated Locations

PCAD id: 153

California State Bank, Sacramento, CASacramentoCA
City and County of San Francisco, Public Library (SFPL), McCreery, Andrew B., Branch, San Francisco, CA 1903-1904San FranciscoCA
City of Marysville, Public Library, Marysville, CAMarysvilleCA
City of Yuba City, Hall of Records, Yuba City, CA1890-1891Yuba CityCA
Crocker, Charles C. and Mary Ann Deming, House, Nob Hill, San Francisco, CA 1878-1880San FranciscoCA
Farmers and Merchants National Bank of Los Angeles, Headquarters Building #4, Downtown, Los Angeles, CA1915Los AngelesCA
Freeman College of Applied Sciences, Inglewood, CAInglewoodCA
Gates Hotel, Downtown, Los Angeles, CA 1912-1913Los AngelesCA
Head Building, Union Square, San Francisco, CA1909San FranciscoCA
Los Angeles Hospital of the Good Samaritan #2, Los Angeles, CA1895-1896Los AngelesCA
Mutual Savings Bank of San Francisco, Headquarters Building #2, Financial District, San Francisco, CA1900-1901San FranciscoCA
Mutual Savings Bank of San Francisco, Headquarters Building #3, San Francisco, CASan FranciscoCA
Pacific Union Club, Curlett Club House Design Competition Project, Nob Hill, San Francisco, CA1908San FranciscoCA
Phelan Building, Mixed-Use Retail and Apartment Building, South Park, San Francisco, CA1897San FranciscoCA
Phelan, James D., Building #2, Market Street, San Francisco, CA1907-1908San FranciscoCA
Phelan, James Duval, House, Saratoga, CA1912-1914SaratogaCA
Phelan, Mary L., Building, Market Street, Financial District, San Francisco, CA1908San FranciscoCA
Potomac Building, Downtown, Los Angeles, CA 1889-1890Los AngelesCA
San Francisco Savings Union, Headquarters Building #4, 532 California Street, Financial District, San Francisco, CA 1892-1894San FranciscoCA
Shreve Building, Union Square, San Francisco, CA1905-1906San FranciscoCA
State of California, Southern California State Asylum for Insane and Inebriates, Patton, CA1893PattonCA
Superior Court of California, County of Fresno, Courthouse #2, Fresno, CA1893FresnoCA
Superior Court of California, County of Los Angeles, Courthouse #3, Los Angeles, CA 1887-1891Los AngelesCA
University of California, Affiliated Colleges Project, Berkeley, CA1896BerkeleyCA
University of California, Berkeley (UCB), Mechanics Building, Berkeley, CA 1892-1893BerkeleyCA
"Freeman College of Applied Sciences, Curlett, Eisen & Cuthbertson, Architects ", American Architect and Architecture, XXIV: 656, 1888. "Curlett elected as AIA SF Trustee 3/1907", Architect & Engineer of California, 55, 3/1907. "Curlett elected as AIA SF Trustee 11/1907", Architect & Engineer of California, 76, 11/1907. "Phelan Building, San Francisco, 1908", Architect & Engineer of California, 34, 02/1908. "Phelan Building, San Francisco, 1906", Architect & Engineer of California, 80, 12/1906. "Phelan Building, San Francisco, 1907", Architect & Engineer of California, 94, 04/1907. "Babson Obituary", Architect & Engineer of California, 79, 8/1907. "Yuba City Hall of Records", California Architect and Building News, 12, col 2, 01/18/1890. "Good Samaritan Hospital", California Independent, 6, 1896-02-12. Gebhard, David, Winter, Robert, Guide to Architecture in San Francisco and Northern California, 69, 1985. Ochsner, Jeffrey Karl, "Seeing Richardson in His Time: The Problem of the Romanesque Revival", H.H. Richardson The Architect, His Peers and Their Era, 127, 1999. Gebhard, David, Winter, Robert, Los Angeles An Architectural Guide, 214, 1994. Gebhard, David, Winter, Robert, "Merchants National Bank Building (now Lloyd's Bank,) 1915", Los Angeles An Architectural Guide, 238, 1994. "Los Angeles Courthouse #2 Description", Los Angeles Times, 8, 1887-05-13. "Fellowship of State Voiced", Los Angeles Times, 3, 04/13/1910. "Tall Building for Mutual Savings Bank", San Francisco Call, 87: 149, 12, 1900-04-18. "Huge Phelan Building Already Is a Landmark", San Francisco Call, 103: 29, 40, 1907-12-29. Crockwell, J. H., Souvenir of Marysville and Yuba City, n.p., n. d.. "Yuba City Hall of Records article", Sunset Magazine, 481, 10/1904. "Dedication of the Good Samaritan Hospital", The Capital, 5, 1896-02-15.