Male, France/US, born 1874-05-04, died 1929-06-04

Professional History


Draftsman, Hornblower and Marshall, Architects, Washington, DC, c. 1903-1907; Champney worked in the office when the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of Natural History (completed in 1910) was being designed. In the book Paris on the Potomac, authors Field, et al., noted that some East Coast academic architects looked down at the design expertise of Hornblower and Marshall c. 1905. The firm mixed in too many trendy Art Nouveau-influenced motifs for Beaux-Arts purists such as Charles Follen McKim. "When Hornblower and Marshall submitted a proposal for the Smithsonian's National Museum (Natural History Museum) with a central motif imitating that of Petit Palais, Charles McKim and construction supervisor Bernard Green were up in arms." (Field, et al., Paris on the Potomac, p. 27) They noted that McKim denigrated the firm's principals, saying that they relied on the design skills of a lowly subordinate, Champney: "McKim confided to [Augustus] Saint-Gaudens: 'There is no doubt that Hornblower and Marshall should never have had charge of this important work. They have neither the experience or the initiative, and have depended wholly on the experience of a French draughtsman just out of school for their facade.' McKim was referring to Édouard Frère Champney, who was actually American." (See Cynthia R Field, Isabelle Gournay, Thomas P Somma, Paris on the Potomac: the French Influence on the Architecture and Art of Washington, D.C., [Athens, OH: Published for the United States Capitol Historical Society by Ohio University Press, 2007], p. 27., quoting Cynthia R. Field and Jeffrey T. Tilman, "Creating a Model for the National Mall: The Design of the National Museum of Natural History," Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians, March 2004, p. 52-73.)

Architect, Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition (AYPE), Seattle, WA, 1907-1909.

Partner, Champney and Remey, Architects, Portland, OR, 1910.

Partner, [Augustus Warren] Gould and Champney, Architects, Seattle, WA, c. 1910-1912. According to the Harvard Directory, 1910, (p. 119), mail for Champney was to be sent to the American Bank Builidng in Seattle.

Principal, Édouard Frère Champney, Architect, Seattle, WA, 1912. In 1912, Champney had an office in Room #236 of the Henry Building in Seattle.

Chief of Design, Panama-Pacific International Exposition (PPIE), San Francisco, CA, 1912-1915. According to the Western Architectof 11/1912: "E. Frere Champney, Seattle architect, with offices at 236 Henry building, has telegraphed to the directors of the Panama-Pacific exposition his acceptance of terms by which he becomes chief of design for the buildings of the big 1915 world's fair at San Francisco. Mr. Champney held a similar position for the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific exposition. He will have general charge of the architectural department of the fair and will design the buildings erected by the exposition company." (See "Seattle Architect Will Design Fair Buildings," Western Architect, 11/1912, vol. 18. no. 11, p. VI.)

Principal, Édouard Frère Champney, Architect, Berkeley, CA, 1926-1929.

Member, American Institute of Architects (AIA), Washington Chapter, 1910-1911; Member, Seattle Architectural Club, Seattle, WA, 1910.



A.B.., Architecture, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, 1892-1896.

Dipl., École des Beaux-Arts, Paris, France, 1899-1900.



As a child, Édouard Frère Champney lived in New York, NY and Deerfield, MA, where his father maintained studios. Champney arrived in New York aboard the passenger liner, Germanic on 10/03/1890; he was 17 years old and was accompanied by his family. According to the U.S. Census of 1910, Champney lived with his mother in the Madison Hotel at 1019 Madison Street in Seattle, WA; at the same time, the Beaux-Arts-trained architect, Carl F. Gould, Sr., (1873-1939), and another prominent Seattle architect, Joseph S. Coté, lived nearby in the same building.

Beginning around 1912, Champney began to shuttle back and forth from Seattle to the Bay Area, initially because he worked as a supervising designer of San Francisco's Panama Pacific International Exposition's (PPIE) buildings and grounds. (He had worked on three West Coast expositions, Portland, OR's Lewis and Clark Centennial Exposition [1904-1905], Seattle's Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition [1907-1909] and San Francisco's PPIE between 1904-1915.)

In c. 1917-1920, Champney lived at 1001 Terry Avenue in an apartment building with his mother, Elizabeth, with whom he was close. He moved permanently to Berkeley, CA, in 1926. Champney was buried in the Old Deerfield Burying Ground, Deerfield, MA. A memorial service held in Deerfield on 09/28/1930 for the whole family was mentioned in the New York Times, 09/26/1930. Dr. Howard Robbins of New York officiated. (See "Memorials," New York Times, 09/26/1930, p. 17.)


His father was James Wells Champney (born c. 1843 in Boston, MA-died 1903 in New York, NY), a painter and illustrator of some renown, his mother, Elizabeth Williams Champney (born 02/06/1850 in Springfield, OH-died 10/13/1922 in Seattle, WA), a well-known writer; James attended the Lowell Institute, taking classes in anatomy from the noted physician and writer Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr., (1809-1894). He illustrated the cover of her travel book, "Romance of a Feudal Chateau," (New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1899), listed as one of the New York Times's "100 Best Books" of 1899. Elizabeth's parents came from New England, her father born in MA, her mother, CT, but the family lived in OH and KS; J. Wells "Champ" Champney and Elizabeth Williams Champney met initially while she was a student at the Young Ladies Seminary in Lexington, MA, and he was a drawing teacher between 1864-1866. Not long after her graduation from Vassar, they married in 1873. Champ and Elizabeth worked together closely, he often illustrating stories she authored. Her stories, conversely, often described their foreign travels together, allowing him to paint. Edouard had a sister, Marie Mitchell Champney (born c. 1877 in Deerfield, MA-died 12/01/1906 in New Rochelle, NY), who graduated from Vassar College like her mother and became an artist like her father. She later married a New York architect, John Sanford Humphreys, but died at age 30. Edouard was named for an art instructor James had had in France, while Marie was named in honor of an astronomy professor Elizabeth had at Vassar.


For a number of years around 1915, Champney was considered one of the most eligible bachelors in Seattle, WA. In the article, "Bargains in Bachelors," (appearing the Town Crier, 02/05/1916), Champney was listed as the third most eligible in the city behind Bill Boeing, proprietor of the aircraft company. Up until at least 1920, Champney lived with his mother and was not married. His headstone bore the inscription, "h/o Mary Alice Robins Champney," with h/o standing for "husband of." (Her name may have been spelled "Robbins." This was how it appeared in the New York Times obituary for E.F. Champney on 06/17/1929, p. 17.) A "Mary K. Champney" (born c. 1883 in PA) lived in Berkeley, CA, according to the US Census of 1930; she married at age 40. If this was Edouard's wife, she married him c. 1923, the year after his mother died. Mary lived in a $70-a-month residence, at 2369 LeConte Avenue. Two women, Champney and Kathleen Keating, a librarian, lived at this address.


Édouard and Mary did not have any children.

Biographical Notes

His name has been frequently anglicized to "Edward," although it was properly spelled, "Édouard."

Champney sailed from Brussels, Belgium to New York, NY arriving there on 09/25/1894 aboard the Noordland; on 04/24/1896, he was an "art student" living in New York, NY, when he applied for a passport for study abroad. Champney estimated that he would stay "about four years" abroad. (He would study at the French architectural academy, the École des Beaux-Arts, for four years.)

At age 21, the passport application described him as standing 5 feet, 11 1/2 inches tall, with blueish gray eyes, round chin, full face, dark brown hair and fair complexion; Champney sailed from Le Havre aboard the La Lorraine arriving in New York on 08/20/1904.

In 1911, he and his mother took a trip to Asia; they boarded the S.S. Manchuria at Kobe, Japan, on 09/16/1911, and proceeded to Shimidzu, Japan, (09/17), Yokohama, Japan, (09/19), Honolulu, HI, (09/29), before arriving in San Francisco, CA, on 10/05/1911. He and his mother each carried 3 pieces of luggage, indicating that it was a relatively long trip.

Champney had a poem, "Canoe Song," published in the collection "Cap and Gown," Second Series, edited by Frederic Lawrence Knowles, c. 1900, p. 68. This poem was published originally in the Harvard Advocate.

PCAD id: 2498