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Male, US, born 1867-10-03, died 1924-09-10

Associated with the firms network

Brown, A. Page, Architect; Burnham, Daniel H. and Company; Percy and Polk, Architects; Polk and Polk, Architects; Polk and Wright, Architects; Polk, Willis, and Company; Polk, Willis, Architect; Polk, W.W. and Sons, Architects; Van Brunt and Howe, Architects


Professional History

Résumé

Polk undertook many types of jobs during his youth, but gained knowledge of the building industry working with his father, a building contractor. The College of Environmental Design Documents Collection has said of Polk's early years: "Receiving no formal education, Polk grew up learning the building trades from his father Willis Webb Polk (1833-1906) an itinerant carpenter. In a 1921 interview for The [San Francisco] Chronicle, Polk recalled having worked as a hat boy, a water boy for a St. Louis contractor; a lemonade stand seller; a handy boy, sticker and bench boy at a planing mill; and as an office boy for St. Louis architect J.B. Legg by the age of thirteen. Proudly he related the story of how, at the age of fifteen, he had shocked the town of Hope, Arkansas by having his drawings for the design of their new schoolhouse accepted as the winning entry out of a field of practicing professionals." (See Online Archive of California.org, "Finding Aid to the Willis Polk Scrapbooks, 1908-1924 MS Vault 89," collection owned by the California Historical Society, accessed 10/04/2018.)

Assistant, Contractor, Saint Louis, MO, c. 1875-1880.

Office Boy, Jerome B. Legg, Architect, Saint Louis, MO, c. 1880.

Apprentice, W.W. Polk, Architect, Hope, AR, 1881.

Partner, W.W. Polk and Sons, Kansas City, MO, 1885-1887.

Draftsman, Van Brunt and Howe, Kansas City, MO, early-1887-mid-1887 (six months); Polk traveled around the U.S. working in various locations between 1887-1890; he was thought to be in Los Angeles, CA, in late-1887-mid-1888, working for Ernest Coxhead, Architect; he was known to have worked in Kansas City, MO, c. 1888, and he also worked on a W.W. Polk and Sons commission in New York, NY, c. 1888-1889;

Draftsman, Charles Atwood, Architect, New York, NY, c. 1888.

Draftsman, A. Page Brown, Architect, New York, NY and San Francisco, CA, 07/1889 or 08/1890; according to Longstreth, it is believed he worked in Washington, DC, c. 1890. (For more on Polk's hectic work life from 1887-1889, see Richard W. Longstreth, On the Edge of the World, [Berkeley: University of California Press, 1998], p. 364).

Partner, Polk and Polk, Architects, San Francisco, CA, 1892-c. 1899.

Partner, Percy and Polk, Architects, San Francisco, CA, 1899-1900.

Designer, D.H. Burnham and Company, Chicago, IL, 1901-1903.

Head, D.H. Burnham and Company, San Francisco Office, c. 05/1906-07/1910.

Principal, Willis Polk and Company, Architects, San Francisco, CA, 1910-1924. In 1910, the architect's classified section of the Crocker-Langley San Francisco, California, City Directory, 1910, (p. 1847), simply listed the archtiect as "Polk, Willis D., [sic] Merchants Exchange Building." In 1911, Polk's firm was located in the Merchants' Exchange Building.

Education

Kansas City Architectural Sketch Club, Kansas City, MO; Polk was known to have audited a few architectural classes at Columbia College in New York, NY c. 1888, taught by the noted academician, William Robert Ware, a former partner of Henry Van Brunt, for whom Polk had worked in Kansas City, MO.

Personal

Relocation

Born in Jacksonville, IL, Polk lived here for six years before his family moved to the port metropolis of Saint Louis, MO. His family lived in Hope, AR, c. 1881, where, as a youngster of 14, he did a design for a six-room schoolhouse; He moved with his family to Kansas City, MO, in 1885, where he worked for his father and the architects, Van Brunt and Howe (formerly of Boston, MA, but recently transplanted). Polk lived for a short time in Southern California (c. 1888), working for architect, Ernest Coxhead.

Parents

His father, Willis Webb Polk (1836-1906), also operated an architectural practice, called various names in various cities. (In times where no work was in the office, the elder Polk worked in carpentry.) (For more on the family life of Willis J. Polk, see Richard Longstreth, On the Edge of the World, [Berkeley: University of California Press, 1998], p. 51-56.) In 1885, Willis Webb Polk opened W.W. Polk and Sons, in Kansas City, MO, with his sons Willis J. and Daniel. In San Francisco, CA, the firm was known as Polk and Polk, with Willis specializing in design, Daniel in drafting, and Willis Webb supervising construction. Willis Webb Polk had five children, Willis J. having been the eldest.

Spouse

Willis J. Polk married Christine Barreda in 1900.

Children

Polk had no children of his own; his stepson, Austin P. Moore, operated Willis Polk and Company after his death.

Biographical Notes

In 1887, Willis Polk, John Galen Howard, and Ernest Coxhead all had become acquainted with one another in Los Angeles, CA. Polk was known to be travelling in Northern California for the first time sometime in 1888.

Polk took a grand tour through Europe in 1903 with his wife lasting three months. Polk traveled with his wife, Christine, from Cherbourg, France to New York, NY, between 09/03/1913-09/09/1913 aboard the Kaiser Wilhelm der Grosse; (See Source Citation: Year: 1913; Microfilm serial: T715; Microfilm roll: T715_2173; Line: 14; Source: Ancestry.com. New York Passenger Lists, 1820-1957 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: The Generations Network, Inc., 2006.)



Associated Locations

  • Jacksonville, IL (Architect's Birth)
    Jacksonville, IL

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  • San Francisco, CA (Architect's Death)
    San Francisco, CA


PCAD id: 490


NameDateCityState
116 Cherry Street House, Presidio Heights, San Francisco, CA1891San FranciscoCA
1969 California Street House, Pacific Heights, San Francisco, CASan FranciscoCA
1 Russian Hill Place House, Russian Hill, San Francisco, CASan FranciscoCA
1st Church of Christ, Scientist, San Jose, CA1901YakimaWA
1st National Bank of San Francisco, Financial District, San Francisco, CA1908San FranciscoCA
2015 Pacific Avenue House, Pacific Heights, San Francisco, CA1894San FranciscoCA
2233 Lyon Street House, Pacific Heights, San Francisco, CA1916San FranciscoCA
2255 Lyon Street House, Pacific Heights, San Francisco, CA1920San FranciscoCA
2622 Jackson Street Caretaker's House, Pacific Heights, San Francisco, CA
2820 Pacific Street House, Pacific Heights, San Francisco, CASan FranciscoCA
2840 Broadway House, Pacific Heights, San Francisco, CASan FranciscoCA
2880 Broadway House, Pacific Heights, San Francisco, CASan FranciscoCA
2960 Broadway House, Pacific Heights, San Francisco, CASan FranciscoCA
3203 Pacific Avenue House, Presidio Heights, San Francisco, CASan FranciscoCA
3 Russian Hill Place House, Russian Hill, San Francisco, CA1914San FranciscoCA
465 California Street Office Building, San Francisco, CA1903
5 Russian Hill Place House, Russian Hill, San Francisco, CA1914San FranciscoCA
7 Russian Hill Place House, Russian Hill, San Francisco, CA1914San FranciscoCA
831-849 Mason Street Townhouses, Nob Hill, San Francisco, CA1917San FranciscoCA
Barreda House, San Francisco, CASan FranciscoCA
Beardsley, Kittie, House Project, Plymouth, MA1889PlymouthMA
Belmont School District, Belmont School, Belmont, CABelmontCA
Blaney, Charles D., House, Saratoga, CA1917SaratogaCA
Bourn, William B., Jr., and Agnes Moody, House, Pacific Heights, San Francisco, CA1896San FranciscoCA
Bourn, William Bowers, Jr., and Agnes Moody, House, Woodside, CA1915-1918WoodsideCA
Bourn, William B., Sr., House, Taylor Street, San Francisco, CASan FranciscoCA
Carolan, Francis J. and Harriet Pullman, House #2, Hillsborough, CA1914-1915HillsboroughCA
City and County of San Francisco, Recreation and Parks Department, Golden Gate Park, Kezar Stadium #1, San Francisco, CA 1924-1925San FranciscoCA
City and County of San Francisco, Water Department Building, San Francisco, CA1922San FranciscoCA
City of Washington, DC, City Hall, Washington D.C., Project1887WashingtonDC
Crocker, Charles Templeton and Helene Irwin, House, Hillsborough, CA1911-1917HillsboroughCA
Crocker Old People's Home, Pacific Heights, San Francisco, CA1889-1890San FranciscoCA
Ehrman, Albert L., House, San Francisco, CASan FranciscoCA
Episcopal Diocese of California, Saint Matthew's Episcopal Church #2, San Mateo, CA1910San MateoCA
Finance Building, Financial District, San Francisco, CA1922-1923San FranciscoCA
Flood, James Clair, House, Nob Hill, San Francisco, CA1886San FranciscoCA
Frederick's, Joseph, and Company, San Francisco, CA1910San FranciscoCA
Gibbs, George W. and Augusta, House, Pacific Heights, San Francisco, CA1894San FranciscoCA
Hayward, Alvinza, Office Building, Financial District, San Francisco, CA1900-1901San FranciscoCA
Hearst, William Randolph, House, McCloud River, Siskyou County, CA1924McCloud RiverCA
Hobart Building, Financial District, San Francisco, CA1913-1914San FranciscoCA
Joliffe, William, House, Pacific Heights, San Francisco, CA1893San FranciscoCA
Livermore, Horatio, House, Russian Hill, San Francisco, CASan FranciscoCA
Marine View Apartment Cooperative, Russian Hill, San Francisco, CA1927San FranciscoCA
Martin, Eleanor, Apartment Building, Hayes Valley, San Francisco, CA1911-1911San FranciscoCA
McCullagh-Jones House, Los Gatos, CA1901Los GatosCA
McMechan, David B., House, Kansas City, MO1885Kansas CityMO
Merchants Exchange Building #3, Financial District, San Francisco, CA1903San FranciscoCA
Mills, Darius Ogden, Building, Financial District, San Francisco, CA1890-1891San FranciscoCA
Mission San Francisco de Asis, Mission District, San Francisco, CA1782-1791San FranciscoCA
Montecito Playhouse, Montecito, CA1914MontecitoCA
National Bank of D.O. Mills and Company, Downtown, Sacramento, CA1911-1912SacramentoCA
Pacific Gas and Electric Company (P, G & E), Jessie Street Substation #2, San Francisco, CA1905San FranciscoCA
Pacific Gas and Electric Company (P, G & E), Sacramento River Station B, Powerhouse, Sacramento, CA1912SacramentoCA
Panama-Pacific International Exposition (PPIE), Master Plan, San Francisco, CA1912-1915San FranciscoCA
Polk, Willis J., House, Russian Hill, San Francisco, CA1892San FranciscoCA
Regents of the University of California, Hallidie, Andrew S., Building, Financial District, San Francisco, CA1917San FranciscoCA
Regents of the University of California, Office Building, South of Market, San Francisco, CA 1910-1911San FranciscoCA
Saint Francis Yacht Club, San Francisco, CA1927San FranciscoCA
San Francisco Gas and Electric Company, Station D, San Francisco, CA1908San FranciscoCA
San Francisco Water Company, Central Pumping Station, San Francisco, CA1908San FranciscoCA
Sheppard, Eli, House, Presidio Heights, San Francisco, CA
Spring Valley Water Company, Sloat Boulevard Pumping Station, San Francisco, CASan FranciscoCA
Spring Valley Water Company, Water Temple, Marble Tablet, Sunol, CA
Spring Valley Water Company, Water Temple, Sunol, CA1910
Western Pacific Railroad, Depot, Downtown, Oakland, CA1908-1909OaklandCA
Western Pacific Railroad, Passenger Depot, Boulevard Park, Sacramento, CA1908-1909SacramentoCA
Wheeler, Charles S., House, Pacific Heights, San Francisco, CA1898-1899San FranciscoCA
Women's City Club, Building, San Francisco, CA1923San FranciscoCA
Wright House, Russian Hill, San Francisco, CA1907San FranciscoCA
Young, Alexander, Office Building, Honolulu, HIHonoluluHI
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