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Male, UK/US, born 1873, died 1955-03-19

Associated with the firms network

Graham and Bodley, Architects; Graham and Myers, Architects; Graham and Painter, Limited, Architects and Engineers; Graham, John and Company, Architects and Engineers; Graham, John, Architect


Professional History

Résumé

Graham began his architectural practice in Seattle designing residences for upper-middle-class clients and factories, such as packing houses and factories. His career received a rapid boost c. 1913-1914, when he began his association with the Ford Motor Company, designing new Model T factories across the US and Canada.

Graham, John, Architect, Seattle, WA, 1901-1903 and 1905. A classified advertisement for "John Graham, Architect," appeared in the Seattle Times on 03/25/1901 (p. 15). He operated from Offices #28-29 in the McDonald Block at that time. (See Polk's Seattle Directory Company, Seattle City Directory, 1901, p. 1268.)

Partner, Graham and Bodley, Architects, Seattle, WA, 1904-1905. A classified advertisement for "John Graham, Architect," appeared in the Seattle Times on 10/02/1904, page 27; between 1902-1905, he maintained his office in the Globe Building (in 1902-1903 Rooms #320-321, Rooms #319-320-321 in 1904 and #319 in 1905).

It appears that Graham discontinued his association with Bodley in 1905, worked on his own for some of the year, and may have formed his parternship with David Myers also in the same year. Polk's Seattle Directory Company's Seattle City Directory, 1905, (p. 1392), listed him as working on his own in Room #319 of the Globe Building.

Partner, Graham and [David] Myers, Architects, Seattle, WA, 1905-1910.

Founding Partner, John Graham and Company, Seattle, WA, 1910-1943. In 10/1923, Graham moved his office from the L.C. Smith Building to Offices #1351-1362 in the Dexter Horton Building, an office block he designed. (See "Personals," American Architect-Architectural Review, vol. CXXIV no. 2432, 11/07/1923, p. 12.) Graham occupied Room #1501 in the Dexter Horton Building in 1943. (See Seattle, Washington, City Directory, 1943, 434.)

Supervising Architect, Ford Motor Company, Dearborn, MI, 1914-1918. This association with Ford was extensive. His obituary said: "For several years before he retired in 1945, Mr. Graham was an architect for the Ford Motor Co.” (See “John Graham, Sr., Noted Architect, Dies in Orient,” Seattle Times, 03/23/1955, p. 44.) Graham designed Ford Motor Company plants in Seattle, WA, Long Island City, NY, Chicago, IL, Saint Paul, MN, Dallas, TX, Toronto, ON, Canada, Montreal, QC, Canada, Ford City (East Windsor), ON, Canada. He may have designed two plants in Long Island City, as his firm's technical files of 07/11/1974 indicated that two plants were done there, Projects #154 and #173. See John Graham and Company, Technical Files, John Graham Job Numbers, July 11.1974, typed and photocopied manuscript, possession of the author, accessed 10/08/2021.)

In 1936, John Graham opened an architectural office in Shanghai, China. Graham opened branch offices in Shanghai, Detroit, MI, and New York, NY, during his lifetime.

Partner, Graham and [Wilfred L.] Painter, Limited, Architects and Engineers, Seattle, WA, and New York, NY, 1936-1942. In 1936, Graham and Painter occupied Room #1501 of the Dexter Horton Building in Seattle. (See Seattle, Washington, City Directory, 1936, p. 632.)

Graham retired in 1945, and drew up an agreement with this son to operate the architecture/engineering firm, specifying profit distribution among John, Sr., Hallie, and John, Jr.'s two sisters. John, Sr., initiated a court case in 1952 that alleged that John, Jr., had not fulfilled elements of the legal agreement, most specifically that he had failed to share 1/12ths of gross receipts with his two sisters. The case was settled amicably in court on 10/11/1952. The disagreement became so bitter that father and son did not speak to each other between 1948 and 1952.

Professional Service

Member, American Institute of Archtiects (AIA), Washington State Chapter.

Secretary, AIA, Washington State Chapter, 1906. (See "Washington State Chapter," American Institute of Architects Quarterly Bulletin, vol. VI, no. 4, 01/1906, p. 243.)

President, AIA, Washington State Chapter, 1908-1909.

Patron, Seattle Architectural Club, Seattle, WA, 1910.

Archives

The John Graham and Company Architectural Drawings and Photograph Collection #339 are held in the Special Collections Division of the University of Washington Libraries, contained (in 2012): 111 architectural projects for which there were 193 architectural drawings of various sizes, 516 variously sized photographic prints, and 74 slides and 226 negatives. (See "Guide to the John Graham & Company Architectural Drawings and Photograph Collection," accessed 10/23/2014.)

Education

Education

Graham apparently apprenticed with an Englsih architect or builder, although it is not known who this was. His father had been a builder and undoubtedly taught his son aspects of this trade.

Personal

Relocation

Information on the early life of John Graham, Sr., is scant. Some biographies list his birth place as Liverpool, England, but his obituary of 03/1955 indicated that he had come from the Isle of Man. His obituary stated, “Mr. Graham was born on the Isle of Man. He was apprenticed to an architect in England as a youth. He came here in 1900.” (See “John Graham, Sr., Noted Architect, Dies in Orient,” Seattle Times, 03/23/1955, p. 44.) It appears that Graham spent much of his youth on the Isle of Man, but was not born there. Furthermore, as yet, no naturalization paperwork has been located for Graham, that might more clearly delineate his history.

Adding to confusion about the details of his early life, was that Graham changed his name when he came to the US, from "John Corkhill" to "John Graham," utilizing his mother's less unusual surname. "John Corkhill" was a relatively common name at the time in the region, and Corkhill was an especially common surname on the Isle of Man. His father was also named "John Corkhill." To compound matters further, another man contemporary with his father, John A. Corkhill, lived in Liverpool, England, at the same time, and he also married a woman with the first name "Isabella." This other individual, John Arthur Corkhill, married Isabella Fisher on 06/06/1870 in West Derby, Liverpool, England. (See Ancestry.com, Source Citation Liverpool Record Office; Liverpool, England; Reference Number: 283-EDG-3-9, accessed 03/15/2021.) John A. Corkhill and Isabella Fisher also had a son, their first born, whom they named "John A. Corkhill, Jr." John Graham, Sr.'s mother was named Sarah Isabella Graham.

The prime way to differentiate the two families is through their children. Sources indicate that the architect John Graham, Sr., had been born in Liverpool, UK, as "John Corkhill, Jr.," the second oldest of eight children. From English Census records of 1881 and 1891, and the birthplaces listed for his siblings, it can be deduced where the Corkhills lived when.

His sisters, Hannah, Edith, Margaret and Robina, all had been born in England, the last c. 1879. His next three siblings-- Emily, William and Ida--were listed as having been born on the Isle of Man. Emily was born there in 1883. The Corkhills lived in Liverpool until about 1879 or 1880.

The 1881 English Census indicated that they had reestablished themselves on the Isle of Man, where John's father, a Manx native, retired c. 1881 at the age of 43. They dwelled on Ballaughton Lane in Braddan, a civil parish 2.7 km northwest of the Isle of Man's capital city of Douglas. Douglas is the island's major city located on its east central coast. At the time, the household included John's parents, his four sisters and a domestic servant, Margaret Winifred Guyton (born c. 1857 in England). (See Ancestry.com, Source Citation Class: RG11; Piece: 5606; Folio: 58; Page: 1; GSU roll: 1342347, accessed 03/11/2021.)

The 1891 English Census indicated that the Corkhills had relocated to a house at 6 Selborne Road in the parish of Onchan, within the town of Douglas. Ten family members lived in their Onchan house. They had sufficient wealth to pay another domestic servant,Eleanor J. Keig (born c. 1871 in Braddan, Isle of Man). (See Ancestry.com, Source Citation Class: RG12; Piece: 4688; Folio: 88; Page: 15; GSU roll: 6099798, accessed 03/11/2021.)

Graham had settled in Seattle, WA, by 05/1901. Early classified advertisements in the Seattle Daily Times (p. 15) for his architectural office dated 05/25/1901 and 05/30/1901.

The US Census of 1910 indicated that Graham had been naturalized by 1904. (The 1920 Census listed his arrival in the US as occurring in 1900 and naturalization in 1906.)

In 1902, he resided at Seattle's Lincoln Hotel, at the corner of 4th Avenue and Madison Street.

According to the 1910 US Census, Graham resided at 1628 45th Avenue SW in 1910. (See Ancestry.com, Source Citation Year: 1910; Census Place: Seattle Ward 14, King, Washington; Roll: T624_1661; Page: 9A; Enumeration District: 0215; FHL microfilm: 1375674, accessed 03/10/2021.)

The Grahams made their home at 656 West Galer Street in Seattle's Queen Anne neighborhood according to the US Census of 1920. The household included Graham and his wife, Hallie, and their three children, Helen, John, Jr., and Elizabeth. A housekeeper, listed on the US Census form as "Mrs. Pardee" (born c. 1885 in the US), lived with the Grahams. (See Ancestry.com, Source Citation Year: 1920; Census Place: Seattle, King, Washington; Roll: T625_1927; Page: 8A; Enumeration District: 153, accessed 03/11/2021.)

Between 1930 and 1935, Graham lived at 100 West Highland Drive, Apartment S. In 1930, they paid $130 per month for this apartment, a significant amount for the time. (See Ancestry.com, Source Citation Year: 1930; Census Place: Seattle, King, Washington; Page: 1A; Enumeration District: 0084; FHL microfilm: 2342230, accessed 03/11/2021 and Seattle, Washington, City Directory, 1935, p. 628.)

Graham and his family occupied Apartment #301 at 1605 Madison Street in 1936. (See Seattle, Washington, City Directory, 1936, p. 632.)

Graham and his wife lived full-time in a house in Port Madison, on Bainbridge Island, WA, by 1940. The US Census of 1940 located them at that address on Nordhoff Road. This road does not seem to exist by that name in 2021. (See Ancestry.com, Source Citation Year: 1940; Census Place: Port Madison, Kitsap, Washington; Roll: m-t0627-04348; Page: 2B; Enumeration District: 18-55, accessed 03/10/2021.)

Graham became ill during an around-the-world tour that lasted from 1953 through 1955. Three weeks before he died, he became ill in Hong Kong. His step daughter, Helen Graham Park, flew from New York, NY, to attend to him in 1955.

During his 40-year career, Graham formed one of the Pacific Northwest's most dominant firms of the twentieth century. he died in Hong Kong while completing an around-the-world tour.

Parents

The architect's father was John Corkhill, Sr., (born in either 1837 or 1844 in Ramsey, Isle of Man-d. 10/06/1892 in Douglas, Isle of Man), who worked as a builder among other jobs. He had been baptized on 06/23/1844 in Ramsey. (See Ancestry.com, Source Information Ancestry.com. Isle of Man, Select Births and Baptisms, 1821-1911 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc, 2014, accessed 03/11/2021.) He died at his residence at 6 Selborne Road at the age of 55. (See Ancestry.com, Source Information Isle of Man, Select Deaths and Burials, 1844-1911 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc, 2014, accessed 03/15/2021.)

His mother's name was Sarah Isabella Graham (born c. 1847 in either Moresby or Maryport, Cumberland, England) married John Corkhill on 12/08/1869 in Liverpool, England. (See Ancestry.com, Source Citation Liverpool Record Office; Liverpool, England; Reference Number: 283 BRI/3/10, accessed 03/11/2021.) John and Sarah married on 12/08/1869 in Saint Bride's Church, Liverpool, England. According to the marriage license, John Corkhill worked as a joiner and builder and his father was a "gentleman." Sarah's father, William, worked as a master mariner.

The 1875 issue of The Builder noted that John Corkhill was the builder of Saint Philemon's Church, Liverpool, designed by Culshaw and Sumners. (See "Church-Building News," The Builder, 08/01/1874, p. 655.) Another British architectural publication said of the church: "The Church of S. Philemon, Toxteth Park, Liverpool, was opened on Sunday last. [06/07/1874] The Church is Gothic in style, and consists of a nave, chancel, transept, and side aisle separated from the nave by five arches, supported on red stone columns with carved capitals and moulded bases. The walls are of brick, with stone dressings and window tracery. The edifice was designed by Messrs. Culshaw and Sumners, the builder being Mr. John Corkhill. The cost has been about £5,000." (See "The Peabody Buildings in Blackfriars," The Building News, 06/12/1874, p. 637.)

The 1881 English Census listed John's profession as "retired builder."

Isabella Graham Corkhill ran the household that included at least eight children. They included: Hannah Mary Corkhill Wicks (born 10/30/1870 in West Derby, Liverpool, England), Edith Ellen Corkhill Semmens (born c. 1875 in Liverpool, England-d. 01/1959 in Wincanton, Somerset, England), Margaret Isabel Corkhill Semmens (born c. 1878 in Liverpool, England-d. 1921 in Calgary, AB), Robina Catherine Corkhill (born c. 1879 in Liverpool, England-d. 1949 in England), Emily Hurst Corkhill (born 07/07/1882 in Mill Mount, Kirk Braddan, Isle of Man-d. 02/23/1939 in San Francisco, CA), William Graham Corkhill (born 09/14/1883 in Braddan, Isle of Man) and Ida Gertrude Corkhill Alborough (born 11/01/1885 in Mill Mount, Ballaughton, Braddan, Isle of Man).

In 1901, the English Census recorded Sarah Isabella Graham living back in West Derby, Liverpool, with her daughters, Hannah (then working as a nurse), Edith, Margaret (school teacher), Robina (shipping clerk), Emily, and Ida. (See Ancestry.com, Source Citation Class: RG13; Piece: 3506; Folio: 106; Page: 25, accessed 03/11/2021.) She was also listed being 65 years old in the English Census of 1911. (See Ancestry.com, Source Citation The National Archives of the UK (TNA); Kew, Surrey, England; Census Returns of England and Wales, 1911, accessed 03/11/2021.)

His brother William Graham Corkill worked in the merchant marine. (See Ancestry.com, Source Citation The National Archives; Kew, London, England; 1939 Register; Reference: RG 101/7098E Source Information 1939 England and Wales Register [database on-line]. Lehi, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2018, accessed 03/11/2021.)

His sisters Ida, Emily and Edith migrated to the US, in 1918, 1919 and 1928, respectively, according to the 1930 US Census. (See Ancestry.com, Source Citation Year: 1930; Census Place: San Francisco, San Francisco, California; Page: 18A; Enumeration District: 0401; FHL microfilm: 2339945, accessed 03/11/2021.)

Ida G. Albrough resided in San Francisco, CA, in 1920, living at 253 Grant Avenue. (See San Francisco, California, City Directory, 1920, p. 287.) Ida also may have lived on Portage Avenue in Winnipeg, MB, in 1922. She met her sister Hannah in Winnipeg for a visit in 1922. (See Ancestry.com, Source Citation Library and Archives Canada; Form 30A Ocean Arrivals (Individual Manifests), 1919-1924; Rolls: T-14939 - T-15248, accessed 03/15/2021.)

Emily Hurst Corkhill lived at 253 Grant Avenue in San Francisco, CA, in 1921. She was a manager at Esmond's, a store selling cakes and pastries. Interestingly, this store also had outlets in Calgary, AB, and Winnipeg, MB, in 1921. (See San Francisco, California, City Directory, 1921, p. 472.)

In 1930, three sisters, Edith, Ida and Emily, all lived in the same apartment block at 671 Stockton Street in San Francisco. They all had separate apartments in this building, Edith sharing hers with her husband Thomas Semmens. Edith and Thomas left Liverpool in 1928 for the United States.

Spouse

John Graham, Sr., married Hallie C. Jackson (born 04/29/1883 in Greeley, CO-d. 10/05/1975 in Seattle, WA) of Greeley, CO. They wed on 01/01/1907 at the residence of Wilbur S. Lewis in Seattle. (See Ancestry.com, Source Information Ancestry.com. Washington, U.S., County Marriages, 1855-2008 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2014, accessed 03/11/2021.)

Hallie's parents were Lina L. Clark (born 10/1849 in IA) and Henry Jackson (born 04/1848 in NY), a merchant. They married on 09/15/1869 in Louisa County, IA. (See Ancestry.com, Source Information Iowa, U.S., Compiled Marriages, 1851-1900 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2000, accessed 03/11/2021.)

Hallie had married once before, while this was John's first marriage. (See Ancestry.com, Source Information Ancestry.com. Washington, U.S., County Marriages, 1855-2008 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2014, accessed 03/10/2021.)

By the mid-1940s, he was estranged from her. The Seattle Times noted that she lived in New York, NY, in 1946, possibly with her daughter, Helen. They divorced sometime in the 1940s.

She passed away in Seattle at the age of 92.

Children

Son, John Graham, Jr., (1908-1991), also became an architect;. He worked for John Graham and Company between 1942 and 1946, taking over the company following his father's retirement in 1946.

His other child was Catherine Elizabeth "Betty" Graham (born 11/17/1916 in Seattle, WA-died c. 02/13/1951 in Beijing, China). Betty Graham pledged to the Kappa Kappa Gamma Sorority at the University of Washington in 1935. (See University of Washington Tyee Yearbook, 1935, p. 190.) She became very interested in China after her father opened an architectural office in Shanghai in 1936. She learned Mandarin, became fluent, and spent increasing amounts of time there. She became a war correspondent for various new organizations who wrote some famous dispatches about Japanese brutality during World War II. During her lifetime she got to know a number of influential politicians in China and India, including Zhou Enlai (1898-1976), Mao Zedong (1893-1976) and Jawaharlal Nehru (1889-1964). Documenting Japanese atrocities in China during World War II, made her gradually develop sympathy with their cause and influenced her to overlook their own brutal methods until late in her life. Just before dying mysteriously in early 1951, she had expressed her desire to leave China to return to Seattle. Betty Graham's interest in the Chinese Communist Party and her death in that country in 1951 were profiled in a Life magazine article of 03/12/1951. (See William P. Gray and Jerry Hannifin, "End of a Love Affair," Life, 03/12/1951, pp. 22-28.)

Hallie Jackson had a daughter, Helen J. Jones Graham Park (born 06/08/1903 in Walla Walla, WA), with her previous husband, but who lived in their household.

Biographical Notes

It is difficult to know why John Corkhill changed his name to John Graham when he came to the US. Possibly, Corkhill was too hard to spell correctly and Graham was more familiar. While unlikely, it is also possible that perhaps John was trying to leave something in his past behind. It is not clear at the moment what this might have been.

John, Hallie and Betty Graham traveled from Vancouver, BC, Canada, to Honolulu, HI, between 11/18/1925 to 11/25/1925. (See Ancestry.com, Source Citation National Archives and Records Administration (NARA); Washington, D.C.; Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at Honolulu, Hawaii, compiled 02/13/1900 - 12/30/1953; National Archives Microfilm Publication: A4156; Roll: 135; Record Group Title: Records of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, 1787 - 2004; Record Group Number: RG 85, accessed 03/11/2021.) The Grahams returned from Honolulu, via Vancouver, BC, between 12/04/1925-12/10/1925 aboard the S.S. Niagara. (See Ancestry.com, Source Citation National Archives and Records Administration (NARA); Washington, D.C.; Passenger Lists of Vessels Departing from Honolulu, Hawaii, compiled 06/1900 - 11/1954; National Archives Microfilm Publication: A3510; Roll: 061; Record Group Title: Records of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, 1787 - 2004; Record Group Number: RG 85, accessed 05/27/2021.)

Hallie Graham and her two daughters traveled aboard the S.S. America sailing from Southampton, England on 07/15/1928 arriving in New York, NY about one week later. (See Ancestry.com, Source Citation: Year: 1928; Arrival: New York, New York, USA; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Line: 23; Page Number: 70 Source Information: New York, U.S., Arriving Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2010, accessed 08/27/2021.)

Graham traveled first class aboard the S.S. American Mail between Yokohama, Japan, and Seattle, sailing between 04/12/1953 and 04/24/1953. (See Ancestry,com, Source Citation National Archives and Records Administration; Washington, D.C.; Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at Seattle, Washington; NAI Number: 4397783; Record Group Title: Records of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, 1787 - 2004; Record Group Number: 85; Series Number: M1398; Roll Number: 4, accessed 03/11/2021.)

On 12/29/1953, Graham sailed aboard the S.S. Junior from Seattle bound for the Port of Balboa in the Panama Canal Zone. He was 81 at the time. (See Ancestry.com, Source Information Ancestry.com. Seattle and Tacoma, Washington, U.S., Passenger and Crew Lists of Airplane Departures, 1947-1957 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com, 2011, accessed 03/10/2021.)

Member, Arctic Club, Seattle, WA.

Founding Member, Seattle Yacht Club, Seattle, WA. He served as Commodore of the Seattle Yacht Club in 1913 and 1929. (See “John Graham, Sr., Noted Architect, Dies in Orient,” Seattle Times, 03/23/1955, p. 44.)

Member, Royal Vancouver Yacht Club, Vancouver, BC.

Member, Royal Victoria Yacht Club, Victoria, BC.



Associated Locations

  • Hong Kong, Hong Kong (Architect's Death)
    Hong Kong, Hong Kong

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  • Liverpool, UK (Architect's Birth)
    Liverpool, UK

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PCAD id: 817


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