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Male, born 1872-07-28, died 1955-04-21

Associated with the firms network

Spalding and Umbrecht, Architects; Umbrecht, Max, Architect

Professional History


Draftsman, unknown architect located in Room #17 in the Granger Building, Syracuse, NY, c. 1893.

Draftsman, unknown architect located in Office #704 in the S, A, & K Building, Syracuse, NY, c. 1895.

While in Syracuse, Umbrecht became acquainted with the Smith Family of Syracuse, leaders in the city's business community during the late 19th century and early 20th. The Smiths owned the L.C. Smith and Brothers Typewriter Company, Syracuse Trust Company, National Bank of Syracuse, Smith-Lee Company, and the L.C. Smith Transit Company. According to a biography of Wilbert Lewis Smith (1852-1937), a younger brother of Lyman Cornelius Smith (1850-1910), the preeminent businessman of Syracuse of his time, the Smiths were also significant land owners in Seattle, WA. (See "Smith, Wilbert Lewis," Encyclopedia of American biography: New Series, Volume 11, Winfield Scott Downs, ed., [New York: American Historical Company, Incorporated, 1940], p. 11.) Seattle's L.C. Smith Tower (1914), the tallest skyscraper of its time West of the Mississippi, was built and named for the family patriarch. William Martin Beauchamp's Past and Present of Syracuse and Onondaga County, New York, (Vol. 2), said of W.L. Smith: "With a few other Syracuse business men W.L. Smith is the owner of considerable real estate in Seattle, Washington, consisting of city blocks." (See William Martin Beauchamp, Past and Present of Syracuse and Onondaga County, New York, from Prehistoric Times to the Beginning of 1908, Vol. 2, [New York and Chicago: The S.J. Clarke Publishing Company, 1908], p. 335.)

Umbrecht came to Seattle c. 1900 to work on improvements to the real estate owned by this Syracuse syndicate. An essay published for the City of Seattle, Department of Neighborhood's Historical Sites Database, said of Umbrecht: "Umbrecht migrated to Seattle about 1900 in order to work for the W.L. Smith family." (SeeCity of Seattle, Department of Neighborhood's Historical Sites Database, "Seattle Historical Sites: Summary for 1215 2nd AVE," accessed 12/04/2017.)

Principal, Max Umbrecht, Architect, Seattle, WA, 1900-1907; 1912-c. 1921. (In 1900, Umbrecht worked in Room A in the Pacific Building, a room used two years later by architect Olof Hanson, who had just arrived in Seattle. From 1902-1903, Umbrecht occupied Rooms #209-210 in the Globe Building. (See Seattle City Directory, 1903, p. 1148.) Interestingly, Olof Hanson worked with Umbrecht according to the 1903 city directory (p. 579) in the Globe Building. According to the reference book, Shaping Seattle Architecture, "Umbrecht was sent to Seattle in 1900 by Smith family (of the later Smith Tower), shared offices with Clise Investment Company." (See Dennis A. Andersen, "Umbrecht, Maximilian 'Max,'" Shaping Seattle Architecture, Jeffrey Karl Ochsner, ed., [University of Washington Press, 2015], p. 482.) The Clise Family became very important owners and developers of real estate in Downtown Seattle well into the 21st century. On 08/22/1905, a Seattle Times classified ad noted [p. 14] that Umbrecht maintained his own office in Rooms #422-423 in the Globe Building.)

Partner, Spalding and Umbrecht, Architects, Seattle, WA, 1908-1911; Umbrecht shared space with A. Walter Spalding in the same Globe Building room for a time. From 1915-1917 he worked in Room 3173 in the Arcade Building, and from 1918-c. 1921, he used Room 424 in the Railway Exchange Building. Worked slowed down across the US during the first years of the 1920s and Umbrecht may have decided to head back to familiar territory in Syracuse.

Partner, Umbrecht and [Charles H.] Umbrecht, Architects, Syracuse, NY, c. 1921; this firm had its office at 214 Prospect Street, the house of Max's parents.

Principal, Max Umbrecht, Architect, Syracuse, NY, 1923- ; in 1923, he had a Syracuse office at 402 Grape Street, room #207. Seven years later, he was still in practice, at 402 South Townsend Street, Room #206.

Professional Service

Member, American Institute of Architects (AIA), Washington Chapter, 1910-1911. In 08/1912, a group of architects from the Washington Chapter made a day trip to Victoria, BC; the Architect and Engineer of California reported: "The members of Washington State Chapter of the American Institute of Architects, forsook their offices Saturday, July 27th, and forgetting business worries journeyed to Victoria for a day's outing. Architects who participated in the excursion were: A.S. Albertson, James Stephens, David J. Myers, W.R.B. Willcox, J.F. Everett, J.H. Schack, Charles H. Alden, C.E. Gould, Max Umbrecht, and J.S. Cote. Architects Heath & Gove of Tacoma, also were in the party." (See "Outing by Seattle Architects,"Architect and Engineer of California, vol. XXX, no, 2, 09/1912, p. 112-113.)



Graduate, Syracuse High School, Syracuse, NY, 1892. (See Edward Smith, "Graduates of the Syracuse High School: First Class of 1892," A History of the Schools of Syracuse from Its Early Settlement to January 1, 1893, [Syracuse, NY: C.W. Bardeen, Publisher, 1893], p. 346.)

Umbrecht had a high school diploma, but it is not clear that he attended college. He undoubtedly learned something about construction working with his contractor father. An article in the Seattle Times in 1904, however, stated: "Mr. Umbrecht is a graduate of the Syracuse School of Architecture, and is a close student of the history and progress of his chosen profession, which has enabled him to grapple with and master some of the hardest problems of modern times." (See "Seattle's Building Interests; Builders, Contractors, Plumbers, Heating Engineers, Architects, etc.," Seattle Times, 02/07/1904; p.51.) Whether Umbrecht meant Syracuse University's program in architecture or something else, is not known presently.



Born in Syracuse, NY in 1872, Umbrecht spent his early life in that city; in 1880, he lived at 19 Union Avenue in Syracuse, in a neighborhood filled with German immigrants from Württemberg, Baden, Bavaria and Prussia. The family could afford one servant, Caroline Schilling (born c. 1860 in NY of parents born in Baden). From 1890-1895, he continued to live at home with his parents, at 214 Prospect Avenue.

Umbrecht left for Seattle in either 1899 or 1900. In 1901, he rented a room at 1814 Boren Avenue. Two years later, Umbrecht boarded in a building at 217 Union Street. By 1910, he, his wife and a 15-year-old cousin, Courtney Payton (born c. 1894 in CO), lived on 44th Avenue SW in the West Seattle neighborhood. An address of 316 Marion Street for him was listed in 1919.

Umbrecht returned to Syracuse c. 1921, and moved into his widowed mother's house at 214 Prospect. In 1930, he seems to have been a lodger renting a room on Delhi Street in Syracuse's Northside neighborhood.

At age 67, he lived at 216 Durston Avenue in Syracuse with his two widowed sisters. The house was rented and cost a modest $40 per month.

He died on 04/21/1955 in Syracuse, NY.


His father was Charles Umbrecht (born c. 1839 in Württemberg, Germany), who worked as a contractor and builder in Syracuse, NY. His mother was Anna Umbrecht (born c. 1849 in NY), a homemaker, who bore nine children. His siblings included: Clara (probably a half-sister, born c. 1869 in NY), Josephine (probably a half-sister, born c. 1863 in NY), Helena (born c. 1874 in NY), Martha (born c. 1877 in NY) and Anna (born c. 03/31/1880 in NY), Louisa (born c. 1882), and Bertha (born c. 1884). He also had a relative, probably a brother, Charles H., with whom he partnered in the firm Umbrecht and Umbrecht in Syracuse, c. 1921. (Thank you to Martha Umbrecht Winne and David C. Winne for information on Max Umbrecht's birth and death dates and for family birthdates. Martha is Umbrecht's great niece. Email to the author, 02/20/2017.)


He married the 17-year-old Daisy Shay (born c. 1886 in CA) on 07/02/1904 in Seattle, WA. At least two 1908 travel documents referred to his wife as "Betty Umbrecht." She was 11 years his junior.

The 1930 US Census indicated that he had been divorced, while the 1940 US Census noted he was single.

Biographical Notes

It seems that Maximilian may have been the name of a grandfather, as there was a Maximilian Umbrecht who immigrated to Lafayette, NY, by 1860 and to Syracuse by at least 1864.

The architect Max Umbrecht traveled from Liverpool, UK, to Boston, MA, in 07/28/1908-08/05/1908 aboard the S.S. Ivernia. On his way over, he traveled on a Royal Mail Steam Packet Company ocean liner that had previous ports of call including Buenos Aires, Montevideo, and Rio de Janeiro. It landed in Southampton, UK, on 07/18/1908.

PCAD id: 2431