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Male, born 1887-09-14, died 1958-06-11

Associated with the firms network

Wohleb and Stanley, Architects; Wohleb and Wohleb, Architects; Wohleb, Joseph, Architect

Professional History


Apprentice Boat Builder, Mare Island Naval Shipyard, Vallejo, CA, 1902-1907; as an apprentice, he learned the trades of cabinetmaking and patternmaking. He left Mare Island in 01/1907, and worked in a small-scale, boat-building business located across the bay in San Francisco. Construction worker/carpenter, San Francisco, CA, Vallejo, CA, and NV, 1907-1911;

Principal, Joseph H. Wohleb, Architect, Olympia, WA, 1911-1921, 1923-1944.

Partner, Wohleb and Stanley, Architects, Seattle, WA, c. 1922.

Partner, Wohleb and Wohleb, Architects, Olympia, WA, 1944-1958; from at least 1942 through 1949, his office was in the Chambers Building, Olympia, WA. In 1942, it was in Room #201. In 1956, Wohleb and Wohleb had an office at 715 South Washington Street.

Professional Activities

The State of Washington introduced a licensing requirement for architects in 1919; With about seven years of practice behind him, Wohleb obtained his license (#197) to practice on 11/29/1919.

Wohleb served as Civil Defense Coordinator for Olympia, WA, during World War II; he designed some of the buildings surrounding the Washington Statehouse in Olympia. He was a long-standing member of the American Institute of Architects (AIA).

Wohleb ran a productive but tense office. According to architectural historian Michael Houser, young draftsmen could find Wohleb difficult to please: "During the peak years of his practice, he employed an office force of young assistants ranging from high school graduates to licensed architects, all of who [sic] reportedly found Wohleb a strict taskmaster who could react explosively when his high standards were not met." (See Michael Houser, State of Washington, Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation, "Joseph H. Wohleb, 1887-1958,"Accessed 03/15/2013.)


High School/College

Wohleb ended his studies at Vallejo High School, Vallejo, CA, in 1902; in a biographical entry in the Capitol Who's Who of Washington, Wohleb indicated that he had attended the University of California, Berkeley (UCB), Berkeley, CA, for at least one year, 1909.



Born in Waterbury, CT, Wohleb lived with his parents at 610 1/2 East 11th Street, Oakland, CA, in 1900; this neighborhood had a high concentration of recent immigrants, particularly from Germany and Ireland. Wohleb left high school early, perhaps to supplement his parents' household income. In 1911, he continued to live at home in Vallejo, but he relocated in that year to Olympia. WA. Here he married Matilda, who had lived in Olympia since at least 1892. He referred to himself as an architect for the first time in Olympia's 1913 city directory.

Wohleb, his wife and son resided with his mother-in-law, Anna Gresl, and brother-in-law, George, at 1009 Franklin Street SE in Olympia, WA, c. 06/05/1917; they continued to reside there in 1920. (, Source Citation Year: 1920; Census Place: Olympia Ward 1, Thurston, Washington; Roll: T625_1942; Page: 4B; Enumeration District: 382; Image: 761, accessed 07/05/2016.)

Wohleb, his wife and two sons owned their own house at 122 West 21st Avenue, Olympia, WA, in 1930; the house had an approximate value of $12,000 at the time. (, Source Citation Year: 1930; Census Place: Olympia, Thurston, Washington; Roll: 2521; Page: 4B; Enumeration District: 0029; Image: 427.0; FHL microfilm: 2342255, accessed 07/05/2016.)

From at least 1942 through 1958, Wohleb lived at 114 East 8th Avenue in Olympia, also known as the "Sylvester Mansion."

The architect died in 1958 and was buried at Calvary Cemetery in Tumwater, WA.


According to the US Census of 1900, Wohleb's parents--Heinrich (b. 12/1863) and Adele Herringer Wohleb (b. 01/1851 -d. 1941 in Napa, CA)--both came from Germany and married c. 1887; his father had immigrated in 1887, and had been naturalized a US citizen by 1900; he worked as a house carpenter. Adele, 13 years older than her husband, stayed at home with Joseph, her only child. She entered the US in 1882, and had not been naturalized by 1900, according to that year's census. (, Source Citation Year: 1900; Census Place: Oakland Ward 7, Alameda, California; Roll: 82; Page: 4A; Enumeration District: 0386; FHL microfilm: 1240082, accessed 07/05/2016.)


He married Matilda Hellen Gresl Wohleb (b. 01/12/1889 in Andale, KS-d. 02/27/1938 in Olympia, WA) on 02/12/1912; She was nicknamed "Tillie." Her father, Wentzel (born c. 1852) was Hungarian, and, in 1892, was a saloonkeeper in Olympia, WA. Her mother, Anna Gresl (born 03/1861 in WI), had been born in WI. Matilda also had a brother, George Gresl (born c. 1891 in KS). Anna's family had come from Austria.

After Tillie's death, Joseph Wohleb married Mrs. Prudence W. Howard, in 10/1941. (Pierce and King County marriage records indicated that a Prudence Howard married Douglas Landaker on 09/08/1945, although this was her daughter.) He remained married to Prudence until his death. (Thank you to Robert H. Wohleb, who corrected a PCAD error that confused Prudene with her daughter. See email from Robert H. Wohleb, Ph.D., to the author, 03/30/2024.)


According to the US Census of 1930: Joseph H. Wohleb had 2 sons: Robert Henry (b. 03/03/1916 in Olympia, WA- d. 09/14/1966) and Joseph Wenzel Wohleb (born 08/1923 in WA). Another son, George Gresl Wohleb (05/29/1918-07/26/1926), nicknamed "Buddy," died before 1930. Robert became an architect who worked with his father from 1939-1958, becoming a partner in 1944.

In 1941, Wohleb also had a step-son, Jasper W. Howard, then a 17-year-old Olympia High School student. Howard was arrested on Armistice Day 1941 when he and a classmate unfurled a large Nazi flag at a local post office; although it was explained as a joke, Howard was charged with "seditious practices," a felony, that could have resulted in reformatory time. Another step-son, Curtis W. Howard, a U.S. Navy Lieutenant, was killed in the Battle of Midway in 06/1942.

Biographical Notes

Wohleb's World War I draft registration card indicated that his middle name was Herman, not Henry. It is possible that he changed it during anti-German feeling during the First World War. This form indicated that he was tall with a stout frame, with black hair and gray eyes. (See, Source Citation Registration State: Washington; Registration County: Thurston; Roll: 1992176,accessed 07/05/2016.)

Wohleb and his wife were active socially, mixing with wealthy businessmen and politicians. He served as an Olympia City Councilman, 1918-1922, 1924-1925. He was member of the Olympia Chamber of Commerce, and a trustee from 1916-1920. In 1939, Wohleb was present at a swank Longacres Race Track party held by its owner Joseph Gottstein in 08/1939; in 09/05/1939, Wohleb attended another social event at Longacres, as part of the entourage of Washington Governor Clarence D. Martin's wife. The following year, Wohleb attended a luncheon held by Mrs. Allen Drumheller (wife of the famous horse trainer) in Olympia which also included Longacres owner Gottstein and Congressman Warren Magnuson. According to the Seattle Times of 01/15/1947, Wohleb and his wife held a dinner party before the annual Governor's Ball at their Olympia, WA, house honoring Representative Harry W. Pierong of Spokane. Other dinner guests included Mr. and Mrs Adolph Schmidt, Mr. and Mrs. A.J. Halgren, Mr. and Mrs. Carl Morck, Mr. and Mrs. William Westover and Mr. and Mrs. M.M. Morris. Member, Rotary Club of Olympia, WA; Member/Trustee, Elk's Club, Olympia, WA; Member, Olympia Golf and Country Club, Olympia, WA. Wohleb was a Catholic.

Associated Locations

  • Olympia, WA (Architect's Death)
    Olympia, WA

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  • Waterbury, CT (Architect's Birth)
    Waterbury, CT

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PCAD id: 3809