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Male, US, born 1872-08-23, died 1956-05-09

Associated with the firms network

Bliss and Fairweather, Architects; Bliss and Faville, Architects

Professional History


Draftsman, McKim, Mead and White, Architects, New York, NY, 1895-1898.

Partner, Bliss and Faville, San Francisco, CA, 1898-1925; according to the web site, NoeHill in San, "[Bliss and Faville] leveraged the business connections of Bliss' father to secure residential commissions and build a reputation." (See NoeHill in San Francisco, accessed 10/22/2015.) Walter's father, lumberman Duane Bliss, Sr., had built up a network of contacts in CA banking, mining and timber circles during the last quarter of the 19th century. Bliss and Faville utilized his father's connections, developing a high-society clientele and becoming one of the best-respected architectural firms in San Francisco during the Beaux-Arts era. They discontinued their partnership in 1925 on a friendly basis.

Partner, Bliss and Fairweather, Architects, San Francisco, CA, c. 1925-1945. Bliss and Fairweather maintained an office in the Balboa Building, San Francisco, in 1933.


Drawings by Bliss And Faville were represented in the "AIA San Francisco, a Chapter of the American Institute of Architects: Centennial Drawing Collection (ca. 1930-1976)" held at the University of California, Berkeley (UCB), Environmental Design Archives. (See University of California, Berkeley, College of Environmental Design, Environmental Design Archives,Accessed 07/21/2014.)



B.S. Arch., Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Cambridge, MA, c. 1895. Walter's brother, William, also attended MIT, graduating with a degree in civil engineering five years earlier.

While at MIT, Bliss met the older William Faville, (1866-1947), with whom he also worked at McKim, Mead and White, Architects, in New York during the 1890s.



Born in Carson City, NV, Walter D. Bliss grew up there, where his father had become a prominent businessman. (See, Source Citation, Year: 1880; Census Place: Carson City, Ormsby, Nevada; Roll: 759; Family History Film: 1254759; Page: 42C; Enumeration District: 038; Image: 0086, accessed 10/22/2015.) He attended college at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge, MA. While at MIT, Bliss indicated that his permanent home address remianed in Carson City. He took a grand tour of Europe in 1896, and, following this, worked at the prestigious New York architectural firm of McKim, Mead and White. He migrated back west to San Francisco, CA, in 1898, and maintained his primary residence here for most of his life.

A bachelor at age 38 in 1910, Bliss lived at 2898 Broadway, employing a servant, Katie Wood (born c. 1872 in Ireland) and a nurse, Emilia Helin (born c. 1876 in IA). An older woman, J.D. Mendenhall, was also listed as living at this address, but was only identified as a "mother-in-law," perhaps to one of the servants. (See, Source Citation Year: 1910; Census Place: San Francisco Assembly District 41, San Francisco, California; Roll: T624_101; Page: 10B; Enumeration District: 0282; FHL microfilm: 1374114, accessed 10/22/2015.) Four years later, Bliss had married Edith Pillsbury and resided at 2758 Green Street in San Francisco. (See San Francisco City Directory, 1914, p. 305.) By 1915, he and Edith had moved to 2990 Vallejo Street, an address at which they would remain for many years. (See San Francisco City Directory, 1915, p. 306.)

He lived at 2990 Vallejo Street in 1930, next door to the architect, Edgar A. Mathews (b. 1866). According to the 1930 US Census, Bliss's residence was worth a substantial $20,000. In 1930, Bliss and his wife employed 3 servants, a Swedish woman, Marie Youngquist, a Norwegian woman, Solvig Olsen, and an Italian man, Geo Michleen (the last name was probably misspelled on the US Census form). He continued to reside at 2990 Vallejo in 1945. (See San Francisco City Directory, 1945, p. 196.)

During his later years, Walter Bliss spent a good deal of time in the family's residence off US Highway 50 in Glenbrook, NV. When his health declined, he returned to San Francisco, where he remained five months. He died at Children's Hospital, San Francisco, of heart disease and its complications at the age of 83. (See Source Information: California, San Francisco Area Funeral Home Records, 1895-1985 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2010, accessed 10/08/2015.) He was cremated on 05/10/1956 and his remains laid to rest in Mountain View Cemetery, Oakland, CA, .


His parents, Duane Leroy Bliss, Sr., (b. 1833-d. 12/23/1907 in Carson City, NV) and Elizabeth T. Tobey Bliss (born c. 1840-d. 04/05/1921), were both from the State of MA. He hailed from Savoy and she, South Wareham. Duane and Elizabeth had five children, of which Walter was the second youngest. The others were: William Seth Bliss, (1865-1941), Charles Tobey Bliss, (b. 1867), Lillian Hope Danforth Bliss, (b. 1870) and Duane Leroy Bliss, Jr., (1875-1936).

Duane Bliss, Sr., left MA at age 16 to test his luck in the California gold fields; he became sick with malaria while traveling near the Isthmus of Panama's Chagre River. After a six-month recuperation, he arrived in CA in 1850 and proceeded to claim a stake near Marysville, CA; successful as a prospector, he saved enough money to invest in a hotel/general store in Trinity Center, CA. His fortune increased, and he moved to Gold Hill, NV, in 1860, becoming a partner in a forerunner of the Nevada Bank; buoyed by his financial success, he returned to MA to marry in 1863. He and his wife relocated to Carson City, NV, in 1872, building one of the grandest private residences in the state. In Carson City, Duane Bliss, Sr., co-founded the successful Carson and Tahoe Lumber and Fluming Company in 1873 with Canadian-born Henry Marvin Yerington (b. 1828), Darius Ogden Mills (1825-1910), and James A. Rigby. Mills founded the Bank of California and would become one of CA's wealthiest men. In 1880, the US Census identified Duane Bliss, Sr., as trhe "Superintendent" of the Carson and Tahoe Lumber and Fluming Company. The company continued operations until 1947. Like his father, Walter's brother, William S. Bliss, participated in a gold rush, that in Nome, AK, in 1900, and like his father, he proved successful.


Walter Bliss married Edith K. Pillsbury between 1910 and 1914. Edith had been born in Stockton, CA, on 11/17/1870; (See, Source Citation National Archives and Records Administration (NARA); Washington D.C.; NARA Series: Passport Applications, 1795-1905; Roll #: 441; Volume #: Roll 441 - 22 Apr 1895-30 Apr 1895, accessed 10/22/2015.) Her parents had both come from New England, her father, Evans Pillsbury, a lawyer, came from ME, her mother, Estelle, from NH. In 1880, the Pillsbury Family lived on a comfortable Post Street block in San Francisco, nearby to Lloyd Dinkelspiel, (born c. 1823 in Baden, Germany), a wealthy dry goods merchant, active in the local Jewish community. The 1910 US Census indicated that at age 40, Edith lived with her father and five servants at 2838 Pacific Avenue in the well-heeled Pacific Heights neighborhood. She, according to the census, had her "own income." Her mother had passed away before 1910.

Toward the end of her life in 1953, Edith traveled from Naples to New York on the Andrea Doria, traveling with her relation, Taylor Pillsbury, who lived in Pebble Beach, CA, at that time. Walter did not accompany her on this return voyage. (See, Source Citation Year: 1953; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 8394; Line: 11; Page Number: 6, accessed 10/22/2015.)


Bliss had no children.

Biographical Notes

Walter Bliss traveled to Honolulu, HI, from San Francisco, aboard the S.S. Taiyo Maru, departing on 12/11/1936 and arrived on 12/17/1936. (See 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: A3422; Roll: 176; Record Group Title: Records of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, 1787 - 2004; Record Group Number: RG 85, accessed 10/22/2015.)

According to a US Passport Application of 11/1895, Bliss, at age 23, stood 5-foot, 10-and-1/2-inches tall, had light brown hair, blue eyes, an oval face and a light complexion. (See, Source Citation. National Archives and Records Administration (NARA); Washington D.C.; NARA Series: Passport Applications, 1795-1905; Roll #: 456; Volume #: Roll 456 - 01 Nov 1895-30 Nov 1895, accessed 10/22/2015.)

Associated Locations

PCAD id: 493

2898 Broadway House, Pacific Heights, San Francisco, CA1899San FranciscoCA
3020 Pacific Street House, Pacific Heights, San Francisco, CA1900San FranciscoCA
3638 Washington Street, Presidio Heights, San Francisco, CA1900San FranciscoCA
Atascadero Colony, Administration Building, Atascadero, CA1924AtascaderoCA
Atascadero Printery, Atascadero, CAAtascaderoCA
Balboa Building, Financial District, San Francisco, CA1908San FranciscoCA
Bank of California, Office Building #2, Financial District, San Francisco, CA1907-1908San FranciscoCA
Bank of Italy National Trust and Savings Association, Halladie Plaza Branch, San Francisco, CA1920San FranciscoCA
Bliss, Walter Danforth, House, Pacific Heights, San Francisco, CASan FranciscoCA
City and County of San Francisco, Public Library (SFPL), Branch #2, Richmond District, San Francisco, CA1913-1914San FranciscoCA
City of Oakland, Public Library, Main Library #2, Downtown, Oakland, CA1900-1901OaklandCA
Columbia Theatre #2, San Francisco, CA1907San FranciscoCA
Columbia Theatre, San Francisco, CA1909-1910San FranciscoCA
Eastman Kodak Company, Office Building, Financial District, San Francisco, CA San FranciscoCA
Flood, James Leary and Maud Lee, House #1, Pacific Heights, San Francisco, CA1912-1915San FranciscoCA
Girvin, R.D., House, San Mateo, CASan MateoCA
Hale, O.A., House, Saratoga, CASaratogaCA
Hellman, Isaias W., House, Lake Tahoe, CA1903Lake TahoeCA
Kamm Building, San Francisco, CA
Liverpool and London and Globe Insurance Company, Ltd, Office Building, San Francisco, CA1912-1913San FranciscoCA
Magee Building, San Francisco, CA1905San FranciscoCA
Masonic Temple, Civic Center, San Francisco, CA1911San FranciscoCA
Matson Lines Building, South of Market, San Francisco, CA1922-1924San FranciscoCA
Merced Golf Club, Daly City, CADaly CityCA
Metropolitan Club, San Francisco, CA1916San FranciscoCA
Mission of the Good Samaritan, Episcopal Community Center, San Francisco, CA1911San FranciscoCA
Oakland Hotel Corporation, Hotel Oakland, Downtown, Oakland, CA1910-1912OaklandCA
Panama-Pacific International Exposition (PPIE), Palace of Education and Social Economy, San Francisco, CA 1914-1915San FranciscoCA
Rialto Building #1, San Francisco, CA 1902San FranciscoCA
Rialto Building #2, South of Market, San Francisco, CA1902San FranciscoCA
Saint Francis Hotel #2, San Francisco, CA 1902-1904San FranciscoCA
Saint Francis Hotel #3, Union Square, San Francisco, CA1906-1907San FranciscoCA
San Francisco Savings Union, Headquarters Building #6, 1 Grant Avenue, Tenderloin, San Francisco, CA1909-1910San FranciscoCA
Southern Pacific Railroad Company, Headquarters, South Beach, San Francisco, CA1916San FranciscoCA
Southern Pacific Railroad Company, Passenger Depot #2, Sacramento, CA1924-1926SacramentoCA
Standard Brands of California, Manufacturing Plant, Arcadia Park, Oakland, CA1933-1934OaklandCA
State of California, State Office Building #1, San Francisco, CA1922San FranciscoCA
United States Government, Postal Service (USPS), Post Office, Stockton, CA1934-1936StocktonCA
Wolfskill, Ney, House, Sea Cliff, San Francisco, CA1921San FranciscoCA
deGuigné, Christian III, House, Hillsborough, CA1914HillsboroughCA
"Building News", American Architect, XCVI: 1770, 6, 1909-11-24. "Balboa Building, San Francisco, Cal.", American Architect and Building News, 1915-11-17. "The Columbia Theater, San Francisco, Cal.", American Architect and Building News, 95, part 2: 1739, plates, 1909-04-21. "Magee Building, San Francisco, CA", Architect and Engineer of California, 27, 08/1906. Fitch, James Marston, "A Bank with a Past in its Future", Architectural Forum, 130: 4, 68-75, 1969-05. "The Bank of California", Architectural Record, 30: 440, 1911-11. David, A. C., "The New San Francisco. The Bank of California: Architectural and Social Changes Wrought by the Reconstruction", Architectural Record, 31: 12-13, 1912-01. Woodbridge, Sally B., Woodbridge, John B., "Matson Building", Architecture San Francisco: The Guide, 32, 1982. Woodbridge, Sally B., Woodbridge, John B., "St. Francis Hotel", Architecture San Francisco: The Guide, 4, 1982. Woodbridge, Sally B., Woodbridge, John B., "Rialto Building", Architecture San Francisco: The Guide, 21, 1982. Woodbridge, Sally B., Woodbridge, John B., "Southern Pacific Building", Architecture San Francisco: The Guide, 32, 1982. "Iron and Steel Construction News", Bridgeman's Magazine, 10: 4, 218, 04/1910. Leonard John B., "The Effect of the California Earthquake on Reinforced Concrete", Engineering Record, 643-644, 1906-05-26. Reece, Daphne, Historic Houses of California, 9, 1983. "New Savings Union Bank Is a Monumental Structure", San Francisco Call, 9, 1910-12-31. "Architects from Distant Lands Feted by Their Craftsmen at the Cliff House", San Francisco Examiner, 4, 1899-09-13. "Union Savings Bank, San Francisco, California", Western architect, 18: plate following p. 126, 1912-11.