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Albert Ernest Doyle

Albert Ernest Doyle, Architect [1877-1928]

Albert E. Doyle [†] was born in California in 1877 and arrived in Portland five years later. Educated in the city's public schools, he learned a great deal about construction from his father who was a carpenter and building contractor. When he was seventeen, Albert went to work as an apprentice in the architectural firm of Whidden & Lewis. At the time (1894), William Whidden and Ion Lewis had been partners for only three years but were responsible for the design of many of the city's fine classical buildings. Doyle remained with them for ten years, a period when the company produced structures such as City Hall and the Portland Hotel.

After ten years with the firm, Doyle attended the College of Architecture at Columbia University for approximately two years. His experience in New York City included employment in the office of architect Henry Bacon, the designer of the Lincoln Memorial. After Columbia, Doyle spent time at the American School of Architecture in Athens where he studied classical architecture. In 1906 Doyle returned to the office of Whidden & Lewis in Portland in time to watch the rise of Portland's first skyscraper, the Wells Fargo Building.

A. E. Doyle established his own firm in 1907 and within a year took on as his partner W. B. Patterson, a construction supervisor. It was then that Doyle received his first major commission: a ten-story addition to the Meier & Frank department store. Originally, he designed the addition to match the existing building, but the owner talked Doyle into changing the design to match the white terra cotta commercial palaces found in Chicago. Identical Doyle-designed additions were built in 1915 and in the early 1930s to complete the present block.

For the next eight years, Doyle's office had a dominant influence over Portland's skyline. His commercial buildings are a mixture of revival styles with emphasis placed on the balance and organization of the Italian Renaissance. During this time, Doyle produced such significant buildings as the Selling Building (1910), the Oregon (Benson) Hotel (1911), the Central Public Library (1913), the Morgan Building (1913), the Benson drinking fountain (1913), and the Pittock Block (1914).

Doyle's office went through a number of corporate name changes—first to include Patterson and then to include engineer James G. Beach. Beach, a son-in-law to Simon Benson, became a partner at the start of the Oregon Hotel project. By 1915, however, both Patterson and Beach left and Doyle was operating under his own name. On his own, Doyle's designs continued to influence the Portland skyline. Buildings such as the classical U. S. National Bank Building (1916), the modern Terminal Sales Building (1926), the Public Service Building (1926, during a re-association with James Beach) and the Bank of California Building (1926) are amongst Portland's finest.

In addition to his eclectic urban designs, Doyle designed residences for notable Portland citizens, some of the Jacobethan-style buildings of the Reed College campus, and created a series of beach cottages on the Oregon and Washington coasts. These cottages inspired the regional style developed in the 1930s by other architects. Doyle died in 1928. He is considered the region's most prolific and significant architect; it is fair to say that no one else has had such a widespread, lasting effect on Portland's cityscape.

Several of Doyle's residences are listed on the National Register. Doyle houses listed are of wide-ranging styles: Colonial Revival, English Cottage, Mediterranean, Arts & Crafts, Shingle, and Norman Farmhouse. Although Doyle designed impressive Jacobethan buildings, there are currently no Jacobethan residences such as the Cobbs Estate listed on the National Register.

† John M. Tess, President, Heritage Investment Corporation, Frank J. and Maude Louise Cobbs Estate, Multnomah County, Oregon, nomination document, 2001, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.