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Appleton Prentiss Clark, Jr.

Appleton Prentiss Clark, Jr., Architect [1865-1955]

Appleton Prentiss Clark, Jr. [†] was one of the most prominent architects practicing in Washington at the beginning of the twentieth century. He was born in Washington, shortly after his family moved from Philadelphia during the Civil War. His father became a prominent local Republican, active in black suffrage rights. Clark graduated from Central High School and apprenticed for three years in the office of Alfred B. Mullett, when the later was Supervising Architect of the Treasury.

In 1886, Clark established his own practice which continued for more than fifty years. He became a prolific designer of rowhouses, churches, banks, orphanages and commercial and institutional buildings. He was president of the local chapter of the American Institute of Architects and served on several of the institute's national committees. In 1920, Clark wrote an important essay on the history of Washington architecture which appeared in John Clagett Proctor's multi-volume history of the city. In 1945, Clark wrote Institutional Homes for Children which advocated the creation of more home-like settings for the young.

Clark's early works showed the influence of his training under Mullett and the last stages of the Romanesque Revival. Clark's Washington Post Building, at 1337 E Street, NW (1893, razed 1954) was representative of the style, with its rusticated stone and idiosyncratic ornament. A few of Clark's Romanesque Revival designs remain, including the Eastern Presbyterian Church on Stanton Square, NE (1891, now known as Mt. Zion Baptist Church) and a house for Christina Somerville at 2007 Columbia Road, NW (1899).

The turn of the century brought a strong stylistic shift in Clark's work, typical of Washington architects in general. Adoption of the McMillan Commission Plan helped make Washington the leading laboratory for the City Beautiful Movement and the Beaux-Arts principles it espoused. Several of Clark's buildings exemplified the trend, including two buildings with colonnades for Garfield Hospital at 11th Street and Florida Avenue, NW (1904 and 1911) and the monumental Jewish Community Center on 16th Street (1910). At the Homer Building on 13th Street between F and G Streets (1913), Clark applied white terra cotta cladding with neoclassical decoration on a steel-framed office and retail building.

For his residential designs, Clark typically used the Georgian Revival style. One of Clark's earliest works in this style was the Wayne MacVeagh house, 1719 Massachusetts Avenue, NW,1901, (demolished). This was followed by two massive red-brick mansions in Kalorama, known as the J. Philip Herrmann house at 2215 Wyoming Avenue (1911) and the Thomas Gales house at 2300 S Street (1905) which was the residence of Herbert Hoover before and after his presidency. During the same period, Clark also designed large but less formal houses in Cleveland Park. He also employed other styles, for example he used the English Gothic style for the Foundry United Methodist Church at 16th and P Streets (1904).

Clark designed twenty-seven apartment houses in the District of Columbia including 1424 16th Street (1917), the Roosevelt Hotel at 2101 16th Street (1919), and the Presidential at 16th and L Streets, N.W. (1922).

† David Maloney, Architect, D.C. Historic Preservation Division, Second National Bank, Washington, D.C., nomination document, 1994, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.