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Willard Franklin Tobey

Willard Franklin Tobey, Architect [1883-1972]

Willard Franklin Tobey [†] was a Portland architect for more than 50 years.

Tobey was born in Aurora, South Dakota on April 10, 1883. He came to Portland as a boy of 10 in 1893. Son of Rev. Isaac F. and Mary E. Tobey, in 1901 he worked as office boy in the office of Whidden & Lewis. The following year he was a draftsman in that office, remaining until 1903 or 1904. In 1905 Tobey went to work for Eric W. Hendricks as a draftsman. In 1906 he and Hendricks became partners in the firm, Hendricks & Tobey. The next year, in 1907, John Virginius Bennes joined the partnership, which became Bennes, Hendricks & Tobey.

Tobey left that partnership in 1910 and was briefly in partnership with Clifton R. Lewthwaite in Tobey & Lewthwaite. In 1911 he was sharing office space with Wayne L. Mills, and in 1912 they formed a partnership, Tobey & Mills, which was dissolved the next year. After that, Tobey practiced alone, with an interlude in the construction business during World War I with the Palmer-Ellison Construction Co.

In 1926 Tobey worked for A.E. Doyle as a superintendent. From 1937 to 1939 he was an architect and engineer for the Public Works Administration. However, most of the time in the 1920s and 1930s he carried on his own architecture practice.

After World War II Tobey worked for Pietro Belluschi as superintendent on the construction of the new Oregonian Building. In 1953 and 1954 he was Clerk-of-the-words on construction at Emanuel Hospital. About 1956 Tobey retired from practice.

Willard Tobey died in Portland on January 15, 1972 at the age of 88. He was survived by his second wife, Mabel, and two daughters of his first marriage.

Tobey received license no. 13 under the grandfathers clause when licensing of architects in Oregon commenced in 1919. He was a member of the Portland Architectural Club.

Bennes, Hendricks & Tobey designed the Blumauer Frank Drug Company Building (1909), and the Cornelius Hotel (1908), which is on the National Register. Tobey designed the First Congregational Church of Oregon city (1925), which is on the National Register. He also designed the 1st National Bank and the Public Library (1912), both in Albany, Oregon, and the First German Evangelical Reform Church in Portland (1911).

† John M. Tess, President with Richard E. Ritz, FAIA, Heritage Investment Corporation, Dr. Leo Rice House, Multnomah County, Oregon, nomination document, 1991, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.