Saturday, May 29, 2010

Charles Peter Weeks (1870-1928) - Architect; Designed Main Mausoleum

[Photo of Weeks urn by Michael Colbruno]

Main Mausoleum, Niche 47, Tier 3

Charles Peter Weeks was born in Copley, Ohio on September 1, 1870, the son of Peter Weeks and Catharine Francisco. He was educated at the University of Akron and obtained some preliminary experience working in the Akron office of architect Charles Snyder.

From 1892-95 he attended the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris, having been accepted into the atelier of Victor Laloux. Returning from Paris, he worked in Cleveland for a while and then moved to New York, initially working as an interior decorator, until in 1899 he joined John Galen Howard at the firm of Howard & Cauldwell.

In 1901 Howard moved to Berkeley, to become supervising architect for the University of California, and he invited Weeks to join him as head designer. That association did not continue for long. In 1903 Weeks joined established San Francisco architect Albert Sutton (1867-1923) as junior partner in the firm of Sutton & Weeks.

Weeks wrote a plaintive article for the June 1906 Architect and Engineer magazine titled ‘Who is to blame for San Francisco’s plight?’, referring to the devastating earthquake and fire damage. The article hit owners first for a lack of concern for quality, the City for performing inadequate inspections, architects for acquiescing on cheapness, and contractors for not giving value for money. In April 1907 he wrote another article on the renaissance of apartment houses in the City, which featured several Sutton & Weeks designs. Sutton moved to Hood River, Oregon in 1910, after a bitter divorce and child custody battle, leaving Weeks to practice on his own.

In 1916 Weeks took on engineer William Peyton Day as a partner and together they designed the magnificent Don Lee Building at 1000 Van Ness, the Huntington Hotel, the Mark Hopkins Hotel, the Brocklebank apartments at 1000 Mason and the Sir Francis Drake Hotel on Powell at Sutter. Weeks & Day were responsible for designing the main mausoleum at Mountain View Cemetery.

In 1923, at the age of 53, Weeks married Beatrice Woodruff Mills, a member of New York high society. The couple married one day after her divorce was granted from attorney John Woodruff, who she accused of cruelty. Divorce papers list the act of cruelty as kissing her while standing on a public street.

After the Brocklebank was completed in 1926, the Weeks’ moved into the building. Unfortunately, on March 25, 1928, Weeks was found dead in the living room of the apartment by his wife’s maid. After Weeks died, Beatrice married the actor Bela Lugosi, but divorced him in about a year.

Will Day continued the operations of the company the two had formed for another 25 years, but the creative spark was gone.


[Bio excerpted from David Parry’s blog, the Oakland Tribune and Mountain View Cemetery docent notes]

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