John Parkinson is a name that should ring a bell for many students of Seattle architectural history because, prior to his move to Los Angeles in 1894, he designed some of the city’s most distinguished buildings beginning in 1889. While his Butler Block (1889-90) has not survived, his Seattle National Bank Building, now the Interurban Building (1890-92), is the most distinguished example of Romanesque Revival in Seattle. He designed B.F. Day School (1891-92) in Fremont, leading to his appointment as Seattle’s first school architect and superintendent of construction.
At the time of his death in Los Angeles in 1935, the Los Angeles Times praised him, “Future generations have only to walk through the streets of Los Angeles to be reminded how much John Parkinson in his lifetime contributed to the city that grew up under his hand.” Stephen Gee proves that this singular visionary created the look of America’s most dynamic metropolis, long before the world recognized the city’s importance. Among more than four hundred Parkinson buildings in the City of Angels are the iconic Los Angeles City Hall, Bullock’s Wilshire Department Store, Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, and Los Angeles Union Station.
Stephen Gee shares Parkinson’s monumental contributions to the city he loved. Gee is a writer and television producer based in Los Angeles. He is the author of Iconic Vision: John Parkinson, Architect of Los Angeles and Los Angeles Central Library: A History of its Art and Architecture. Gee has worked on numerous award-winning television productions and has directed and produced live coverage of high-profile news stories, including U.S. presidential elections, important court cases, Hollywood events, as well as disasters—including the 9/11 tragedy. He has lived in Los Angeles since 1995.
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