Thursday, September 13, 2012

Murry S. King - Orlando Architect

I have been researching the life and work of Murry S. King (1870–1925) (often spelled "Murray") for the better part of a decade. King was Florida's first registered architect, a noted American architect with a successful practice in Orlando, Florida, in the 1910s and 1920s.

King was born on July 13, 1870 in East Deer Township,
Allegheny County, near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the son of Robert and Mary King. His birthplace was within a mile or two of where we lived when we lived in Pittsburgh from 1987 to 1997. King moved to Orlando from Pennsylvania in 1904.

From offices in Rooms 22 and 23 of the Watkins Block in Orlando, King designed handsome, dignified buildings, primarily in the
Neo-Classical, Spanish Revival, Renaissance Revival and Prairie Style. King is noted for civic buildings of lasting elegance and beauty.

The best known of his designs is his last completed work, the stately Orange County Courthouse building which is now the headquarters of the
Orange County Regional History Center (1927). Constructed of variegated Indiana limestone from the Clear Creek Quarries of the Indiana Limestone Company, the completion of the building was supervised by Murry S. King's son, James B. King.

King was a charter member of the Florida State Association of Architects and served on the Florida State Board of Architecture. He was a member of the
American Institute of Architects.

King was the recognized leading architect among a group of architectural firms in Orlando in the 1920s. The others included:
Frank L. Bodine, Fred E. Field, Frederick H. Trimble, David Hyer, George E. Krug, Howard M. Reynolds, Ryan and Roberts (Ida Annah Ryan and Isabel Roberts) and Percy P. Turner. This group of architects was quite intentional about creating in Central Florida a style of architecture that was suited to the region. Here is how they described it in an article from The Florida Circle of May 1924:

"Just as architects of old created styles to harmonize with their environment, so have the architects of Florida been creating, from native motifs, a style that is carefully adapted to the climatic conditions and surroundings of the state. This style has an individuality all its own and should have a fitting name to express its origins . . . The Florida Association of Architects will give a prize of $25.00 for the name selected." Submissions were to be sent to King; the contest was to conclude in November 1924 and the winning name announced thereafter.

In 1890 Murry S. King married Ruth Ann ("Anna") Riley Dible. Their children were: Leroy (1890), Florence (1893), James B. (1894), Murry Jr (1896), Merrit (1896), Edward (1901), and Pearl (1903), all of whom were born in Pennsylvania. His son, James B. King entered into his architectural practice in the mid-1920s.

Mr. King's first name appears both as "Murry" and "Murray" in contemporary sources and in Orlando histories. It is spelled "Murray" in contemporary references such as his own business listing in many issues of The Winter Park Post and Orlando telephone directories, as well as the excellent photograph and brief biographical sketch of "Murray S. King" available at the following:

However, a photograph of downtown Orlando with the sign outside his office, recently found by my friends, Orlando historians Joy Wallace Dickinson and Rick Kilby, shows the spelling as "Murry".

Murry S. King died in Orlando on Sep. 20, 1925. He is buried in Greenwood Cemetery, Orlando, Florida.

No comments: